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Fishing Report


September 26, 2011 - New Technique

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Lake Powell Fish Report - September 26, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3653        
Water Temperature 74-78 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson

mikepackerfrThe report is early since I will be sampling on the lake all week without time to write.  But more importantly a breakthrough in fishing success has been discovered.  The only consistent way to catch fish lake wide now is on fast moving crank baits.
There are still no striper boils to speak of –perhaps one or two in a week –but bass will cooperate with the proper incentive.  In open water or bays a good strategy is to troll rattletraps (lipless crank baits) along the brushy shore line. When a bass is caught stop and throw cranks into the tree tops at that location.  Use a crank that ticks the tree tops without hanging up in deeper branches.

 
In canyons bass are staged in the backs of bays on large brush flats.  They are attacking shad early in the morning from six until ten and then again from four until dark.  Shad colored crank baits ripped over the tops of sunken trees on just about any flat will draw extremely aggressive strikes.  


michaelhannaShad colored cranks in many varieties will work.  Use your favorite bait to find the right depth and right retrieval speed until bass can consistently be caught.  Good reports are now starting to come from Padre Bay and the San Juan but they are all about crank baits with virtually no success from other types of terminal tackle.
Stripers are not yet boiling. Deep trolling at 60-80 feet with leaded line or down riggers has worked well midlake near Annies canyon while trolling near Wahweap has slowed down to a crawl. Some stripers have been caught in the backs of the canyons swimming and feeding with bass.


Catfishing is good at night and bluegills can be caught in the tree tops on live worms. Fishing success is improving now. We are looking for it to get much better in the next few weeks.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2011 15:58
 

Test Map

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View Lake Powell Fishing Map in a larger map This is a test project, we will launch the full version when it is ready.
Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 11:29
 

September 21, 2011 - Vacation

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Lake Powell Fish Report - September 21, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3653
Water Temperature 74-78 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson


brian shawThe good news is that Lake Powell surface temperature dropped 3 degrees in a week and is now holding near 74 F in the mornings.  The bad news ­ that wasn’t enough to release game fish from their thermal prison. Perhaps “prison” is the wrong term since the shad food source is locked up right with the game fish. Looking at this from a different angle, fish have found a “luxury resort” where stripers and bass are spending a few weeks of high living with all the food they want to eat while exerting absolutely no effort to obtain it.  Stripers and bass are “on vacation”.


There have been a few angling bright spots recently. The most notable was the new houseboat trolling technique employed by Brian Shaw.  Brian’s family was headed up lake from Bullfrog and decided to troll in the main channel. A large white Kalin Jig was deployed while the houseboat was slowed to 6 MPH.  After a mere 10 miles of trolling a huge striper ate the jig near Knowles Canyon.  Brian landed the trophy weighing nearly 30 pounds.   Further trolling resulted in no more fish.

There are a few signs that some bass and stripers are returning from vacation. A few quick boils have been seen this week in Oak, Rainbow, Dangling Rope and Face canyons.  Boils were quick and only a few fish were actually caught.  But it shows fishing is slowly improving and some surface activity is returning to the southern lake.

braydenThe same quick boil pattern is seen north of Bullfrog without many fish actually being caught. The exception was in Good Hope Bay where many quick boils were seen but a cooler full of fat stripers were caught on anchovies, 20 feet deep in the back of the canyon.

I guess the best way to sum this up is to look for stripers on top anywhere from Face canyon to Hite.  Then fish in the general area where splashes were seen with a wide variety of lures and bait until a willing school is found. Then enjoy the moment.


Still the very best method of consistently finding stripers in the main lake is to troll with down riggers at 60-90 feet in the open bays and channels.

Bass fishing remains slow but is coming back faster than stripers.  Look off main channel reefs and in the cracks and ledges of steep cliffs for willing smallmouth bass.  A few largemouth bass are caught in the brush shelters at the backs of the canyons.  Catfish are still eating hotdog rounds on sandy beach as the endless summer continues.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 12:56
 

September 13, 2011 - Waiting

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Lake Powell Fish Report - September 13, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3654        
Water Temperature 77-80 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson

 
raynopattyLake Powell has gone quiet as game fish ready themselves for the big feeding spree that will break loose as soon as the lake level and water temperature drop just a bit more.  Now many shad schools are swimming freely in the backs of virtually every cut and cove that has more than 10 trees sticking out of the water.  Shad invariably reside in the biggest dense thicket of brush.  Interspersed in the shallow brushy coves are young largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and sunfish.   All is quiet as shad swim through the brush and coexist peacefully with small game fish that are too small to eat adult shad.


