November 3, 2005
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3602
Water Temp: 63-67 F
Greetings from the
San Juan. Our gill netting samples were of record proportion with a new
standard for total number of fish caught (437).
We collected all of the lake’s fish species except northern pike
and even some rare flannelmouth suckers. We found the fish populations to
be healthy as well as numerous. Highlights included the resurgence of the
crappie population and the confirmation that smallmouth are growing well
despite the high numbers of fish found in the San Juan.
It was a very satisfying survey.
Shad are abundant.
Bass and stripers have no problem finding a meal. The most
successful pattern is to provide an easy to eat morsel in this myriad of
foraging opportunities. Fast
retrieves do not work. Fish
are complacent and feel no need to chase. The standard smallmouth catching
method is a slow swimming retrieve. Cast
a grub or sinking hard plastic crank bait.
Let it settle to the bottom. Then
retrieve slowly so the bait bumps bottom occasionally and slides over
rocks. Target rock reefs or points and grass (aquatic weeds) flats.
Fish 10-15 foot depths for best results. The bait or lure is not as
important as the speed and location.
Swimming a lipless crankbait near bottom is just as effective as
swimming a grub. Remember to
fish slow and deep with a constantly moving bait.
technique is to fish large shad schools that are often found at the mouth
of a canyon. Stripers tend to
work the huge schools by just swimming through the acres of shad and
opening their mouths to feed. It
is not necessary for them to drive shad to the surface and boil.
Stripers graphed around shad schools were caught with jigging
spoons and crankbaits. My
sense was that stripers moved just out of casting range after we caught
the first one or two. We had better luck trolling a medium or deep diving
shad lure through the huge shad school and letting the stripers move
around and find it.
The third method
was to fish the small pockets of shad located in the back of each canyon
and cove. Here surface lures, spoons, grubs and
cranks all worked when a school of bass or stripers made one of
many periodic journeys to eat shad snacks.
They come quick, eat fast and then leave. If you are in the back when a school comes in the catching is