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October 29, 2017 - SMB pattern

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There is no doubt Lake Powell smallmouth are not following their typical fall pattern. Most years they follow the shad migration into the backs of the canyons and large coves. They stack up in large numbers in relatively small areas making it possible at times to catch 15 to 20 without moving the boat. Except for one day in late September, that’s not been the case for me this year, and last week’s trip was typical of this fall’s pattern. Longtime fishing partner John Conrad and I managed to catch exactly 100 smallmouths in three days last week, a good catch in most places but definitely not up to Lake Powell standards for October. We were never able to find large concentrations of smallmouths in any one area. They were scattered all over the place.


On Tuesday and most of Wednesday John  and I fished in and around five different coves in Last Chance Bay. Late Wednesday and all day Thursday we fished some smaller coves and ledges off the main channel just below Gregory Butte. Fishing success was about the same everywhere we fished. We normally did not catch more than two or three fish from one spot. The one exception was one small cove off the main channel south of Gregory Butte where we caught five nice smallmouths Wednesday afternoon and six more Thursday morning. We did not enjoy that kind of success anywhere else. We also found that we would have good action in the early morning, but then things would grind to a halt around 10 a.m. picking up again around noon. This occurred all three days.


One thing that was very consistent was the kind of structure and depth where we found them. Our most consistent pattern was to find an area where the bottom dropped from five to eight feet down to 12 to 15 feet. The bass would be right at the base of that first drop off. While we caught a few fish up shallower and some considerably deeper, a vast majority of our catch came right off that first drop at 12 to 15 feet. Another thing we found was this fish did not appear desperate to eat. Most of the time during the fall Lake Powell smallmouth feed frantically storing up fat for the winter. That did not appear to be the case on this trip, at least not during daylight hours. While they would not refuse a lure placed right in their strike zone, they were not willing to chase anything. A soft plastic bait placed right in front of them was the best presentation. I tried throwing topwater quite a bit but only got a couple half-hearted strikes. These fish seemed content to just wait for something to swim or crawl into their strike zone and were not willing to chase.


The best part of the trip, besides the beautiful weather, was the average size of the smallmouths we caught were considerable larger than most years. We caught very few dinks, and not all that many 11-inch “eaters.” Most of the fish we caught were between 13 and 17 inches, and they were fatter and heavier for their size than any smallmouths I’ve ever seen on this lake. John was also impressed with the size and health of these fish. I believe that is why they were not so desperate to feed. There appears to be a lot of forage in the lake, and they’ve eaten very well all summer. There is no doubt that well-fed fat fish are usually harder to catch than those who are not so well fed. Most of the fish we caught in Last Chance were feeding on shad, however the ones we caught off the main channel below Gregory Butte appeared to be eating primarily crayfish. This goes to show that Lake Powell smallmouths are equal opportunity predators. I will say that these fish fought harder than any smallmouths I’ve ever caught on this lake - another sign of their good health.


While things could change over the next week or so, it would be my suggestion to concentrate bass fishing efforts in and around the smaller coves off the main channel and in the fronts of the big coves in the large bays like Last Chance. If that is not successful them move towards the backs of the coves. Be prepared to cover a lot of water as the fish do not appear to be concentrated in any one area. Start looking in the 12 to 15-foot range off the first drop off, but be prepared to fish both shallower and deeper if necessary.


This concludes my Lake Powell fishing season for 2017. All in all it was another incredibly successful year. I had two of my best fishing days ever on the lake this year and never really had an unsuccessful trip. I thank God for allowing me the privilege of fishing this wonderful lake all these years and pray I will be able to do so for many years to come.




October 26, 2017 - GHB bass

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Just a quick note to let you know we’ve been doing some good fishing in Good Hope Bay. This is just one of many nice Smallmouth we’ve landed. Some decent Largemouth as well. We generally fish with Yamamoto shad shaped worms or single curly tail on a colored jig head. Many were caught on Natural Shad color on this four-day trip. FYI we generally do not look for, nor fish for Stripers... just the green fish. Cousin Bob and I hope to get down one more time this fall. Just thought I’d share.




October 16, 2017 = Last Chance Bass

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Last Chance Bay is my absolute favorite fishing spot on Lake Powell. It is usually full of smallmouth bass, my favorite fishing quarry, and it’s beautiful - the most beautiful spot in the lower lake in my opinion. If the weather forecast is good and I’m up to it, that’s where I’m going.

Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the weather forecast was good, and I was up to it. Joining me once again on this trip was longtime fishing partner John Conrad of Prescott. I never have any problem convincing John that Last Chance is the place to go as he feels the same about it as I do. He was all in on making the run up there all three days. Of course our catching 91 fish in a day there two weeks prior helped stoke our enthusiasm. I’ve had more of those kinds of days at Last Chance than anywhere else in the lower lake.

A dry cold front had moved through on Monday, and Tuesday dawned as a typical post-front bluebird day. It was cold when we arrived at the Wahweap launch ramp. John and I agreed the fishing might be a bit tough, and we were right. We didn’t catch a fish for the first two hours. Finally we caught a couple small bass in the cove that had been so productive for us two weeks earlier, but that was it for another hour or so. Finally around 11:00 a.m. we started picking up a smallmouth here and there, including some pretty good sized ones, and fishing got much better as the day went on. We finished with 30 smallies, a good day in most places but below average for Lake Powell in October.

With stable weather predicted for Wednesday we decided to return to Last Chance. We got into fish immediately and caught 12 in the first hour. Convinced the post-front blues were over we looked forward to the rest of the day. However things suddenly stopped and we didn’t land a fish for over an hour. Staying in the same cove all day, we fished completely around the back end, including both forks taking a smallmouth here and there, however after that initial burst, we never really hit a good pattern. It was around 11:30 a.m. and we were about ready to move to another spot, however I suggested we fish along the north bank a ways before leaving. That turned out to be a good decision as we immediately starting catching smallmouths, sometimes two at a time, including some really decent fish. We spent the rest of the day fishing that bank all the way out to the mouth of cove. When we headed back for Wahweap Bay we had tallied 63 smallmouths and one small green bass. This was more like October fishing on Lake Powell.

After a couple days of stable weather I thought the fishing would be even better on Thursday, and Last Chance was once again the place to go. The way things started this appeared to be the case as we were immediately into some nice smallmouth. We took 10 in the first hour, and then things shut down. We went back to the spot where we’d had so much success two weeks before, however the results were not much better there than Tuesday. We moved to a large cove I’d not fished at all this year and took a few fish, including several very nice ones, but the action was slow. Finally around 1:00 p.m. we went back to the bank where we’d had so much success Wednesday. The smallies were still there and still willing as we had the fastest action of the day. We finished the day with 34 smallmouths and two largemouths. Although our total was much smaller than the day before, the average size fish we took was much larger with several going around two pounds. Our three-day total was 127 smallmouths and three largemouths. We took no stripers or walleyes.

Although we caught fewer fish than on some previous trips, as I mentioned earlier the average size was quite a bit larger. These fish were really healthy and carried more weight for their length than any Lake Powell smallmouth I’ve seen in some 23 years of fishing. They fought very hard often leaping several feet out of the water. The primary forage was definitely shad with many hooked fish spitting out shad as we fought them. A few of the fish we kept and cleaned and crayfish in their stomachs, but a vast majority were stuffed full of shad. 

Despite so many being full of shad, we saw very little surface activity. Most of the fish we caught were 10 to 15 feet deep, however we caught a few between 20 and 30 feet. We caught very few fishing vertically directly below the boat. Horizontal casting was the better presentation. We caught many more fish on slick rock ledges than broken rock bottoms. While I’ve taken smallmouths on slick rock in the past, I’ve never taken so many as on this trip. Although most of the fish we caught were shallow, we always caught them close to deep water. In fact, a number of smallmouths we landed were icy cold to touch suggesting they had just come up out of deeper water.

We experienced a very bright moon all three nights before our fishing days. John and I believe that the bass had fed all night which may explain why we didn’t generally do well in the mornings. It also may explain why we didn’t see much feeding activity. The only presentation that consistently caught fish was as slow as possible - a lot of very slow dragging and dead sticking. We used our usual drop shot setups with Yamamoto Shad Shaped Worms. Our best color was the green and white laminate, although the natural shad color was also effective. As with previous trips, i don’t think color or even the lure type was very important. Putting the bait in front of the fish’s nose and keeping it there was important. Although we had a lot of strikes on the initial drop, which is often the case with drop shotting, we had an equal number on the slow drag or while dead sticking. During daylight hours it did not appear these fish were willing to chase. 

It was also apparent to us that there weren’t as many bass in the backs of the coves as we normally see this time of year. In fact, there appeared to be many more two weeks ago. Monday’s cold front might have pushed quite of few of them out to deeper water and perhaps some were just moving back in. I can’t say for sure if that was the case, but it is a possibility. Nevertheless it was still a good fishing trip highlighted by beautiful weather and the spectacular scenery of Last Chance Bay. John and I hope to duplicate all of this next week in our final fishing trip of the year.





