MAY 6, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3582

Water Temperature: 64-72 F

Rapid warming has pushed the lake surface temperature into the 70's. Lake-spawning stripers patiently wait for this environmental trigger. Expect stripers to spawn this week. If lucky enough to find a spawning school it is possible to experience some of the most amazing fishing imaginable.

Picture a huge school of mature stripers (3-60 pounds). They are all active and willing to hit lures while aggressively searching for spawning partners. The school is large and stationary. Each lure cast into the spawning cove brings a hit. The activity can last for hours. I suggest using a single hook to prevent injury to the angler after dark. A large (3/4-ounce) white or chartreuse jig with a plastic grub trailer is a good choice.

Spawning happens at night but the spawning school can be located at dusk. Sometimes the spawning group of stripers is close to the surface. They will roll and splash and can be seen while cruising near shore. More often the males are staged on long points and can be caught while long-line trolling across points. Locate the school of males at dusk and then fish that cove at night after the females join the group. While the spawning school is huge the number of spawning schools is few. Actually finding the school is a singular experience that should be cherished.

I suggest an overnight camping trip if pursuing the elusive spawning school. Running long distances after dark at Lake Powell is not advised unless traveling the main channel. Know the fishing area and scout it thoroughly in daylight so an underwater reef does not spoil the prop and the trip. Expect to find lake-spawning schools near Warm Creek (Cottonwood Arm), Navajo Canyon, Padre Canyon, Last Chance (half way back in clear water), Dry Rock Creek, Dangling Rope, Mountain Sheep Canyon, Rincon, Bullfrog Bay, Moki Canyon, and Good Hope Bay.

Smallmouth bass responded to warming by spawning one more time. Males are actively guarding nests and females are staged near by. Prime habitat is long sandy sloping points and coves. The cliffs, rocks and shoals fished during summer are not as good. Smaller immature fish will be on the rocks and active early and late. The bigger fish are on SAND concentrated near the one or two rock piles on a sandy point. Spawning bass can readily be seen. The water has gone down a few inches so most nests are only 2-3 feet deep. Sight fishing is the most productive method. Look in sandy coves and on top of shallow rocky ridges for bass nests. Fish in coves where temperature is warmer than the main lake. We fished 67-degree water yesterday without much luck. Then we found a shallow sandy cove where water temperature was over 70 and the bass fishing was awesome. We saw a basking school of stripers in the warm shallows of the same cove. This cove may be the sight of striper spawning this week. Similar coves with a southeast exposure were all good fishing for spawning bass and may be potential striper spawning coves.

Sight fishing for bass will only last one more week. Warmer days that have caused the good fishing will also bring the runoff. The rapid rise will cover the nests with more water, decrease visibility and the bass spawn will be over. Then bass will move back to the shoals, reefs and vertical habitat of summer.

Walleye are being caught with regularity on standard bass fishing tackle in the upper lake. If walleye are your target then go to Halls/Bullfrog and fish upstream. There are not as many walleye caught by anglers fishing out of the lower lake marinas.