SEPTEMBER 30, 2004

By Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Elevation: 3570

Water Temperature: 70-72 F

Water levels are stable while water temperatures are poised ready to plunge into the 60's. Striped bass will be basking in their preferred temperature zone for the next 3 weeks. The best fishing of the fall is near.

Stripers continue to feed on the surface morning and evening in the lower lake. The action is mostly found in the main channel but some schools are now venturing into the canyon mouths. Cruising the main channel each morning from 6-8 AM provides the best opportunity to find a school on top. Waiting in one spot to see a boil is less effective. Schools are moving around the big bays and through the long expanses of channel. They are not in the same spot each morning. Use binoculars to see splashes marking a distant boil. Cruise quickly to the boil site and cast from a safe distance to keep the school from sounding. Using the electric trolling motor on high is the best way to keep pace with rapidly moving schools that are constantly moving away from the boat. Super long casts with surface lures or shallow running crankbaits to feeding fish is the best technique. After the boil subsides drop spoons in the boil area to catch more stripers and other species.

Morning boils have been found at the confluence of Wahweap Creek and main channel, mouth of Navajo and into Navajo Canyon 2 miles, main channel near Labyrinth Canyon, Padre Bay, Last Chance Bay and Canyon, Rock Creek, and up the main channel all the way to Dangling Rope. Stripers range in size from 1-10 pounds and they are all chasing shad with a vengeance.

Evening boils happen in many of the same places from 6-7 PM. It seems that surface action begins when the shadow of the setting sun falls across the lake. The fish are all on the same schedule no matter which lake location they occupy.

Uplake from Rainbow Bridge there are a few quick boils during the same low light periods but most feeding is done subsurface. Stripers are found on the first terrace at the edge of the deep main river channel. Depth is usually 40-70 feet. The best technique is dropping slab spoons on the school immediately when seen on the graph. Schools are moving rapidly searching for shad and are hard to stay over. Stripers at depth usually have full stomachs so a quick reaction bite is the best approach. Fast trolled lures, rapidly retrieved spoons or crankbaits resembling fleeing shad are the most likely techniques to elicit a strike.

Smallmouth bass are hanging on prominent rocky points particularly at the mouths of canyons and coves. Throw a quick moving reaction bait to find which points are holding bass. Then probe the depths off the end of the point with plastic tube baits to catch bass. The quick moving tube will attract a reaction bite from fish already full of shad. Bass fishing is good in the same areas where stripers are boiling. Fish the shoreline after a striper boil to get smallmouth.

Catfish, walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass are commonly being hooked on spoons while jigging for stripers. Startled shad fleeing from stripers cause feeding opportunities for other species. Find a school of shad under attack to maximize your catch. Sometimes an extra half-hour spent looking for stripers will place you in an area where fishing success is enhanced for all species.

Night fishing with submerged lights may be the best technique to catch fish over the expanse of the lake. Expect that to get even better as the moon darkens.