October 12, 2017 - White Canyon stripers

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Fished GHB North to White Canyon from 10/5 to 10/9. SMB spotty, no surface feeding Stripers, however, lots of Stripers gathering from the mouth of White Canyon South along the river channel for a mile or so. Trolling a Shad Rap at 2 mph in the afternoon produced all the Stripers we wanted to reel in. Fish were fairly shallow so no down riggers are needed.


Cal Evans


October 1, 2017 - SMB heating up

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Fall smallmouth fishing on Lake Powell is really starting to turn on. The fish are hungry and are becoming more aggressive. In fact, last Thursday my friend and long time fishing partner John Conrad and I enjoyed perhaps our greatest smallmouth day on Lake Powell.


With a good weather forecast we decided to make the run to Last Chance Bay. Our first stop was a nondescript slick rock canyon which didn’t look like a great smallmouth spot. We motored into the back end and began fishing. Almost immediately we were into fish, one right after another. In the first hour we took 21, and in the three hours we spent in there we caught 53. We had a number of double hookups. Many of these fish leaped more than three feet out of the water, their flapping tails sounding like rising quail. Several leaped close enough to the boat to splash my face. Lake Powell smallmouth tend to fight harder for their size than any smallmouth I’ve ever caught, but these even exceeded past Lake Powell standards. Most of the fish caught were in the one to 1 3/4 pound class, however we both caught a few that pushed two pounds. I seriously doubt if this canyon had a line thrown over it all year prior to Thursday.











































We fished two other coves finishing the day with 83 smallmouths, three largemouths and five sunfish - 91 total fish. John and I have had days where we’ve caught more fish, but we’ve never had a day where we caught as many quality fish as we did Thursday.


We caught most of our fish in 10 to 15 feet of water, however we took a few up shallower and some much deeper - as deep as 30 feet. The best presentation for the deeper fish, over 15 feet, was straight down under the boat. As normal, horizontal casting was the best presentation for the shallower fish. As usual, we fished Yamamoto Shad Shaped Worms on drop shot rigs. We used both the green and white laminate and natural shad colors. We could tell no difference in effectiveness. Color was not an issue with these fish. We did a lot of slow dragging and dead sticking. Many fish hit on the initial drop, however we also caught quite a few dragging and dead sticking. As I’ve said many times, I believe this is the best and most consistent presentation/bait for Lake Powell smallmouth as with it we can fish the entire water column from up against the bank to 35-40 feet. I have no doubt that other favorite presentations such as curly tail grubs on jig heads, tubes and shaky head and Texas-rigged plastic worms would also work; however many of the bass we caught Thursday spit up large numbers of shad while we were fighting them. I can only recall cleaning one smallie that had a crayfish in his stomach. This leads me to believe that a shad imitation fished a bit up off the bottom might work better than a crayfish imitation right now.


jc5Thursday was certainly the highlight of our trip, however we also fished Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday we fished the double islands just through the Castle Rock Cut, the mouth of Warm Creek and a rocky bay up the main channel from Warm Creek. While the fishing wasn’t nearly as good as Thursday, we still caught 43 smallmouths. The problem was many of those were “dinks” while most of what we caught Thursday were decent quality fish. Fishing was sort of hit and miss. We’d catch several from one small area and then fish a lot of shoreline, reefs and shelves before catching several more. We had a lot of short strikes and lost many fish. It was an inconsistent day. We spent Wednesday morning watching the thunder, lightning, wind and rain show from my Greenehaven mobile. The weather finally cleared, the winds calmed and we hit the lake around 12:45 p.m. We stayed in Wahweap Bay fishing the shelves down near the mouth catching 13 fish. Like Tuesday we lost more than we landed. It was getting late so we motored back toward the marina. Just across the lake and down from the marina I pulled into a large cove on the Antelope Island side of the bay. Due to a lack of time we decided to fish only the back of the cove. That turned out to be a good decision as we took 10 quality fish in about 30 minutes upping our total to 23 for three and a half hours of fishing.


I believe this last stop Wednesday provided the catalyst for our success Thursday as we found those fish in the very back of a fairly long cove, and these were bigger fish than we had been previously catching. That convinced us that the bass were, in fact, moving into the back ends of the coves as is their typical fall pattern. This led to our decision to make the run to Last Chance the next day and to fish the backs of the canyons and coves up there - a decision that proved to be a good one.


I believe this pattern will only get better over the next several weeks as long as the weather holds. John and I plan two more trips in October hoping to duplicate what we did this past Thursday. That will be a tall order but not beyond the realm of possibility. Hope to see you out there.

























