Fall smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Powell can be a study in contrasts. At times most of the fish are found 20 feet deep and deeper, at times they are mostly 15 feet and shallower and at times they are all over the place - and all that can change depending on where you are fishing. That was the case this past Wednesday and Thursday for longtime fishing partner Dale Marenda and me. On Wednesday we fished the double islands just through the Castle Rock Cut and the reefs and ledges at the mouth of Warm Creek. We found equal numbers of bass above 15 feet and at 20 feet and below. Unlike my last trip we found many fish on the sides of offshore reefs. We found a few fish in the backs of coves, but most of them were either on offshore reefs or long points that went well out into the lake.
Thursday we motored up to Last Chance Bay and found a different scenario. We took a few fish in deeper water, but a vast majority of our fish came from very shallow water in the far back ends of coves, mostly in little cuts with trenches going into them from the main cove. We looked At Wayne’s fishing report and tried fishing some rockslides off vertical walls, but that was not overly successful. We took a few fish there, but the back of the coves were much better. I was battling a smallmouth in one little cut and 30 to 40 bass were chasing it. We estimated we saw more than 50 bass in one little cut about the size of a large living room. Most were smallmouths, but a few largemouths were swimming with them. They were easy to see in relatively clear water.
The one similarity between the two days was morning fishing was relatively slow. Our best action occurred after 12:30 p.m.both days. In fact, the action was so good late Thursday afternoon that we hated to leave, but the ride back to Wahweap from Last Chance in my boat takes nearly an hour and we wanted to get back before it got too late. The other consistency both days was the bass wanted a slow presentation. They absolutely would not chase a lure. It was necessary to put a lure right in front of them and leave it there. Drop shot fishing with Yamamoto Shad Shaped Worms was productive, but I’m sure other slow finesse presentations with a variety of soft plastic baits would work. Most of the fish we caught had been feeding on crayfish which leads me to believe single tail, double tail and Hula Grubs fished on light jig heads would be very successful.
On this trip I really believe using a fluorocarbon leader was critical to success. Dale was really struggling Thursday until he switched from a monofilament leader to fluorocarbon. Almost immediately he started getting many more strikes and catching more fish. While there are days where I think you could tie a jig to an anchor rope and catch bass at Powell, I also believe there are many days where using at least a fluorocarbon leader makes a huge difference. I use either fluorocarbon line or a fluorocarbon leader for all presentations except for topwater. At least I know when I leave the ramp I have eliminated line visibility as a possible problem, and this means I fish with greater confidence. I can’t stress the importance in using fluorocarbon line on Lake Powell. I know it’s contributed to my fishing success.
Our fish count on Wednesday was 26 smallmouths and one largemouth. We had several really nice smallies over sixteen inches with most of the others being cookie cutter 11 to 13-inchers which are found in abundance in the lake right now.Thursday we caught 36 smallmouths and four largemouths mostly in that 11 to 13-inch size with a few bigger. As in my past trips, these fish fought extremely hard for their size. All were in good shape indicating they are getting plenty of forage. They all produced nice plump fillets and are excellent eating.
I’ll be back up again next week with longtime friend and fishing partner John Conrad. Hopefully we will continue to find fall fishing success.