Adult game fish including bass, stripers and walleye are in deeper water (exceeding 20 feet) where temperature is cooler and more agreeable to adult fish.  There is much feeding going on at depth as each fish that is randomly caught is healthier than the last one.   Striped bass and largemouth are in prime physical condition.  They are growing and putting on weight each day.


rcolby211Anglers are waiting for sport fish to discover the abundant shad pantry that now exists in shallow water.  The variables that control the highly anticipated event are weakening.  Water temperature is the main key.  It has fallen from the 80s down to 78F.  Another few degrees and fishing will improve dramatically.  The next variable is movement of deep forage fish into shallower water.  When bass and stripers can no longer forage in deep water they will come shallow to feed.  Declining lake level will help somewhat but the lake came up so far this spring that much brush exists from the current surface level down to 30 feet.  That provides a huge amount of brush covered fish habitat in a lake where surface area increased so dramatically this summer.
This explains why fishing is still challenging over the length of the lake.  There are some bright spots.  The main channel area lined with steep cliffs lacks abundant brush. Here shad and stripers interact in a more normal fashion with surface feeding boils randomly occurring.  Boils have recently been reported from main channel Buoy 62 to 75.  Boils from Hite to Good Hope have been thwarted by windy afternoons. That is likely to change any time there is a calm evening.  No boils have been reported downstream from the mouth of the San Juan.


austinkThe most encouraging news is that bass have moved closer to the surface.  Bass fishing is good on plastic grubs on the rocky points extending in to the main channel and main bays.  Lures must be fished in water deeper than 20 feet to catch bigger fish but fishing success for bass has gotten much better over the past week.


Fall has arrived in the high desert surrounding Lake Powell.  Nights are cool which will continue to drop surface temperature and heat up the catch rate. Good fishing is only a few days away now. I can’t wait!

 

September 7, 2011 - Repositioning

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Lake Powell Fish Report - September 7, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3654        
Water Temperature 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

deb3Lake Powell has kicked off the covers.  Surface water temperature first thing in the morning has dropped from 83 to 78 in the past few days. The warmest water in the afternoon has dropped from 88 down to 83.  These are small steps but the lake is now headed in the right direction. Night time air temperatures are now in the 60s.  Water level dropped only one foot as the large outflow was curtailed to a steady state flow of 15,000 CFS.  Expect the smaller flow released through the dam to continue through the month of September.

All of these environmental adjustments are not lost on the fish.  There have been significant adjustments in where fish are positioned and what anglers must do to catch them.  The most important information is that stripers are no longer boiling at Hite.  The easy pickings found near the launch ramp last week has quieted temporarily.  Boils are still found in the upper lake but the action has now moved downstream.

deb2Anglers now have to go down lake a few miles to White and Trachyte where individual fish splashes have replaced boils. Surface lures thrown immediately to a splash ring will often catch fish but trolling with deep diving lures puts many more fish in the cooler.  The best boil concentration is found in Good Hope Bay. Most of the surface events are quick making it necessary to chase many boils before catching fish.  But the excitement is awesome. Good Hope is the best spot this week.

debThere are some boils near Bullfrog centered near the Halls houseboat buoy field.  Scattered boils may be seen at many different locations both upstream and down from Bullfrog. Again look for isolated splashes both morning and evening which indicate stripers feeding on top.  Trolling works better for filling the cooler in these conditions but surface fishing is more exciting.   

There will be much repositioning and relocating as water conditions and temperatures change. Expect big changes as cooling continues and fall weather exerts a stronger hold on the lake.  Expect daily changes now with fishing improving in the main lake.  Hey! There may even be a striper caught near Wahweap in the coming weeks.   

ashtonSmallmouth bass have been the first fish to respond in the southern lake. They are being steadily caught from Padre Bay to the San Juan on drop shot plastic baits at 20-30 feet. The best lure has been the Yamamoto shad shaped worm fished about 12 inches off bottom.  

It's been a long hot summer.  But conditions are changing and fishing is improving. The shad population is strong and fishing success will improve in the short term and be excellent all the way through the cold weather in December.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 07:49
 

August 31, 2011 - Still Hite!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 31, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3655            
Water Temperature 80-88 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

anthonycattersonLake Powell is covered by a blanket of warm water that snugly holds game fish in the cooler depths. Declining lake levels also contribute to current conditions by forcing fish down instead of bringing them up. The net result is difficult fishing conditions over most of the lake.  The bright spots are around deep tributary inflows where incoming river water provides a constant temperature corridor for fish to mingle with forage and maintain the normal predator-prey relationship which equates to good fishing.

