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Fishing Report

Water temperature:

56- 58 F

December 8, 2014



December 8, 2014 - Rock Creek Striper Pattern

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We set out for Rock Creek with temperatures above freezing and very little wind.  When it gets cold this winter the Rock Creek trip may not be possible for me unless I am wrapped in an insulated bubble with a 70 degree thermal layer inside.
This trip uplake was magical as it seemed the gentle breeze was always at out back.  Fog clouds were wrapped around cliff tops with occasional sunlight spotlighting cliff walls.   It was absolutely beautiful and unique for the always dramatic scenery from Padre to Rock Creek.
As we headed toward the back of  main Rock Creek the gentle breeze lessened and flat calm conditions prevailed. The trip was already a success so we turned around and went back,  NO!  That was not going to happen since there was another plan to be completed.
In the back of the canyon there is a deep trench that runs from 50-70 feet but on the right hand side there is a bench that averages 35 feet. For the last month or longer, the magic holding depth for striper schools has been 35 feet. So we started there.
My basic technique is to troll a deep diving Thunderstick and a mid depth Shad Rap. The graph is studied while trolling and a floating marker is in hand ready to mark the location of any large striper schools that are passed over. We could just graph and then stop on a school and drop spoons, but it is also necessary to get the school activated. The best way to do that is to hook a fish which excites other schooling fish almost as much as it energizes me. As the hooked striper is reeled in, the curious school often follows to see if there is more free food close at hand.  As the troll-caught fish is lifted into the boat the striper school pauses under the boat wondering where the hooked fish went and more specifically where they might find free food.
This time the first fish hit the shad rap which allowed me to reel in my Thunderstick and quickly deploy the spoon rod. Sure enough! As soon as the first fish was hoisted in, the school appeared and my spoon was eaten on the way down to the bottom.  I played my fish until another spoon was in the water. Then I flopped my 3-pound striper on the deck by holding the spoon and the jerking it while letting the weight of the fish disengage the hooks from the lip. Luckily it worked that time and I could immediately put the spoon back in the water as my partner played his spoon caught fish.
We deployed a marker at the spot where the first fish was caught.  We worked this school over for about 10-15 minutes before they left us.  Then we picked up the fish off the deck, and put them in the cooler on ice. We had drifted about 200 yards away from the marker as the school followed us. The next step is put out the trolling lures again and search for the next school.
The trolling/spooning technique located about 5 or 6 separate schools.  The floating markers showed the most common school location to be at the breaking edge of the 35 foot terrace before it dropped into deep water.   Later in the day and further back in the canyon where depth was commonly 18 feet, we found a 50 yard long basin that was 30 feet deep.  Sure enough schools that had been holding on the shallow bench now dropped into the deep little basin.  They could still be activated with spoons and catching continued.
At midday fishing success slowed. We had a cooler full of fish from 2.5 to 4 pounds.  There were no yearling fish and only two that might have been 5 pounds.  Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we counted 33 stripers. What a great day for fishing in December!

We set out for Rock Creek with temperatures above freezing and very little wind.  When it gets cold this winter the Rock Creek trip may not be possible for me unless I am wrapped in an insulated bubble with a 70 degree thermal layer inside.  
This trip uplake was magical as it seemed the gentle breeze was always at out back.  Fog clouds were wrapped around cliff tops with occasional sunlight spotlighting cliff walls.   It was absolutely beautiful and unique for the always dramatic scenery from Padre to Rock Creek. 


As we headed toward the back of  main Rock Creek the gentle breeze lessened and flat calm conditions prevailed. The trip was already a success so we turned around and went back,  NO!  That was not going to happen since there was another plan to be completed. 


In the back of the canyon there is a deep trench that runs from 50-70 feet but on the right hand side there is a bench that averages 35 feet. For the last month or longer, the magic holding depth for striper schools has been 35 feet. So we started there.

