Lake Powell Fish Report
October 23, 2013
Lake Elevation: 3591
Water Temperature 64-67 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson of Wayne's Words
When the full moon came out fishing success abruptly declined, but at Lake Powell there is always a way to catch fish. Bass are very predictable as they inhabit shallow water near brush and structure at the backs of canyons and coves. My first stop on my weekly trip was a short flood plain cove half way between Warm Creek and Padre Bay. My first hit from a small bass was on the edge of a shallow rocky ledge extending toward the center of the canyon. I then caught a 2-pound smallmouth when the lure landed in 6 inches of water near shore. My best largemouth was taken in the back of Rock Creek on the same Jumpin’ Minnow near a clump of sunken debris in 4 feet of water. Fish shallow water with structure for bass.
Cattail clumps and small stumps washed down into the lake during the recent storm events. The debris floated for a while but then submerged to provide bass habitat in otherwise barren coves and is found lakewide. Largemouth bass will be near stickup debris in 5 feet of water near the backs of canyons. Smallmouth bass are in the same vicinity but tend to roam along the shoreline. Find both species by casting surface lures in the backs of canyons and coves. When a concentration of bass is located deploy the standard plastic baits and crankbaits to maximize catch.
My next stop was in the short canyon just upstream from Dove Canyon. Only a few fish traces were seen on the graph but the spoons were deployed based on past experience. On the second cast a small suspended striper hit and was quickly flipped in the boat. That rod and fish was dropped on the deck and another rod with spoon was ripped from the rod holder and cast to the school with the same result. Fish number 2 hit the deck while my last spoon rod was grabbed and cast. The third fish also struck at 15 feet. While reeling in number 3 a quick glance at the deck revealed that the first fish had come unhooked. I exchanged rod 3 for rod 1 and hooked striper 4. Unfortunately the other 3 fish on the deck had performed a square dance and tied a huge knot which did not come out without 5 minutes of tedious untangling. The boat drifted off the spot and the small striper school moved away. We did not relocate each other and no more fish were found in the canyon.
Stripers are a schooling fish that react immediately to feeding behavior. When one fish strikes a lure other stripers in the school are instantly on the prowl. That is why quick reaction to get a second and third lure into the school is important. It is wise to keep a hooked fish in the water until the next cast can be made. If the first small striper had been unhooked, admired, and placed in the ice chest prior to the next cast, it is likely that only one fish would have been caught from that school. With quick action my catch was increased to 4. When spooning, react quickly to keep the school in range and to increase number of fish caught.
Graphing open water in Rock Creek produced very few fish traces which was completely different from my last trip there. Each day has a pattern that must be discovered before fish can be consistently caught. Trolling toward the back of the canyon while graphing finally indicated that stripers were holding in 15-20 feet of water. Once found stripers were consistently caught trolling Shad Raps and Bomber flat A’s trolled at 2.5 to 3 mph. Last trip spooning deep was the best technique, this time trolling shallow was better. All fish cleaned had plankton in the stomachs. That means stripers were scattered in shallow water near plankton schools instead of pursuing shad throughout the water column. Find the pattern for the day and fishing success improves dramatically.
Uplake reports indicate stripers were caught spooning at 60 feet at the mouth of Bowns/Long Canyon. Some stripers were caught trolling over the length of the lake with down riggers, again at 60 feet. As the bright moonlight fades fishing success will improve with each passing day. For now search the bottom at 60 feet for resting stripers with spoons and downriggers but make sure to check for 15 foot plankton eaters with trolled and cast shad imitating crank baits. Smallmouth bass are the most consistently caught fish over the length of the lake.
A final thought is that best fishing success is found in water that is murky instead of crystal clear water found in the majority of the lake. Just like springtime with temperature in the 60s look for murky water for best success.
Photo: Hunter Allan, Draper UT, fished in the San Juan with his father Tyler on their annual fathers and son trip. Hunter is holding his personal best smallmouth bass ever caught at Lake Powell.