October 21, 2009
Lake Elevation: 3634
Water Temp:    64-68 F  

Life is good for sport fish in Lake Powell. All the basics of life - food, shelter, and climate are perfect. Bass and stripers know exactly where shad will be because they have had the same large schools pinned in the brush for the past month. Bass and stripers feed quickly and efficiently at dawn and then move off to rest. They keep an eye on shad to make sure they don't move but are really content to just bask in the pleasant 66 degree water for most of the day.

Kip Bennett found success at dawn

Happy fish are not necessarily cooperative to anglers. Hungry fish searching for food are much easier to locate than contented fish. There is little need for fat game fish to do more than eat and rest. The good news is that during a feeding event both bass and stripers are easy to catch. The bad news is that resting periods are much more common than feeding episodes.

The strategy then is to find shad which are in very shallow water, hiding in brush. If a number of shad schools are known a circuit can be run between schools hoping to find a feeding event in progress. Failing that, a deep water strategy is needed.

Bass will often rest right with shad in brush. They peacefully coexist for hours and then turn on shad for a short feeding burst. When feeding is over it seems all is forgiven and predator and prey again swim together. During the resting periods slow moving plastic baits that rest on the bottom tend to invite curiosity from resting bass and may trigger an inquisitive nip from a nearby fish.

Stripers are more challenging to find and catch. They tend to go deeper to rest. Finding a school resting at 40-80 feet requires a great amount of graphing in the large open bays. A better idea is to troll deep while graphing. Down riggers are the best trolling option as baits can be fished at great depths while flat line trolling is mostly confined to the upper 25 feet. When a school of fish is seen on the bottom, make sure to have a floating marker ready to deploy. Troll over the resting school with down riggers. If no fish are caught return to the marker and fish with spoons. Yesterday I took stripers from a school located in the middle of Gunsight Bay at a depth of 80 feet. I caught no fish while trolling but spooning isolated schools saved the trip.

Down rigger trolling at Hite is the best striped bass option right now.

Fishing is not easy and will continue to be difficult until water temperature drops. The long warm spell has made fish complacent. A temperature drop to the 50s will move shad out of the shallows to the bottom. Bass and stripers will then have to search to relocate the food source. Bass fishing will slow with cooler temperature while striper fishing success will increase as striper and bait schools will become stationary and easy to find on the graph in bays and open canyons.

Kip Bennett caught both bass and stripers on lipless vibrators at first light.