June 11, 2008
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3619
Water Temp: 69-75 F

The past week was marked by major events for lake visitors. Most notably the Castle Rock Cut was flooded and opened for uplake travel for the first time in over 5 years. It was an absolute thrill to cross from Wahweap to Warm Creek without the need to transverse 12 miles of rough main channel wakes to get to the mouth of Warm Creek.
Waters touched on June 6th and boats were using the passage freely on June 10th. It is wise to go slow, stay in the center of the slot, and pass others with courtesy and caution. Channel markers are minimal now but will improve.


The other major event is almost as important. The FIRST BOILS were seen in Navajo Canyon and on the San Juan near the mudline. Two-pound stripers have found the newly spawned larval threadfin and gizzard shad. Tiny shad have almost no swimming ability making them easy prey. Stripers don't really need to "boil" to eat the little shad. Instead they move easily along the surface and slurp in the big tasty fish plankton. Stripers will be seen lined up on top, shoulder to shoulder, with mouths all oriented in the same direction as they mow through the shad crops.

Stripers are looking at tiny shad - less than an inch long. A full size lure thrown into the middle of the striper line is a foreign object that may spook the school. It is critical to use a smaller profile lure, like a bass popper or Zara Spook Jr. But the most critical need is to place each cast precisely in front of the fish leading the school. Drop the lure 2-feet in front of the leader to consistently catch fish.

Bass are lost! The rising water has flooded the brush. Bass are enjoying with wide-eyed amazement the jungle of green leaves and thick cover. This generation of fish has not seen flooded brush in the water. It will take a while for them to become reoriented to a brushy environment. Then a consistent fishing pattern will emerge and they will be readily catchable one more. Try topwater lures at first light in the morning. Bass, like stripers, will find shad and they will hit the surface where the tiny shad are hanging like grapes to be harvested.

Brian Walters with striper catch.

For now there are still massive schools of striped bass in the main channel that have not found shad. These schools are still surviving on plankton. There seems to be no end to the number of stripers that can be caught on anchovy bait once a school is located. Many may miss out by fishing the conventional depths of 30-40 feet. That is the right starting point to find plankton eating fish and to chum them into activity. As soon as the school moves up to feed reduce bait depth to increase catch. Most of the schools this week are feeding at about 15 feet. The best way to find the right depth is to watch the bait descend in clear water. As soon as it disappears from view stop the descent. That is where the fish will be most abundant - right at the edge of visibility.

Other species are having moments as well. Catfish and sunfish will be spawning this week making them more visible and easier to catch.