 

My basic technique is to troll a deep diving Thunderstick and a mid depth Shad Rap. The graph is studied while trolling and a floating marker is in hand ready to mark the location of any large striper schools that are passed over. We could just graph and then stop on a school and drop spoons, but it is also necessary to get the school activated. The best way to do that is to hook a fish which excites other schooling fish almost as much as it energizes me. As the hooked striper is reeled in, the curious school often follows to see if there is more free food close at hand.  As the troll-caught fish is lifted into the boat the striper school pauses under the boat wondering where the hooked fish went and more specifically where they might find free food. 


This time the first fish hit the shad rap which allowed me to reel in my Thunderstick and quickly deploy the spoon rod. Sure enough! As soon as the first fish was hoisted in, the school appeared and my spoon was eaten on the way down to the bottom.  I played my fish until another spoon was in the water. Then I flopped my 3-pound striper on the deck by holding the spoon and the jerking it while letting the weight of the fish disengage the hooks from the lip. Luckily it worked that time and I could immediately put the spoon back in the water as my partner played his spoon caught fish.
We deployed a marker at the spot where the first fish was caught.  We worked this school over for about 10-15 minutes before they left us.  Then we picked up the fish off the deck, and put them in the cooler on ice. We had drifted about 200 yards away from the marker as the school followed us. The next step is put out the trolling lures again and search for the next school. 


The trolling/spooning technique located about 5 or 6 separate schools.  The floating markers showed the most common school location to be at the breaking edge of the 35 foot terrace before it dropped into deep water.   Later in the day and further back in the canyon where depth was commonly 18 feet, we found a 50 yard long basin that was 30 feet deep.  Sure enough schools that had been holding on the shallow bench now dropped into the deep little basin.  They could still be activated with spoons and catching continued. 


At midday fishing success slowed. We had a cooler full of fish from 2.5 to 4 pounds.  There were no yearling fish and only two that might have been 5 pounds.  Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we counted 33 stripers. What a great day for fishing in December!

 

wg10814

 

November 26, 2014 - Rock Creek Report - Stripers

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November 26, 2014
Rock Creek –
Striper fishing is becoming more predictable as stripers and shad have arrived at the places where they will spend the winter.  The general pattern is the back of major canyons where bottom depth starts to shallow from 70 feet to 30 feet.  Shad will spend the winter suspended in schools at about 50-70 feet. Stripers will lay on the bottom at about the same depth and periodically attack the shad school.  As the water gets colder there will be less interaction between the two but stripers cannot allow a shad (lure) to pass through the resting school without some sort of reaction so fishing will continue to be productive all winter long.
At Rock Creek the current fishing pattern was demonstrated as we went to the back of the canyon looking for stripers. Shad were still in shallow water as the warm calm weather has allowed the water temperature to stay near 60F.   Shad won’t move until the temperature drops to the low 50s.  Casting Yamamoto shad shaped worms rigged on a quarter ounce jig head steadily produced stripers from 2 to 5 pounds at depths shallower than 20 feet.  Shad were hiding in the back of the canyon and stripers were guarding and periodically attacking the shallow shad schools. Fishing was best early and then decreased as the sun got higher in the morning sky.
We know that stripers were holding out deeper than 20 feet so we trolled thundersticks out into the 35-50 foot depths.  The first fish hooked was a dandy that weighed almost 5 pounds.  We took about 2 seconds to admire that fish and quickly deployed spoons into the school of stripers that followed the first one to the boat.  These fish really liked our spoons (home made walleye lure slab spoons).
The wind was calm and we drifted slowly across the bay into deeper water.  The drift took over an hour as we constantly caught school stripers from 2-4 pounds.  We put 25 fish in the cooler on the first drift but had perhaps 15 more that came unbuttoned near the boat. They must of hit just a bit short and came off easily.  We spooned up another 10 by going back to the marker where the school was first found.
Fishing success dropped off as the sun got higher in the sky.  Best success was found from dawn to 11 AM. Cool early morning fishing is better than “warm” fishing mid day.
Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we marveled at the incredible fillets from these fat healthy fish.
Fishing is still good at Lake Powell.  It is necessary to use the right approach and techniques but the results are very satisfying.

