September 30, 2009
in evening in short canyon near channel.
In the last report the Fall fishing pattern was explained. The pattern is all about shad and how game fish feed on the unusually abundant shad population. Shad have moved out of the open water into the backs of the coves where brush offers some relief from the relentless pursuit of predators. Predators hold in deeper water waiting for a feeding opportunity. Bass hold at 10 to 15 feet in close proximity to shad, while striped bass hold at the first deep break from 25-50 feet where water is cooler. Both species make frequent trips to the shallows to visit their dinner. This pattern will remain in place until water temperature cools enough to drive shad into deeper water. Expect shad to be in the backs of canyons through most of October depending on weather patterns.
Knowing shad location and striper feeding schedule gives anglers a starting point. Striper boils are not commonly working all the way to the thick brush in the far end of the canyon. Shad schools venture into open water to feed at first and last light. These open water and deeper shad are striper main targets of opportunity and not shad in 5-10 feet of water. Find a short canyon near the main channel with shad along the shore where bottom depth is 20-40 feet. Canyons that fit this bill last week were Kane Creek and Kane Wash, Main Rock Creek, Rincon, Slick Rock, Knowles and Cedar Canyons. There were many other canyons with striper surface activity but these had significant boils reported at dawn or dusk.
Absence of visible boils should not be a deterrent. If conditions match the above habitat description, cast surface lures along the shoreline to create your own boils from stripers and bass that are looking up for an easy feeding opportunity.
Spooning striper schools seen on the graph at 40-60 feet is the best technique during most of the day. There are active striper schools in almost every canyon. They are easier to find in a short canyon like Rincon than in a long narrow canyon like Smith Fork. Just graph the areas where bottom depth is between 40 and 60 feet dropping spoons on all the fish traces within that zone.
Bass fishing with topwater lures around brush and shad in shallow water at the back of the canyon provides non stop morning and evening success. A surface popper worked slowly with frequent pauses is irresistible to 10-14 inch large and smallmouth bass. Bigger bass are feeding with stripers in the morning and evening boils.
Standard smallmouth techniques like bottom bouncing plastics baits on bare rocky points is not as effective as fishing topwater baits around shad and brush. All predators are keyed on shad now and shad live in or near brush. Adapt your fishing techniques to take advantage of the excellent fishing opportunities that currently exist. This may be the time to learn how to use surface lures or spinnerbaits even if your favorite technique is fishing with plastic along the bottom.