JULY 8, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3585

Water Temperature: 75-79 F

Declining lake levels will leave most of the new concrete poured on ramps this spring dry or damp at best by weekend. Antelope Point and Stateline will close to boats but parking and passenger pickup will continue. Bullfrog and Wahweap Main ramp will not be out of commission but it will be necessary to launch on old asphalt, road base or hard packed sand. In the spring before the lake came up launching was done under these conditions and most boaters fared well. If launching a bigger boat then a commercial launching service may be the best choice. A regular size (less than 24 foot) fish or ski boat should be launched without problems for the next month. In August a way will be found so that boats will continue to launch.

Fishing news is all about striper BOILS. Look for surface feeding stripers in the main channel anywhere from Bullfrog to Wahweap. The most consistent spot may be Padre Bay to Rock Creek but boils in other main channel locations, such as the San Juan, will be more solitary and stripers will be less spooky and easier to catch.

Boils in Padre Bay are most consistent from dawn to 11 AM. Striper schools feed quickly on shad less than an inch long. Stripers see a shad school sparkling near the surface and come to the top to feed. Sometimes the small shad school disperses with the first striper rush. Other times boaters run over the spot and spook stripers. Once in a while anglers will be there to cast surface lures and shallow running crank baits in to the leading edge of the school.

The end result is a short surface burst followed by calm water as the stripers regroup and search for another shad pod. Stripers may come up again a few feet, a few hundred yards or a half-mile away. The chase is intense. Sometimes the boil is strong and many fish are caught. Another time schools go down before the boat gets in casting range. Striper schools consist of 12-16 inch yearlings or 2-6 pounders.

It is not easy to tell which school is surfacing until well within casting range. I have found that a rattletrap type lure cast to the front of the school will be hit almost every time by midsize fish (2-4 pounds). A Jumpin Minnow or Sammy will get a hit half the time but fish eating the surface lure are noticeably larger (4-8 pounds). Lures cast to mid school or behind feeding fish will seldom be hit. Yearling stripers are more difficult to catch and downsizing to a very small lure is the ticket. Find the right tiny bait and catching stripers all day long is possible.

Yearlings are schooling on the bend in the channel from Padre Bay to the mouth of Last Chance near Gregory Butte. Larger size fish are schooling in the bay adjacent to Kane Creek, Kane Wash, Last Chance, Friendship Cove and Rock Creek. Anglers are catching from 5 to 25 fish after a morning chase. Stripers start up again in the afternoon if the wind allows.

Smallmouth bass are catchable on main channel points at the 25-foot contour. Use a splitshot, dropshot or regular plastic grub on rocky points and along ledges for consistent bass action. Reefs jutting into the main channel where stripers are boiling will have a waiting herd of bass anticipating a shad wave being pushed against the reef. Cast a rattletrap or similar cranking lure on top of the reef and pull it into deep water for a quick bass hit.

Catfish are hot at night on any sandy beach big enough to park a boat. Use chicken liver, nightcrawlers, shrimp or anchovies on a bait hook with very little weight for consistent cat catching. Let the bait rest on the sandy bottom with a tight line to see and feel the hit