Lake Powell Fish Report – August 23, 2011
Lake Elevation: 3657
Water Temperature 79-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
It feels much better to write this report after catching a striper in a boil. It is amazing how that can change one's attitude for the better. When stripers pop to the top, adrenaline flows freely as the boat zips toward the feeding frenzy. Once in range, properly directed casts will immediately score as the bait hits the water. Then the fight is on. Attention is divided between landing the fish on the line and watching all the fish wallowing on the surface. What a rush! It’s been a long time!
A few more details are warranted. The choice for the weekly trip wavered between fishing near Wahweap and trying to make fish with closed mouths bite or running uplake where boils have been recently reported. I thought about it for 2 long minutes before selling out for the San Juan. The ride at dawn in a fast bass boat took 40 minutes on flat water. Lake Powell is absolutely beautiful even when fish are not boiling.
We went to Cha Canyon (60 miles) before giving up and heading back without throwing a cast. A houseboat crew near Bald Rock Canyon reported one quick boil at dawn in the channel and one at the mouth of the San Juan the night before. We caught a few bass near the houseboat. Bass fishing in the San Juan is fine on reefs and terraces at the edge of the main channel. Daiquiri colored Yamamoto grubs worked very well at 20-35 feet.
But we were looking for boils so we headed to the mouth of the San Juan. Spoons and stump jumpers were ignored by the myriad of fish layered at the 40 feet depth contour. We were just rigging up for trolling when the boil erupted. The next 6 minutes made the long trip and early morning departure worth the effort. The boil lasted less than a minute. Then singles were seen chasing shad for another 5 minutes. I caught two 8 inch stripers and two smallmouth bass on a Kastmaster while my partner, Ron Colby, got a nice fat 4-pound striper and two smallmouth on a full size surface lure. Then it was over. That’s it. Boil fever relieved for the moment.
We confirmed that a layer of fish between 30 and 40 feet exists from Wahweap to the San Juan. It is likely that a narrow comfort zone has formed between the thermocline and a low oxygen layer that has set up at 45 feet. Open water fish, including shad and stripers, are in the middle of the channel making them very hard to catch. My guess for the southern lake is that feeding occurs at depth with no need for stripers to leave the narrow comfort zone. Further uplake there is wider zone. Stripers still occasionally chase shad to the top so an occasional boil is seen. Striper chasing shad to shore ignite the bass and fishing is super for a few minutes or until the next boil.
All the way uplake at Hite boils are going nonstop. There is no question where to be this week. If fishing is your game then Hite is the place to be. Reports of 40 -60 stripers caught in boils are common each morning and evening. Full size surface lures are working fine. Bass, catfish and sunfish are also being regularly caught. There is no need to look farther than the bay at the end of the Hite ramp for boil activity.
Fishing success in the southern lake will improve as the surface temperature drops into the 70s and mixing relieves the low oxygen event.
Photo: Wayne Dorsett, Flagstaff AZ, caught this 8 pound 12 ounce striped bass on the surface as it was boiling with many other stripers at the mouth of the San Juan on Lake Powell. Boils are going strong in the northern lake near Hite which is the best place to fish this week.
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