It has been a great fishing season but this is my last regular report for
the year. Next week we head up lake for annul gill net sampling so I won't
be able to provide a new reports from my other office - which is Lake
Powell. There will be incidental updates through the winter as news worthy
The yearly summary is very bright. Shad made a tremendous comeback in 2008.
They fed the rising generation of game fish left over after the old
generation passed out of the picture in shad-poor 2007. Young stripers grew
rapidly, doubling in weight from 1.5 to 3 pounds from spring to fall. Some
trophy stripers remain and continue to pack on pounds but the bulk of the
population weighs in at 3-4 pounds and is primed to produce a bumper crop of
stripers in 2009.
Striped bass hatched in 2009 will survive on plankton early in the year and
may eat some shad in summer and fall if shad are abundant. The main
predatory impact of the new striped bass overpopulation will not be felt
until 2010. Striped bass fishing in 2009 will be great for large numbers of
4-pound fish. If shad are scarce, bait fishing will be excellent. If shad
are abundant in 2009, then stripers will grow to 6-pounds before the
predation induced forage crash occurs in 2010.
Bass, particularly largemouth, were treated to a forest of habitat as the
lake rose 45 feet in 2008. Brush that had grown around the lake edge was
flooded providing dense cover for largemouth, crappie and bluegill. Copious
shad were added to the fish forest resulting in lush habitat and feeding
conditions seldom seen in this lake.
Smallmouth hung out on the rocks at the edge of the habitat forest feeding
on shad at a leisurely rate and loving it. These conditions were optimum for
all sport fish. Bluegill, crappie, walleye, and catfish all excelled. The
perfect mix of food and cover was to the liking of all participants, perhaps
with one exception.
The only one left out in this ideal aquatic situation was the angler. When
fish are well fed and housed they have no reason to respond to baits and
lures with more than a token attempt. Stripers lost interest in anchovy bait
in early summer. With live shad or dead bait on the menu there was little
reason to choose bait. Cover made it hard (not impossible) to coax bass out
of the sheltered lair to feed when they could consume sunfish and shad
without leaving home.
It is refreshing to have a complacent fish year like this occasionally to
allow the sport fish a chance grow larger at their leisure. The standard at
Powell is large numbers of small fish with low to no forage which makes
hungry fish easy to catch. Results in 2008 were completely different with
fat fish being difficult to catch. Those pleasant conditions (for fish)
remain in place today and it may remain that way through winter.
Patience is the key. This season is all but over. Normal conditions will
return. Fishing success will improve in 2009. The end result will be
excellent fishing for bigger better fish. I love it.