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Fishing Report

March 30. 2011

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 30, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3611   
Water Temperature 50 - 56 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson 

Good fishing in March happens when weather warms but that is often followed by a cold spell with wind which dims fishing success. That was the case this past week as fishing success declined.  Looking forward, weather is forecast to be warm for the next few days and into the weekend. When planning springtime fishing trips it is best to look at the weather as perhaps the best indicator of fishing success. With that in mind expect great fishing this weekend at Lake Powell. 

Base water temperature slipped back near 48F in the mornings and warmed only to 55 in the warmest spots during the day.  This morning the base temperature was 50 at dawn and will increase to possible 58 in the afternoon. A few degrees of warming have a dramatic impact on fish behavior and activity.

The good news with the cold weather set back is that fish have not moved. Striped bass are still split between the back of some canyons where shad are present while stripers in forage poor areas have migrated to the main channel in the lower lake. Main channel stripers can be caught on bait near the Dam and in the forebay.  Stripers run the walls so they can be caught sporadically near Buoy 1 or at the Chains or at any spot along the walls. At all these locations a passing school will provide quick fishing followed by a lull until the school makes a return pass.  Use frozen anchovies or sardine bait cut in one inch chunks on a jig head or size 2-4 bait hook.  Chum steadily with finely cut bait. Since there is no 60 foot bottom for fish or chum to rest on near the dam it may be best to chum 2-3 pieces of bait every 10 minutes to attract attention of a passing school. When the school arrives put out more chum to keep the school under your boat as long as possible. 

Stripers remain in the backs of the canyons where shad have over wintered. Navajo, Last Chance, Rock Creek, Oak, San Juan, and Escalante have shad and will harbor stripers susceptible to trolling and spooning. From Red Canyon to Hite forage is abundant allowing great fishing success at times. Forage rich areas are prone to lulls when fish choose not to feed.  The best conditioned fish are in the backs of the canyons while the easiest fish to catch are in the channels near the dam. There have been no reports yet that stripers have been caught at Moki Wall near Bullfrog. That usually happens in April so we have something to look forward to in the mid lake area.

Largemouth bass remain in the brush where water depth is 10-20 feet.  Declining lake level has exposed much of the  thickest brush making fishing with exposed hook lures somewhat easier.  Brush is brittle so wiggling a snagged lure usually allows it to pull free. It also allowed me to catch a 3-pound largemouth yesterday on a single tail smoke-sparkle grub on a regular jig head. Tubes, grubs, spinnerbaits and bulky jig and pig baits are good largemouth fare.  Smallmouth will respond this week as well with water temperature beginning to climb.  Find 57-60 degree water in the afternoon for best smallmouth results.


March 23, 2011 - Stripers Now Hot!

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 23, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3612   
Water Temperature 48 - 53 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson 


watercolorAs the weather warmed last week striped bass moved into the shallow trees (10 feet deep) in the backs of major canyons.  We were able to troll shallow running lures on brush covered rocky points and steadily catch fish.  But then a cold front rolled through dropping water temperature from the mid 50s to 48 F.

Look for stained water for best results

On the first warm day after the front we returned to Dry Rock Creek to check fishing conditions.  We started trolling in the same pattern as last week but found it difficult to approach the previously productive shallows.  We hooked the first striper on a shallow running rattle trap where bottom depth was 45 feet.  As that fish was coming to the boat I dropped a spoon to the bottom and immediately hooked up.   From then on fishing was incredibly amazing. We caught fish on spoons as fast as we could take a striper off and return the spoon to the water. The school trailed below the slowly moving boat.  After 2.5 hours of spooning we had 84 stripers in the big cooler.  Size ranged from 12 inches to 5 pounds.  These stripers that spent the winter with shad were in good to excellent condition. Only 5 fish were thin and not filleted.

wgsize2Obviously the previously shallow stripers had moved out deeper with the colder weather. Shad had the same plan as they went deeper to avoid cooler surface temperatures. With stripers and shad in the same zone school fish were very active. At the fish cleaning station we found shad in many stomachs.  When stripers and shad commingle at depth spooning is the best technique. 

