NOVEMBER 20, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3601

Water Temperature: 59-61 F

Cold nights have arrived. It may freeze for the first time this week. Lake Powell game fish are enjoying the long summer by feeding extensively before cold weather shuts down fish activity. Shad are still numerous and bass and stripers are not eating hardly anything else besides shad right now. That makes them tough to catch because most lures do not look exactly like a shad. But finding a good shad pattern is helpful.

Shad are suspended and moving. Use a technique that mimics these actions. Sitting in one spot using bait only works at night when the food chain is drawn to an artificial light. The better choice is covering a lot of water with a shad imitating lure. Troll or cast shallow running cranks from a constantly moving boat for best results. Shad raps, Yozuri crank and dive, wally divers, spinnerbaits, jigs and spoons are the most effective baits for these conditions.

Shad are found from top to bottom in the upper lake. From San Juan to Bullfrog shad are in the backs of canyons. In the lower lake shad are still in the main channel. Find shad and predators will be close by. In Wahweap Bay look at the edge of the channel. In San Juan the most productive spot is the last 300 yards of each canyons. Uplake fish can be at any location because bait is found at all locations. That is the most difficult pattern to crack. Fish can eat anywhere, at any time and limit their intake to live shad.

Perhaps mid lake is the location of choice. Canyons upstream and down from the Rincon have shad trapped in the back. The predators are tied to the shad schools and may be more vulnerable and predictable than at other locations. The location with the least shad, in this case, may be the best fishing. That is a pattern that may be repeated next year. Look for birds to mark shad locations and spots that are the best fishing. A boil may still happen but crank down to catch more fish.

Netting results at Wahweap confirmed the lakewide occupation of gizzard shad when one was caught in Wahweap Bay. Stripers are more numerous near the main channel. Fish there instead of the back of the canyon at Wahweap. Smallmouth bass average size was larger at Wahweap than at any other location. There was evidence of a big spawn of striped bass in the lower lake as numerous young-of-year stripers were captured in Wahweap Bay.

The good news continues. Lake Powell fish are in the best shape noted for a very, very long time.