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Home Anglers Corner September 20, 2017, SMB in Wahweap Bay

September 20, 2017, SMB in Wahweap Bay

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Smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Powell last week was a tantalizing yet frustrating experience. It was tantalizing in the fact that it was just good enough to make us think it was ready to explode, but it was frustrating in that on the second day just as we thought we were figuring things out bad weather arrived and drove us off the lake.

My partner for this trip was Dale Marenda who has accompanied me on many trips to the lake over the years. Dale enjoys fishing Powell and is just happy to be out there whether we catch a lot or not. Of course, we both like to catch as many fish as possible which is something we just weren’t able to do this time around. We enjoyed short periods of excellent action and longer periods, mostly Wednesday, of very little success.

The forecast was for unsettled weather on Wednesday so we decided to stay on the lower end. Our first stop was the double islands just through the Castle Rock Cut. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some phenomenal success here as well as some  major failures. On Wednesday it was more like the latter. We did catch some fish, but they were mostly small and the numbers were not what we would expect for this time of year. We then motored over to the east side of Warm Creek just above the main channel junction. We fished the ledges down toward the junction, again with little success, until we reached a large offshore reef marked by two buoys. It was here we started catching fish with greater frequency taking around 15 in a little over an hour. We caught some smaller fish on the top of the reef, but the bigger ones were off the side at 20-plus feet.

 After fishing that area thoroughly we moved down to the shoreline below Navajo Canyon. As before we had little success in the beginning, but we eventually found a couple clusters of fish off the sides of the ledges and reefs. Our best pattern was fishing directly below the boat at 22 feet. We were able to take a number of fish in the 1 1/4 to 1 3/4-pound class. We did not get into any really big smallmouths. By 1 p.m. the fishing really slowed so we decided to call it a day. Although we took 45 smallmouths and a couple nice channel cats, we felt we had not really solved the pattern. The action was very spotty. We would fish large areas with few strikes and then find  an area where we would take several decent fish in a short time. The bite was light, usually just a bit of extra weight on the end of the line, and I only saw a couple of chasers following hooked fish. When the action is really fast it’s not unusual to see five or six chasers following a hooked bass. That just didn’t happen much Wednesday.

 We knew Thursday was going to be a short day as windy and rainy conditions were predicted starting mid to late morning. To maximize our fishing time we elected to stay in Wahweap Bay starting just below Wahweap Marina. For some reason that first 150 yards of shoreline was absolutely loaded with smallmouths. We caught several nice fish as we went through there the first time. After fishing a cove and a very good looking point with no success, we decided to go back up to where we started. That proved to be a smart move as we took 17 more smallmouths there in about an hour. We caught some fish up at 12 to 15 feet, but a majority - including most of the bigger ones - were caught between 22 and 31 feet fishing mostly vertically below the boat. When I saw a large, tightly bunched school on the graph we rarely got a strike. I suspect these schools were small stripers. However, when we dropped into a few, loosely associated marks we almost always took a smallmouth. Most of the fish were right on the bottom, however I caught a few suspended at 25 to 30 feet over a 40-foot bottom.

Unlike Wednesday when the strikes were very light, these fish hit much harder. We also saw a number of chasers following hooked fish. I believe the approaching storm front triggered the fish to being more aggressive. I also noted the water temperature Thursday was 78 degrees, two degrees cooler than Wednesday. We stayed in this area until the bite stopped, then we fished further down that shoreline but never got into any significant bass concentrations. I knew time was running short, so I decided we should run down to a ledge on the south side just above the mouth of Wahweap. Unfortunately I could see a storm moving in so we couldn’t stay long, but in the 30 minutes or so we were able to fish there we caught several nice fish including a couple of the nicest of the trip. Unlike our first stop, all these fish were up on top of the ledge at 12 to 15 feet. At these shallower depths casting horizontally well out from the boat proved to be the best presentation. Every hooked fish was followed by five to 10 chasers. These fish hit much harder and fought very well as smallmouths always do. Finally the thunder and lightning was getting closer and the wind was starting to pick up, so we decided at 9:30 to call it a trip and head back for the ramp. In just 3 1/2 hours we caught 32 smallmouths including the nicest fish of the trip. It proved to be a wise decision as just about 40 minutes after we returned to my Greenehaven mobile we were hit with undoubtedly the worst storm I’ve ever seen in some 22 years of fishing Lake Powell.

 There is no doubt the fishing Thursday just ahead of the storm front was much better than Wednesday. We caught everything on drop shot Shad Shaped Worms. I believe drop shotting was likely the best presentation for this trip, however as the weather cools and the bass become more aggressive, more active presentations might be very effective. I believe the fall smallmouth fishing on Lake Powell is getting ready to explode. Although we did not catch any really big smallmouths, we took a higher percentage of nicer ones than I have in my earlier trips. I plan on making at least three more trips between now and the end of October, and I predict we’ll see the best smallmouth fishing of the year.