Lake Powell Fish Report – August 12, 2015
Lake Elevation: 3611
Water Temperature 76 - 78 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
The Gold King Mine toxic water spill into the Animas River and then into the San Juan River led me to the inflow of the San Juan into Lake Powell to take baseline data of water chemistry and sediment data before the toxic water arrived at Lake Powell. There was no obvious change in water color or chemistry so it seemed consistent that the toxic water was not yet in the headwaters. We were also tasked with collecting a 60 fish sample for baseline data of heavy metal concentrations in Lake Powell striped bass before the toxic water arrived. This is where it gets interesting. On the way uplake on Monday evening we started seeing a few slurps and scattered boils in the main channel beginning at Dangling Rope and continuing to Oak and Anasazi Canyon.
Early the next morning we got an early start from our camp at the mouth of the San Juan and headed upstream to complete our mission. The first big striper boil was on the corner leading into Cha Canyon. The boils downstream consisted of smaller fish but the San Juan boils were composed of large, aggressive 2-4 pound fish. We had a lot of fish to catch to meet our quota so it was nerve wracking to play the super strong stripers while their boil mates were still feeding in tight groups. I broke off 3 topwater lures while trying to horse large fish into the boat so I could quickly unhook it and catch another one. But the boils stayed up and came back up often enough for us to put a lot of fish in the cooler.
When these boils subsided we headed uplake until we found another concentration of surface feeding stripers near the mouth of Piute Canyon. We repeated the catching process and put another slug of big fish in the cooler. At the end of the day 3 anglers caught 60 stripers all in boils or blind casting where boils had been.
It is interesting how striper boils wax and wane in certain areas of the lake. Strong boils reported last week in the Good Hope Bay area are now occurring less often. Slurps in the southern lake have gone quiet. The best spot right now is from Dangling Rope to the San Juan (as described) and to the Escalante. But just when we think we have it figured out stripers tend to quit in one spot and start up in a new location.
The best news is that shad numbers are still strong. Small shad are most common in the main channel where most of the boiling action occurs. That means there will be larger shad left over for September boils that will occur in coves and side canyons. This has been an exceptional year for catching fish and it looks like it will continue into fall and winter.
Bass anglers can also take advantage of smallmouth bass boils that will happen in the same shad-rich areas where striped bass are seen breaking the surface. It is boil time at Lake Powell.
I cannot think of a more exciting place and time to go fishing. Stripers blow up on the surface and it takes a while to get the boat in casting range. Then when a big striper comes up you know that if you can cast to within 3 feet of the splash ring that fish will hit your lure. It is an adrenaline pumping experience.