Date Received: May 14, 2003 - Cal Keetch
After watching the weather for weeks, we finally decided to "go for it", and take our chances up the San Juan. We launched Saturday morning, at Bullfrog (side note: ramp is very, very shallow. Room for 2 boats to launch, very hard to load and unload. They are attempting to widen, but not much that can be done. This will be a BIG problem on busy weekends). Temperature was 38 degrees as we started up lake. We took our time, and reached our campsite at @8:30. Another boat, with 2 friends had been there since Friday, and set-up camp, in Spencer's Camp area. We talked to them, and were surprised to hear that they were catching lots of walleyes.
We fished hard the rest of Saturday, and had "hot" and "cold" fishing. We would pull into a spot, and catch fish as fast as you could throw out, then go a 1/2 hour or longer without a bite. Water depth was @20ft, and water temp was 62 in the morning, going to 68 in the afternoon. Water was very murky, with visibility @6".
Sunday, our friends had to get back, but we stayed and fished. Fishing was a little slower than on Saturday, but was still great. Bass were on the small size, but the occasional walleye, striper and crappie made the variety exciting.
Monday, we moved camp down to Piute Canyon bay, and thought that we might find some bigger bass. We did find more bass, but we could not catch anything over 1 1/2 pounds. Water was a lot more clear, temperature was 4 to 5 degrees colder, than up lake. Here is a list of Fish caught, by 2 of us:
Smallmouth - 60
Largemouth - 10
Walleye - 9
Stripers - 8 (they are in great shape)
Crappie - 6
Bluegill - 2
Carp - 1 (caught in the mouth on Rattle Trap).
Catfish - 1 (caught in mouth on grub).
Gizzard Shad - 1 (I hope I don't go to prison for this one). I foul hooked a 7" one, up above Spencer's Camp. It was released.
We fished with Grubs, Gitzits, and Crankbaits. We enjoyed the great scenery, and beautiful weather.
Date Received:June 5, 2003 - Wayne Gustaveson, Mark G and Jeff Walker
Cruised out of Piute looking for boils in Neskahi Bay. Ran all the way to the uplake cliff wall and saw no surface action. Retraced our steps and stopped near the mouth of Neskahi and started blind casting. Caught a couple of stripers on jumpin’ minnow in shallow fairly open water. I think stripers were grouping in the open and moving on shore to find shad.
Saw a little disturbance near shore and cast the jumpin minnow. Immediately rewarded with a striper. Caught about 5 right on the shoreline at mouth of Neskahi. Saw single stripers feeding in open back toward the north east wall. Drove to area where splashes were seen and blind casting produced a couple more stripers. When those stripers failed to come up we motored further uplake. Saw a circular disturbance in open water that looked like yearling stripers eating larval shad. It was a very slow moving boil. Our fist casts were ignored as small stripers often do with large plugs. But then a 3-pound fish hit. I think maybe a few big ones were feeding with the little fish. I can’t prove that because every striper we caught from this and 5 other similar boils was 2-3 pounds. Ghost boils often sound as soon as a boat approaches. These were no exception. They popped up only to sound as we drew near. We were tired of chasing these when we heard a loud boil near shore. A quick search produced splashes right on shore against the further most upstream wall of Neskahi Bay. The shad were trapped in a cove and the stripers worked them over for an hour while we worked on the stripers. We were down to just catching a few stragglers when it was time to leave.
We returned to our camp in Piute Canyon. After filleting fish for an hour a boil started in the opposite cove. We finished filleting and half an hour later stripers were still working the shore. I sent Mark and Jeff Walker over to defend our campsite. They caught and released about 20 stripers while I took pictures. Another boat came into Piute. We left the boiling stripers and asked the new anglers if they would like to catch stripers. We pointed out the fish to the new group and then broke camp and came home. A very great trip. Handled over 100 stripers in one morning. Very nice.