September 30, 2017 - Piute Canyon

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Just returned from a San Juan trip. I ran back uplake to see of the big boils were still going in Neskahi Bay.  Unfortunatetly, no boils were found.  We were able to troll up a few stripers and bass and then catch more on spoons. We did find a few small groups of stripers in Neskahi Bay and caught more on spoons.  The best fishing was found in deep water at the mouth of Piute Canyon where we met up with Dave Doris and his friends who were hauling in lots of stripers on spoons. We joined them and caught many adult (3-5 pound) healthy fish. We tried it again on Saturday morning and quickly caught another 20 fish from 9-10 AM.  Then we had to leave.

Best fishing was found on Friday. It seemed to slow down some on Saturday.   It appears stripers are moving from spot to spot depending on where they find shad. They eat their fill and then move on.  Piute was great but lots of fish were caught. I am not sure how long that spot will hold up.  Spooning was surely the best technique.  


September 30, 2017 - Conditions changing

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It was the worst of times and then the best of times...sort of


Bryan Weight and myself gave Lake Powell a go on Thursday, 9/27 & the morning of 9/28 with mixed results. It was the worst fish catching trip in recent memory but if you liked rain and a cool wind, it was quite nice on Thursday. We'd planned on heading to the San Juan but... We waited on the launch ramp 90 minutes Thursday morning until the wind calmed down enough to let the whitecaps diminish some and off we went thinking it was much better than it looked like but after passing through the Castle Rock cut, reality set in along with a bumpy ride and before long rain joined in to add some spice. We went to Dungeon Canyon to start with and once arriving, wished we'd brought a kite to be more successful at something as not many fish wanted to cooperate with top water baits or plastics. I'd really hoped to find a lot of good shad balls with fish on them during this trip but neither this spot or any other proved to be up to my spooning appetite. A total of 3 fish were caught on spoons, one striper and 2 small SM.


We then trolled in this area and picked up fish regularly but only going one direction as going back the opposite way produced nothing. A sunken island close to DR Marina produced a number of SM on drop shot and ned rig but no size and leaving here to go in the back of the north cove produced nothing but one LM on TW. We headed back to 'haystack corner' in the main channel and caught more SM on plastics from 8-25' humps but again nothing much but small guys. Friendship Cove produced nothing so off to Padre Cove we went, hoping for a repeat of the spooning bonanza of a couple of years ago. While I could graph shad from 25-80' I showed little fish feeding activity on them and only one striper was caught, speed reeling up through the group. The wind never really quit all day so I never quite put the shore splashing sound together going on 60 yards away for some time before I focused on the noise and found it to be striper boils up against the rocks in the back. We spent the last 45 min of the day catching 3 lb stripers about as fast as we could.


Thursday morning we went right back to the same spot and were immediately on TW stripers again but it was short lived so we moved out a little ways and found what looked like a good shad school to work in 30-50' but it produced only 1 small SM. We decided to go around to the RH side fork of the cove and stopped on a likely looking bush point only to see stripers again pounding shad up against the rocks in the far back of this cove as well. After about an hour of catching/loosing as many as the two of us could, they disappeared and once again we went on the striper search mission with our spoons, only to have just one more small SM caught. We could find the shad balls ez enough and occasionally a few fish on them but we could just never get the underwater apocalypse happening that I've found in years past. We headed home at 9:30 feeling a bit perplexed about the spoon bite not coming together for us but I'll just have to solve that mystery next trip.


Sam Sherwood

Mesa, AZ


September 30, 2017 - GHB Slow

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Just got back from 5 days of fishing from GHB North to the Bend. Fishing was slow due to cold, windy conditions. Water temp 70. patrolled for Stripers in early morning and late afternoon each day with no sightings. Saw a few stray Stripers chasing shad in small bays off GHB. Caught a few on top water lures, more on Kastmasters. SMB and LMB slow, we had best results on craw color single tails fished 25 to 35 ft deep with 3/8 oz heads to get down deep. Going back next week when weather looks more stable.


Cal Evans


September 26, 2017 - Stanton Stripers

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Camped at Stanton last Friday Saturday and Sunday.

Fishing on rough waters from shore and caught awesome size stripers and bass.

Early mornings best as stripers were boiling for short sessions with shad schools everywhere. It was the best fishing from shore yet at Stanton. We were using top water lures like spooks. Same results at Halls Bay.




September 20, 2017, SMB in Wahweap Bay

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Smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Powell last week was a tantalizing yet frustrating experience. It was tantalizing in the fact that it was just good enough to make us think it was ready to explode, but it was frustrating in that on the second day just as we thought we were figuring things out bad weather arrived and drove us off the lake.