Shad numbers are somewhat higher than the annual average which means all fish species have adequate forage. At Hite stripers are taking advantage of shad by feeding around the clock.  The result is a grand fishing opportunity to catch striped bass chasing shad on the surface.  These "boils" can be seen from great distance and provide anglers easy targets as they cast to the surface disturbance knowing that each cast will attract the interest of many fish.  Some fish bump the lure while others slash at it and others whack it with their tail. The lure is jostled and tossed until one fish finally puts a mouth around it.  Then it's a race to land that fish in record time so another cast can be made before the feeding party atmosphere ends. Surface fishing for stripers also causes an adrenaline boil in the angler that is not often duplicated in other inland fishing opportunities.

Striper boils are often good on calm mornings and then seen intermittently throughout the day.  The best time to fish is from 5 PM until dark.  In this magic period boils often cover the surface from Hite to North Wash and downstream as far as Trachyte and to the Horn.  Anglers adept at positioning the boat, then efficiently casting and landing fish, are catching up to 60 fish in an evening.   Others just learning the art of chasing boils are catching enough to bring bright smiles and a feeling of success to all.   Hite is the best place to fish this week with good launching access and short runs to highly productive fishing areas.

bbene1If a trip to Hite is not possible then fishing opportunities, normally considered awesome when compared to other fisheries that are not Lake Powell, still exist.  Boils are seen midlake around Bullfrog.  Look near the houseboats fields at Halls Crossing and as a good starting place both morning and evening.  Again the best time to see boils lakewide is in the evening.   Unfortunately, the lower half of Lake Powell from San Juan down to Wahweap is not producing boils now.

kathy coblentzBass fishing is challenging but one lake wide pattern is consistently producing.  Bass are now off the steep vertical cliffs in the main channel and main canyons.  The best spot to fish would be in the shade of a cliff on a 20 foot deep ledge or outcropping protruding from the cliff wall. Here bass can quickly up from the cool depths to feed quickly and drop straight down in to the preferred temperature zone.  The backs of canyons feature a gentle sloping bottom that requires a longer swim from the cool water to the feeding areas.  Shad have a myriad of brush in which to hide in the back of the canyon.  Bass work harder chasing shad in the shallows than they do waiting for a school to swim by in the main channel.   Bass spend time waiting for shad searching the bottom for crayfish that may venture out of their rocky hideout.

Fishing for all species will get better in September.  Temperature will drop by mid September removing the warm blanket and releasing fish lakewide to feed closer to the surface.  But for now there are still fish to catch by traveling to Hite or fishing the main channel vertical habitat.
 

August 23. 2011 - Hite Boils are Hot!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 23, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3657            
Water Temperature 79-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

rcolbysjIt feels much better to write this report after catching a striper in a boil.  It is amazing how that can change ones attitude for the better.  When stripers pop to the top, adrenaline flows freely as the boat zips toward the feeding frenzy.  Once in range, properly directed casts will immediately score as the bait hits the water. Then the fight is on.  Attention is divided between landing the fish on the line and watching all the fish wallowing on the surface.  What a rush!  It's been a long time!

A few more details are warranted.  The choice for the weekly trip wavered between fishing near Wahweap and trying to make fish with closed mouths bite or running uplake where boils have been recently reported.  I thought about it for 2 long minutes before selling out for the San Juan.  The ride at dawn in a fast bass boat took 40 minutes on flat water.  Lake Powell is absolutely beautiful even when fish are not boiling.

youthdockWe went to Cha Canyon (60 miles) before giving up and heading back without throwing a cast.  A houseboat crew near Bald Rock Canyon reported one quick boil at dawn in the channel and one at the mouth of the San Juan the night before.  We caught a few bass near the houseboat. Bass fishing in the San Juan is fine on reefs and terraces at the edge of the main channel.  Daiquiri colored Yamamoto grubs worked very well at 20-35 feet.

