LAKE POWELL FISH REPORT

JUNE 24, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson


Lake Elevation: 3586

Water Temperature: 73-77 F

Fishing is either very productive or almost impossible depending on your location. In preparation for this report, I fished the main channel from Warm Creek to Wetherill Canyon. I suspect my findings relate well to fish in the upper lake. Catchable fish are all in the same place. Here is where you need to be.

Stripers and walleye are at canyon mouths on the edge of the main channel. Proximity to deep water is the key. In the past I have referred to fish location as "rocky points" but for this report that definition needs to be refined. All canyons join the main channel like so many branches of a tree. The deep-water channel of the canyon meets the deep main river channel and forms a corner. Most fish are congregated on that corner. The reason may be food or temperature related but the fact is that game fish are congregated and therefore easy to catch. The corner may be talus with lots of broken rubble rock. It may also be a smooth slick rock point or a steep cliff or some combination of all of these. Each of these habitats hold fish, especially the slick rock humps and points within 100 yards of the corner. A corner ending in a long shallow flat is not productive

Once the proper corner habitat is located then the technique is up to you. If targeting bass, fish with soft plastics along the slick rock points, humps and tops and then over the deep-water edge to the depth below. Perhaps the best presentation is the dropshot wacky-rigged plastic grub, worm or Senko. The best depth is 15-25 feet. Make sure the bait hits bottom often on the retrieve. Smallmouth exceeding two pounds are commonly caught with average bass weighing 1.5 pounds.

If targeting stripers, troll or cast shad-imitating crank baits. When a school is graphed under the boat or a fish is being played, quickly drop a jigging spoon into the swarming school mates. Cast rattletraps to a departing school to get one more before they leave. Yearling stripers are active all day long with older fish hitting more often at twilight. Again the holding depth is 20-30 feet. Anchovies will work on these corner habitats.

If targeting walleye, look for a mudline trailing off the corner point. To feel secure, walleye need low light created by twilight or shade from floating mud. When walleye are in clear water they will be deep enough to avoid bright light. Watch the lure descend into the depths. When it disappears from view it is at the minimum depth where walleye lurk in clear water. That depth is about 20 feet. Fish a clear water point with trolled wally divers or shad raps. Or cast jigs tipped with night crawlers, then slowly crawled along the bottom to capture walleye. Walleye numbers and catch rate are the best they have been in a very long time in the lower lake. My average catch is 4 walleye per trip using indiscriminant trolling techniques designed to catch any fish.

The best bet for catching adult stripers midlake is to use anchovy bait fished at 30 feet on the shady canyon walls from Moki to Lake Canyon.

In some locations stripers are starting 'slurp-boils' where big fish eat tiny shad on the surface. It seems when conditions are right slurp feeding persists all day long. These events may recur daily or happen just a day or two per week. When slurping stripers are found they may be hard to catch because shad prey size is so small. One very effective technique is to use a small white plastic or marabou jig tied to an 18 inch monofilament trailer attached to the rear hook of a full size surface lure. The big lure casts far enough to reach the boil while the jig is small enough to be selected by fussy fish.

Slurps have been reported in the San Juan and Halls Creek this past week. But slurps may blow up any place on Lake Powell. The prudent angler (or recreationist) should be prepared with a surface lure with dropper jig affixed, to a readily available rod at all times. Stripers caught from a 10-minute slurp may equal the catch of an all day fishing trip. Slurps are targets of opportunity that should not be passed by.

On this day we trolled with a black and silver wallydiver which worked best early in the day. After losing a wallydiver we tried a big shad rap in fire tiger color. Most of the late fish including walleye were caught in clear water on the shad rap. Hits came just before, just after or while the lures were bouncing on the corner point (12-14 feet deep) or crossing the corner point 20-25 feet