Lake Powell Fish Report – May 24, 2016
Lake Elevation: 3599
Water Temperature: 63-67 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
This big striper was "rescued" by an angler who saw it thrashing on the surface. When he pulled the trophy out of the water he found another striper stuck in the trophy fishes throat. He pulled the smaller striper out, took a picture and then released the big striper and watched it swim off apparently unharmed.
Early Monday morning it was not possible to walk to the Stateline Ramp courtesy dock without getting wet up to the knees because the lake had risen that much overnight. Lake Powell is coming up fast as the spring runoff builds. Lake level is four feet higher this week than last. The lake will rise even more this week. If camping, it will be necessary to readjust mooring lines daily. Rising water also impacts fishing success.
Lake water temperature is holding in the mid 60s which makes all fish happy and contented. The full moon this week did delay good fishing success until mid morning and then afternoon fishing was just great – particularly for stripers on bait. Early morning bait fishing at the dam and other steep canyon wall locations was slower than usual. Fish were caught randomly but big schools were not active. At 10:30 AM that changed and schools became hyper active. Still the good bait fishing spots further uplake (Navajo Canyon, Warm Creek Wall, Labyrinth Wall etc.) seem to be better than the dam and buoy 3 now. Run uplake and try some of the spots that have not been fished as much to find a secluded location with a ton of fish ready to bite.
The striper spawn is now imminent. Each year I dream of finding a spawning school where it is possible to catch a mature fish or even a trophy every cast for hours at a time. I say ‘dream’ because it all happens at night when I am home in bed. If you are camping on the lake it would be wise to check the nearby coves and points by trolling and casting shallow running crankbaits, just as the sun sets. You may be near the spawning school that has been inactive all day long and becoming super active at night. My search for spawners happens early in the morning before the sun rises. I look along the east walls of the tall canyons where the sun’s rays are delayed by morning shade. Ripe males and females can be caught trolling and casting in the pre dawn light. These fish are bigger and healthier than the stripers caught on bait during the day.
Trees and brush along the shoreline are getting much closer to becoming fish habitat as the lake rapidly rises. Largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie will gladly leave their current barren locations to find a tumbleweed or tamarisk tree in 3 feet of water. They love to be near, live in and never depart from brush structure once found. Fish near brush for these fish as the lake comes up.
Smallmouth bass are still living on the rocks. They have built nests to spawn and some are still actively guarding the nests. As the lake rises smallmouth bass tend to stay at the same nesting location. This week adult smallmouth will be four feet deeper than last week since the lake came up that much. Fishing success is still really good for those using jig heads and plastic baits worked along the bottom from 10 to 25 feet deep. Do not hesitate to use top water baits for bass at first light in the morning and as the sun sets at night.
Channel catfish are awake and actively eating. They will spawn in early June as the water temperature climbs to 72 degrees. They are being caught all day long now on bait fished on the bottom. Some cats are being caught by striper fishermen each day as the anchovy temporarily resides on the bottom near a striper fishing spot.
Walleye fishing is now at its peak. The best locations are in the upper lake in the backs of the canyons where water color is stained but not muddy from the huge runoff event now occurring. Reports of walleye caught in huge numbers are coming in from Red Canyon in the far north and many canyons between Bullfrog and Good Hope. My choice to catch walleye would be from Bullfrog down to San Juan including the Escalante. In a new fishing area my first exploratory efforts would be to troll bottom bouncers or flat line lures in 15-30 feet of water near shore or over open water reefs. When walleye are found, target that area specifically with bass grubs or worm harnesses tipped with a tasty night crawler. Work the worm slowly along the bottom in the area where a walleye was randomly caught to find many more in the walleye gathering spot.
UDWR is actively tagging walleye now to have target fish in the water for anglers to catch from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. If you register for the contest and catch a tagged walleye you will be awarded a gift certificate donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse. More information will be provided prior to July 1st on contest rules and how to sign up. For now, practice catching walleye to get you walleye skills honed to sharp edge.