Brent Daybell, my friend from West Jordan, and I spent two incredible days on Lake Powell catching fish while many Utahns struggled to dig out of snow banks.
We arrived at the Bullfrog just after 9 a.m., checked in to the Defiance Lodge, brushed the snow and ice off the boat cover and did so in 45-degree temperatures -- a huge difference from the 9 degrees we left on the top of Soldier Summit.
Our goals on this trip were to find stripers, walleyes and possibly crappies as we continued to learn more about this wintertime fishing bonanza. Remember, I only began fishing Lake Powell in the winter in 2016. As with our previous visits, we rarely saw another boat and only two other trailers were parked in the lot closest to the launch ramp.
We went north from Bullfrog to the canyons just beyond Moki. As we entered each canyon I became glued to my fish finder, watching both the depth and the fish activity. That meant that I didn’t travel too fast once we began our search.
Fish finders work better when you are moving no faster than 5 mph. If I know a canyon is very deep (over 100 feet) all the way to the back, I won’t slow down and start my search until the water depth is about the 80-foot level.
On the very first stop, on the outside step up from 70 to 50 feet of water, we made a breakthrough that changed our goals and our activities for the rest of the trip. I noticed a series of straight horizontal lines showing on my finder, all of which were surrounding a vertical “blob” that appeared on the screen. The horizontal lines “had” to be fish and they hovered in 20 to 30 feet of water.
I dropped down my white 1/2-ounce spoon and immediately caught a fish, a huge crappie (one of the best eating fish in the universe). Most of the time, I see trees on my finder and look for small circles that could appear to be ornaments on the underwater tree when I locate crappies, but not this time. Schools of crappies surrounded schools of shad seeking refuge in the middle of some old cottonwoods adorning the back of the canyon.
Both of us caught several crappies while waiting for the stripers to get excited. In all, we fileted enough fish to fill several quart bags that included stripers, crappies and walleyes. But the real discovery was learning how to specifically target crappies in each and every canyon in which we fished.
If you would like to duplicate or recreate our trip, here is what you need to do. First, book a room at either Ticaboo or Defiance Lodge, and try to arrive mid-morning on day one. Then, go north and try each canyon between Bullfrog and Good Hope Bay. Follow the instructions to locate fish in 20 to 70 feet of water and use spoons lighter than one ounce to drop directly to the fish. If you are on the bottom and see fish suspended above your lure, bring it up to the fish.
Once you find fish, attempt to stay on them for the rest of your trip. Don’t leave fish to find fish … it’s really that simple.
Wintertime on the ice can be a lot of fun, but it simply can’t compare to 50-degree daytime temperatures and the quiet beauty of experiencing Lake Powell without the tourists. Oh, and the fishing is pretty good too!