March 17, 2009
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3611
Water Temp: 51-55 F

I am excited. Days remain warm and calm. Water is warming. Fish are finally recognizing the change and responding. Fishing has improved. Winter is over at Lake Powell. Both bass and stripers are now catchable.

Largemouth are the first species to react in spring. With brush in the water Lake Powell largemouth can now act like there are supposed to. Adult bass prefer to live in brush forests. They must venture out at times to hunt but the normal tendency is to wait for a sunfish or shad to come into cover. So most of the time they just wait.

Anglers had success this past weekend by fishing in front of the thick brushy coves and cuts. The key was to use a bulky bait like a skirted double tail plastic jig or a slow sinking bait like a weedless senko. Throw the bait as close to structure as possible and then let it rest. Imagine a bass seeing the bait and trying to decide whether to leave the thick cover and investigate. A quick retrieve makes the bass decision easy. He lets the bait go. But a bait that lingers and after a reasonable time twitches - causes a need for investigation. The bass moves closer - another twitch - it looks like something to eat. Understanding fish attitude is the first step in catching them.

Smallmouth bass are still in the cold mode, but another two weeks and they will awaken as well.

Tayler McNabb with fat striper typical for 2009.

Striped bass are feeding. There is one pattern that works lake wide. Schools rest in deep water (50-100 feet) but periodically come up to look for shallow (25 feet and less) shad schools. The key to consistently catching stripers is to work the breaking edge of structure at the 25 foot contour. Use the graph and find the edge where the deep water meets shallow. There will be a striper school resting along the break line at some point. The best way to find the school is to troll along the 25 foot contour.

Much greater success is found by using a deep diving lure that actually runs at 25 feet. That can be accurately determined by trolling in shallow water with a sand bottom (not brush). When the lure hits bottom you know how deep it runs. You will be disappointed to find that most deep divers actually run about 10-12 feet deep. Find a 25-foot deep runner and troll the 25 foot contour for consistent success. Down riggers or leaded line work well.

The last suggestion is to have a jigging spoon rigged and ready. When a striper is hooked trolling, it is common for the entire school to follow. These fish are awake, alert and looking for food. Drop the spoon to catch a few more fish while they are active. You will find that the school loses interest quickly and runs away from the boat. At that point resume trolling, find another school, troll up some fish, then spoon some up, and troll once more. This technique is proven and will work all over the lake.