We were not alone at the cleaning station.  Other anglers found stripers eager to eat bait at the barricade line in front of the dam. Catches of 20 to 50 stripers were reported today.  Looks like the striper bite is on at Lake Powell. We are now declaring the long anticipated spring striper run to be in full bloom. It will last through the month of May.

Look at the weather report and plan a spring trip as soon as possible trying to match your trip with the best weather pattern possible.

mouthLargemouth bass fishing is excellent. Smallmouth bass are just beginning to wake up. Crappie are about two weeks away from consistent action in the thick brush in the backs of the canyon. Walleye will begin to bite well around April 15th. Fishing during April this year will be memorable as many different kinds of fish can be caught in large numbers. 

In the heat of battle, a few stripers were not fully hooked but had the mouth wedged open by the spoon allowing us to get them in the boat. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 March 2011 17:12

March 16, 2011

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 16, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3612   
Water Temperature 48 - 53 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  
wgrcAfter last week's philosophical report I was determined to find a successful pattern. I am happy to report that my fish cooler has scales in it again this week. The search was not easy. Included were 4 fishless hours while we tried many different locations and techniques.

We started in the back of Wahweap Bay where stripers had been regularly caught during the last month. We trolled the 25 foot bottom contour and only caught one striper.  None took our spoons or anchovy bait.  Then we tried Warm Creek Wall at Buoy 12 hoping the fish had moved to the channel.  No luck!  Water color in the main channel is crystal clear.

We moved uplake to Padre Canyon but we could not graph any schools. There were no hits on trolled lures, spoons or bait. We fished for bass in the murky water at the back of the canyon without success. So far it was a very long morning salvaged only by the beautiful calm warm weather.

recordgizzard1With time running out we made the commitment to run to Rock Creek.  Again trolling and bait fishing were fruitless.  Finally at the back of the canyon we took off our deep diving lures, replaced then with rattletraps and ventured into shallow water.  Still no action!  But then we found that increasing speed was the key. We normally troll at about 3.5 mph.  By kicking the speed up to almost 5 mph we found stripers willing and ready. 

Once the pattern was discovered we quickly put 30 stripers in the cooler before returning to Wahweap.  Schools of 12-18 inch fish with an occasionally 3-pounder were holding off secondary brushy points where depth fell from 8 to 15 feet. We trolled on the deep water side of each brushy point just far enough out so the lures would not hang up in the brush.

Trolling selects the healthiest stripers. Only the fast, powerful fish are able to catch up with a fast paced trolling lure.  Using bait in deeper water will result in a wide variety of stripers from those that are not as fat to some of the best quality fish available.  There is a wide quality range in striped bass this year depending on lake location.  If shad are available striper condition is good.  I am pleased to report that most stripers are coming out of winter in good shape despite a decline in shad numbers last summer.

Fishing for largemouth bass is excellent in the shallow brush line that rings the reservoir.  Fish in the brush for largemouth bass.  Smallmouth bass were caught for the first time this past week as water temperature climbed into the mid 50's. Bass spawning will occur as water temperature increases to the low 60's.  

flat_rapFishing this week will be great once the daily pattern is discovered. It may take a while to discover where moving fish are and what presentation they want at the moment.  Try a number of different tactics until the right combination is revealed. Then enjoy the day.

I recommend the Rapala Flat Rap (FLR-10) pictured here. Trolled Rattle traps were great to locate willing fish but the stripers soon tired of them after a few passes. But the Flat Raps were hammered each time we passed the point. They are a shallow running lure (2 feet)  which worked great for me last fall when stripers were slapping but not hitting surface lures. These lures were cranked down just enough to keep the shallow bite going when surface fishing ceased.   I never expected to use them trolling until we needed them yesterday.  They made the diffrence between catching a few fish and filling the cooler.

Yes the 3-pound gizzard shad pictured above hit my Flat Rap in only 6 feet of very muddy water at  the back of the canyon. My first big shad fought like a big trout making strong fast runs near the boat. They are quite the sport fish.    

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 09:29

March 10, 2011

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 10, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3613    
Water Temperature 48 - 53 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

Warming March weather is causing seasonal changes at the lake. Most importantly water warms at a disproportional rate with protected southern exposures maintaining warmth from afternoon sun while main channel water exposed to wind action cools quickly. The good news is that base water temperature has risen to 48 degrees while protected spots have warmed to 53 degrees. Largemouth bass are very happy with 53 F and will move to the warm side of the tree to take full advantage.  Smallmouth bass are not convinced that spring is here until base water temperature warms to 55 F.  Expect that warming stimulus to be reached near April 1st.  







