September 29, 2010
Lake Elevation: 3633                        
Water Temp:    72-74 F  

The endless summer warm weather pattern continues to hold. Fishing conditions will not change until cooler weather arrives. That means stripers will be in deep water resting in cool water. They come up briefly to forage on crayfish, shad or sunfish if available. The best place to find feeding stripers is on a 20-40 foot deep flat in close proximity to deep water. Fishing is often tough in these conditions except in rare instances where shad are still found with stripers in close proximity. If not, then bait fishing or jigging spoons over resting schools is the best choice.

Cole Runyon with his first smallmouth bass

Bass fishing is still good but fish are deep and close to the bottom. We fished near Good Hope bay yesterday and caught only an occasional small bass while the sun was directly overhead and the lake flat calm. Then at 3 PM a light wind blew making a ripple on the lake surface. Bass fishing went from lack luster to terrific as soon as the riffle affected lake visibility. We caught 25 bass in the next half hour with the largest over 3 pounds. We had been fishing watermelon colored single tail grubs without anything to show for it before the wind. After the wind blew the same grubs were hit on every drop.

Fish are just waiting for a change in weather and water temperature before they begin the annual fall feeding frenzy.

While we are waiting for a change in the weather forecast here is a brief summary of our sampling results from this week. Electrofishing at Good Hope Bay showed an absence of threadfin shad but a stable population of gizzard shad in the backs of tree lined coves. Large adult shad were roaming the shoreline and plenty of young shad of good eating size were in the thick brush. As soon as the water cools, bass and stripers will find these shad hideouts and feeding will increase.

The biggest sampling find was the unprecedented number of young-of-year striped bass. Hundreds of young stripers were collected compared to the handful of stripers normally caught. It was suspected this spring that the entire adult striper population was in spawning condition. Sampling results confirm that a third strong year class of stripers has been produced. Just as occurred in 2008 and 2009 massive numbers of young stripers are now found in the lake. These youngsters are able to stay in shallow warm water with shad forage while adult stripers are confined to cooler water without shad. Adult stripers will now lose the competition for food and not grow any larger. This fall and next spring bait fishing for stripers will be superb along the steep canyon walls. Easy fishing for stripers will return. There will be no need to troll of use spoons next year.

All predators will suffer from lack of shad. Stripers are the first to suffer loss of condition because they prefer to feed in open water. Now that shad are hiding in the trees bass, crappie and walleye will fare better because they also live in or near the tree line. All small fish in the trees will be fair game. Population size of all species will now diminish as hungry adult predators consume young fish in the brush. Tough times are ahead but the forage boom and bust cycle has happened many times before. Hopefully the presence of gizzard shad will dampen the effect as the "bust" continues over winter.