By: Wayne Gustaveson of Waynes Words
This will be the last regular fishing report for 2012. I leave on vacation this week and return just in time to sample with gill nets during the first two weeks of November. It has been an interesting year with more highs than lows. Bass and walleye fishing in the spring was awesome, followed by a great run of surface fishing for juvenile stripers in summer. Now going into winter it's a mixed bag with unexpected fishing opportunities occurring each day.
For example, on Saturday we took a side trip into Cathedral in the Desert at the back of Clear Creek Canyon on the Escalante. The lake level now is at the base of the second waterfall with the main cathedral well under water. We viewed the falls and then retraced our steps. While passing over the first falls (10 feet deep) marking the cathedral we noticed a school of fish sunning themselves near the surface of the 50 feet deep chamber. A Kastmaster spoon tossed to the basking fish proved them to be largemouth bass. A slab spoon simultaneously dropped to the bottom of the chamber resulted in a 5-pound striper. The next two drops to the 50-foot bottom produced two walleye. Then the fish quit. That is a good summary of fishing this week. There are fish to catch in a wide variety of places but it takes a subtle key to understand when fish are vulnerable.
Shad in the main lake are scattered in small groups of 100 fish hiding here and there trying to avoid predators. When bass or stripers find a small school of forage fish the area lights up with a short feeding frenzy and then quiets to a peaceful calm state. Shad are found in the backs of most canyons and coves while the open water is without forage fish. Crayfish are carrying the predatory burden in the open clear water. Fish slowly on the bottom near rocks to take advantage of this clear water crayfish key.
Shad at the inflow areas have been untouched while protected by the colored water and warm temperatures. That is now changing. Expect fishing to improve dramatically for bass stripers walleye and crappie near Hite and in the upper San Juan during November. Some boils are yet to occur in shad dense areas but more fish will be caught trolling shad imitating lures and spooning along the bottom.
The best key to finding fish lake-wide is to graph from the shallows out to the first drop. Striped bass are most often found on the top of a ledge that drops down to deeper water. Graph a school of fish, mark the spot with a floating marker and then fish the area with your choice of techniques. The best option is to chum with cut up anchovies to keep the fish in the area and then fish with spoons, bait or deep trolled lures to catch schooling fish.
Large numbers of stripers are being caught when a school is found but many anglers are missing the subtle keys and going fishless. Pay close attention to the graph and when a school is located react quickly to get the school excited. Bait fishing is much more effective now that it was in the summer.
There is still one major event to look forward to in November. As the water cools into the 50s shad will be forced into deeper water to find stable temperatures. At that point stripers will follow. Both species will become more stationary. Then fishing will peak as finding one school will result in many more fish being caught from each school encountered.
Thanks for reading my ramblings and for helping to improve fishing for all species at Lake Powell by harvesting striped bass.
Remember to Clean Drain and Dry your boat to stop the spread of invasive species.