LAKE POWELL FISH REPORT
JUNE 3, 2004
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3587
Water Temperature: 68-72 F
Launching access is superb now with all extended ramps under water. Wahweap ramps including Stateline, Main Ramp and Antelope Point, plus Bullfrog and Halls Crossing are all in operation. The only ramp not open is the new Bullfrog ramp for larger vessels. Boating access is the best it has been for a long time. Antelope Point ramp offers the shortest ride in the narrow channel when going uplake from the south end and makes it a much shorter and therefore more enjoyable trip.
Stripers are very catchable but the pattern is quite specific. This is a lakewide pattern. Many scattered schools of stripers are found roaming the main channel and main canyon. They go deep to rest but come up to feed on shad and crayfish on adjacent rocky points and ledges. Each morning and evening the band of fish stage on certain feeding points near deep water. Since the exact point holding the vagabond school is unknown; and it may be a different point each time, it is necessary to try all possible points. That is not as hard as it seems. Troll a shad imitating bait (shad rap, thunderstick, rattletrap, wally diver) across a main point protruding into the channel. Start 100 yards from the point and troll 100 yards past the point. If no fish hit then move to the next point. DO NOT TROLL LONG DISTANCES BETWEEN POINTS. Adult stripers will be found ON THE POINT. When a striper hits make repeated passes back and forth across the productive point until the fish quit biting. By selecting points in this manner fishing time is maximized. Points can be revisited after they rest for an hour. More fish can be caught each time a point is revisited. Soon a series of points holding fish that day is known and a trolling circuit allows the catch total to accumulate to large numbers by the end of the day.
Troll between 3 and 3.5 mph. Let out at least 100 feet of line. Use planer boards to get the bait away from the prop wash and allow a third line to be trolled behind the boat. When a fish is hooked other anglers should reel their baits past hungry schoolmates. Double and triple catches are common as the school reacts to one fish biting by looking for something to eat. Have a rod ready with a rattletrap or spoon to cast to fish following the troll-hooked striper.
Night fishing is hot right now at Bullfrog. Just fish from the relocated Hite marina dock tied to the Bullfrog breakwater. Put a light in the water. Use a small crappie jig tipped with a tiny piece of anchovy to catch all of the 12-14 inch stripers you can clean. No better eating fish swims in the lake. Harvesting these little stripers will help allocate limited shad supplies to more game fish. Keep all the little stripers to prolong shad life and make BOIL fishing better this fall. Oh Yes! Bigger stripers hit too, but the little ones keep you awake all night long.
Bass are moving to summer patterns meaning that rocky points, reefs and shoals are getting better. Fish plastic tubes and grubs on the deep breaking edge where visible yellow rock blurs into deep blue water. Top water baits are good for the first and last hours of daylight.
Walleye are caught by striper trollers and by bass casters. Using a worm as a trailer on the terminal bait will increase walleye catch rate. Don't be surprised to catch any aggressive bass, striper, sunfish or catfish on worms. Expect walleye catch rate to be higher in the lake upstream from Bullfrog than downstream.
Fishing success this Spring at Lake Powell was some of the best in recent memory. Striped bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and catfish were in great physical shape with all species being bigger, fatter and stronger. All game species were enjoying the afterglow of a huge shad forage fish crop in 2003.
Now attention is shifted to the new shad crop just being spawned. Another banner shad year will be unprecedented. If, in fact, shad survive at a high rate then bass and stripers will grow to the next level. These prospects are almost scary. Stripers and smallmouth exist in very high numbers. If they grow larger still, then fishing success at Lake Powell would rival or outclass any fishing hole in America.
More likely there will be a decent shad year but not abundance. Game fish will then maintain their current good size and condition. Fewer shad than last year will make game fish hungrier and easier to catch. The end result will be some of the finest fishing ever experienced in scenic Lake Powell.
Expect a short lull in catching during early June as water levels and temperatures rise. Summer will bring stability and better fishing. Then shad will grow and move out of the muddy water in the backs of canyons and coves to open water where game fish will "boil" as they trap the new shad crop on the surface. Small shad are poor swimmers, so early boils will be little more than a "slurp" as yearling stripers line up shoulder to shoulder and swim with open mouths as they mow the shad crop from the surface.
As shad grow larger then adult stripers join the fray and swim faster and work harder to keep shad schools boxed in. These boils will be more violent and easier for anglers to find. Stripers drive shad schools against shore where smallmouth bass and walleye wait with open mouths for the striper train to arrive. Expect boils to occur very early each morning and to comprise the most common method of finding bass and stripers this summer.
When stripers boil they can be most effectively caught with surface lures like Zara Spooks and Jumpin' Minnows. When not actively boiling open-water stripers can be located by trolling Shad Raps, Wally Divers, and Thundersticks across the ends of prominent points. Smallmouth bass feed near rocky structure. The best rocks are those with a shad school close by. Catch bass on plastic tubes and grubs. White and silver plastic baits will work when shad are present. During the day bass eat crayfish and can be caught on green and brown colored plastic lures.
Anchovy bait has not worked well lately. Abundant shad have stripers craving only live fish. The exception is at night when plankton, shad and stripers can be attracted by a floating light. Then night-feeding stripers may inhale anchovy bait fished at 40-60 feet. Night fishing lets anglers avoid the day time heat and crowds. Some of the largest catches of stripers are taken at night during the summer months.
It seems there is a favored lake location for best summer fishing. Last year stripers began boiling in Bullfrog Bay and continued for most of the summer. The year before it was at Hite. Angler reports will soon pinpoint the epicenter of activity. Those reports will be compiled on www.wayneswords.com where current information can be found for planning an upcoming fishing trip.
Enjoy fishing at Lake Powell this summer. We are currently living the "good old days" by which all other fishing experiences will be rated.