My partner for this trip was Dale Marenda who has accompanied me on many trips to the lake over the years. Dale enjoys fishing Powell and is just happy to be out there whether we catch a lot or not. Of course, we both like to catch as many fish as possible which is something we just weren’t able to do this time around. We enjoyed short periods of excellent action and longer periods, mostly Wednesday, of very little success.

The forecast was for unsettled weather on Wednesday so we decided to stay on the lower end. Our first stop was the double islands just through the Castle Rock Cut. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some phenomenal success here as well as some  major failures. On Wednesday it was more like the latter. We did catch some fish, but they were mostly small and the numbers were not what we would expect for this time of year. We then motored over to the east side of Warm Creek just above the main channel junction. We fished the ledges down toward the junction, again with little success, until we reached a large offshore reef marked by two buoys. It was here we started catching fish with greater frequency taking around 15 in a little over an hour. We caught some smaller fish on the top of the reef, but the bigger ones were off the side at 20-plus feet.

 After fishing that area thoroughly we moved down to the shoreline below Navajo Canyon. As before we had little success in the beginning, but we eventually found a couple clusters of fish off the sides of the ledges and reefs. Our best pattern was fishing directly below the boat at 22 feet. We were able to take a number of fish in the 1 1/4 to 1 3/4-pound class. We did not get into any really big smallmouths. By 1 p.m. the fishing really slowed so we decided to call it a day. Although we took 45 smallmouths and a couple nice channel cats, we felt we had not really solved the pattern. The action was very spotty. We would fish large areas with few strikes and then find  an area where we would take several decent fish in a short time. The bite was light, usually just a bit of extra weight on the end of the line, and I only saw a couple of chasers following hooked fish. When the action is really fast it’s not unusual to see five or six chasers following a hooked bass. That just didn’t happen much Wednesday.

 We knew Thursday was going to be a short day as windy and rainy conditions were predicted starting mid to late morning. To maximize our fishing time we elected to stay in Wahweap Bay starting just below Wahweap Marina. For some reason that first 150 yards of shoreline was absolutely loaded with smallmouths. We caught several nice fish as we went through there the first time. After fishing a cove and a very good looking point with no success, we decided to go back up to where we started. That proved to be a smart move as we took 17 more smallmouths there in about an hour. We caught some fish up at 12 to 15 feet, but a majority - including most of the bigger ones - were caught between 22 and 31 feet fishing mostly vertically below the boat. When I saw a large, tightly bunched school on the graph we rarely got a strike. I suspect these schools were small stripers. However, when we dropped into a few, loosely associated marks we almost always took a smallmouth. Most of the fish were right on the bottom, however I caught a few suspended at 25 to 30 feet over a 40-foot bottom.

Unlike Wednesday when the strikes were very light, these fish hit much harder. We also saw a number of chasers following hooked fish. I believe the approaching storm front triggered the fish to being more aggressive. I also noted the water temperature Thursday was 78 degrees, two degrees cooler than Wednesday. We stayed in this area until the bite stopped, then we fished further down that shoreline but never got into any significant bass concentrations. I knew time was running short, so I decided we should run down to a ledge on the south side just above the mouth of Wahweap. Unfortunately I could see a storm moving in so we couldn’t stay long, but in the 30 minutes or so we were able to fish there we caught several nice fish including a couple of the nicest of the trip. Unlike our first stop, all these fish were up on top of the ledge at 12 to 15 feet. At these shallower depths casting horizontally well out from the boat proved to be the best presentation. Every hooked fish was followed by five to 10 chasers. These fish hit much harder and fought very well as smallmouths always do. Finally the thunder and lightning was getting closer and the wind was starting to pick up, so we decided at 9:30 to call it a trip and head back for the ramp. In just 3 1/2 hours we caught 32 smallmouths including the nicest fish of the trip. It proved to be a wise decision as just about 40 minutes after we returned to my Greenehaven mobile we were hit with undoubtedly the worst storm I’ve ever seen in some 22 years of fishing Lake Powell.

 There is no doubt the fishing Thursday just ahead of the storm front was much better than Wednesday. We caught everything on drop shot Shad Shaped Worms. I believe drop shotting was likely the best presentation for this trip, however as the weather cools and the bass become more aggressive, more active presentations might be very effective. I believe the fall smallmouth fishing on Lake Powell is getting ready to explode. Although we did not catch any really big smallmouths, we took a higher percentage of nicer ones than I have in my earlier trips. I plan on making at least three more trips between now and the end of October, and I predict we’ll see the best smallmouth fishing of the year.


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