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Lake Powell News


Lake Powell Fishing Report September 10, 2014 Wayne Gustaveson


Photo Caption: Lake Powell stripers are in prime condition. These fat stripers were caught in surface boils this week that are occurring daily from dawn until 7:30 AM and them again during the last hour of daylight.

Lake Powell Fishing Report
September 10, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3605
Water Temperature 75-79 F

Striper fishing has settled into a predictable pattern over the length of Lake Powell. Each morning striper schools come to the surface chasing shad schools. The trigger is first light which makes shad form into tight schools following a night of happy wandering as individuals. Shad feed on plankton after dark but do not maintain the school mentality in low light. When visibility improves in the morning each shad wants to be in the middle of the school while those shad on the outer edge of the school bear the brunt of attacking game fish. 

This daily ritual helps explain why shad like to swim in big schools. It also explains why stripers feed at such high speed. Stripers don’t have to be real fast – just fast enough to get to food before their school mates. Stripers often race each other during the feeding process. That is why a striper school can be within casting distance one minute and over 100 yards away the next. 

We were surprised to see impressive striper boils this morning despite the full moon. The need to feed on shad is more important to stripers than the unexplainable weirdness that generally goes with bright nights when the moon is at its peak. 

The lakewide pattern is very specific. Stripers attack the first shad school found in morning light. That could be as early as 5:30 AM (MST) but more typically at 6 AM. The skirmishes tend to be in the same locations each morning. Each boil is very quick and may last for only 1-2 minutes with a strong boil staying up for 5-10 minutes. The key is to run at full throttle until multiple splashes are seen. When in casting range drop off plane and cast as quickly as possible over and as close as possible to the swirling fish. Each time the lure enters the feeding school it will be whacked by attacking stripers. When the school sounds the fun is over and it is time to hit the throttle while looking for the next boil. There are usually many quick boils in a favored area so the run is not that far.

The feeding intensity is strongest from 6-7:30 AM and then it goes silent. The next daily feeding activity is at supper time as stripers come back to the top during the last hour of daylight. It gets dicey when the sun sets and stripers are still feeding. Hopefully you can camp near the action. If not, make sure to have a GPS bread crumb trail on the graph to increase the odds of the boat returning to the right spot after dark. 

Those favored feeding areas include the main channel from the mouth of Warm Creek to Antelope Point Marina, Cha Canyon to Neskahi Canyon in the San Juan, Escalante main channel, Rincon to Slick Rock Canyon, and Castle Butte to Fourmile Canyon. I am sure there are many other boiling stripers that we do not know about, but these are the areas where recent morning and evening boils have been reported. 

The best lures this week were shallow running crankbaits with a white background and a chartreuse stripe on the side. We did well with a Lucky Craft Pointer in chartreuse shad and a Shad Rap in Helsinki shad color.
Top water lures are so much fun and they get stroked and petted while in the boil. But only occasionally do the stripers actually get hooked up on a surface lure. The opposite result occurs when a white Rattlin’ Rap or a ghost Lucky Craft LV 100 swims into the school. Shallow runners are worker much better than surface lures. 


Lake Powell Fishing Report by Wayne Gustaveson 9-6-14



Photo caption: Dallin Trotter, Cedar City UT, caught some nice fat stripers in early morning striper boils in the main channel near Navajo Canyon. Striper boils are getting bigger and more numerous as the lake surface temperature cools.

Navajo Canyon continues to be the best spot for striper boils in the southern lake. Lacking any other reports we headed back to Navajo to glean additional information for this week’s report. No surface action was seen in Wahweap or Warm Creek but as soon as we saw the mouth of Navajo Canyon there were small groups of stripers hitting the top.

That is where it got frustrating. The surface lure (Lucky craft Sammy) hit the water and stripers pushed the lure around but would not hook up. It was fun to see the swirls and splashes around the lure but we wanted to catch some fish. We took off the topwater lures and cranked down with shad raps, rattletraps, and pointers. No fish were seen when we were ready to cast again so we trolled where the last small boil was seen. We caught two stripers right away but then it was over. We quit trolling and ran back from the mouth of Navajo toward Warm Creek looking for the next school.

Good choice! We found larger schools working the surface as the sun hit the water but sometimes had to run a mile to find them. When we got in casting range, and stopped in range, but not too close, then made good casts we could catch 2 stripers out of each pod of stripers. After they went down (usually less than a minute) we would run again. We stayed busy running in the main channel and casting from 6-8 AM. As the action died in the main channel we went up Navajo Canyon looking for boils in the shade of the steep cliffs. We found a few more boils and caught more fish. We ended up with 23 stripers in 3 hours which is the best we have done this fall. Boil fishing is getting better. It looks like it will continue to improve each day due to the strength of the threadfin shad population.

