JUNE 9, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3587

Water Temperature: 72-76 F

Fishing prospects are much brighter as the moon declines. There is a fishing opportunity for everyone right now but first let's move to the right place. Game fish have left the backs of canyons and spawning areas and headed for the main channel. Bass are guarding the deep-water mouths of canyons and coves waiting for a shad swim-by. Stripers are resting in the depths of the main channel where they move up to feed. Walleye are heating up in the lower lake and making their presence felt after a long absence. All of this is happening on the points and walls of the main channel depending on which part of the lake you may be fishing.

Let's start with first light (4-6 AM MST) which is the very best fishing of the day. Cast surface lures along the shoreline of prominent points for quick action from bass and stripers. Select prominent points of land extending into the channel. Deep water must be in close proximity. The channel S-curves in Padre Bay, mouth of Last Chance and Rock Creek are ideal. If the wind has blown recently there will be mud trailing from earthen points and murky water floating in nearby coves. These are prime early feeding locations. Expect aggressive hits from adult fish. If action is not immediate move to the next point, wall or cove until fish are found. Do not waste prime time by sleeping or traveling. Just fish!

After the sun hits the water (6-9 AM) move to the shade of tall eastern canyon walls to prolong prime time. If topwater falters start trolling shad imitating deep divers. Troll while graphing for stripers. Weave in and out of murky coves along the deep-water channel edge. If striper schools are marked continue trolling, attack with jigging spoons or cast rattletraps. All techniques work. Use the one that makes you happy. It is more about location than technique.

In the lower lake stripers are found on points and coves. Mid lake stripers have moved onto the cliff walls in the morning shade. Find the dominant habitat type at your location and troll and graph to find fish. Lures bouncing across a reef will catch bonus smallmouth bass, walleye, and catfish while targeting stripers.

Walleye will typically be on sharp breaking, rough rock, points shaded by a mudline. Mudlines are caused by wind blowing across a point and washing clay and soil into the water. Mud floats on the surface shading attack cover and providing a prime location for a game fish ambush. Mudlines are perhaps the prime habitat type to seek this week. Fishing success ebbs mid day and resumes in the afternoon using the same strategy.

If striper boils are for you then search the San Juan early and late. Stripers will boil in many locations but the best surface action is found in the channel a mile downstream from Cha to the upstream end of Neskahi Bay. Stripers are slurping larval shad with only their mouth and head out of the water. Stripers that appear small while feeding turn out to be 3 pound fish when hooked. They take full size spooks, rattletraps and spoons even though shad are less than inch. Cast ahead and beyond a feeding cohort and rip the lure through the feeding fish. Lures cast behind a feeding fish will be ignored. They only bite when actively breaking the surface. When the dive, no more fish are caught. Try to set up well in front of an advancing boil and let them feed into casting range. Then hold the cast till they break the surface once more.

If you prefer anchovies then drop a small piece of bait where a school of stripers is graphed. Bait has enticed stripers recently near the mouth of Lone Rock Canyon and on the cliff walls south of Halls Crossing, and under the Hite Dock tied to the breakwater at Bullfrog Marina.

Stripers 12-15 inches long are very common. Expect to find many schools each day. Please keep all the little stripers caught to prolong the life of many shad that would be eaten by the aggressive little fish.