natem

 

November 26, 2014 - Rock Creek 

Striper fishing is becoming more predictable as stripers and shad have arrived at the places where they will spend the winter.  The general pattern is the back of major canyons where bottom depth starts to shallow from 70 feet to 30 feet.  Shad will spend the winter suspended in schools at about 50-70 feet. Stripers will lay on the bottom at about the same depth and periodically attack the shad school.  As the water gets colder there will be less interaction between the two but stripers cannot allow a shad (lure) to pass through the resting school without some sort of reaction so fishing will continue to be productive all winter long.     

At Rock Creek the current fishing pattern was demonstrated as we went to the back of the canyon looking for stripers. Shad were still in shallow water as the warm calm weather has allowed the water temperature to stay near 60F.   Shad won’t move until the water temperature drops to the low 50s.  Casting Yamamoto shad shaped worms rigged on a quarter ounce jig head steadily produced stripers from 2 to 5 pounds at depths shallower than 20 feet.  Shad were hiding in the back of the canyon and stripers were guarding and periodically attacking the shallow shad schools.

Fishing was best early and then decreased as the sun got higher in the morning sky. We know that stripers were holding out deeper than 20 feet so we trolled thundersticks out into the 35-50 foot depths.  The first fish hooked was a dandy that weighed almost 5 pounds.  We took about 2 seconds to admire that fish and quickly deployed spoons into the school of stripers that followed the first one to the boat.  

These trailing fish really liked our spoons (home made wallylure slab spoons).  The wind was calm and we drifted slowly across the bay into deeper water.  The drift took over an hour as we constantly caught school stripers from 2-4 pounds. We tried to keep one active spoon or hooked fish in the water at all times so the school would follow the boat.  It worked out that we usually had one fish on while the other fish was being unhooked and then we changed roles from the unhooker to the catcher.  Great fun!

  We put 25 fish in the cooler on the first drift but had perhaps 15 more that came unbuttoned near the boat. They must of hit just a bit short and came unhooked prematurely.  We spooned up another 10 by going back to the marker where the school was first found.  Fishing success dropped off as the sun got higher in the sky.  Best success was found from dawn to 11 AM. Cool early morning fishing results are better than “warm” fishing mid day. 

Back at the Wahweap fish cleaning station we marveled at the incredible fillets from these fat, healthy fish. Fishing is still good at Lake Powell.  It is necessary to use the right approach and techniques but the results are very satisfying.

noblmb14

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 07:58
 

November 9, 2014 - GHB and Rincon

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Here is a quick summary of our best results in Good Hope Bay on November 4 and 5.  We trolled up a couple of stripers on deep diving thundersticks (white) in the mouth of Blue Notch. Best fishing was uplake in Trachyte where a boil occured Monday afternoon between 3-4 PM at the mouth of the canyon.  The boil repeated at the same time on Tuesday afternoon but this time in the back of the canyon. 

While at the Rincon we found good bass fishing along the northwest shoreline with grubs and tubes.  There was school of stripers in the back of Iceberg at the junction of Natural Dam cove and Iceberg canyon.  Water was 50 feet deep at the junction but the striper school was on  a 30-foot mound.   I caught a few before they ran off.

We will be on the San Juan this week. More later.