The best reports this week featured the San Juan from Wilson Creek to Neskahi Bay. Stripers continue to boil in good numbers there both morning and evening then randomly throughout the day. No reports came from the northern lake but the size of the shad population makes it seem likely that boils are happening early morning there as well. We found surface action from first light to 8 AM MST. It is quite likely that the early morning boil pattern occurs lakewide.

Bass fishing continues to improve as well. Just remember that bass are feeding on shad along with stripers. That means they are more likely to be on rocky main channel points than in the backs of coves. When shad move out of the channel to avoid stripers then bass fishing will change accordingly. Right now white or silver crankbaits, white flukes and D-shad and white plastic grubs are good shad imitations. Shad stay near the surface so work the flukes and shad imitators near the top early morning and then deeper during the bright light of day.

It has been a rough couple of years with the declining lake level, loss of habitat and downsizing of fish populations. Now that is behind us and all fish species are rebuilding. Threadfin shad had a banner year and provide the bulk of open water forage. Bass, stripers, alleye are all eating their fill and growing FAT and sassy. Fall fishing will be outstanding!


Lake Powell Fishing Report by Wayne Gustaveson 8-27-14


Photo Caption:  Carl Lind, Wittmann AZ, caught this 3-pound striped bass in Last Chance Bay trolling a shad rap.  Striper fishing is much better this week as stripers are chasing shad to the surface each morning and evening.  Stripers are FAT after gorging on a bumper crop of shad. They are very strong fighters and are willing to hit surface lures.

August 27, 2014 Lake Elevation:

3606 Water Temperature

77-80 F
Reports of stripers feeding on the surface really had me invigorated this morning.  We took off for Navajo Canyon at first light and studied calm water at the mouth of the canyon where boiling stripers had been caught in big numbers the day before.  A few fish broke the surface but we could not identify any stripers.  The next decision was to wait for the action to start or to travel up canyon.  I waited about 10 seconds and then decided to go uplake because patience is not one of my virtues.   It seemed like a good choice as scattered stripers were breaking the surface just past the double islands. My first cast to a surfacing fish was rewarded with my first striper caught on top water this month.

Stripers were surfacing all around the bay but were not bunched up. They appeared to be feeding individually instead of in a school.  Since these stripers were lacking school mentality we decided to troll and caught a few more fish on Shad Raps and Bevy Shad. We saw a few more individual splashes as we traveled to the Big Sand Dune where we turned around.   On the way back down the canyon we trolled near shore by rocky points and rock piles.

Smallmouth bass were obviously feeding on shad as each rock pile paid off in at least 2 bass and occasionally in another striper.  Our largest bass was almost 2 pounds.   The next stop was the mouth of Warm Creek on the shoals marked by white buoys. We trolled there and found more bass ready and willing but the average size was smaller than those caught in Navajo.  We picked up one larger striper while trolling the shoals which was 19 inches and 3 pounds. These stripers are very fat! That bodes well for fall fishing ahead.

Upon my return it was reported that the boils at the mouth of Navajo were strong between 8-9 AM. Oh Well! That’s fishing!   The northern lake is still the best striper fishing location with The Horn being the most consistent spot.  But reports from Escalante and Rincon were received this week.  I think the whole lake is now fishing well with small quick boils occurring for the first 2 hours of daylight and last 2 hours at evening.  If more than 5 fish are breaking the surface attack them with surface lures and shallow runners. If only one fish is seen, then troll in the area of the splash with medium runners that dive 12 feet.

Bass fishing has improved dramatically with the drop in surface water temperature into the 70s. Bass are hanging on the deep water edge of rock piles extending into the main channel.  They will hit surface lures early and late but may be caught more frequently on plastic grubs in shad colors all day long.   Fishing has definitely improved.  Looks like it is time to plan the fall fishing trip to Lake Powell.


Lake Powell Fishing Report by Wayne Gustaveson 8-20-14

For some unknown reason on certain days one lure will work better than another. On this trip the Bomber Flat A in shad color worked the best. This lure is pictured here so you can see the colors,,,,and the fish.

