The first freeze of the year occurred on Thanksgiving Day. The cold
temperature finally allowed the water surface temperature to dip into the
high 50s. Fish respond to cold temperatures by exhibiting springtime
behavior. Best fishing happens when water is warmest - usually in the
afternoon. Feeding periods are farther apart meaning there are times when
fish just will not bite. These dormant periods are followed by brief feeding
sprees that make it very worth while to be fishing on a cool day.
Striped bass: Still very abundant
although average length is smaller than in the spring, fish health is
greatly improved as the older generation is now mostly gone giving way to
the new rising generation. Shad are moving deeper and stripers follow.
Expect to find striper schools in canyons with shad where bottom depth is
40-60 feet deep. They can be deeper when resting and shallower when feeding
but graphing in this range allows a good starting point when searching for
the first school of the day.
Striper schools have been most recently found in Wahweap Bay near Lone Rock,
Dry Rock Creek, San Juan past the Great Bend, and Trachyte and White Canyon
near Hite. Night fishing is good near the marinas.
When shallow, stripers can be caught trolling shallow running "trap" baits
or shad raps with a bit of chartreuse and shad color. When deep, swim baits
like walleye assassin and Yamamoto swim baits are very effective when
retrieved slowly along the bottom. It is very important to use the graph to
located fish during the winter. They don't move much so a large school can
be very close but not caught unless the boat is positioned directly over
them. Anchovies are always effective.
BASS: It has been a great year for big black
bass. The trophies are still out there and can be caught by fortunate
anglers in the right place at the right time. But most average-sized bass
are hanging in one of two locations:
Largemouth bass really like
cover. Sunfish are hold up along the bottom in weed beds. Some of these weed
beds are shallow with an edge exposed as the lake drops. Others are down as
much as 20 feet. Largemouth bass will be right in the weeds (including
tumbleweed piles) all winter long. They stay surprisingly shallow and follow
the forage. Weed busting lures like spinnerbaits or vertically fished jig
and pig baits are the winter standards. Some lake areas along the main
channel are very clear. Look for murky water for best success.
Smallmouth bass are rock oriented and will be
deeper along breaking edges of long points or terraces. Both bass species
are in cool water well below their preferred temperature range in the winter
so feeding may not happen every day. But they do feed and can be caught.
Smallmouth bass eat crayfish that hide under rocks. Use a bait that
resembles their prey and stays close to the bottom. Nothing is better in the
winter than the standard plastic grub that has been so effective for the
past 20 years. Just experiment with grub colors, swimming action and speed
of retrive to refine the most appealing pattern on any given day.
Walleye feed well in winter. They congregate
around brushy cover where bait fish hide. Murky water is more comfortable
for them and they are a very effective night time predator. Spoons, swim
baits and plastics are effective cold weather walleye baits. Walleye can
often be seen in shallow water around brush. Put a drop shot bait
right in front of their nose to wake them up.
Crappie suspend in open water or hold up in
schools near brush in winter. They don't feed often but they can be started
once a school is located. Fishing at night under lights may be the most
effective cold weather crappie technique.
Sunfish hide out during the winter trying to avoid bigger fish. Do not
expect to catch many bluegill.