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March 23, 2016 - Stripers hitting at the dam and Intake.

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Lake Powell Fish Report – March 23, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3593
Water Temperature: 51-56 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Striper fishing continues to be excellent at Glen Canyon Dam.  Stripers are cruising along the cliff walls.  The west wall is the favored spot since there is a shallow shelf that juts out into the bay near the barricade.  Boats that hold in one spot near the shelf will have quick action for a while and then the school will move on hopefully toward the next boat anxiously waiting for the school to get in range. It seems the schools continue to move then turn around and retrace their path. As they return, catching gets good again as the school passes under the boat once more. Boaters can successfully wait for the moving schools on the east wall as well.
Some anglers are catching fish from shore as they chum and wait patiently on the rocky outcroppings down the rocky slope from the “Chains” parking lot.  Long casts into the deep bay followed by a gentle drop and a long slow retrieve will attract schooling stripers as they swim along the east shoreline.  Those that use a white plastic single tail grub on a jighead with an anchovy chunk attached seem to do better than those that only use an anchovy on a jig head. Dress up the bait from boat or shore to get the best results.
In the northern lake more shad are found which means that stripers react differently.  Striper schools remain in the backs of canyons and can be caught on spoons in deep water or by trolling and casting in shallower water along the breaking edge of the cliff wall. Often stripers will hold at the mouth of major canyons where they can be caught with bait or spoons or bucktail jigs.  It is wise to try lots of different methods and locations this time of year so that when the anglers and the striper school are close together the anglers can catch and the fish can chase baits.
Smallmouth bass are getting much more active now that the afternoon temperature is getting closer to 60 F.  Watch for murky green water instead of crystal clear blue water for best catching success. Bass fishing is much better in the afternoon than in the morning.  Largemouth bass are on the same afternoon schedule and found in the same colored water but they will be near a bush or a submerged tumbleweed patch or any other structure they can find.
Crappie are suspended at about 12-15 feet in the backs of canyons. Slow trolling a small marabou or plastic jig in open water will result in catching a few crappie.  Crappie catching success will get better in April with the 3rd week usually being the peak of crappie action.
Walleye are now being caught occasionally but the spawn is still progressing and walleye are not inclined to feed regularly during the spawning period.
Fishing success will greatly improve during the next warming cycle as all get ready for warm spring weather.

Lake Powell Fish Report – March 23, 2016

Lake Elevation: 3593

Water Temperature: 51-56 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com

bymyers2Striper fishing continues to be excellent at Glen Canyon Dam. Stripers are cruising along the cliff walls.  The west wall is the favored spot since there is a shallow shelf that juts out into the bay near the barricade.  Boats that hold in one spot near the shelf will have quick action for a while and then the school will move on hopefully toward the next boat anxiously waiting for the school to get in range. It seems the schools continue to move then turn around and retrace their path. As they return, catching gets good again as the school passes under the boat once more. Boaters can successfully wait for the moving schools on the east wall as well.

Some anglers are catching fish from shore as they chum and wait patiently on the rocky outcroppings down the rocky slope from the “Chains” parking lot.  Long casts into the deep bay followed by a gentle drop and a long slow retrieve will attract schooling stripers as they swim along the east shoreline.  Those that use a white plastic single tail grub on a jighead with an anchovy chunk attached seem to do better than those that only use an anchovy on a jig head. Dress up the bait from boat or shore to get the best results.  

Stripers are also caught on bait at the Power Plant intake and in a few spots in Navajo Canyon.  These places will get better with time and warming. 

In the northern lake more shad are found which means that stripers react differently.  Striper schools remain in the backs of canyons and can be caught on spoons in deep water or by trolling and casting in shallower water along the breaking edge of the cliff wall. Often stripers will hold at the mouth of major canyons where they can be caught with bait or spoons or bucktail jigs.  It is wise to try lots of different methods and locations this time of year so that when the anglers and the striper school are close together the anglers can catch and the fish can chase baits. 

egrept1Smallmouth bass are getting much more active now that the afternoon temperature is getting closer to 60 F.  Watch for murky green water instead of crystal clear blue water for best catching success. Bass fishing is much better in the afternoon than in the morning.  Largemouth bass are on the same afternoon schedule and found in the same colored water but they will be near a bush or a submerged tumbleweed patch or any other structure they can find. Crappie are suspended at about 12-15 feet in the backs of canyons. Slow trolling a small marabou or plastic jig in open water will result in catching a few crappie.  

Crappie catching success will get better in April with the 3rd week usually being the peak of crappie action.

Walleye are now being caught occasionally but the spawn is still progressing and walleye are not inclined to feed regularly during the spawning period.  

awashFishing success will greatly improve during the next warming cycle as all get ready for warm spring weather.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 March 2016 09:00
 

March 16, 2016 - Troll or Bait, You decide

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Lake Powell Fish Report – March 16, 2016

Lake Elevation: 3593

Water Temperature: 52-58 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com

 

tracebennettWe embarked on a serious fishing adventure this morning. The goal was to determine where and when stripers could be caught this week.  We already reported that stripers have moved in at the dam and taken up residency, so we went there first.

 

It was a bit windy this morning, which made it difficult to use my anchovy drifting technique.  I stubbornly tried it anyway.  One half of a small anchovy is placed on a light jig head, dropped down 30 feet and then slowly drifted along parallel to the west cliff wall.  This time the wind moved the boat too fast and the bait did not get deep enough for the fish holding at 30-40 feet.  I changed to the 3/8 ounce jig head, dropped it down 30 feet and caught a striper. The boat stopped at the metal barricade and we dropped heavy baited jig heads 30 feet down and caught 10 fish in 15 minutes.  Stripers were still hitting at the dam so we moved on to find more information. 


Next we stopped at Buoy 3 on the corner just before the mouth of Antelope Canyon.  We caught no stripers here or later on the first bend in Antelope Canyon.  The next stop was the Power Plant intake on the east side of Antelope Marina under the chain link fence.  We caught a nice striper there on bait and then moved on to Navajo Canyon. We tried the second point past the double islands and caught another nice striper on bait.  It looks like bait fishing is going to be good at a wide variety of spots for the next month.