Lake Powell Fishing Report
August 20, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3607
Water Temperature 78-83 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Powell fish are getting fatter. That is a good thing coming off a difficult year with low water and very little brushy habitat. Our studies show that the shad population is nearing a peak not seen in this decade. Lakewide shad numbers from our first shad trawl in July are well above average from Wahweap to Good Hope with Bullfrog showing the most shad of all stations. The August trawl sample next week will determine the strength of this year shad class. The large shad population probably has much to do with the challenging fishing results found over much of the lake.

Fishing is best in the northern lake. Stripers are still boiling from Bullfrog all the way to Horn (Buoy 129). The boils are much quicker than found two weeks ago but they are consistent. Stripers are feeding both in the bays and in the backs of canyons. It takes patience but those that search aggressively are finding boils and catching a respectable number of stripers. These stripers will hit topwater lures or shallow running crankbaits or medium sized spoons.

In the southern lake finding fish is less certain. There are few fish reports with lots of recreational boaters still wake boarding and tubing. An early start is recommended to avoid boat traffic and wakes. I headed through the Castle Rock Cut at first light and saw a splash on the Warm Creek side. As the boat slowed to a stop a surface lure was ready to cast but no other splash followed. However, the graph showed a fish school at 45 feet so a spoon was dropped instead. A fish hit the spoon on the first hop and quickly came to the boat. To my surprise the expected striper turned out to be a walleye. The spoon was deployed again and another fish caught. This one was a catfish! Both fish were eating shad. It turned out to be one of those crazy days.

Trolling and graphing for stripers turned into a smallmouth catching experience. The best trolling lure this day was the Bomber Flat A in shad color. The habitat bass chose was near a gentle sloping brushy shoreline where bottom depth was 15-20 feet. Smallmouth stomachs were empty except for an occasional crayfish.

Fishing in the southern lake is still a mystery. A solid pattern has not been identified. The most consistent striper spot is Navajo Canyon but stripers are moving up and down the canyon and changing feeding times. One day small boils will be found at dawn near the canyon mouth while the next day small boils will occur at 11 AM near the big sand dune. This sums up the fishing pattern. Fish are where you find them. I will try to make more sense out of this by next week.



Lake Powell Fishing Report by Wayne Gustaveson

Striper Boils



Lake Powell Fishing Report
July 23, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3608
Water Temperature 77-85 F

Photo: Jaxson Jones, Phoenix AZ, helped his dad manhandle this big striper caught trolling in Padre Bay. Stripers are boiling in the northern lake but trolling 20-25 feet deep works better on the south end.

Big news began pouring in on July 25th.  Stripers were boiling in the northern Lake from Good Hope Bay to White Canyon.  As the week progressed more reports followed.  Stripers were seen feeding on the surface all day long from Good Hope Bay upstream.  Even better news confirms that these are “boils” and not “slurps”.  The difference is that slurping fish require an accurate cast and great retrieve before a fish can be caught.  On the other hand boiling fish will hit any respectable lure that lands in the circle of fish. Catching is assured when in the feeding zone.

Water color is now clear enough for striped bass to see their shad forage. When water was murky due to runoff shad were protected for at time as sight feeding stripers were unable to consistently find shad.  Now that is past. The buffet is open and stripers will eat shad early and often as long as the supply lasts. Anglers are now needed to go save some shad!

The most effective baits are top water lures and shallow running crankbaits. These result in a hook up every cast. The downside is that treble hooks and energetic stripers require more time to unhook before the next cast can be thrown while the boil is still in casting range. A helpful hint to speed up the process requires a “fishing towel”.  When the hooked striper hits the deck throw a hand towel over the fishes’ back and quickly pick up the fish. The towel is thick enough to protect your hand from dorsal spines.  With the fish supported in this manner the weight is off the hook and it makes it easier to unhook the fish using a handy pair of pliers.

The second option is to use a single hook on a jig or spoon.  This type hook can be removed more quickly than a treble which allows the next cast to be made more quickly.  The downside to this method is that the hookup occurs underwater where it can be felt but not seen.  It is so exciting to see a school of stripers play “volleyball” with your lure.  A surface lure can be batted back and forth many times before one fish finally gets the hook in its mouth.  That is quite exciting even when the fish misses the lure.

My “go to” method for boils is to remove the belly hook from a big Jumpin’ Minnow surface lure.  When the fish hits the deck (No Net Used) I grab the big lure and use it as a handle since there is no hook on the lure body.  The only hook is in the fish’s mouth. I first shake the lure hoping the fish will come unhooked with a quick jerk. When that happens I can throw the next cast within seconds. After the boil moves out of range the deck is cleared and all deck fish are then put on ice before moving to the next skirmish line.

