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Home Anglers Corner May 29, 2017 - Southern Smallmouth bass

May 29, 2017 - Southern Smallmouth bass

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The first fishing trip of the year always brings a lot of excitement and anxiousness to me. The excitement is getting on the water to catch those first fish of the year. The anxiousness comes from wondering if all my equipment is working correctly. Of course, since that first trip is usually in the spring there’s always concern about the weather. Longtime fishing partner, John Conrad, and I experienced a little bit of all that last week. We experienced the excitement of catching a lot of fish, a problem with a piece of equipment and a weather issue that cut our fishing a day short.

On Tuesday, with a forecast of sunny weather and light winds, we motored up to Last Chance Bay to begin our season. The two new depth finders I had installed this year worked beautifully, and the weather, as advertised, was fine. The only problem was the fishing. It was much slower than we would have figured for the third week in May. We fished two coves with large flats which I thought would be full of spawning fish, but there just didn’t seem to be large numbers of fish either on or near the flats. We worked up against the bank, out in the middle, right on the edges and down off the first big drops. We did catch fish, just not the numbers we had anticipated. We decided to move from the big coves in Last Chance to some smaller ones down behind Gregory Butte. It had been several years since I’d fished that area, but both John and I had considerable success there back in 2004-2006. Things remained about the same initially as we were fishing large flats, however we found much better success later in the afternoon as we worked into some steeper, deeper coves with shorter flats and points. That change in topography seemed to work as we caught as many fish the last two hours as we had all day. Our final tally was 46 smallmouths and one striper. I lost one of the bigger largemouth I’ve hooked in a while when it jumped and threw the hook, and I had the hook come out of a nice walleye right at the boat.

jconrad13There was no consistent pattern all day concerning depth. We took some fish in just a few feet of water, however we caught quite a few from 20 down to 30 feet. In fact, in three consecutive drops right below the boat I took three nice smallmouth at 15 feet, 20 feet and 30 feet. Most of the fish came between 10 and 15 feet.

Wednesday we decided to stay closer to home and fished a rocky bay on the north side of the main channel just above the mouth of Warm Creek. This bay has often been a good producer, however the results Wednesday were mixed. We found pods of fish here and there, but there was no consistency. There was also no size as our biggest smallmouths were only about a pound. We ran down below the mouth of Navajo Canyon where my neighbor Dave Tomes told us he’d been catching good numbers of smallmouths. Dave’s advice was good as we immediately started catching fish. Most of these fish, even those along the steepest structure, were fairly shallow, five to 15 feet. The key was pitching a lure back into the little cuts and notches along the cliffs. A successful presentation in one of these areas invariably brought a strike. The fish averaged a bit larger here than at our first stop, too. We worked all the way up to the mouth of Navajo, crossed it and worked  some more shore above it. The action was steady all the way with us rarely going than just a few minutes between strikes. We finished the day with 102 smallmouths, one largemouth, one striper and one channel cat.

We intended to fish Thursday morning, but when we arrived at the State Line launch ramp the wind was howling. We drove over to the main ramp by Wahweap Marina and looked down lake. Seeing lots of white caps we decided it best to call it a trip as far as fishing was concerned. We both agreed that 10-15 years ago we would have launched, but at our ages we felt no desire to fight the wind. Watching the wind get worse as the day went on, we knew we’d made the right decision. As it turned out, this was not the worst thing that could have happened. The winch on my boat trailer had not working properly as I had a hard time getting it to catch after loading the boat Wednesday afternoon. We tried working on it some back at my Greenehaven mobile before deciding the catch was broken. We removed the winch and drove into Page purchasing a new one at Walmart. We then successfully installed it, so the day was not a total waste. We would rather have been fishing, however, as I could have dealt with the winch another time. Nevertheless it was good that we resolved this problem.

Overall, we felt we had a successful trip. We were somewhat disappointed in the overall size of the smallmouths with our biggest ones running 1 1/2 pounds or so. We were also disappointed we didn’t land any walleyes. They’re usually quite active in May, and my partners and I usually catch several during this time of year. We did not find the fish much in the mood to chase as the slower the presentation the better. We fished entirely with soft plastics on drop shot rigs in both horizontal and vertical presentations. The best presentation was slow as possible. In fact, seven times John got strikes while his sinker was hung in the rocks. Several times the fish pulled the sinker out and John was able to land them. This is not unusual as I’ve had that happen many times over the years. In fact, it was this very thing that got me to slow my presentations which, I believe, has led to more success. My go to bait, the Yamamoto Shad Shaped Worm, continued its dominance on Lake Powell smallmouths, however I think any reasonable soft plastic lure would have worked.

While the weather issue and the equipment problem were frustrating, we did catch a lot of fish. It really felt good to feel something pulling on the end of a line after many long months of not fishing. Hopefully this will be another great year for Lake Powell fishing!




Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 14:15