SEPTEMBER 11, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3603

Water Temperature: 76-79 F

Fall is in the air. Cool nights, warm days and delightful fishing conditions will prevail for the next month. Look for a peak in fall fishing during the next two weeks.

We just returned from a sampling trip to Rincon and San Juan. It was on a similar Rincon trip in 2001 that we decided smallmouth bass needed help. They were too small and skinny. On that day we caught 67 bass on fishing tackle in 2 hours of fishing and not one was over 9 inches. In January 2002 the bass limit was raised to 20 bass to encourage harvest and let anglers know that it was acceptable to keep bass.

This time I drifted the same shoreline for one hour, caught 12 bass and every fish was over 11 inches. Most were a pound or more and one was close to two pounds. Each bass was vividly colored, a strong fighter and very acrobatic. The fish management plan is working. Thanks to all anglers who kept those scrawny 9-11 bass for the past two years. You have made a difference!

The bass pattern in the afternoon was to drop a shad colored grub at the end of rocky points and reefs where bass are congregated waiting for shad to swim past. Bass were on top of the shallowest rocks and as deep as 20 feet in valleys between points. The ambush was quick when the white grub got near a waiting bass. Very fun and exciting fishing.

The next morning we cruised uplake searching for striper boils. We only had to go as far as the mouth of Iceberg until stripers were busting loose all over the main channel. The boils were quick but they were up long enough to get one or two fish out of each boil. This action continued for over 2 hours. These fish had grown since my last encounter. They averaged 3.5 pounds and we had one that was almost 5. Striper boils continue from Iceberg to White Canyon with the best boils being in the morning and evening. Daytime boils are often too quick to catch.

The San Juan was not as productive. Bass were catchable on the same swimming-shad pattern used at Rincon but catch rate was not as good, perhaps due to the windy day. We saw no striper surface action morning or evening. My recommendation this week is to fish from Iceberg uplake. Bite-sized shad are more numerous there and all sport fish are more active. The bright spot in the lower lake is that bass have started to cooperate on the edge of the main channel from Warm Creek uplake. Catch rate is good for anglers drop-shotting small plastic baits at 25-35 feet.