But we were looking for boils so we headed to the mouth of the San Juan. Spoons and stump jumpers were ignored by the myriad of fish layered at the 40 feet depth contour.  We were just rigging up for trolling when the boil erupted.  The next 6 minutes made the long trip and early morning departure worth the effort.  The boil lasted less than a minute. Then singles were seen chasing shad for another 5 minutes. I caught two 8 inch stripers and two smallmouth bass on a Kastmaster while my partner, Ron Colby, got a nice fat 4-pound striper and two smallmouth on a full size surface lure. Then it was over.  That's it.  Boil fever relieved for the moment.


thomcatgWe confirmed that a layer of fish between 30 and 40 feet exists from Wahweap to the San Juan. It is likely that a narrow comfort zone has formed between the thermocline and a low oxygen layer that has set up at 45 feet. Open water fish, including shad and stripers, are in the middle of the channel making them very hard to catch.  My guess for the southern lake is that feeding occurs at depth with no need for stripers to leave the narrow comfort zone.  Further uplake there is wider zone. Stripers still occasionally chase shad to the top so an occasional boil is seen.  Striper chasing shad to shore ignite the bass and fishing is super for a few minutes or until the next boil.

fallwestAll the way uplake at Hite boils are going nonstop. There is no question where to be this week. If fishing is your game then Hite is the place to be.  Reports of 40 -60 stripers caught in boils are common each morning and evening. Full size surface lures are working fine. Bass, catfish and sunfish are also being regularly caught. There is no need to look farther than the bay at the end of the Hite ramp for boil activity.  

Fishing success in the southern lake will improve as the surface temperature drops into the 70s and mixing relieves the low oxygen event.

 

August 17, 2011 - Go North!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 17, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3658            
Water Temperature 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

andrewIt pains me to write this report as one of the "have-nots".  It is much better to be catching fish and telling others how to do it instead of just wishing for good fishing.  The southern end of the lake, where I normally fish, is strangely quiet.  Fish of all species are difficult to catch. There is just no repeatable fish activity to build on. An occasional fish can be caught but a repeatable pattern has not been found.  My best guess is that most fish, shad and stripers, are holding in deep, open water near the thermocline.  The only way to properly present lures to these fish would be to troll with down riggers at a depth of 40 feet.  I am not sure if that would work but it's the only thing we haven't tried.

 
bryanbecksteadSo the rest of the report will be about reports received from happy anglers readily catching fish in the mid to northern lake. The very best spot on Lake Powell is "Striper City" which is the area from Hite to Trachyte Canyon.  Small quick boils are found downlake as far as the Rincon.
Fishing is more challenging in the mid lake area around Bullfrog but it is much better than at Wahweap.  The pattern is to see a surface disturbance and assess direction of movement.  These fish will likely sound before the boat can be properly positioned to make a cast.  Instead of chasing the school, try to guess where they will resurface based on their movement.  If the fish come up in casting range they can be easily caught.  If the guess was wrong, look at the travel direction and try to get ahead of them for another casting opportunity.   This is run-and-gun fishing but results are worth the effort.   Near Hite, schools are staying up longer and chasing them down is not such a demanding task.

dtribblegirlBoils are found in the main channel of the San Juan near Nasja and Bald Rock Canyons.  Piute Bay is quiet but we suspect the upper end of the lake near the San Juan River inflow is boiling just like Hite.
We have discovered from shad sampling that Bullfrog (average of 588) has the highest shad concentration followed closely by Good Hope Bay (462).  There are 80% fewer shad at Wahweap (82) and in Piute Bay (83) on the San Juan. This difference in shad concentration obviously plays a part in striper surface activity. Now lots of shad equates to active surface feeding while fewer shad downlake means no surface activity.  
Bass fishing follows the striper trend.  Shad schools chased to the shoreline by stripers really get the attention of bass and other fish that eat shad as targets of opportunity.  When stripers fail to chase shad then bass fishing is not as good. Crayfish have come shallow as most bass are in deeper water due to the high surface water temperature.  

All these "dog-day of summer" anomalies will work themselves out in September as lake level and water temperature declines.   But for now the wise anglers will "Go North" for fast fishing.

 

August 10, 2011 - Still Divided

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 10, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3660            
Water Temperature 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

larrylewisThe strict division between good fishing uplake and bad fishing downlake remains in place.  The best fishing spots from last week include the main channel from Buoy 92-98 and the backs of the canyons near Hite.  Shad are present in the relatively clear water of the channel where they have abundant plankton to eat. Stripers find shad schools feeding near the surface and drive them to the surface where shad are disadvantaged and can be consumed more efficiently.  Shad size is still small which equates to stripers eating in quick bites followed by a dive into deep water and then a return to the surface some distance away.  This is frustrating to anglers if stripers only come up once.  The key to catching them is to be in casting range when they resurface the second or third time.  If they come up in range catching success is high.  If they only surface once then be prepared for more chasing than catching.

slurpsplashNear Hite, water clarity in the channel is murkier than that in the canyons.  So look in White, Farleys and Trachyte Canyons to find cooperative stripers. The same rules apply.  If they resurface in the same area catching prevails, if not the cooler remains empty.