 

We then switched tactics at the back of Navajo Canyon where trolling had been good previously. Lucky Craft XD pointers in chartreuse shad color were deployed and we began trolling in the colored water.  We caught fish right away.  It takes longer to catch stripers trolling than on bait. We caught 15 stripers on bait in 2 hours and then another 15 trolling in the next 3 hours.

 

Choose your favorite method and catch fish.  Stripers are hitting bait along the steep main channel canyon walls in clear water or in the backs of canyons in murky water where they can trolled up.

 

Here is a vital piece of information:  The majority of stripers caught on bait are fish that cannot keep up with school fish. They have meandered along the canyon wall looking for any food possible. More than half of fish caught along the walls will be thin fish.  Thin fish have stark white flesh and do not taste as good as healthy fat fish that have a more colorful fillet.

 

Stripers in the back of the canyons are fast moving healthy fish that are actively seeking forage fish.  More than 75% of fish caught trolling will be fat and healthy.   It is your choice, which fish you pursue.  With youngsters in the boat I suggest bait.

 

traceblmbBass fishing is great lake wide.  Bass tournaments this week had respectable winning weights with 5 bass weighing 15 to 18 pounds.  Bass were caught in shallow water from boaters casting from deep water offshore to shallow water near shore.  Most fish caught weighed 1.5 to 2 pounds but those anglers skilled enough to catch 2 largemouth over 5 pounds were able to win the tournaments. The rest of the tournament field caught lots of 2-pound fish.  More bass were caught in the Bullfrog tournament than at the events held at Wahweap.  Bass fishing will get better as the water temperature climbs in the next two weeks.

 

It is shaping up to be a great spring for both bass and striper fishermen at Lake Powell.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2016 18:01
 

March 10, 2016 - Warming and BAIT!

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Lake Powell Fish Report – March 10, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3594
Water Temperature: 51-55 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Warm weather is settling in making resulting in big changes in fishing conditions. Shallow colored water warms more quickly than deep clear water.  Cold blooded fish gravitate to and hang out in warmer water.  The expected springtime fish movement to shallow warmer water is now occurring. Stripers that were holding at 40-100 feet can now be found at 15-30 feet.  Bass that were in deeper water are making their move to the backs of canyons and coves.  Anglers should react accordingly.  Use the thermometer on your graph to find the “hot spots” and then spend valuable fishing time on the warmest water available.
We started our weekly fish report trip trolling in deep water in Padre Bay.  The first striper activity was found near a sandy beach that abruptly fell into deep water as the beach transitioned into a rocky cliff.  In clear water we could see the cliff stair-stepping into deeper water.  The graph confirmed that the depth changed from 15-20 feet and fell to 30-40 feet or deeper. The secret to catching fish in this spot was to follow the shallow edge of the cliff by zig-zagging in and out as the depth changed. We changed to shallower running lures to prevent snags in the shallow rocks.
With a few fish in the cooler we then tested the new pattern by searching for similar cliff drop-offs where water transitioned from very shallow to deeper water. We found a similar spot a mile away and began trolling.  We followed a rocky reef that extended well out into the bay.   Within 5 minutes the graph lit up with the largest striper school seen this year.  I held my breath hoping that the school would respond to our trolled rattletraps.  It took 30 seconds before we doubled up with stripers.  We got those two fish in the boat and immediately cast to the following school and caught 2 large stripers. This was reminiscent of striper boils as the trailing fish came into view and then saw to deep water.  We caught one more big striper and missed one before the school ran away not to be found again.
Then we went to the back of Padre Canyon and trolled up two more stripers and caught largemouth while casting rattletraps in 10 feet on murky water in the back of the canyon.  This summarizes what to expect during the next week over the length of the lake.
The subtle changes in fishing conditions have been confirmed as we have filleted fish from the past few trips.  In mid February we found a few shad in stomachs of fish caught spooning. Most fish were empty.  Recently most of the striper stomachs are empty but those fish that did find food were eating crayfish and sunfish. These food items are in shallow water so fish that are searching for food are going to be found in shallower water.
The lack of shad in the backs of canyons has caused fish movement of the large schools to the main channel.  Large schools are swimming along the canyon walls looking for food.  For those that have missed bait fishing the last 2 years, it seems the wait is over.  Bait time is here again.
Decent numbers of stripers have been caught on bait at Glen Canyon Dam this week.  Reports from two groups yesterday found that anglers in the back of Navajo caught 21 stripers trolling while the group fishing at the dam caught 28 fish.  The choice is yours. If you like to chase fish while trolling and casting then head to shallow water in the canyons. If you like to kick back and fish bait then go to deep water in the main channel.  The good bait fishing spots from previous years should be in play.  Be the first to report catching fish on bait at:  the dam, Buoy 3 on the corner near Antelope Canyon, SRP power plant intake, Warm Creek Wall, Labyrinth Wall, and many other popular locations such as the Navajo Canyon points past the double islands.
Personally, I am going to try the most productive bait fishing spot in the past 5 years by heading to the cove near Buoy 25 on the corner before reaching Gregory Butte.
I better rest up. There is a lot of fishing to do this spring!

Lake Powell Fish Report – March 10, 2016

Lake Elevation: 3594

Water Temperature: 52-57 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com

rbdfeb28
Warm weather is settling in resulting in big changes in fishing conditions. Shallow colored water warms more quickly than deep clear water.  Cold blooded fish gravitate to and hang out in warmer water.  The expected springtime fish movement to shallow warmer water is now occurring. Stripers that were holding at 40-100 feet can now be found at 15-30 feet.  Bass that were in deeper water are making their move to the backs of canyons and coves.  Anglers should react accordingly.  Use the thermometer on your graph to find the “hot spots” and then spend valuable fishing time on the warmest water available. 


We started our weekly fish report trip trolling in deep water in Padre Bay.  The first striper activity was found near a sandy beach that abruptly fell into deep water as the beach transitioned into a rocky cliff.  In clear water we could see the cliff stair-stepping into deeper water.  The graph confirmed that the depth changed from 15-20 feet and fell to 30-40 feet or deeper. The secret to catching fish in this spot was to follow the shallow edge of the cliff by zig-zagging in and out as the depth changed. We changed to shallower running lures to prevent snags in the shallow rocks. 