Date Received: June 16, 2003 - Bob Hryniewich and the CREW
I just got back from Powell and had a excellent time on the water. After reading your report for the last two weeks I took your advice and went down to the San Juan. We started fishing in Cha Canyon and only caught 10 smallmouths and 1 largemouth. After about 2 hours we needed to find a camp spot to get all of our gear off the boats to go search for the STRIPERS. We went down Wilson creek and couldn't find a sandy beach for the tents so we decided to fish and only caught one smallmouth bass. We ended up headed further up lake to Deep canyon where we found the best camping spot on Lake Powell. Once we unloaded the boats we decided to head up to Puite Canyon per your report and didn't get a single bite. Then I remember that Neskahi Bay was on your list of places to fish. Once we pulled into the bay it was about 11:00am or so and decided to troll since we didn't see any surface action.
The trolling set up that we used was PENN trolling reels which has LEAD line on them with a 2ft leader followed by a BLUE/Silver Rapala. These poles started to go off within 15 minutes of trolling with 20-24 inch STRIPER attached. In addition, to the trolling BOILS started to occur about every way you turned your head. Once we reached these boils there were about 100 Stripers in each boil and decided to throw 1/2 ounce Rattle Traps in to them which did the job. The only bad thing about this part was that we only had one net on each boat which caused a problem. Out of the three poles that we trolled with we had the most success with Rapala's which had blue on the top and silver on the bottom. Over the 3 days that we were there we probably fished a total of 18 hours and caught about 50 Stripers, 20 smallmouth, 3 large mouth, 2 cats and 1 20 inch Walleye. I would strongly suggest anyone that wants to fish for Striper to head to Neskahi Bay and fish the same setups that we had. In addition, if anyone has any questions please let me know. I've attached some photos of the fish we decided to keep.
Date Received: June 30, 2003 - Jim Morrill
Fished San Juan arm friday afternoon June 27 til Sun Morn. the 29th. Started seeing slurps just upstream Deep Canyon through Piute Canyon area and up about as far as Neskahi Wash. These were predominantly on the South side of the main channel sporadically all day long. In the evening Piute Canyon was full of 5-7 different small to large schools roving through the canyon. They were mostly slurping, but as the activity progressed past 7PM the intensity slowly increased as if they knew they only had minutes left to shop before a moonless night would keep them from feeding til morning. The last 30 minutes they all moved just outside Piute mouth and began to smash shad and any lure that touched the water.
1. Fish very aware of the location of the boat during the day. Approach cautiously and throw out as far past or ahead of the school as you can.
2. Larger schools brought greater success. Smaller schools usually just caused frustration because you couldn't get close to.
3. Put the boat upwind of them and hope you drift into them with minimal trolling motor use.
4. Seemed to want something swimming fast (reaction bite) or something small on top. Super spook jr., small crippled herring spoon, small norman crank bait, rattle trap and small poppers 1 1/4" long including hook all had limited success. If you have a rod and reel that can make that small popper sail a long way, I think you could catch the most slurps with it. It touches down with out a big splash, makes a little noise and easily sulrped in with the larva. Just tough to get out there. Must be up wind. I had a 8 ft. noodle pole that did the trick. Second best was the green rattle traps with orange belly.
5. plan to be on the water 6:30PM to dark. At this time still keep trying top water as well as swimming (rattletraps and cranks). Sometimes they only wanted one, not the other. As things progressed though it seemed we didn't even want to get a finger close to the water for fear of getting it bit off.
6. fish light line: my 6 or 8 lb florocarbon outfished 10lb test 5 :1.
7. Don't get too beat up during the day that you are too tired to fish the evening. Show time was 6:30 pm each nite for us. We would have all our other fish cleaned, dinner done and be rested and ready to go for the fireworks on the water that was well under way 7PM til dark. Be sure to stay for the grand finale and have all the poles rigged and ready for it.
