SEPTEMBER 16, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3570

Water Temperature: 73-75 F

Our recent sampling trip helped solve the mystery of non-boiling stripers. Shad are thick over the old Colorado River streambed and the feeding canyons pouring into the Colorado. At night shad spread out across the open water above the submerged channel at a depth of 25-45 feet. Shad concentration gets heavier closer to the inflowing Colorado River. While shad are present at all locations, Good Hope has the most and Bullfrog is next. As uplake stripers feed they herd shad and trap them against the submerged canyon wall or just trap shad against other striper bodies as they feed in a pack. Shad are large and plentiful and it is not necessary for stripers to use the surface as a killing field. Some small quick boils do occur at first light but most feeding is deep.

In the lower lake, shad schools are plentiful but less frequent than uplake. Stripers are most effective feeding on shad at the surface so they drive schools to the top each morning from first light till 8 AM. Then stripers go deep to rest and feed.

In both locations striper attacks separate shad schools scattering shad in all directions before they can regroup into their comfortable school. This is the key catching stripers and the reason for the lengthy explanation.

Here is the fishing technique that works so well over the whole lake. If a quick boil is seen near shore position the boat in 40-60 feet of water. Stripers leave the surface and follow the bottom contour to the first break or flat before the cliff cascades into the main channel. Deep feeding stripers regroup on the terrace at 40-60 feet. These striper schools must be located on the fish finder. Just follow the breaking edge of the creek channel until fish are marked. When stripers/shad are graphed, drop a jigging spoon to the bottom. If stripers are close (5 feet) to the bottom, vertically jig the spoon up and down.

If stripers are suspended any further off the bottom then use the speed-jigging technique. As soon as the spoon hits bottom reel it back to the surface as fast as possible. When the lure comes into view, open the bail and let if fall back to the bottom and repeat the process quickly when fish are on the graph. The lure "burning" toward the surface mimics a single shad in panic-mode trying to find its school. Speed jigging is absolutely the best fishing technique for stripers right now from Slick Rock Canyon upstream to Good Hope Bay. Injured and frightened shad are the main diet of both bass and stripers. With such an abundance of food, lures that look and act like a preferred shad meal are the most effective.

Some anglers are struggling to get a bite while others in the same bay even using the same lure are catching all the fish they want. The difference is bringing the lure quickly from bottom to top past suspended stripers. The best spoons this week were Wallylures, Hopkins Shorty, and Cabelas spoons in the to 1.5-ounce size.

Trolling works to locate suspended stripers but when a school is found, speed jigging spoons is a more effective and productive approach.

Bass are still on points extending into the main channel and susceptible to topwater lures and shad imitating crankbaits.