May 21, 2008
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3601
Water Temp: 64- 72 F

Just when we have fishing patterns all figured out - they change. It is transition time once again. Stripers are near spawning and bass are lost in the rapidly rising water. Here are tips to keep up with the expected fish movements this week.

Striped bass males are extremely active lake wide. They are in large schools both in the canyons and the main channel. Schooling nature means there will be many areas without any fish and then a few spots with an endless supply of fish to catch. Here are a few locations with raging schools. Wahweap Bay near Castle Rock, Buoy 3, Buoy 9, Navajo Canyon (points past the first big island), Padre Bay - Cookie jar, Last Chance at the back of the canyon and half way in on the east Bluff with the first noticeable rock slide, Jacks Arch, Rincon near floating potty, Lake Canyon, and many spots in the northern lake. Schools up north may be harder to find with murky runoff water clouding their presence. There may actually be more stripers in the upper lake as they run to current when spawning - but they may be harder to find.
 

Brooke and Bill Wiley land two stripers from a school in Padre Bay


With huge schools present in most canyons and bays the best method of locating them is to graph the 30-60 foot depth contour. It is fine to troll while looking. When a fish is hooked or a school seen on the graph, mark the spot. The location will often be well out in the bay without a good way to stay on target, unless GPS or floating marker is used to pinpoint the spot. Once marked, that school location may be good for many days. Schools I have graphed recently resemble a tall thin vertical stack with spaces. A tall thin stack without spaces may also be a tree.

Stripers in the main lake are eating plankton so they are more likely to be caught on anchovy bait than reaction lures. One combination that works well is to chum with anchovies and fish with a spoon or crankbait to actually catch fish as they rise in response to chum.

The striper spawn will occur when water warms sufficiently to trigger females into activity. When that occurs, activity shifts to dark hours and daylight fishing slows considerably. Afternoons may be the best fishing time this week. Look for shoreline splashing activity in the evening to find a spawning school that may include a trophy female. Males will all be the 2-pound fish that have been caught so often this spring.

Rapidly rising water has flooded new ground that is far way from where bass were residing. In gently sloping area bass are hard (not impossible) to find. Fish much deeper water to catch the bigger bass. The trick this time of year is to fish vertical habitat where bass can go up and down instead of moving laterally to stay in the comfort zone while water rises. The exception and best place to fish, is the slick rock canyons. Here much of the habitat is vertical cliff with cracks and ledges for cover. Bass will be in the likely looking spots along walls and in cracks. Some of the best canyons to fish now for bass include: Face, West, Oak, Reflection, Hidden Passage, Escalante River, Iceberg, and Moki. Again the canyons uplake are still good but the main channel may be muddy.

Fishing remains great - it just requires a slight adjustment to keep up with the moods of the quarry.