8. Take a deep breath before casting into the big boils and maybe avoid a boil fever tangle.
9. Piute seems to be ground zero.
10. Safety first always, don't let a fish make you stupid.
11. Pretty soon all we will have to hold on to is memories of the fun stuff we did with our kids, so make plenty of memories.
Thanks for all your reports for which I credit every Striper I have caught. Thanks again Wayne!
Date Received: July 1, 2003 - Jim Ripley, Mesa, AZ
We persist in our efforts to figure out how to catch Lake Powell walleye, our favorite eating fish, and it paid off on June 28. At 5:15 a.m., my wife and I hit a rocky point in San Juan where we had found walleye in the past. By 10 a.m. we have landed six in the 17-18 inch range. The following day, we caught plenty of bass, but not a single walleye. Still, it was better than a mid-May trip near Face Canyon when following a full-moon we caught just one walleye in two days. We trolled in the rocks from 10-30 feet deep with bottom bouncers rigged with home-made worm harnesses. The one with a silver spinner seemed more effective than the one with the yellow spinner.
Date Received: July 7, 2003 - Andrew
We hit the Lake Sunday June 29th and stayed until Saturday July 5th. What a great trip. Saw the boils right away heading down the channel from Bullfrog bay all the way to the San Juan. We camped in the San Juan at the mouth of the bay where Cha Canyon is. Fished the boils every morning in the inlet to Cha Canyon, Fish were shy but we would position the boat so the boil was heading right to us and we tore them up! Most productive bait for us was a white “Zoom Fluke” with “kastmasters” also working well. The Fluke also worked well for both large and smallmouth. The nice thing about the Zoom Fluke was only having one hook to remove instead of a treble hook. When the fish would push the shad into a small cove the boil would last much longer. Fish caught were anywhere from 2 ¾ pounds up to our largest at 4 ¼ . Spent 2 night fishing under a green light in 35’ to 50’ of water off the first point on the north side of the bay and did very well fishing with anchovies. Had lots of small shad under the light and caught fish till 3 in the morning. The night fishing wasn’t fast and furious but was very steady. Very cool seeing them on the fish finder and sometimes seeing them come up for the bait. Friday we headed back up lake and chased boils all the way to Bullfrog bay. These fish would sound quickly if approached with the big motor and my trolling motor batteries were dead so we would approach fast and kill the motor and glide into casting distance. Kastmasters and rattle traps worked best for this tactic as long casts were required. If you have time to get to Powell( Bullfrog) you can’t miss on the fishing, go have some fun!!
Date Received: July 29, 2003 -Bryan Kelly family
The Kelley family made the trip up to San Juan with camping on our minds. As you can remember last month we stopped at Cha Canyon gas and newbie worry stopped me from going further.
And we did not see any boils then you said next bay up Neskahi Wash was it. So this trip I called you before going and you said take more gas and get to Neskahi and if no boils head up river as the water was clearing and they shad would be there!
We arrived at Antelope 8:45 Friday am Trailer had broken the winch mount but I always use secondary staps just in case.
Loaded boat and headed for San Juan stopped at Dangling rope top off tank 55 gal of gas and we are ready.
11:30 in Neskahi wash found great little camp spot set up tent in Piute Canyon area and every thing went fishing in the Canyon that is the wash. Smallies were very willing to hit grubs. Mark large balls of bait fish no striper were found here all weekend even at 4 am. Friday night the Storm came in at 17:45 Pm Did I mention it was Jill and I 16 Anniversary during cooking of steaks the wind blows over the tent breaking a pole, sand every where made shelter on boat with tarp and bungee cords had sand seasoned steaks and small bottle of wine, Thunder and lighting for almost 1 hour then wind most of the night.
Wake up from bad nights sleep at 7:00 am thinking man we missed the stripers so back to the wash for a quick look nothing. Then Jill said lets go upstream as Wayne said so off we went. In channel before Great Bend we are cruising along when my navigator and look out (Jill) points to small splashes . We stop and troll near them long cast with Jumpin Minnow and wham fish on then the entire channel for 100 yards side to side starts to explode! Stripers everywhere all four of us using Minnows or Spooks proceeded to land 45 fish in the hour long boil keep 30 after that I told everybody release them as I had to clean them all !!!
