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Home Anglers Corner October 16, 2017 = Last Chance Bass

October 16, 2017 = Last Chance Bass

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Last Chance Bay is my absolute favorite fishing spot on Lake Powell. It is usually full of smallmouth bass, my favorite fishing quarry, and it’s beautiful - the most beautiful spot in the lower lake in my opinion. If the weather forecast is good and I’m up to it, that’s where I’m going.

Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the weather forecast was good, and I was up to it. Joining me once again on this trip was longtime fishing partner John Conrad of Prescott. I never have any problem convincing John that Last Chance is the place to go as he feels the same about it as I do. He was all in on making the run up there all three days. Of course our catching 91 fish in a day there two weeks prior helped stoke our enthusiasm. I’ve had more of those kinds of days at Last Chance than anywhere else in the lower lake.

A dry cold front had moved through on Monday, and Tuesday dawned as a typical post-front bluebird day. It was cold when we arrived at the Wahweap launch ramp. John and I agreed the fishing might be a bit tough, and we were right. We didn’t catch a fish for the first two hours. Finally we caught a couple small bass in the cove that had been so productive for us two weeks earlier, but that was it for another hour or so. Finally around 11:00 a.m. we started picking up a smallmouth here and there, including some pretty good sized ones, and fishing got much better as the day went on. We finished with 30 smallies, a good day in most places but below average for Lake Powell in October.

With stable weather predicted for Wednesday we decided to return to Last Chance. We got into fish immediately and caught 12 in the first hour. Convinced the post-front blues were over we looked forward to the rest of the day. However things suddenly stopped and we didn’t land a fish for over an hour. Staying in the same cove all day, we fished completely around the back end, including both forks taking a smallmouth here and there, however after that initial burst, we never really hit a good pattern. It was around 11:30 a.m. and we were about ready to move to another spot, however I suggested we fish along the north bank a ways before leaving. That turned out to be a good decision as we immediately starting catching smallmouths, sometimes two at a time, including some really decent fish. We spent the rest of the day fishing that bank all the way out to the mouth of cove. When we headed back for Wahweap Bay we had tallied 63 smallmouths and one small green bass. This was more like October fishing on Lake Powell.

After a couple days of stable weather I thought the fishing would be even better on Thursday, and Last Chance was once again the place to go. The way things started this appeared to be the case as we were immediately into some nice smallmouth. We took 10 in the first hour, and then things shut down. We went back to the spot where we’d had so much success two weeks before, however the results were not much better there than Tuesday. We moved to a large cove I’d not fished at all this year and took a few fish, including several very nice ones, but the action was slow. Finally around 1:00 p.m. we went back to the bank where we’d had so much success Wednesday. The smallies were still there and still willing as we had the fastest action of the day. We finished the day with 34 smallmouths and two largemouths. Although our total was much smaller than the day before, the average size fish we took was much larger with several going around two pounds. Our three-day total was 127 smallmouths and three largemouths. We took no stripers or walleyes.

Although we caught fewer fish than on some previous trips, as I mentioned earlier the average size was quite a bit larger. These fish were really healthy and carried more weight for their length than any Lake Powell smallmouth I’ve seen in some 23 years of fishing. They fought very hard often leaping several feet out of the water. The primary forage was definitely shad with many hooked fish spitting out shad as we fought them. A few of the fish we kept and cleaned and crayfish in their stomachs, but a vast majority were stuffed full of shad. 

Despite so many being full of shad, we saw very little surface activity. Most of the fish we caught were 10 to 15 feet deep, however we caught a few between 20 and 30 feet. We caught very few fishing vertically directly below the boat. Horizontal casting was the better presentation. We caught many more fish on slick rock ledges than broken rock bottoms. While I’ve taken smallmouths on slick rock in the past, I’ve never taken so many as on this trip. Although most of the fish we caught were shallow, we always caught them close to deep water. In fact, a number of smallmouths we landed were icy cold to touch suggesting they had just come up out of deeper water.

We experienced a very bright moon all three nights before our fishing days. John and I believe that the bass had fed all night which may explain why we didn’t generally do well in the mornings. It also may explain why we didn’t see much feeding activity. The only presentation that consistently caught fish was as slow as possible - a lot of very slow dragging and dead sticking. We used our usual drop shot setups with Yamamoto Shad Shaped Worms. Our best color was the green and white laminate, although the natural shad color was also effective. As with previous trips, i don’t think color or even the lure type was very important. Putting the bait in front of the fish’s nose and keeping it there was important. Although we had a lot of strikes on the initial drop, which is often the case with drop shotting, we had an equal number on the slow drag or while dead sticking. During daylight hours it did not appear these fish were willing to chase. 

It was also apparent to us that there weren’t as many bass in the backs of the coves as we normally see this time of year. In fact, there appeared to be many more two weeks ago. Monday’s cold front might have pushed quite of few of them out to deeper water and perhaps some were just moving back in. I can’t say for sure if that was the case, but it is a possibility. Nevertheless it was still a good fishing trip highlighted by beautiful weather and the spectacular scenery of Last Chance Bay. John and I hope to duplicate all of this next week in our final fishing trip of the year.