March 3, 2010
Lake Elevation: 3620                               
Water Temp:    48-51 F  

It is still winter at Lake Powell. Surface water temperature is near 50F. Warm water fish are not excited about cold water conditions. That will change as day length increases allowing the sun to shine on the water for longer periods each day. There will be a measurable difference that can be tested by thermometer and with fishing success. Warm water fish react very quickly to any warming. They can easily feel the heat and quickly move to the warmest water available.

Habitat and forage conditions coming out of winter are mostly positive. Sport fish are fat and numerous. Lake level is still falling. That will continue through March. Declining water is not a positive for angler success. However, the dominant variable is rising water temperature, which will negate the effect of falling lake level.

Cameron Conger

The first species to respond will be walleye. They spawn with the first warming. Expect walleye to lay eggs on lake rockslides and gravel bars as water temperature rises to 53F. That does little good for fishing success because walleye don't eat much when in spawning condition. It will be at least mid April before walleye are caught regularly by anglers.

Largemouth bass are a different story. Big bass are the first fish to react. Some dandies have already been caught with many more to come. Bass fishing tournaments will be held each weekend in March. Expect winning weights to be near 20 pounds for 5 fish. That is a far cry from a decade ago when winning weights were closer to 7 pounds for the same five fish. A shoreline ringed with flooded brush and a large crop of shad have made the difference. Largemouth fishing in 2009 was of record proportion for fish size and quantity. Nothing has changed to compel those results to do anything but increase. Expect 2010 largemouth fishing success to be among the best ever seen. March bass fishing success will mark the beginning of a very special year.

Smallmouth bass are slower to react. Expect these smaller but more numerous bass to come out of hibernation when water temperature hits 57F. Crappie will follow and become catchable in early April. Both species will spawn near the third week of April depending on the vagaries of spring temperature.

That leaves striped bass. There has been no noticeable movement of stripers to the main channel. Famous spring fishing for stripers near the dam and in the channel has not begun, nor is it expected. Abundant forage in the backs of canyons gives stripers no reason to move. They love to eat shad and will stay with the food. They can just as easily spawn in the back of the canyon as near the dam. So why not eat while waiting for the spawning event. Stripers will be caught near shad schools in the backs of canyons. Trolling will be the best technique to locate a school, while spooning and casting to schoolmates trailing the hooked fish will often put more fish in the boat than trolling. Expect stripers to come out of winter averaging 3-4 pounds with a few larger females exceeding 6 pounds.

This will be a year to remember as fishing success for all species in both size and number will be remarkable. Plan your trip now so as not to miss the anticipated fishing bonanza.

Great efforts are being made to prevent invasive species like quagga mussels from being transported to the lake. Some ramps are still closed so that all entering boats can be checked before launching. During March all boats must be launched at Bullfrog or Wahweap Main Ramp between the hours of 6 AM and 5 PM. No night launching will occur as ramps will be closed after dark. All of these precautions are meant to protect this wonderful resource from the devastation that would occur if invasive mussels were inadvertently released. Please help with this effort by giving proper attention to your boat and helping to educate all on the destructive nature of invasive species.