NOVEMBER 3, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3570

Water Temperature: 60-63 F

The wind blew hard and then calmed. Water temperatures remained poised just barely on the warm side allowing shad to stay shallow until the next major storm front arrives. Topwater fishing will have its last hurrah during the next few days or weeks until the wind blows hard again and temps sink into the 50's. Fishing will not cease with 50-degree water, it will just change to a deep bite which can still be quite rewarding.

For those seeking that last surface casting adrenaline rush, stripers and bass were recently found in sandy coves and nooks near the main channel. Deep-water channels leading into shallow weedy coves mark shad sanctuaries where wide-bodied large stripers cannot effectively follow. The rooted aquatic weeds make it even more difficult for predators to catch shad. Do not expect to see boils. When shad are seen, cast surface lures near shore and retrieve them into deeper water. Stripers will hit as soon as the lure gets in range. It is possible to create your own boils as the big fish hit lures fleeing away from shore.

Smallmouth bass will be feeding on shad near trapped shad schools. Bigger bass will take topwater lures above the weed beds on shad flats. Smaller bass will be on the rocky points and ledges. They are willing customers for standard plastic grubs, tubes and senkos fished on jig heads or dropshot rigs.

Bird sign is more important than ever now. Boating activity is way down. Freeloading birds are hungry without a few camps to rob. Ravens follow striper schools from the air hoping for a shad attack. They know shad leap out on shore often when pushed by stripers in shallow water. If they get there before the shad can wriggle back in the water they get an easy meal. Look for ravens, great blue herons, gulls and coyotes on shore. They are fish markers!

If fish signs are present but stripers are not found. Go deeper off shore and drop spoons at the first 45-foot dropoff. Schools will hold in deep water while resting and waiting for a return run on shallow shad. The shallow/deep combination should produce fish for the next week from Bullfrog downstream. We sample Bullfrog upstream next week and should have a good report of the fishing pattern uplake upon our return.

Catfishing is still good.