We did loose two lures but I had 8 onboard so told Jill tie on another one! After Cleaning the 30 fish we cruised further up stream until Spensers camp by fish map and GPS. water changed color here and was only 26 ft deep. No activity that we could see. That afternoon decided to move camp to wash beach that was protected by hills I Magivered the poll and tent was good as new. We are all sound asleep 11:45 bam storm comes back rain and wind so back to the boat shelter wind did not quit till 3 am. Sunday up at 5:00 Jill and I fix camp and get ready to go fishing. Go back to same spot were they started Sat. 6:15 till 7:45 ghost boil or two nothing yet. Sun burns through clouds and then it started again but only lasted 15 min but we pulled 10 more then boom shut down 8:00 all finished back to camp clean fish and eat pancakes. Ski some more what great flat areas to ski! Back to Dangling rope with about 5 gal to spare so next time more fuel! Back to Antelope to Wal-Mart for trucker tie downs for boat remembering trailer is Broke! Jack-N-box then down the hill.
Side note had a 3 hour detour due to Rollover near Black Canyon City traffic backed up to Cordes Junction get off Prescott exit and take long way home through Yarnell and Wickenburg. DPS had I-17 shutdown for 5 hours.
Thanks again for all the information you provide the trip was the best fishing one even when we landed the 100 via chovie this trip was better. Boils are the greatest fishing experience for the whole family!
Date Received: September 01, 2003 - Ted Gardiner
We found stripers boiling for the first two hours of daylight near Wilson Creek on the San Juan. We chased singles around for an hour at the mouth of Wilson but wished we had been downlake one mile where we eventually found a big school. They stayed up well and we caught a bunch before they finally finished feeding and went down for the morning. They seem to be running up and down lake chasing shad at many different locations. We didn't see any stripers at Piute or Neskahi.
Date Received: September 12, 2003 - Wayne Gustaveson
Our trip uplake was rewarded with overcast skies and light rain. We followed on the heels of a thunderstorm which we saw only as waterfalls off the side of the canyon. It was an awesome sight.
Rincon was the first stop. First order of business was to fish for smallmouth and look for stripers before dark. Rincon was where I determined that smallmouth were not going to grow without help. A few years ago we caught an endless number of bass here but they were all a short 9 inches. There was no girth to the scrawny fish. They fought ably for their size but it was an overmatch without ultra light tackle.
I was thrilled when my first bass was a 12 inch fish. Georg Blommer was tossing a white sparkle hula grub which was the ticket. I was fishless until putting on a daiquiri grub with a mismatched copper skirt. Once we offered shad colors, bass hit very well on the outside edges of reefs and points. I favor shallow islands on points extended. A small rocky rise on the ends of the many points at the Rincon always hold bass. We caught maybe a dozen bass in the last evening hour.
We took this fine pair of bass from the inside of a skeleton back ridge off shore from the rocky points. We cast at the same time and pulled in two nice bass.
I spent some fine moments remembering how we got from 35 small bass to 12 bigger bass in the same stretch of shoreline. Fisheries are like that. They will produce a certain total weight of fish. You can have it in too many little ones or fewer big ones. We choose to go bigger and this is what we got. I like it. Very satisfying.
After working most of the night electrofishing the shallow shoreline I got up early the next morning to find some stripers. There were no high expectations since the bright moon was with us all night long. I wondered if I could get uplake far enough to find some action. At the mouth of Iceberg I saw the first splash. Ten fish were spitting right in front of me. Closer examination showed perhaps 10 separate schools working from Iceberg all the way to the next corner leading to Slick Rock.