Danny Vine

Warming triggers walleye spawning. Expect that spawn to start next week as base temperature climbs above 50 F. Unfortunately, spawning walleye tend to go off food making them harder to catch instead of making them more vulnerable to angling.  It is not until after the spawning experience that walleye eat ferociously trying to regain their strength.  Walleye begin to delight anglers near April 15th after water warms into the 60s.






Crappie are on much the same schedule as walleye waiting for 60+F in mid April.  The difference is that crappie spawn at that temperature.  Crappie are nest-guarders like bass which make them easier to catch. Walleye and stripers offer no parental care to young and therefore are not easier to catch during the spawning period. 

Aren't fish interesting! 

Striped bass tendencies are proving hard to predict this spring.  A forage shortage last fall disadvantaged many adult stripers.  These fish were expected to move toward the dam and main channel as water warmed.  But, so far, these thin fish have moved very shallow in tree-lined coves near the backs of canyons. That makes sense in that this generation of stripers has never fed anywhere else. They were born in forage rich coves and fed there exclusively since.  It is not surprising that they are reluctantly hanging out in the only habitat they know.

                                                                                                 Bill Bjork


Most stripers, which found adequate forage over winter, stayed in deep water all winter. This group of fish will move toward the main channel with warming and provide anglers with fast fishing on anchovy cut bait. It will take stripers unto the end of March to figure out if they will move or stay. Expect some migration to occur in April and for bait fishing to get really good in late April and May.

I hope this planning report has been helpful.  When I go out on my weekly fishing trip and catch no fish I tend to get philosophical. Make note when reading future reports that tidbits about fish behavior usually mean my fish cooler was empty when returning from the last trip.


March 2, 2011

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Lake Powell Fish Report - March 2, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3614    
Water Temperature 46 - 48 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson  

wgatworkFishing results this winter have been surprisingly good.  My normal winter activity is to sit by the fire but this year each weekly fishing trip has provided incentive to go out again next week. With gloves, goggles, and insulated clothing the trips have been bearable while traveling and exciting when fishing.

Striped bass have provided most of the action.  Schools of 3-pound adults and 15-inch juveniles are normally found in the backs of most major canyons where a perennial stream or dry wash allows runoff to enter. Canyons that end in a steep cliff may not hold as many schools as those with a brush-ringed flood plain. Plankton-eating juveniles are suspended in the upper 25 feet while adults are near bottom.

chrispLook for adult striper schools where bottom depth is 40-80 feet.  A fish locating graph certainly helps find a mound of stripers on the usually flat bottom devoid of much else besides a readily recognizable fish school.  My fish locating technique is to troll while watching the graph for a school.  A floating marker is tossed overboard where the school is seen. If fish don't rise to the trolled bait then we return and drop spoons to the bottom. Sometimes a school responds to one fish rising to the spoon as they all try to get involved in the action. Other times the spoon is ignored by all. Lethargic schools can usually be excited by chumming with cut bait. Impressive catches of stripers have been achieved using both methods.

wayneandlmbmcuThese fishing methods will continue to produce in March.  Cold water sometimes keeps fish dormant. My normal success rate for 5 trips ranges from one being fantastic to one where no fish are caught. That leaves 3 trips where success is satisfying. Expect fishing conditions to improve in March as water temperature starts to rise.  This spring expect bait fishing near the dam and along steep canyon walls to be more successful than in previous years.  But right now schools are still found in the backs of canyons.  Look there first.

glowrocksMarch is the best month to catch a trophy largemouth bass. These 4-7 pound bass have spent the winter in submerged brush ringing the sandy shoreline. They move up and down depending on weather conditions but essentially bass will be in brush and seldom deeper than 20 feet.  Use weedless fishing tackle that can be fished slowly within, around and through tree branches. The tried and true standard bait remains pork rind on a weedless jig head with brush guard.  The modern improvement to that technique is replacing pork with plastic trailers that are big and bulky to allow slow descent as the bait crawls over a limb and falls back to the bottom.  One new bait showing early success this spring is a Yamamoto Flappin Hog.

