MARCH  16, 2005
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3557
Water Temperature: 51-55 F


Unseasonably warm weather was replaced by cold windy March bluster.  Stripers were lurking on the deep water edge of the shallows to stage for spawning and feeding purposes.  Despite the rapid drop in water temperature from 60 back to 51, stripers moved into the shallows instead of retreating to the depths.  Shad were the wild card.  They didnít move from their shallow murky homeland and stripers stayed with them.  

Last week trolling with down riggers and deep running shad lures was the best technique for putting a respectable number of stripers in the boat. To catch fish yesterday I had to put the deep runners back in the box and put on the regular crank baits that run 12 feet deep.  Shad raps, Lucky Craft Bevy Shad and Staysee, Husky jerks, and Wally Divers were hot lures.  Stripers were eating big adult shad so larger lures were better than small for taking the larger stripers. Lures with large hooks hold more of the big stripers than lures with normal size hooks.

 The only deference to cold water was a slow down in striper metabolism. My normal fast trolling had to be throttled back to 2 MPH for more consistent strikes.  In fact, a stop and go action was better than a steady retrieve for slow moving fish.  Striper strikes were soft and slow.  The hook up was not always secure as many of the short biting stripers came off the hook after being played for a few seconds.  But the hooked striper then followed the fleeing lure and would chase it all the way to the boat.  The bait was often taken a second time.

A good striper holding habitat is the emerging island near the main creek channel in the back of major canyons.  Follow the main cut all the way to the back.  Look for birds perched and flying near the canyon terminus in more favorable shad locations. Look for a vertical edge in 15-20 feet of water which could be used as a shad trapping zone.  Cast suspending jerk baits to the shallows and then drag them with a stop and go action into deeper water.  Stripers and bass will be right on the break where deep water meets shallow.

This shallow shad pattern will work for both bass and stripers for the remainder of March and into April.  Bass are more prone to take some time off after a cold front passes, but they can be jump started with the stop and go jerk bait action.   

Walleye will spawn as the water warms once more. 

Fishing has surprised me by starting earlier than normal.  The quality of fish caught was expected.  This season has started with a bang and will get even better in April.  Do not miss a spring fishing trip to Powell.  This will be a year to remember.