 

October 29, 2014 - Striper migration complete

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Lake Powell Fishing Report
October 29, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3605
Water Temperature 65-69 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Striped bass annual migration is now almost complete. Fish movement begins in the spring as stripers react to warming water by leaving the backs of the canyons and heading toward the main channel to spawn.  Then in summer they pursue forage in open water wherever they can find it whether on the surface or at great depths.  As temperature declines in fall stripers move toward the backs of canyons where they will spend the winter with shad schools that descend to 60-90 feet where water temperature is cold but stable. Threadfin shad must be in deep water to survive cold winter temperatures that are near their thermal tolerance level.  Rapid warming or cooling can be lethal to these warm water forage fish once acclimated to cold water ranging from 45-50 F.
Stripers make one stop before going deep in the winter.  At the beginning of October shad were in open water but have recently moved into shallow coves to escape relentless striper predation.  Shad hope that they can find shallow water where a three-inch fish can swim but a 3-pound striper cannot without hitting bottom.
This is what we found yesterday as we searched open water for striper schools and then moved to the backs of canyons to find where stripers have gone.   We looked in Padre Bay canyons and found a few stripers left in front of Gunsight Butte.  Large schools were found at the beginning of the month but now only one small school was seen.  We did catch fish from that school by spooning quickly when the fish were graphed.  We stayed over the school long enough to catch a dozen 2-3 pound stripers before the fish departed.
Next we looked for other schools seen previously in deep water from Gregory Butte to Gunsight without finding any fish.  Then we went to the backs of canyons to see if shad were trapped in shallow coves. Most canyons were fishless while others harbored shad.  Shallow shad schools were guarded by stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Once a shallow school was found it was easy to catch husky fish of all species by casting shallow and mid depth crankbaits in 12-15 feet of water.    When we pulled out further to 30 or 40 feet we found striper schools holding waiting for shad to try to escape from the their coves. These schools were more than willing to hit spoons.
The successful lake wide pattern is to find shad schools trapped in the back of short U-shaped canyons near the man channel.  Long winding canyons are not usually as productive.  Try to stay within casting distance of the shad school but do not scare shad out into open water where the shad will then flee to another sanctuary cove.  Work the cove with shad imitating crankbaits for best results.  Our best lure was a Lucky Craft Bevy Shad in shad color.  Look further out for striper schools that really like spoons right now.
Coves with no trapped shad also had no predators.  It is possible to run quickly to the back of many coves before finding the shad school.  The school we saw contained thousands of shad and covered perhaps a length of 20 yards of shallow water from the front of the school to the back with a width of 20 feet.  Find shad now in the southern lake and fishing success will follow.  There are more shad schools in the northern lake so it may be more challenging there.  In either case the best catching action is now in the very back of the canyon from a bottom depth of 40 feet to the shallow end of the cove.
This is the last regular fish report of the year.  We head out on the lake for the next three weeks to sample with gill nets to document population size and fish health. Updates will be found on Wayneswords.com throughout the winter.

Lake Powell Fishing Report

October 29, 2014

Lake Elevation: 3605

Water Temperature 65-69 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson  

http://www.wayneswords.com

noblmb14Striped bass annual migration is now almost complete. Fish movement begins in the spring as stripers react to warming water by leaving the backs of the canyons and heading toward the main channel to spawn.  Then in summer they pursue forage in open water wherever they can find it whether on the surface or at great depths.  As temperature declines in fall stripers move toward the backs of canyons where they will spend the winter with shad schools that descend to 60-90 feet where water temperature is cold but stable. Threadfin shad must be in deep water to survive cold winter temperatures that are near their thermal tolerance level.  Rapid warming or cooling can be lethal to these warm water forage fish once acclimated to cold water ranging from 45-50 F.

 
Stripers make one stop before going deep in the winter.  At the beginning of October shad were in open water but have recently moved into shallow coves to escape relentless striper predation.  Shad hope that they can find shallow water where a three-inch fish can swim but a 3-pound striper cannot without hitting bottom.

 
nobsmb14This is what we found yesterday as we searched open water for striper schools and then moved to the backs of canyons to find where stripers have gone.   We looked in Padre Bay canyons and found a few stripers left in front of Gunsight Butte.  Large schools were found at the beginning of the month but now only one small school was seen.  We did catch fish from that school by spooning quickly when the fish were graphed.  We stayed over the school long enough to catch a dozen 2-3 pound stripers before the fish departed. 


