SEPTEMBER 18, 2003

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3604

Water Temperature: 75-78 F

Water is a bit cooler but daytime air temperature is still delightful. Fishing is much the same with the best Fall fishing still to come.

Fishing conditions have not changed dramatically. Bass and striper fishing is still not easy in the lower lake and the San Juan. We really got spoiled in past years when we could just fish anywhere and catch fish after fish. Now we have to fish harder and smarter.

Location is the prime consideration with Halls Crossing having the best access and best fishing. Boiling stripers are the easiest target. Boils are old news in Bullfrog Bay since they have been going on there for 3 months. These stripers are wise to boats and lures. Keep moving past the "ghost boils" that tempt you to chase and not catch. Head uplake or down. Cruise the main channel during the first and last 2 hours of daylight. Look for boils that stay up for more than a few seconds. Most boils will be quick and the most productive technique is to park near "excited water" and hope the next boil that pops up will be in casting range. Catching 2-3 fish from an individual boil is about the best you can do. But multiple 10-20 boils by 2 fish each and the morning and evening catch mounts up quickly.

Boils are scattered along the main channel and part way back in some canyons from Escalante River to White Canyon. Keep moving during morning and evening twilight to intercept as many boils as possible. When a school resurfaces but will no longer offer at your lures it is time to cruise away and find a new bunch. Don't spend precious quality twilight time chasing wise fish that won't cooperate. You will see more boils headed uplake from Halls but the boils downlake will stay up longer once located. It's a tough choice but you will be a winner either way.

During mid day or at downlake locations the best option is to fish for smallmouth bass which have put on lots of weight over summer. With shad being plentiful bass are most often on outside points in ambush positions waiting for a shad swim-by. Bass can be anywhere from the shallowest water to as deep as 50 feet. If casting grubs and crank baits at the normal 5-15 depth range doesn't work, then go deeper. Work a rocky point jutting into the main channel by progressively allowing the plastic bait to drop deeper until fish are found. Move to the next point and fish the same depth. You can quickly return to the same depth by marking the line near the reel with a magic marker when a fish is caught. Once location and depth are established catch rate will quickly increase. Expect bass to be grouped on a few points but not all. Keep moving from point to point.

Catfishing is good in evening hours on sandy beaches that offer the best campsites.