With a few fish in the cooler we then tested the new pattern by searching for similar cliff drop-offs where water transitioned from very shallow to deeper water. We found a similar spot a mile away and began trolling.  We followed a rocky reef that extended well out into the bay.   Within 5 minutes the graph lit up with the largest striper school seen this year.  I held my breath hoping that the school would respond to our trolled rattletraps.  It took 30 seconds before we doubled up with stripers.  We got those two fish in the boat and immediately cast to the following school and caught 2 large stripers. This was reminiscent of striper boils as the trailing fish came into view and then swam off to deep water. We caught one more big striper casting and missed one before the school ran away not to be found again. 

rascal2
Then we went to the back of Padre Canyon and trolled up two more stripers and caught largemouth while casting rattletraps in 10 feet on murky water in the back of the canyon.  This summarizes what to expect during the next week over the length of the lake.

 
The subtle changes in fishing conditions have been confirmed as we have filleted fish from the past few trips.  In mid February we found a few shad in stomachs of fish caught spooning. Most fish were empty.  Recently most of the striper stomachs were empty but those fish that did find food were eating crayfish and sunfish. These food items are in shallow water so fish that are searching for food are going to be found in shallower water.

  
The lack of shad in the backs of canyons has caused fish movement of the large schools to the main channel.  Large schools are swimming along the canyon walls looking for food.  For those that have missed bait fishing the last 2 years, it seems the wait is over.  Bait time is here again. 


Decent numbers of stripers have been caught on bait at Glen Canyon Dam this week.  Reports from two groups yesterday found that anglers in the back of Navajo caught 21 stripers trolling while the group fishing at the dam caught 28 fish.  The choice is yours. If you like to chase fish while trolling and casting then head to shallow water in the canyons. If you like to kick back and fish bait then go to deep water in the main channel.  

9lbscampbellThe good bait fishing spots from previous years should all be in play.  Be the first to report catching fish on bait at:  the dam, Buoy 3 on the corner near Antelope Canyon, SRP power plant intake, Warm Creek Wall, Labyrinth Wall, and many other popular locations such as the Navajo Canyon points past the double islands.

 
Personally, I am going to try the most productive bait fishing spot in the past 5 years by heading to the cove near Buoy 25 on the corner before reaching Gregory Butte. 


I better rest up. There is a lot of fishing to do this spring!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 March 2016 12:07
 

March 3, 2016 - Stripers are dependable

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Lake Powell Fish Report – March 4, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3594
Water Temperature: 51-55 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
March is coming in like a kitten, at least until the weekend when the temperature drops and a winter storm snows and blows. The Lake can certainly use more the moisture.  Fishing in the spring is always better during warming periods.  Here is what to expect when the next storm blows out and weather warms once more.
Largemouth bass warm up and get a lot friendlier when the water temperature exceeds 57 degrees.  Today the water temperature climbed to 55 after starting out at 51 degrees. The best time to fish for bass is a calm afternoon in the warmest water available.   Wind tends to mix the warm surface water with the cold layer underneath which slows down the catching.   Bass fishermen now are catching some really nice fish casting jerkbaits toward shore from sandy coves to rocky points.  It takes a lot of casts but the reward is worth it.  Remember to use a stop-and-go retrieve when working a jerkbait back to the boat.
Smallmouth bass really don’t get excited until water temperature exceeds 60 degrees.  It will be mid March before smallmouth bass are caught with any degree of regularity.
Walleye really are tuned into warming water but not for feeding purposes. Warming kicks off the spawning urge and these fish forget about feeding until spawning is concluded around the first week of April.
Stripers are dependable.  They are the easiest fish to catch right now.  During the day go to the back of the canyon and look for a water color change from clear, to green to murky. Fish in the murky water. Troll to find them with a medium to deep diving lure in white or shad color.  Their mood changes with the day.  Sometimes they are willing to chase and hit trolled lures until it’s time for you to leave.  On most other days they peck at the lure and an occasional fish is caught. At the beginning of the week stripers were really excited in Navajo Canyon. Two anglers caught 45 fish trolling and casting. Today the same two anglers only caught 21 stripers in the same place.
I use trolling techniques to find fish and then try something else to catch more fish.  Today it was casting because spooning did not work.  We used shallow and deep diving Lucky Craft pointers. When one fish was hooked trolling the other anglers started casting the same lures while the first fish was being reeled in.  Almost half the fish caught today were taken casting while a hooked fish was stimulating the feeding response in following stripers.
At night stripers are being caught near the lighted docks at the various marinas. Chum the fishing area and then drop a piece of anchovy to the bottom and slowly work it back up and down until the fish hitting depth is discovered. Return the bait to the productive depth each time for quicker results in hooking fish.
Remember that it is now possible to use dead threadfin or gizzard shad caught in Lake Powell as bait.  It is also legal to cut up a striped bass and use that as bait to catch more stripers. If you are in the Arizona portion of Lake Powell the only license needed is a Utah resident or non-resident fishing license.
Lake Powell is a very friendly place to fish for some very cooperative fish species. You should come and give it a try this spring.

fr33cLake Powell Fish Report – March 4, 2016

Lake Elevation: 3594

Water Temperature: 51-55 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com


March is coming in like a kitten, at least until the weekend when the temperature drops and a winter storm snows and blows. The Lake can certainly use more the moisture.  Fishing in the spring is always better during warming periods.  Here is what to expect when the next storm blows out and weather warms once more. 

Largemouth bass warm up and get a lot friendlier when the water temperature exceeds 57 degrees.  Today the water temperature climbed to 55 after starting out at 51 degrees. The best time to fish for bass is a calm afternoon in the warmest water available.   Wind tends to mix the warm surface water with the cold layer underneath which slows down the catching.  

fr33bBass fishermen now are catching some really nice fish casting jerkbaits toward shore from sandy coves to rocky points.  It takes a lot of casts but the reward is worth it.  Remember to use a stop-and-go retrieve when working a jerkbait back to the boat. 

Smallmouth bass really don’t get excited until water temperature exceeds 60 degrees.  It will be mid March before smallmouth bass are caught with any degree of regularity. Walleye really are tuned into warming water but not for feeding purposes. Warming kicks off the spawning urge and these fish forget about feeding until spawning is concluded around the first week of April.  