I tried the bone colored jumpin' minnow which had been waiting patiently for work. I have not been in boils for a very long time. It worked! Each time stripers came up close enough they ate the minnow. I tried a Kastmaster to see if it worked. Answer was YES! I raced back to camp got the rest of the crew up and we returned in time to catch a few more. We got one boil right on the corner directly opposite from the Rincon mountain. This may be the furthest downlake extent of the boils as far as my reports go. Boils ceased or rather wind picked up around 8:30 am. So we broke camp and headed to San Juan.
The wind persisted all day and most of the night. We saw no stripers and bass fishing was tough at Piute/Neskahi Bay. The same daiquiri grub worked - just not as often. I targeted the same points/islands and caught bass that were a bit smaller than those at Rincon.
My experience this week is that the Colorado Arm of Powell continues to be much better fishing than the San Juan. Head to Halls and Bullfrog and go either up or downstream.
Date Received: September 29, 2003 -Chuck Fulton
We entered the San Juan on the 21st at noon to see scattered splashes along the South wall of the main channel. Sent out a scout boat (with me in it, of course). First cast was a sassy 4-5# striper. I think we could have stayed there all day but caught 12-15 and headed to Piaute Cr...but not before a huge 2 minute boil from the school celebrating our departure.
The Piute area turned out to be a different matter. For the next few days there was only one large boil and it lasted 2 minutes. There were lots of little shad rushes to the beach and all the fish you wanted to catch. Piute and the next bay up on the south side had zillions of shad. Neskahai and above had very little. Went to Zahn one morning early and was blocked at the entrance by a shore-to-shore log and debris jam 50 yds deep. Fished Spencer's and there's lots of fish there but no surface action. Caught 3-4 fish per hour trolling in 25' of water. Nothing in the Great Bend.
One morning Deep had a good boil going in the very back as did Piute two mornings, and for that matter, most any time--in 6' or less of water. Saw friends who fished the week in Cha and found lots of small mouth boils but no stripers. They reported hearing of a large boil in "Hard Rock" but I don't know where that is and suspect it is Nasja. We fished, unsuccessfully, there and the mouth of the San Juan enroute to Wahweap and found a small boil in Hidden Passage. Overall, lots of good fishing and catching. Ravens were the key to where the stripers were or had been recently. Often as many as 6-10 right on the shore would point the location of action.
PS there were smallies everywhere and in every striper boil. Good shape and fiesty.
Date Received: October 17, 2003 - Cheryl & Bob Fecht
Subject: Fishing San Juan
My husband and I were on the lake Oct.7th-14th. We spent the majority of our time in Piute Farm bay. Got blown out a few days but fished 5 full days. Didn't find the Stripers hanging on their old steep-deep walls (Great Bend or Wilson Creek) where we've caught them in the past with anchovies. We found them searching the bay of Piute Cyn looking for the schools of shad. We tried casting shorelines and only caught a few very small Smallmouth. But, when trolling shorelines in 30ft-40ft. water we picked up several Smallmouth that were 10"-13". We threw them back, only kept the 14" and larger, 2 of them very healthy fat ones. But, we found that the Walleye would hit off rocky points that stuck out into deep water, caught 2, 15" & 17", nice and fat. But, our best results with trolling were the Stripers. We'd see the ghost boils, cast into the area with Cast Masters and white Crank Baits. We pulled out 3.5 - 4lb fat healthy ones and then trolled through them with white and bright yellow-orange crankbaits after they quit hitting our lures, watching the school on the graph.
When heading back to Wahweap on the 14th we saw boils in the mouth of Last Chance right in the traffic lane around Gregory Butte/Camel Rock side. Cast a few times, then they'd go down. Trolled and picked up a big 4.5lb Striper 21"!
Also, saw boils in the No-Wake zone near the dam, and just outside the breakwater at the Wahweap Marina. Didn't have time to chase them down that day.
All our Stripers were 20-22inches, total caught 22. Nice change from the past few years. No limit on them has really improved the quality of the fish caught. Didn't see a skinny one the whole trip! Kept every one that we caught and got some really nice fillets this year!