In the heat of summer it is critical to have a fish cooler with ice. These fish will retain their great eating quality when put directly on ice.  Never put fish on a stringer or in a live well with 85 degree water.  That warm water quickly degrades eating quality.  It is wise to enjoy the catching and retain eating quality by being prepared with the right fishing equipment and a cooler full of ice.

Boil fishing does not require the same light fluorocarbon line that has to be used when bait fishing.  Braided line can be tied directly to the lure.  I still use fluorocarbon leader on my fishing rig but I go to 12-pound test so fish can be flipped into the boat without using a net. It is infuriating to have the second treble hook imbedded in the net when the fish are boiling right next to the boat. I would rather lose the first fish and then cast to the second one than spend my time impatiently unhooking lures from a badly tangled old fashion net.  If a net is used make sure it has rubber mesh.

Sorry – I get a bit invigorated when thinking about fishing striper boils.  It is the ultimate freshwater fishing sport!


Lake Powell Fishing Report by Capt. Bill McBurney & Wayne Gustaveson (Wayne’s Words)

The fishing window if on the right spot is 5 a.m. till 8:30 a.m. with this heat we are having. It can be longer if a cloudy monsoon morning day. September and October are shaping up for some big fish 2-3 lbs on the “fly rod” as well as conventional (use storm deep divers on the troll). Trolling is the best producer right now early for juvenile stripers.  Capt. Bill
Jeannie from Austin, TX  a great 3days with these customers
 July 16, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3609
Water Temperature 77-85 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Powell remains at the high water peak of 3609 MSL but has started its annual decline. The bright side of this picture is that brush and drift wood cluttered camping and recreational beaches will become pristine for the rest of the summer as water level declines. The slow decline will stabilize fishing success and set the stage for awesome topwater fishing during the rest of July and August. There is just enough submerged brush in the water to harbor shad and protect them while they grow larger. Watch the lake level closely when planning a summer boil trip. Brush comes out of the water when lake elevation hits 3603. That will be the peak of the top water fishing season as shad and stripers come together on equal footing when brush is no longer available to protect shad. Water level from 3603-3605 MSL should be the ideal time to catch bass and stripers on surface lures.

The super moon was great to look at but all fish in the southern lake went on vacation while gazing at the moon. The best angling occurred at Bullfrog and Halls where night fishermen were catching 2-3 pound stripers under the lights all night long. Daytime fishing success is now recovering lakewide as small stripers are chasing small shad on the surface over the entire lake.

Topwater hotspots for stripers right now include the main channel at the mouth of Lake Canyon, Halls Creek buoy field and the wall on the upstream side of the buoy field, Neskahi Bay on the San Juan, Escalante main channel, and Good Hope Bay. Slurping boils will be seen lakewide with best success early in the morning before boat traffic stirs up the lake and shortens the time a striper school spends slurping on the surface. The last hour of daylight will be good as well if the wind does not blow.

Average size of bass caught is still small with most fish weighing less than a pound. Bigger bass can be caught by fishing topwater lures at twilight both morning and evening. Largemouth will surprise some anglers by feeding in open water with a school of slurping stripers. The ideal bass fishing experience results when stripers drive shad into a shallow brushy cove. It is great fun to catch stripers on topwater lures while they are actively engaged. But stripers usually leave the cove after only a few minutes. Continue to work topwater lures near brush to target largemouth bass after the boil subsides.

Catfish are perhaps the easiest fish to catch now. Just fish off the back of the boat near camp with table scraps. My favorite catfish recipe is blackened catfish with Cajun spices cooked in a hot cast iron pan with olive oil. That will make an unforgettable meal for a youngster who caught the catfish and provided the fish for dinner.


Lake Powell Fishing by Wayne Gustaveson July 9, 2014

Photo caption: Weston Gleave from Bountiful UT, enjoyed a striper fishing trip with his father to Lake Powell. shortly after returning from military service. Memories from successful fishing trips where parents share these experiences with their children will never be forgotten. It is time to take a kid fishing.

July 9, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3609
Water Temperature 75-80 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Powell has topped out at 3609 MSL after rising 35 feet this year. That means Castle Rock Cut is 27 feet deep and should remain passable for the rest of 2014. Fish are more concerned about habitat. New green brush went under water at 3603 and will provide bass habitat and shad shelter for much of the summer. The shad crop is a bit above average. Adult shad continue to spawn in July when in some others years they would have finished spawning by now. That is a positive occurrence. The size of the shad population will be determined with trawl sampling during dark moon phase later in the month.