Stripers are dependable.  They are the easiest fish to catch right now.  During the day go to the back of the canyon and look for a water color change from clear, to green to murky. Fish in the murky water. Troll to find them with a medium to deep diving lure in white or shad color.  Their mood changes with the day.  Sometimes they are willing to chase and hit trolled lures until it’s time for you to leave.  On most other days they peck at the lure and an occasional fish is caught. At the beginning of the week stripers were really excited in Navajo Canyon. Two anglers caught 45 fish trolling and casting. Today the same two anglers only caught 21 stripers in the same place.  

fr33I use trolling techniques to find fish and then try something else to catch more fish.  Today it was casting because spooning did not work.  We used shallow and deep diving Lucky Craft pointers. When one fish was hooked trolling the other anglers started casting the same lures while the first fish was being reeled in.  Almost half the fish caught today were taken casting while a hooked fish was stimulating the feeding response in following stripers. 

At night stripers are being caught near the lighted docks at the various marinas. Chum the fishing area and then drop a piece of anchovy to the bottom and slowly work it back up and down until the fish hitting depth is discovered. Return the bait to the productive depth each time for quicker results in hooking fish. 

Remember that it is now possible to use dead threadfin or gizzard shad caught in Lake Powell as bait.  It is also legal to cut up a striped bass and use that as bait to catch more stripers. If you are in the Arizona portion of Lake Powell the only license needed is a Utah resident or non-resident fishing license. 

Lake Powell is a very friendly place to fish for some very cooperative fish species. You should come and give it a try this spring.

 

P.S.  I trolled up a gizzard shad today.  Sometimes when you get a bump that goes away, it could be a fish that is hit by the lure and bounces off.  But sometimes it sticks and strange things happen. 

fr33gzd

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 March 2016 19:49
 

February 24, 2016 - Stripers eat mussels?

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qmgut1

 

It is always a good idea to examine the stomach of harvested fish so that you can learn about their food habits and then apply that knowledge to catching more fish based on those facts. While filleting just take a few more seconds to slit open the stomach and look inside.

 

 

qmgut2I have been waiting for the following picture. This week my neighbor Larry Maynard opened a striped bass  stomach from a fish caught trolling near Lone Rock in Wahweap Bay.   Quagga mussels have been found in here since 2013.  It would be great if resident fish began eating mussels to increase their food supply and keep the mussels in check.   On this day we discovered that one striper did eat mussels and had  a full belly with 13 mussels and one rock.

 

Examining the shells confirmed that some shells were open allowing digestion to occur.  However, striped bass are not a real  molluscavore because the shells were not crushed. Those fish that eat shells for a living crush the shell, then spit out the shell fragments while retaining the soft tissue.  It may be that this striper would have eventually passed the entire mussel out of its body without deriving any nutrition from the feeding event.

 

But it is a start.  I will now try to teach all stripers better chewing techniques.

 

qmgut3

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 16:54
 

Spring Forecast 2016

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Lake Powell Spring Forecast 2016
Lake Powell sportfish were warm and happy when tucked in for the winter in 2015.  Shad production was at peak levels for the past two summer seasons.  Gizzard shad dependably produce a consistent number of offspring, but in 2014-2015, threadfin shad, were produced in record numbers.
Stripers, bass and walleye absolutely “love” threadfin shad.  The shad boom came at just the right time for an aging striper population comprised of old stripers that were worn out from searching for the scarce shad supply in 2012.  The shad resurgence has created a very large population of 2-4 year old striped bass heading into 2016.
The winners here are the anglers that like to catch lots of 3-4 pound stripers.  It should be a banner year for striper fishing in the spring.  The details of how to catch these fish is yet to be determined.  The key to understanding where and how to catch fish again depends on threadfin shad. Another boom year for shad would push striped bass size and numbers to the next level.  Stripers would grow to 4-5 pounds for schooling fish and much larger size for the free roaming, genetically superior fish destined for trophy size.
It is very rare for three consecutive shad booms to occur.  More likely threadfin shad numbers will be small in comparison to the previous two years. If that happens then stripers will maintain their current size and weight and become easy targets for bait fishermen using anchovies or shad in deep water.
I am hoping for a shad boom which makes stripers harder to find in the spring as they stay in the backs of the major canyons instead of running to the deep main channel areas.  I like trolling, casting and spooning at 40 feet while searching for schools in the murky water at the shallow end of the canyon.  Fishing and catching is easier in the spring if the striper schools congregate at the dam or near Moki Wall near Bullfrog.  However, if shad thrive then the extremely addicting summer striper boils will blow up once more.
The striper summary is that it will be a good year no matter what.  There are lots of fish to catch and the spring reports in March and April will dictate where to look and how to catch lots of fish.
Largemouth bass and crappie also face a double standard. These are brush loving fish that are currently enjoying some aquatic weeds that have grown in the clear shallow water in the backs of coves and canyons.  When water warms and spring runoff occurs, bass and crappie must come shallow to spawn.  Largemouth and crappie depend on brush for food and shelter.  A large snow melt and runoff will allow the lake to rise and cover terrestrial brush that now is found 15 feet above lake level.  If the lake comes up 20 feet the brush-loving fish will be able to live and hunt in luxury of these brushy condos.   If the rain and snow does not persist in March and April then largemouth and crappie will suffer while smallmouth will thrive.
Walleye are abundant but secretive. Since they feed in low light it is necessary to fish for them at night or in low light at dawn and dusk. They are vulnerable in May when the water warms rapidly and food is not readily available. In these conditions walleye must feed during the day to obtain enough food to thrive.  It is wise to use live worms on bass jigs in May to catch some of these great testing food fish.
We are planning to tag some walleye in late April and then pass out prizes to the lucky anglers that catch a tagged fish. The purpose is to make more anglers aware of walleye presence and teach them the specific techniques needed to target walleye in Lake Powell.
Lake Powell really has a very complimentary population of fish that respond to existing conditions which favor one fish species this year and another the next.  In any given year there will be different fish species and fishing techniques that work well.  Each season will favor a certain group of fish and different effective fishing techniques. I will do my best to gather reports on fish locations, species and techniques which I will then share with you to make it easier to find a starting point when arriving at this beautiful destination from your home far away.

