JULY 22, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3582

Water Temperature: 79-83 F

July brings the warmest temperatures of the year. Water surface temperature is over 80 by mid morning. Lake Powell fish like to be a bit cooler so they find the temperature range that suits them. Most fish are spending the day from 20-40 feet deep. Shad, however, seek the warmest water layer because the other fish aren't there. At some point in the daily cycle the predators join the prey. The successful angler is there when the feeding event occurs.

Striped bass feeding is most obvious when they trap a shad school on top. Striper boils in the lower lake now happen only from predawn twilight until the sun hits the water. The window of opportunity is 4-6 AM (MST). Some days no boils are seen any time of the day.

From Buoy 69 to Bullfrog, and from Forgotten to Cedar Canyon, and in the San Juan at Neskahi Bay there are boils that continue throughout the day. Most are quick and fish are hard to catch but just enough boils stay up long enough to make chasing stripers worthwhile. The average fish caught in a boil weighs 3 to 4 pounds but 5 to 7-pounders are common. The heart almost stops when one of the big fish smashes the surface lure and drags it into the depths followed by 50 school mates all trying to steal the lure from its mouth. It is a visual spectacle that does not happen often in freshwater fishing. Watching boils is a recommended scenic adventure even for non-anglers.

Smallmouth bass are feeding on shad and crayfish. They prefer to ambush from under a rocky ledge or around a rocky point as shad swim past. Crayfish hide under rocks so bass will be in close proximity to rocks large enough to house a crayfish. Look for bass on steep rocky structure jutting into the main channel. Position the boat in 50-100 feet of water and cast to a visible rocky point. When that type of elevation difference exists between boat and shore the habitat is steep enough for good bass fishing. Plastic grubs, tubes, and senkos are working on jig heads, dropshot and splitshot rigs. Bass exceeding 2 pounds are still being caught along with smaller fish.

Fishing is slower in the heat of summer. The best success may come from night fishing for bass, stripers and catfish. Hang a lantern, spotlight or submersible fishing light over the back of the boat to attract plankton and shad. Stripers will follow and can be caught on anchovies suspended at 30-40 feet when the boat is anchored in 50 feet of water. Let the bait rest on bottom occasionally to catch a catfish lurking under the feeding zone. Night fishing helps one avoid busy summer crowds, heat of the day and often makes fish easier to catch.