Walleye spawn during March and limit food intake making them hard to catch. Smallmouth bass don't respond well until water temperature climbs above 55F. Crappie, sunfish and catfish are relatively dormant.   Target stripers and largemouth during March for the best chance of good fishing success over the length of Lake Powell.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 March 2011 09:51

February 24, 2011

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This week's fishing report trip has been long anticipated. We finally went uplake to see if the same patterns that have been working all winter in Wahweap Bay could be repeated in more remote canyons.  We ran 25 minutes uplake and slowed in the back of a long major canyon. It felt good to get off plane and decrease the wind chill factor to zero.

We then started trolling and graphing.  We saw only scattered fish in the 25 foot depth zone. Trolling the white rattletrap only targeted fish in the upper 15 feet but it was effective for some last week.  We caught one small juvenile striped bass on the trap where bottom depth was 35 feet and missed one at 40. A white Poes minnow that dives to 10 feet caught one 2-pound striper at a depth of 45 feet. But it was obvious that trolling was not going to very successful.

As we hit the 50 foot depth range we saw a couple of fish that could have been stripers and then we saw a small school of perhaps 6-8 fish that were definitely stripers. We stopped, reeled in the trolling lures and dropped spoons behind the boat where the small school of stripers should be. All winter it has been tough to stop the boat, retrace the path and find the school a second time.  This time we didn't try to get right over the school but just cast back to where they should have been.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2011 20:12

February 16, 2011

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cookieoverOur weekly  fishing report trip started out just like the last one.  We looked for schools on the graph near Lone Rock in Wahweap Bay without success.  Each time we stopped over a suspect  school the graph would show a bubble plume or a blank void.  We could not get anything going. We covered most of Lone Rock bay without finding any fish willing to bite. My only action was a 12-inch striper that hit my jiggling spoon at 50 feet while I was stopped talking with Chris Parish.  He reported catching a few stripers shallow by trolling pointers in 25 feet of water near the back of the canyon.  It wasn't hot but he caught more than we did.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 February 2011 14:49

February 11, 2011

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wayne with two fat stripers caught spooning

Today's fishing adventure started off with great expectations. Lucas, the Quagga tech at the top of the ramp, told us a 12-pound striper was caught yesterday near the wakeless zone in front of Wahweap Main ramp. So we started looking there but found only a blank screen on the graph.

We then went to Warm Creek because we hadn't fished that in a couple of weeks and thought the fish would welcome our arrival. But two hours of graphing, stopping and spooning was not rewarded at all. We cut our losses and headed to Lone Rock where most fish have been caught recently.

The southwest corner was fishless. So we started graphing again.  The third hour passed with no fish. Then half way between Lone Rock and the shoreline of Lone Rock canyon we graphed a school. Our activity level was intense. We spooned, chummed, dropped anchor and succeeded in catching two stripers before all that activity drove the school away.  The screen went blank again. Fishing bait was not productive which was very surprising.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 February 2011 13:04

February 5, 2011

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wgmarkThe frigid cold weather has passed.  Lake Powell is back at normal winter air temperature which means that on a calm day with the boat next to a south facing (solar heat gathering) rock, it is very pleasant. No gloves are needed - just a coat and a cooler to hold fish.

Bottom fishing remains good to excellent for hungry adult striped bass.  They are holding near 60 feet in the back of most  canyons.  There will be some migrational movement in late February or early March but for the next 3 weeks these fish will stay where they are and bite when found.

Use the graph to locate the school. Chum early and often to activate the school and keep them going. Use a jig head with a short shank to get the 1 inch chunk of bait down quickly to the bottom. When the school rises off the bottom following a hooked school mate, a slow sinking carolina rigged bait is better.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 February 2011 11:37

January 26, 2011

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wgstbWe returned to Warm Creek to check on striper fishing status. I have been almost shutout for the last two weeks. But today was different. We left earlier and got to the back of the canyon, hovered over the 65 foot depth strata and started looking.  My shutouts had been pitched in the 45 foot deep water further back by the mouth of Crosby while 65 foot had been devoid of fish.


Last Updated on Thursday, 24 February 2011 09:17

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