Lake Powell Spring Forecast 2016

Lake Powell sportfish were warm and happy when tucked in for the winter in 2015.  Shad production was at peak levels for the past two summer seasons.  Gizzard shad dependably produce a consistent number of offspring, but in 2014 - 2015, threadfin shad, were produced in record numbers.  

Stripers, bass and walleye absolutely “love” threadfin shad.  The shad boom came at just the right time for an aging striper population comprised of old stripers that were worn out from searching for the scarce shad supply in 2012.  The shad resurgence has created a very large population of 2-4 year old striped bass heading into 2016. 

The winners here are the anglers that like to catch lots of 3-4 pound stripers.  It should be a banner year for striper fishing in the spring.  The details of how to catch these fish is yet to be determined. The key to understanding where and how to catch fish again depends on threadfin shad. Another boom year for threadfin shad would push striped bass size and numbers to the next level.  Stripers would grow to 4-5 pounds for schooling fish and much larger size for the free roaming, genetically superior fish destined for trophy size. 

It is very rare for three consecutive shad booms to occur.  More likely threadfin shad numbers will be small in comparison to the previous two years. If that happens then stripers will maintain their current size and weight and become easy targets for bait fishermen using anchovies or dead shad in deep water.  

I am hoping for a shad boom which makes stripers harder to find in the spring as they stay in the backs of the major canyons instead of running to the deep main channel areas.  I like trolling, casting and spooning at 40 feet while searching for schools in the murky water at the shallow end of the canyon.  Fishing and catching is easier in the spring if the striper schools congregate at the dam or near Moki Wall near Bullfrog.  However, if shad thrive then the extremely addicting summer striper boils will blow up once more. 

The striper summary is that it will be a good year no matter what.  There are lots of fish to catch and the spring reports in March and April will dictate where to look and how to catch lots of fish.

Largemouth bass and crappie also face a double standard. These are brush loving fish that are currently enjoying some aquatic weeds that have grown in the clear shallow water in the backs of coves and canyons.  When water warms and spring runoff occurs, bass and crappie must come shallow to spawn.  Largemouth and crappie depend on brush for food and shelter.  A large snow melt and runoff will allow the lake to rise quickly and cover terrestrial brush that now is found 15 feet above lake water level.  If the lake comes up 20 feet the brush-loving fish will be able to live and hunt in luxury of these brushy condos.   If the rain and snow does not persist in March and April then largemouth and crappie will suffer while rock dwelling smallmouth will thrive.  

Walleye are abundant but secretive. Since they feed in low light it is necessary to fish for them at night or in low light at dawn and dusk. They are vulnerable in May when the water warms rapidly and food is not readily available. In these conditions walleye must feed during the day to obtain enough food to thrive.  It is wise to use live worms on bass jigs in May to catch some of these great tasting food fish.

We are planning to tag some walleye in late April and then pass out prizes to the lucky anglers that catch a tagged fish. The purpose is to make more anglers aware of walleye presence and teach them the specific techniques needed to target walleye in Lake Powell.  

Lake Powell really has a very complimentary population of fish that respond to existing conditions which favor one fish species this year and another the next.  In any given year there will be different fish species and fishing techniques that work well.  Each season will favor a certain group of fish and different effective fishing techniques. I will do my best to gather reports on fish locations, species and techniques which I will then share with you to make it easier to find a fish finding starting point when arriving at this beautiful destination from your home far away.

 

October 27, 2015 - Last Report of Year

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Lake Powell Fish Report – October 27, 2015
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature 69-72 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson   http://www.wayneswords.com
Each November we conduct our annual gillnet sampling to assess adult fish population strength, numbers and health.  Since we will be on the lake for 2 weeks, today’s fishing report will the last of the season. Sporadic reports will be sent out randomly when something unusual happens like a trophy fish being caught. For current fishing information during winter log on to Wayneswords.com.  The next regular weekly report will be published the first week of March 2016.
Today, stripers are hiding in deep water.  They must not like the bright full moonlight. There is a band of adult stripers and gizzard shad suspended at the preferred temperature found right now at 40 feet.  Trolling with down riggers works along the 40 foot thermal barrier this week. The best report came from trolling Kastmasters in the main channel at 40 feet near Halls Marina and in the channel upstream from Slick Canyon.  The Slick Rock report included speed reeling spoons between 40 and 80 feet for quick striper hookups.
Young-of-year stripers (6-10 inches) are in the backs of canyons in shallow water.  They eat plankton, shad and sunfish and can be caught jigging small spoons in 15-30 feet of water. We have seen shad schools feeding on the surface in early morning and late evening.  Small spoons cast into or near the shad schools will be clobbered by the many small stripers that stalk these schools. When shad are seen on top, game fish can be caught in close proximity.
Bass fishing continues to be the most productive target.  Smallmouth bass and largemouth are found in 15-25 feet of water. The most effective technique is dropshot fishing with plastic grubs and swim baits.  Casting crankbaits is not as good now as it was a week ago.  Go slow and deep while maintaining bottom contact for the opportunity to catch some really nice smallmouth bass. Largemouth bass are now being caught more often in the same areas, particularly where aquatic weeds are growing on the bottom.
These fishing patterns will hold up during November and December.  Dropping water temperature adds the possibility of catching walleye and crappie in shallow water using the same techniques favored in springtime.
In summary, the fishery is in awesome shape. Stripers continue to put on weight and are increasing in number. Shad forage is still high going into the winter season.  Adult stripers, which weighed 3-4 pounds this spring, produced a huge crop of young-of-year stripers.  These adults will weigh 4-5 pounds in the spring and produce another bumper crop of young stripers.  If shad have a good spawn in 2016 then stripers will grow to even larger proportions.  Expect fishing success in spring 2016 to be of epic proportions.
Bass numbers are high.  Largemouth bass need the lake to come up next spring and cover brush along the shoreline before that population can excel.  Smallmouth bass are doing very well.  They need more forage from shad, sunfish and crayfish.  Anglers can help increase size of smallmouth bass by harvesting 9-12 inch fish while releasing larger bass.  There is intense completion for forage among smallmouth which can be reduced by keeping more bass. Smallmouth are great fish to eat.  Keep more bass to make the average size of fish grow larger.
Walleye numbers are very high in the northern lake. Plan a walleye trip in May to Good Hope Bay and see if it is possible to catch 50-100 fish per day.  It could happen.
Thanks for fishing at Lake Powell in 2015 and talking part in one of the most amazing fisheries in the world.



wadestbLake Powell Fish Report – October 27, 2015

Lake Elevation: 3606

Water Temperature 69-72 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson   http://www.wayneswords.com

Each November we conduct our annual gillnet sampling to assess adult fish population strength, numbers and health.  Since we will be on the lake for 2 weeks, today’s fishing report will the last of the season. Sporadic reports will be sent out randomly when something unusual happens like a trophy fish being caught. For current fishing information during winter log on to Wayneswords.com.  The next regular weekly report will be published the first week of March 2016. 