Next we looked for other schools seen previously in deep water from Gregory Butte to Gunsight without finding any fish.  Then we went to the backs of canyons to see if shad were trapped in shallow coves. Most canyons were fishless while others harbored shad.  Shallow shad schools were guarded by stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass. 


Once a shallow school was found it was easy to catch husky fish of all species by casting shallow and mid depth crankbaits in 12-15 feet of water.    When we pulled out further to 30 or 40 feet we found striper schools holding waiting for shad to try to escape from the their coves. These schools were more than willing to hit spoons.  


The successful lake wide pattern is to find shad schools trapped in the back of short U-shaped canyons near the man channel.  Long winding canyons are not usually as productive.  Try to stay within casting distance of the shad school but do not scare shad out into open water where the shad will then flee to another sanctuary cove.  Work the cove with shad imitating crankbaits for best results.  Our best lure was a Lucky Craft Bevy Shad in shad color.  Look further out for striper schools that really like spoons right now. 


noblmb2Coves with no trapped shad also had no predators.  It is possible to run quickly to the back of many coves before finding the shad school.  

The school we saw contained thousands of shad and covered perhaps a length of 20 yards of shallow water from the front of the school to the back with a width of 20 feet.  Find shad now in the southern lake and fishing success will follow.  There are more shad schools in the northern lake so it may be more challenging there.  In either case the best catching action is now in the very back of the canyon from a bottom depth of 40 feet to the shallow end of the cove. 


This is the last regular fish report of the year.  We head out on the lake for the next three weeks to sample with gill nets to document population size and fish health. Updates will be found on Wayneswords.com throughout the winter.

 

 

October 22, 2014 - Boils and Spooning

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Lake Powell Fishing Report
October 22, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature 68-72 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Fishing Schedule - Lake Powell
Dawn to 9 AM (MST):
Bass and stripers wake up and go out for breakfast.  Shad are the only option on the menu for stripers but bass add crayfish to the list. Shad schools are no longer free to live in open water due to striper gluttony.  Now shad are moving toward the backs of canyons and coves to hide.  Somewhere along the way stripers and/or bass find the school and breakfast is served.  Surface activity is still visible most mornings but the splashes are becoming less abundant.
10 AM to 3 PM:
A daily truce is declared as stripers and shad back off and quietly coexist. Stripers hold near the bottom at 40-60 feet while threadfin shad form a suspended open water school from 20-50 feet.  Not much feeding or other activities occur unless a random shad happens to drop in on the striper school.  Stripers cannot resist a shad swimming through their peaceful surroundings and must react by eating said shad.  That makes spooning and deep water trolling the only effective mid day fishing techniques.
4 PM to Dark:
Skirmish lines are redrawn and sportfish go back into feeding mode while shad run and hide. A few stripers and bass blow up on top marking the spot where a submerged school is working. The same techniques (top water and spooning) that worked in the morning are effective once more.
Techniques:
Surface boils are the most exciting form of fishing in fresh water. There are just enough boils happening now to make them worthwhile to pursue. Always keep looking for any splash during morning and evening.  Stripers blow water up over a foot in the air.  Gizzard shad jump in open water too, but they make a smooth entry back into the lake. Make sure the splash is made by the target species.  If close enough to cast while the fish are working the surface - top water lures, rattle traps and Kastmaster spoons work very well.
The boil is great fun but the real work is done with jigging spoons. There are few fish on the surface compared to the huge school waiting below. See the splash - then look at the GRAPH.  When the school is visible at depth spoons should be dropped right on the hungry fish.  This is how big numbers of fish are caught.  The school eagerly awaits the next shad imitating spoon as most shad are now eaten at 20-60 feet.  The very best technique now is spooning where bottom depth is between 20 and 60 feet.
Trolling is not very effective but does have its purpose. If surface action is not seen then trolling while watching the graph is a good way to find fish. Troll about half way back in most canyons at  a bottom depth of 40-100 feet with a marker in hand. When the striper school is seen toss the marker and return to that spot if these fish do not respond to trolled lures.  Most stripers are found in water too deep to troll without down riggers or leaded line.
Best recent locations:
Southern Lake :  Dominguez Rock (Face Canyon), Gregory Butte, Last Chance Coves, Rock Creek mouth, Dungeon Canyon.
Northern Lake: Crystal Spring, Moki Canyon, Warm Springs.
Hint:  Do not be surprised to see largemouth and smallmouth bass boiling on shad.  Stripers and bass are often working the same shad schools.  Find any surface action and look deep to find vulnerable fish that can be caught most efficiently on spoons.
Good Luck!  Fishing is challenging but very rewarding due to the quality of fish that can be caught.

