March 24, 2009
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3610
Water Temp: 51-58 F

There was a spring fishing preview last week when air temperatures were near 80 and water temperatures poked into the 60s. Cold blooded fish have no defense against warming water. They feel the warmth and respond with increased activity which is a boon to anglers. On warm days last week, both bass species began to bite and even a few crappie were caught in the trees.

Here is the fishing schedule. When water temperature is near 57 in the early morning, bass fishing will be good in the afternoon after water warms into the 60s. Bass will be active and willing to chase lures. They will leave the brush shelter and be found cruising beyond the brush forest. Smallmouth will be found on the rocky points and ledges.

Tonja Wright with largemouth bass caught on white Senko

Today water temperature was 51 in the morning following yesterday's strong wind. That means catching is not easy but still possible. Bass will be tight to the trees and will require some bushwhacking to get to them. Water is crystal clear with the exception of the backs of canyons and coves. Long casts are needed to have any chance of catching bass in the trees. The lure must be weedless to survive the journey. One good method used last week involved casting weedless rigged senkos into brush and allowing them to sink slowly near basking bass.

In cloudy water with brush it is possible to have success by fishing vertically. Drop the lure in an open space between tree limbs, let it go the bottom and rest, and then retrieve it through the entrance hole. Retrieving in a normal horizontal direction results in constant snagging in thick  brush. This technique is particularly good for crappie who feel secure in brush piles. If the boat is moved slowly and quietly into the brush forest, it is possible to catch crappie and bass within a rods length of the boat with a lure dangled and twitched straight up and down in thick cover.

Bottom line - In cold water largemouth bass and crappie are in the brush. To catch fish the lure has to be where the fish are.

Stripers have shown no interest in leaving the backs of the canyons. In most years, the lack of forage during Spring sends them looking for current and food. They often end up at the dam or in the main channel. So far, there has been no fish movement. They remain in the back of the canyon with a decent over wintering shad population providing for their needs.

Stripers are schooled but schools are very mobile. Successful anglers are covering a lot of water to find a school. They are cooperative as long as an active lure or bait holds their interest. Often the time it takes to remove a fish from the net, unhook it and take a picture allows the school to lose interest and leave the area. Trolling is the best technique right now to find and catch stripers. Use a Thunderstick, Megabait or other deep diver that puts the lure down near the 25 foot bottom contour that has been the most productive depth to catch them.

Best fishing time has been midday when warming water increases fish activity.