Today, stripers are hiding in deep water.  They must not like the bright full moonlight. There is a band of adult stripers and gizzard shad suspended at the preferred temperature found right now at 40 feet.  Trolling with down riggers works along the 40 foot thermal barrier this week. The best report came from trolling Kastmasters in the main channel at 40 feet near Halls Marina and in the channel upstream from Slick Canyon.  The Slick Rock report included speed reeling spoons between 40 and 80 feet for quick striper hookups.   

Young-of-year stripers (6-10 inches) are in the backs of canyons in shallow water.  They eat plankton, shad and sunfish and can be caught jigging small spoons in 15-30 feet of water. We have seen shad schools feeding on the surface in early morning and late evening.  Small spoons cast into or near the shad schools will be clobbered by the many small stripers that stalk these schools. When shad are seen on top, game fish can be caught in close proximity.     

briangsmb_edited-1Bass fishing continues to be the most productive target.  Smallmouth bass and largemouth are found in 15-25 feet of water. The most effective technique is dropshot fishing with plastic grubs and swim baits.  Casting crankbaits is not as good now as it was a week ago.  Go slow and deep while maintaining bottom contact for the opportunity to catch some really nice smallmouth bass. Largemouth bass are now being caught more often in the same areas, particularly where aquatic weeds are growing on the bottom. 

These fishing patterns will hold up during November and December.  Dropping water temperature adds the possibility of catching walleye and crappie in shallow water using the same techniques favored in springtime. 

In summary, the fishery is in awesome shape. Stripers continue to put on weight and are increasing in number. Shad forage is still high going into the winter season.  Adult stripers, which weighed 3-4 pounds this spring, produced a huge crop of young-of-year stripers.  These adults will weigh 4-5 pounds in the spring and produce another bumper crop of young stripers.  If shad have a good spawn in 2016 then stripers will grow to even larger proportions.  Expect fishing success in spring 2016 to be of epic proportions. 

Bass numbers are high.  Largemouth bass need the lake to come up next spring and cover brush along the shoreline before that population can excel.  Smallmouth bass are doing very well.  They need more forage from shad, sunfish and crayfish.  Anglers can help increase size of smallmouth bass by harvesting 9-12 inch fish while releasing larger bass.

bmwalleyeThere is intense competition for forage among smallmouth which can be reduced by keeping more bass. Smallmouth are great fish to eat.  Keep more bass to make the average size of fish grow larger.

Walleye numbers are very high in the northern lake. Plan a walleye trip in May to Good Hope Bay and see if it is possible to catch 50-100 fish per day.  It could happen.

Thanks for fishing at Lake Powell in 2015 and taking part in one of the most amazing fisheries in the world.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 October 2015 13:22
 

October 20, 2015 - Best Bass Fishing

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Lake Powell Fish Report – October 20, 2015
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature 72-74 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson   http://www.wayneswords.com
Lake level continues to hold at 3606 (MSL) thanks to the rainy weather during October. Just before the last rain, some really huge striper schools were found in the southern lake.  It was absolutely unbeatable to find a huge school with over a thousand stripers loitering on the bottom below the boat. That happened to more than one group of anglers last week.  Then those huge schools fragmented with only 5-10 stripers hanging out together.  The good news was that the more numerous small groups of stripers could be graphed more often. Spoons deployed to the bottom often resulted in 1-3 stripers being hooked.  Then the boat had to move a short distance to find the next small group. It was easier to find the randomly scattered stripers pods, but more productive to find that one big school and catch 50 at one spot.
This week expect to find scattered striper schools. The target depth is 40-50 feet. In fact, the very best striper catching method would be to troll lures behind a down rigger set at 40 feet.  Fish are layered at their preferred temperature zone and suspended just above the thermocline.  It is easy to find the deep fish by watching for western grebes on the surface.  The abundance of shad allows grebes to be present in most canyons and bays on the lake.  Find grebes, troll deep and catch stripers.
While graphing this morning we trolled mid range crankbaits (bevy shad) above the band of fish seen at 40-50 feet.  An occasional striper was hooked trolling.  Other times the boat was stopped over a suspected school of stripers on the bottom. Both techniques worked but not every time.  Stripers were very aggressive near dawn but lost enthusiasm as it got later in the day.
Smallmouth bass fishing is superb lakewide.  Topwater lures at morning and evening, trolling the shoreline during the day, or fishing plastics along rocky shorelines and prominent points, are all working effectively.   I am not sure that bass fishing could get much better than it is right now.
Northern Lake:  Expect to find a plethora of shad from Good Hope to Trachyte. Shad are so abundant that striper fishing is slower than in other lake areas because there is an over abundance of shad forage. This is a good problem to have but for now fishing downstream from Good Hope may be more productive.  Bass fishing success for larger bass is stellar.  The biggest bass from the last bass tournament came from the northern lake.
Main Lake:  Padre Bay to Cedar Canyon.  Bass fishing results in more fish caught per hour except when a large striper school is found.  A large stationary striper school results in 50 or more fish caught in a short time while spooning in deeper water (40-50 Feet).  The challenge is finding that deep, huge school. Trolling deep diving lures with flat line or with downriggers running at 40 feet works while graphing.  Stop and drop spoons when the potential large school is seen on the graph.
Warming weather arrives again this weekend.  Water temperature is 72 degrees now and dropping toward the magic 60 degree mark in the foreseeable future. The last 10 days of October will produce some amazing catches of all the fish this lake has to offer. I recommend coming now for that final trip of the year.