Shad and stripers exhibit different feeding behavior each day.  Some days they are very aggressive and stay up for long periods.  But normally there is a daily timing pattern. Right now the pattern is better, stronger, higher quality boils in the evening hours.  In the hot spots near Bullfrog anglers are catching up to 25 stripers in the morning and then 50 or more in the evening. There may be a mid day boil but reports are random and non repeatable.  If only fishing one time period, evening is the time to choose.

Fishing for all species out of Wahweap is challenging.  Lockjaw is common although both smallmouth and largemouth bass are caught on main outside points as fish wait for a shad school to swim by.  Fishing will improve in the south soon, as the lake is now slowly declining and bass will be able to find a home range where they can hang out their shingle and spend some time.  The rapid rise in lake elevation has covered so much inviting brush that largemouth are scattered over a very wide area. Anglers are reporting finding largemouth schools and catching a ton of fish only to go back the next day and find none. Fishing will remain hit-or-miss for the next week or two and then improve dramatically. Look for great fishing lakewide in September as shad and sport fish numbers are high.


waenetRemote locations of the San Juan, Escalante and Hite will be the first areas to show improved fishing.  Right now the best bet is to go to Bullfrog or Hite and chase evening boils.  I really wish that was closer for me and I live at Lake Powell.  I will keep watching and impatiently waiting so I can let you know as soon as fishing on the south end improves.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 09:48
 

August 3, 2011 - Lake Divided

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Lake Powell Fish Report - August 3, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3660            
Water Temperature 80-85 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

perkes1Powell is a lake divided into two separate fisheries. From Rainbow Bridge Canyon to Hite stripers are boiling at many locations throughout the day.   But from Rainbow Bridge downlake the surface is quiet and fishing is challenging.
Striper boils only happen when shad are plentiful. Our recent trawl sampling showed record numbers of shad from the San Juan to Hite.  High runoff spread nutrients throughout the upper lake resulting in increased plankton production.  When shad were spawned, abundant little plankters allowed shad to find easy meals close at hand and survive in high numbers.  Shad grew quickly to a size attractive to all predators including stripers and bass.  Stripers responded by herding up shad schools and trapping them against the surface where they can feed most effectively.

 
dtribbleboysRecent boils have been concentrated in the main channel from Cedar Canyon to Warm Springs (Buoy 117), and Halls Creek. Most of the action has been in the main channel but don't be surprised to find boils in the backs of canyons.  Stripers are not hard to catch on surface lures and Kastmaster spoons if the lure lands near the front of the rapidly moving fish and is then worked back through the boil. But a lure that lands on the south side of a north bound boil will be ignored.


In the southern lake boils are nonexistent. The absence of surface feeding is a mystery.  Shad numbers found in trawl samples were high just as seen in the north.  The difference was shad size.  Most shad were still small in the Wahweap sample. We are not sure if the size disparity means there is less plankton for southern shad to eat or if growth will catch up with the northern shad in the near future.  My guess is that there are plenty of shad from Rainbow to Wahweap and the lower lake is only days away from erupting. The most likely explanation is that small shad can be eaten at depth by individual stripers. That means the striper school does not have to drive shad to the top. Stripers just eat shad in place and move on to the next customer.  As shad size increases stripers will have to work together to feed effectively and boils will happen.  

cookieoverOn a recent trip on a calm evening from West Canyon to Wahweap numerous shad schools were seen dimpling the surface. Open water shad were abundant and in a jovial mood without any predators harassing them. That peaceful mood will soon be shattered when stripers find the schools.  But for now trolling and bait fishing is worth a try while waiting for fish to boil.

brianbarsnessBass fishing is good in the early morning and evening particularly around open water reefs where smallmouth like to hang out. Largemouth are in the flooded green bushes in the backs of canyons and coves. Unfortunately the lake is huge at this water level and choices are many.  The right cove may have a school of largemouth making the trip a fantastic event while many other similar coves provide a meager catch.   

 

The key now is lake stabilization.  Fish will find a spot to their liking and set up a new home range similar to the one they had when the lake was 50 feet lower.  They will remain at the new home and be found predictably from now into the fall.  Fishing success will now improve each day and last well into September and October.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 07:38
 


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