May 12, 2005
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3566
Water Temp: 59 - 68 F

The big spring flood has opened up boating access with at least one flooded concrete ramp at each marina.   

It must be spring.  Daily temperature fluctuates from cold to hot and back to cold.  Fish are confused with vacillating temps, rapidly rising water and spawning that is interrupted or placed on hold.  When so many variables are tugging in different directions the only logical course of action is to hunker down.   Fish will be deep but anxious to bite when the opportunity comes their way.

Rapidly rising water and spring winds have reduced water clarity.  There is lots of colored water, which warms quickly and concentrates fish in warm spots.  Expect fish to be congregated in the backs of canyons and coves where bottom depth is 20-30 feet.  Fishing in May is neat because many different species can be caught along the same shoreline with the same lure. Find the gathering spot and fishing success will follow. 

Start fishing at the back of the canyon. On warm days shad will spawn along the shoreline at morning’s first light which excites all predators.  Cranks, jerks, white-colored soft plastic grubs and tubes, and spinner baits will entice game fish looking for shad. It may be necessary to fish the entire shoreline to find the hot spot.  I tend to hop from point to point to hasten my search.  When fish are caught there should be many in the same location. 

After shad quit spawning each morning game fish retreat to the depths. They often lurk near shad schools trying to keep them pinned in one spot.  After the sun is on the water fish 20-30 feet deep. On cold days fish slowly, allowing ample opportunity for the lethargic fish to decide to eat.  As the water warms fish get more active and come shallower. Warm afternoons may be the best time to fish on any spring day.

Bass will be on rocky nest structure that is at least 10 feet deep. Sight-fishing for spawners is not likely.  Bluegill and crappie will be around flooded brush, tumbleweed piles and mats of driftwood.  Use tiny plastic grubs (1/16th ounce lead head) or beetlespins around brush piles for pan fish. Walleye will be under suspended clay trailing off a windblown shore or washed by boat wakes or wave action.  Catfish will be prowling the bottom under all the other fish looking for an easy meal.

Striped bass are still waiting to spawn and being kept at bay by cold spring weather.   Many have moved to current and are traveling the main channel.  This situation lends itself well to fishing bait.  Anchovy fishing at the dam and many other historical spring gathering spots will be effective through May or until spawning occurs. If fishing is slow try using a whole anchovy on a bait hook with no weight.  Cast the bait as far as possible and let it slowly settle back to the boat.  When the bait settles under the boat, reel in slowly and then cast again. Never stop the bait moving.  The slow swimming speed will attract stripers that might ignore non-moving suspended bait. Slow tolling with an anchovy harness may be the best technique to try under these conditions.

If the water warms rapidly this weekend the long awaited striper spawn will likely occur.  Troll across long prominent points at dusk.  If stripers are caught stay near that spot until dark casting 1-ounce bucktail jigs with chartreuse grub trailers for a boatload of action.