Lake Powell Fish Report – October 20, 2015

Lake Elevation: 3606

Water Temperature 72-74 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson   http://www.wayneswords.com


angelfishLake level continues to hold at 3606 (MSL) thanks to the rainy weather during October. Just before the last rain, some really huge striper schools were found in the southern lake.  It was absolutely unbeatable to find a huge school with over a thousand stripers loitering on the bottom below the boat. That happened to more than one group of anglers last week.  Then those huge schools fragmented with only 5-10 stripers hanging out together.  The good news was that the more numerous small groups of stripers could be graphed more often. Spoons deployed to the bottom often resulted in 1-3 stripers being hooked.  Then the boat had to move a short distance to find the next small group. It was easier to find the randomly scattered stripers pods, but more productive to find that one big school and catch 50 at one spot.

   
This week expect to find scattered striper schools. The target depth is 40-50 feet. In fact, the very best striper catching method would be to troll lures behind a down rigger set at 40 feet.  Fish are layered at their preferred temperature zone and suspended just above the thermocline.  It is easy to find the deep fish by watching for western grebes on the surface.  The abundance of shad allows grebes to be present in most canyons and bays on the lake.  Find grebes, troll deep and catch stripers.

While graphing this morning we trolled mid range crankbaits (bevy shad) above the band of fish seen at 40-50 feet.  An occasional striper was hooked trolling.  Other times the boat was stopped over a suspected school of stripers on the bottom. Both techniques worked but not every time.  Stripers were very aggressive near dawn but lost enthusiasm as it got later in the day.

adamsonf2Smallmouth bass fishing is superb lakewide.  Topwater lures at morning and evening, trolling the shoreline during the day, or fishing plastics along rocky shorelines and prominent points, are all working effectively.   I am not sure that bass fishing could get much better than it is right now. 

Northern Lake:  Expect to find a plethora of shad from Good Hope to Trachyte. Shad are so abundant that striper fishing is slower than in other lake areas because there is an over abundance of shad forage. This is a good problem to have but for now fishing downstream from Good Hope may be more productive.  Bass fishing success for larger bass is stellar.  The biggest bass from the last bass tournament came from the northern lake. 

bbjork111Main Lake:  Padre Bay to Cedar Canyon.  Bass fishing results in more fish caught per hour except when a large striper school is found.  A large stationary striper school results in 50 or more fish caught in a short time while spooning in deeper water (40-50 Feet).  The challenge is finding that deep, huge school. Trolling deep diving lures with flat line or with downriggers running at 40 feet works while graphing.  Stop and drop spoons when the potential large school is seen on the graph.  

Warming weather arrives again this weekend.  Water temperature is 72 degrees now and dropping toward the magic 60 degree mark in the foreseeable future. The last 10 days of October will produce some amazing catches of all the fish this lake has to offer. I recommend coming now for that final trip of the year.

 

 

debcross1

 

October 13, 2015 - Chasing deep schools

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Lake Powell Fish Report – October 13, 2015
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature 72-75 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson   http://www.wayneswords.com
My last fish report expressed the hope that stripers would start boiling again, but to my dismay, no boils have been reported this week.  Unforgettable boil action has occurred in August, September, and early October but each of these episodes has been interrupted by quiet periods when stripers stay deep despite a high abundance of forage.  When boiling stripers do splash on top in big groups, it is easy to find and then catch them with surface lures.  I hope that happens soon but, while waiting, stripers can still be caught in large numbers.
Subtle changes have occurred recently that give clues to finding striper schools.  Water temperature is still warm which means that adult striped bass remain in deep water most of the time but they will come to the surface to feed for quick bursts.  As water temperature continues to decline, stripers can stay on top for longer periods.
The last storm front seemed to allow bait fish and stripers to relocate.  Shad schools that were trapped in the backs of canyons made a quick move to similar spots but perhaps in the next canyon.  Large striper schools have been seen this week but in different bays than previously reported.  It is now necessary to find big schools of shad and stripers as they move from spot to spot. Schools are easy to see on sonar graphs.  Striped bass schools are often shaped like a Christmas tree, while gizzard shad schools appear as a thick band or cloud of fish layered in a horizontal line slightly above the lake bottom. Threadfin shad schools appear as a suspended balloon-shaped cloud in open water.  Finding a threadfin school is my goal because all other game fish, even catfish, are watching shad closely right now.
Trolling shallow running crankbaits has been a successful technique for capturing juvenile striped bass.  Recently these smaller stripers have moved shallow and started to eat plankton as they do in the springtime. Catching small stripers is the first step in finding the adults.  Juveniles live and feed in warm water.  Adults “look up” to see what the youngsters are doing. When juvenile stripers find a threadfin shad school adults can quickly come to the top and feed with the kids. A small striper caught trolling, has the attention of larger fish that follow and then watch for food in deeper water.  Each time a young fish is caught trolling, drop a spoon to the bottom or cast a crankbait behind the small fish to attract the larger school.
While trolling, diligently study the graph to detect striper schools resting on bottom. Glance up often and scan the surface for jumping stripers.  Gizzard shad are active jumpers now, but stripers have a different, more aggressive splash. Troll toward the surface activity for best results.  When a resting striper school is seen on the graph, stop and drop spoons quickly into the group. The spot can be marked for a return engagement but stripers are on the move and may not be there when you return.
This may sound like a lot of work, but the reward may be 50 large adult stripers caught from one school in short order.
The other option is to move to the shallow shoreline and cast surface lures during morning and evening prime time for large and smallmouth bass. Shad movement has bass on edge and looking up for the opportunity to feed.  Bass fishing is steady and productive all day long.  Use plastic baits in 15-30 feet of water to target larger bass.  Small bass are very aggressive and can be caught trolling, casting and jigging along primary points in the bays or on rockslide areas in the canyons and channels.
Channel catfish are active at dusk.  They have grown larger this summer with the abundant shad population and they are more aggressive than normal.  I often catch catfish while spooning on the bottom for stripers.
Resting deep water striped bass can be caught on bait in 30-60 feet of water in the shade of main canyon walls.  Mark the fish on the graph, drop chum and catch large stripers.
Fishing is really good now for bass and stripers for those that like the challenge of matching wits with fish that are on the move. As the water temperature drops into the 60s, larger bass, walleye and crappie will become prime targets.

