June 15, 2005
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3598 and Rising
Water Temp: 68 - 75 F
Its time to put away the deep trolling lures and dig out topwater floating surface lures. Striped bass are in full pursuit of larval shad in the southern third of Lake Powell. To successfully feed on shad less than an inch long stripers need to school up and work together. Trolling was successful all spring when stripers were spread out in small groups. Now striper schools have reformed and stripers are looking to the surface where tiny shad larvae float like plankton.
Slurping boils are seen from first light till 8 AM each calm morning. In some locations a midday boil happens and then another good feeding period heats up as the afternoon wind declines just at dusk. Striper size runs the gamut from 6-inch yearlings to 9-pound adults. The surface disturbance is subtle and easy to miss. Do not be fooled by a small riffle on the otherwise calm surface. Take time to investigate each surface disturbance and throw a topwater lure in front of and just beyond the first feeding fish. Tiny yearlings will pass up the full size surface lure while 2-pound and larger stripers will readily take the bait. The size of the surface disturbance does not necessarily indicate fish size under the surface. Each slurping boil will have a distinct personality. It may be necessary to use a tiny crappie jig, silver spoon, rattletrap, or topwater lure to catch fish. The next slurp may require an alternate approach and be populated by a different year class fish.
Effective topwater baits include Sammie, Super Spook Jr., Jumpin Minnow, and Sugoi Splash.
Stripers are slurping in virtually every canyon between Antelope Canyon and the Escalante River Arm. Uplake areas, including the San Juan, have not started to boil yet due to heavy runoff that has clouded the water and reduced visibility. This will change in July when shad get larger and water clearer. Boils will proceed uplake as the water clarity improves. But this week fishing will be dramatically better from the Escalante downstream to Glen Canyon Dam.
During midday anchovy bait suspended at 30-60 feet on main channel points and drop-offs is the best approach. Fish bait where boils were seen during the morning. The first steep shaded wall or rocky point near boiling activity will be a likely spot to find resting schools regrouping for the next slurping attack. The Rock Creek area is the center of activity. Many striper schools are in the area and anchovy fishing on points where fish are graphed can be excellent.
Over the past two days there has been a spike in number of stripers caught on anchovies at the dam, Antelope Canyon and Navajo Canyon. I saw a 10-pound striper caught at the dam on 6-15-2005.
During the day, smallmouth bass are concentrated on step rocky structure between 20-25 feet. Plastic baits fished methodically at this depth will consistently catch fish lakewide. Largemouth and other brush loving species have moved into flooded brush at the ends of coves and floodplains. Topwater baits fished over brush at mornings first light is the best bass tactic. Bass are aware of the same tiny shad stripers are chasing but bass will attack at broader range of lures in the near shore area. Later in the day, use spinner baits or another weedless presentation to fish the flooded brush in the back of the canyon.
There is no reason to fish anything but small profile surface lures for the first 3 hours of light each morning. Look shallow first and stay on top for bass and stripers. Food size is small so adjust accordingly. Go south for best fishing.