Lake Powell Fish Report – May 4, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3592
Water Temperature: 59-66 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Warming has been late in coming but that is changing now as May has arrived. Early morning surface water temperature has been consistently found at 58 F for the past few weeks and that is what the thermometer showed as we headed out for our weekly trip. Those fish waiting to spawn in the southern lake were slow to start feeding in cold water. We caught a few smallmouth and an occasional striper or walleye in the early morning hours as we ran uplake as far as Dungeon and Rock Creek.
As the day warmed and water temperature climbed to 65F fishing success improved. Here is a rundown on the various techniques used to catch each species:
Striped bass were best caught using bait in the main channel. Choose a spot, throw out a handful of chum, followed by a baited circle hook (Carolina rig) or light weight jig head with a chunk of anchovy attached. The best fishing spots were the same as previously reported including the dam, first main channel corner before arriving at Antelope Canyon (also known as Buoy 3), the power plant intake (under the chain link fence upstream from Antelope Point marina) and some points in Navajo Canyon upstream from the double islands. I know there are other places where stripers can be caught on bait but these locations close to launch areas are still producing so there are no reports of anglers going further uplake to fish bait.
In the northern lake the best bait spots have been close to marinas including the mouth of Moki Canyon, Buoy 99 and the coves near by. Remember that stripers along the walls tend to start and stop feeding on their own schedule. If they are not hitting in one spot move a short distance and try again. When a school turns on under the boat your fishing trip will be a great success.
Stripers are still being caught trolling and spooning over the length of the lake and many are still being visually spotted in the shallows making them susceptible to crankbaits and crayfish imitating plastic baits. Spooning was more productive for us in the afternoon after the water had warmed.
Over the length of the lake, smallmouth bass are caught in bigger numbers than stripers. Morning hours are not as productive as later in the afternoon when water warms to the mid 60s. Productive habitat includes the protected coves with southern exposures where the sun heats up the water a few degrees warmer than the surrounding open water.
Smallmouth bass really like plastic baits including single tail grubs, double tail grubs, senkos, square bill crank baits and spinner baits. It seems that more bass were caught in the backs of canyons in cloudy water than in the main channel and main canyon clear water. As you travel further uplake from Wahweap the number of smallmouth caught increases. The very best areas right now are the San Juan Arm, the Escalante, and the Rincon including surrounding canyons.
Be aware that the runoff is flowing and muddying the water from Good Hope Bay upstream. The mud line is near the middle of the big bay. Cloudy and murky water provide excellent fishing for bass and stripers while dark, muddy water makes it more difficult to interact with fish that remain in the runoff areas. These fish include stripers that are running upstream to spawn, walleye that feed well in muddy water and some bass and crappie that are using the colored water for protection while waiting for the lake level to come up and cover brush.
Walleye are being caught more often each day as water warms. These low light feeders are best caught during May while waiting for shad to spawn. The best technique is to maintain bottom contact with a slow moving lure in the 12-30 foot range. Live night crawlers can be used to target walleye. Worm harnesses can be cast to sandy bottoms in cloudy coves or attached to bottom bouncers that are slow-trolled behind a boat in the same depth range. Walleye are being caught more often each day on plastic baits used to target smallmouth bass in rocky cover.
Best walleye trolling lure may be the wally diver pictured here:
May is the month of variety of catch. As we used dark green, double tail plastic grubs, we caught smallmouth, stripers, bluegill, green sunfish, largemouth bass and walleye in the same stretch of shoreline. All sport fish are hungry while waiting for shad to spawn which normally happens mid-May. The warming water triggers the feeding response. All of these fish are looking for food and a plastic grub or crankbait draws serious attention from a variety of species. May is the best Spring month to fish at Lake Powell.