Lake Powell Fish Report – October 13, 2015

Lake Elevation: 3606

Water Temperature 72-75 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson   http://www.wayneswords.com


My last fish report expressed the hope that stripers would start boiling again, but to my dismay, no boils have been reported this week.  Unforgettable boil action has occurred in August, September, and early October but each of these episodes has been interrupted by quiet periods when stripers stay deep despite a high abundance of forage.  When boiling stripers do splash on top in big groups, it is easy to find and then catch them with surface lures.  I hope that happens soon but, while waiting, stripers can still be caught in large numbers.

 
aclkSubtle changes have occurred recently that give clues to finding striper schools.  Water temperature is still warm which means that adult striped bass remain in deep water most of the time but they will come to the surface to feed for quick bursts.  As water temperature continues to decline, stripers can stay on top for longer periods. 


The last storm front seemed to allow bait fish and stripers to relocate.  Shad schools that were trapped in the backs of canyons made a quick move to similar spots but perhaps in the next canyon.  Large striper schools have been seen this week but in different bays than previously reported.  It is now necessary to find big schools of shad and stripers as they move from spot to spot. Schools are easy to see on sonar graphs.  Striped bass schools are often shaped like a Christmas tree, while gizzard shad schools appear as a thick band or cloud of fish layered in a horizontal line slightly above the lake bottom. Threadfin shad schools appear as a suspended balloon-shaped cloud in open water.  Finding a threadfin school is my goal because all other game fish, even catfish, are watching shad closely right now.   


Trolling shallow running crankbaits has been a successful technique for capturing juvenile striped bass.  Recently these smaller stripers have moved shallow and started to eat plankton as they do in the springtime. Catching small stripers is the first step in finding the adults.  Juveniles live and feed in warm water.  Adults “look up” to see what the youngsters are doing. When juvenile stripers find a threadfin shad school adults can quickly come to the top and feed with the kids. A small striper caught trolling, has the attention of larger fish that follow and then watch for food in deeper water.  Each time a young fish is caught trolling, drop a spoon to the bottom or cast a crankbait behind the small fish to attract the larger school. 


downloadWhile trolling, diligently study the graph to detect striper schools resting on bottom. Glance up often and scan the surface for jumping stripers.  Gizzard shad are active jumpers now, but stripers have a different, more aggressive splash. Troll toward the surface activity for best results.  When a resting striper school is seen on the graph, stop and drop spoons quickly into the group. The spot can be marked for a return engagement but stripers are on the move and may not be there when you return. 


This may sound like a lot of work, but the reward may be 50 large adult stripers caught from one school in short order.  
The other option is to move to the shallow shoreline and cast surface lures during morning and evening prime time for large and smallmouth bass. Shad movement has bass on edge and looking up for the opportunity to feed.  Bass fishing is steady and productive all day long.  Use plastic baits in 15-30 feet of water to target larger bass.  Small bass are very aggressive and can be caught trolling, casting and jigging along primary points in the bays or on rockslide areas in the canyons and channels.

  
Channel catfish are active at dusk.  They have grown larger this summer with the abundant shad population and they are more aggressive than normal.  I often catch catfish while spooning on the bottom for stripers. 


Resting deep water striped bass can be caught on bait in 30-60 feet of water in the shade of main canyon walls.  Mark the fish on the graph, drop chum and catch large stripers. 


Fishing is really good now for bass and stripers for those that like the challenge of matching wits with fish that are on the move. As the water temperature drops into the 60s, larger bass, walleye and crappie will become prime targets.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 October 2015 09:49
 

October 5, 2015 - Boils Erupt

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Lake Powell Fish Report – October 5, 2015

Lake Elevation: 3605

Water Temperature 74-76 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson   http://www.wayneswords.com


 

sher2I predicted last week that “surface action would return and make striper boil fishing as good as it was two weeks ago.  Stripers would then move into the canyons and coves where shad have found safe refuge”. Striper boil reports from the southern lake this weekend were the best of the year.

 

Stripers are moving into coves where shad have been hiding out for much of the summer. Boils in coves and along the shore have now replaced open water boils in the main channel.  These are the fall events that we have been waiting for.

 

On Saturday morning we were graphing for striper schools when a few splashes were seen and we headed in their direction. I marked the spot where a potential “spooning” school was holding before chasing the topwater fish.  In the back of Warm Creek Cottonwood we saw large shad schools perhaps 20 yards long move out in open water with individual stripers and bass chasing along the side of the school. Both bass and stripers hit surface lures, cast near the shad school.

 

Surface water temperature was above 75F, which is still too warm for adult stripers to stay on the surface for extended periods of time. Despite the exciting surface activity, best fishing results came from spoons dropped to 25-55 feet near the small boils.  We chased the topwater schools along shore and into coves and then back out into the bay where shad schools were leading them. We caught some topwater fish and more deep fish. Surprisingly the last topwater fish we saw was within a few yards of our marker dropped there first thing in the morning. We then spooned up more stripers.  Our cooler count was 40 stripers.

 

On Sunday, boil reports from Padre Bay, Last Chance and Rock Creek began to pour in. Most anglers were getting 20-50 stripers on surface lures from boils.  Fantastic fall fishing has arrived. Unfortunately, it will be short lived as a cold windy front blows through early in the week, but as soon as the wind quits the cooler water will allow more adult stripers to hit the surface making boils bigger and stronger by Oct. 9th.  Great surface fishing will continue until the next full moon and perhaps longer.  These predictions are for the whole lake both north and south.

 

Bass fishing continues to excel with active smallmouth bass following the striper lead as shad schools swim in open water.  Shad are being forced out of the backs of canyons as the lake level continues to decline and as water temperature drops.  Bass fishing will get better as water temperature reaches the 62-65F mark in late October or early November.

 

This is a great time to be on the lake with fantastic fishing success and cool nights to go along with warm calm days.  Oh!  Lake Powell, We have to love it!

bobreed


Last Updated on Sunday, 04 October 2015 16:29
 


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