December 8, 2005
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3601
Water Temp: 54 F


Lake Powell turned over during the last week on November.  The big windstorm after Thanksgiving provided the needed energy to mix the water column making the temperature uniform in the upper mixing zone.  Cold water marks the beginning of winter fishing and winter movement of game species. 

Shad are forced into deep water when the lake cools.  Since the entire water column is in the low 50ís shad gradually work themselves deeper.  What they try to avoid is a sudden temperature change that may be felt on a frosty windy night.  The deeper they get the less likely temperature will change dramatically around them. For now expect shad to be found between 30 and 60 feet. Shad will orient over the middle of the submerged creek channel and avoid canyon constrictions that may provide ambush cover for predators. 

Striped bass are simple fish with one desire.  They will follow shad.  Expect striped bass to be found near the backs of canyons where water depth is 30-60 feet.  The common thread in each canyon is that striped bass will be near the shad school.  Graph the center of the channel to find shad schools and the predators waiting nearby.  Stripers, when feeding on shad, will attack spoons or fast moving crankbaits.  Resting stripers will more likely hit a slow-moving jig or anchovy bait fished very near the bottom. The activity level of stripers changes through the day and night so it is wise to have a reaction bait and a finesse bait rigged to be prepared for any occurrence.  A large school of stripers suddenly appearing under the boat may be targeted with a spoon while occasional fish seen on the graph are more likely to be caught on bait or jigs. 

Smallmouth bass activity has slowed down but they will feed in short bursts. Look near the same shad schools for bass.  Find a narrowing in the canyon where shad can be herded a short distance and then trapped against the edge.  Often the narrowest spot between canyon walls where bottom depth is 30 feet will be the best spot to find bass.  Be patient.  Stay near the shad school until bass start to feed. Bass catch will be of short duration but worth the effort. 

Largemouth bass tolerate cold water better than smallmouth so they will remain active in the shallows for another week. They will be near brush and as close to the shad school as possible. Largemouth attack from brush while smallmouth wait near rocks.      

Crappie are the winter bonus fish.  They are very difficult to find as they often suspend in open water.  But if a crappie is caught by accident, fish that area hard with small grubs and a very slow retrieve.  Winter crappie fishing will be better than it has been for decades. 

Walleye may be taken around shad schools. Spooning the bottom is the best way to find walleye waiting for the shad school to come into range.  They use the rock structure on the bottom and sides of the canyon as their attack point.

When using finesse baits for slow moving winter fish it is best to use invisible fluorocarbon line to fool fussy fish. Slow down the retrieve and let the lure touch bottom often.