MAY20, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3585

Water Temperature: 64-72 F

It's transition time! Water is rising in elevation and temperature. Bass spawning is almost over while shad and striper spawning is just beginning. Fishing is still good but different from the incredible success of weeks past. Rising water ensures that all lower and midlake launch ramps will be in operation before Memorial Day.

Bass have left the shallow nest sites and dropped over the edge to forage in deeper water. The rigors of spawning have made them hungry for shad and crayfish. Shad are found toward the backs of canyons at 20-30 feet except for early morning hours when they spawn on the surface. Crayfish are under broken rocks. Fish for bass on secondary points in canyons where shad are found or on primary points in bays. Work plastic baits quickly down 45-degree sloping rocky points. Concentrate on the 20-30 foot depths for best results. Fish the 25-foot contour for 1.5 pound smallmouth. Smaller yearling bass are ever present in shallow rocks next to shore. Bass are being caught from Wahweap to Good Hope and in the San Juan and Escalante. Soft plastic baits are the most versatile terminal gear. Grubs and tubes can be fished in shallow rocks and deeper strata. Bass consistently found at 25 feet may be caught most effectively on drop shot rigs. Use white or other shad colors in locations where shad are holding.

Striped bass are wide spread from the backs of canyons to main channel. They are torn between feeding on shad in the canyon or running to current for spawning purposes. With such a wide range of choices it is best to cover as much water as possible by trolling. Use diving shad lures on 12-17 pound test monofilament trolled at 3 mph. Select trolling spots carefully. Stripers are found on main points where males stage waiting for females to spawn. Troll across a point and then run to the next point instead of just trolling the entire bay or canyon. When a striper is caught turn and try to get another. When the point quits producing - leave it and then return an hour later to catch more fish. Fish a circuit of points in a big bay to catch a few fish from each point. Persistent trolling pays off in a good bunch of stripers by the end of the day.

Juvenile stripers are eating plankton in the backs of coves and canyons. They are very catchable on wallydivers, Yozuri Crystal minnows, Shad raps and rattletraps. Just troll to the back of the side canyon. The main flood plain is not as productive as a cove off the main stem. When a fish is caught cast to that area to catch more. Return time after time to catch as many young stripers as possible. Please harvest as many 12-inch stripers as possible. They will have a tremendous impact on shad numbers during the next month as young shad try to survive the first week of life. It would be better for the fishery if shad were allowed to grow to a larger size before being consumed. Removing the most effective larval fish predators will allow better utilization of limited shad numbers.

Stripers are hitting the surface as shad spawn at first light in the morning. The San Juan has a strong surface bite going on now that persists longer than at most other places. Use top water and shallow cranks or jerk baits early in the morning and then start trolling after the sun hits the water anywhere in Lake Powell.

Expect a striper spawn as soon as the afternoon wind quits blowing. Water temperature must spike above 70 during the day and then maintain into the evening to trigger spawning. Striper females wait patiently for the environmental trigger and then move in with impatient males that have been staging on prominent points since April waiting for the females to arrive. That time is close. Trolling long points at dusk is the best way to find that big spawning school.

CAUTION: If you find them you may not be able to leave. It will be way too much fun!