Lake Powell Fishing Report

October 22, 2014

Lake Elevation: 3606

Water Temperature 68-72 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson  

http://www.wayneswords.com


Fishing Schedule - Lake Powell 


Dawn to 9 AM (MST): Bass and stripers wake up and go out for breakfast.  Shad are the only option on the menu for stripers but bass add crayfish to the list. Shad schools are no longer free to live in open water due to striper gluttony.  Now shad are moving toward the backs of canyons and coves to hide.  Somewhere along the way stripers and/or bass find the school and breakfast is served.  Surface activity is still visible most mornings but the splashes are becoming less abundant.


bretthepfam_edited-110 AM to 3 PM
: A daily truce is declared as stripers and shad back off and quietly coexist. Stripers hold near the bottom at 40-60 feet while threadfin shad form a suspended open water school from 20-50 feet.  Not much feeding or other activities occur unless a random shad happens to drop in on the striper school.  Stripers cannot resist a shad swimming through their peaceful surroundings and must react by eating said shad.  That makes spooning and deep water trolling the only effective mid day fishing techniques.


4 PM to Dark: Skirmish lines are redrawn and sportfish go back into feeding mode while shad run and hide. A few stripers and bass blow up on top marking the spot where a submerged school is working. The same techniques (top water and spooning) that worked in the morning are effective once more. 


Techniques: Surface boils are the most exciting form of fishing in fresh water. There are just enough boils happening now to make them worthwhile to pursue. Always keep looking for any splash during morning and evening.  Stripers blow water up over a foot in the air.  Gizzard shad jump in open water too, but they make a smooth entry back into the lake. Make sure the splash is made by the target species.  If close enough to cast while the fish are working the surface - top water lures, rattle traps and Kastmaster spoons work very well.  


The boil is great fun but the real work is done with jigging spoons. There are few fish on the surface compared to the huge school waiting below. See the splash - then look at the GRAPH.  When the school is visible at depth spoons should be dropped right on the hungry fish.  This is how big numbers of fish are caught.  The school eagerly awaits the next shad imitating spoon as most shad are now eaten at 20-60 feet.  The very best technique now is spooning where bottom depth is between 20 and 60 feet. 

Trolling is not very effective but does have its purpose. If surface action is not seen then trolling while watching the graph is a good way to find fish. Troll about half way back in most canyons at  a bottom depth of 40-100 feet with a marker in hand. When the striper school is seen toss the marker and return to that spot if these fish do not respond to trolled lures.  Most stripers are found in water too deep to troll without down riggers or leaded line. 

Best recent locations:

Southern Lake:  Dominguez Rock (Face Canyon), Gregory Butte, Last Chance Coves, Rock Creek mouth, Dungeon Canyon.

Northern Lake: Iceberg, Crystal Spring, Moki Canyon, Warm Springs.

Hint:  Do not be surprised to see largemouth and smallmouth bass boiling on shad.  Stripers and bass are often working the same shad schools.  Find any surface action and look deep to find vulnerable fish that can be caught most efficiently on spoons. 

Good Luck!  Fishing is challenging but very rewarding due to the quality of fish that can be caught.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2014 18:11
 
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