Blue collar stripers in the southern lake have settled into a daily routine. They go to work at first light and chase shad for an hour or two. Then they take a break until mid day when the most serious shad chasing occurs. On calm days surface feeding action is common in the main channel as small striper schools are consistently seen from Padre Bay to Rock Creek and Dungeon Canyon. Surface boils settle down again in the afternoon and then are repeated briefly in the evening. The imminent arrival of full moon this weekend will push most feeding activity into late afternoon and evenings with quiet mornings.

Full moon will have less impact in the northern lake where water is clearing as runoff diminishes. Surface feeding is ramping up in the backs of canyons as shad are becoming visible to stripers. Best striper fishing will now be in the northern lake with good striper fishing lakewide. Expect increasing surface feeding activity in Good Hope Bay during July.

Stripers are susceptible to trolling while relaxing at depth between surface excursions. A few fish can be caught while waiting for the next surface explosion. Trolling success is about 2-3 fish per hour in the southern lake compared to 10 fish an hour in the north.

Bass fishing success is increasing lakewide as water level stabilizes. Lots of fish are caught with plastic grubs and tubes but the average bass size is small. Both bass and striper populations are rebuilding after low water and poor habitat during the past two years.

Catfishing success is increasing as spawning concludes. Catfish are patrolling the beaches in the evening looking for an easy meal. It is easy to invite them to dinner by putting a few table scraps on a hook which are then cast to the sandy bottom behind the boat.

Surface fishing for stripers combined with small bass along the shore and catfish on the beach provide ideal conditions for teaching children how to fish. The key element in fishing instruction is to actually include fish as part of the training. Fish are now available for kids to catch while visiting Lake Powell on a family vacation. Make sure to bring fishing equipment for another fun activity while at the lake



Lake Powell Fishing Report June 25, 2014 by Wayne Gustaveson


Lake Elevation: 3607.25

Water Temperature 71-76 F
The last fish report was not very exciting with mundane fishing results. Since then two major events occurred. First the wind quit blowing hard in the afternoons. Second the Summer Solstice on June 21 had a dramatic impact on Lake Powell as the lake started BOILING!  I suppose the striper boils were not really caused by the first day of summer.  Regardless, going fishing is now terribly exciting once more.     Slurping striper boils are seen lakewide.  Juvenile stripers are feasting on larval shad with the feeding action occurring on the surface making fish location easy to see. Schools of 50 to 500 stripers are tightly grouped as they line up and mow the surface while eating tons of larval shad.    Shad are abundant in areas where slurps are happening. Right now the main channel is the prime fishing destination.  Head uplake from Wahweap or downlake from Bullfrog to get in on the action.  The best spot from Wahweap is upper Padre Bay to Rock Creek.

Best spot down from Bullfrog is Escalante to San Juan.  Perhaps the best spot on the entire lake is the San Juan Arm from the mouth to Wilson Creek.   Lure choice is important. Shad size is very small and swimming ability is slow.  Crankbaits do not mimic the forage. It is possible to cast to the edge of the action and work the lure into the feeding fish. A silent entry works as stripers are willing to consume a “larger fish” when one is seen.  But if the lure lands mid group they spook and go away.  A small spoon, like a Kastmaster, that falls down through the feeding fish and then works through the feeders has more success because perfect casts are not needed – a good one is enough.  Some stripers spook when the lure hits but others grab the spoon as it works down and then through the school. My best success has come on small (3/8 ounce) micro fabric jigs that are similar to flies tied to look like various fish species.  These small fish can be worked slower than spoons when necessary or fast following a perfect cast.  Results are very rewarding with these and also small bucktail jigs.

Yesterday one or more fish were caught from every slurp.  The hooked fish was then escorted to the boat by an entourage of 30-50 following fish.  That was really neat to see in clear water.    Timing is variable with a good early morning bite followed by a mid day lull.  Then at 2 PM (MST) the afternoon boils start and last until dark. The days are action packed. Yesterday, from 2-5  PM, there was never a moment when I was not casting to boils, choosing which group to try next, cruising to the next group, or taking a fish off the hook. It was a truly amazing fishing experience.   Striper size is 14 to 20 inches and fish are fat as they can get.  Stomachs are bulging with about 50 shad per stomach.  It is time to save some shad.

Get out there and give the shad a hand. If we want boils to be around in September we have to allow shad to grow to adult size. Reducing striper numbers now will help that cause and make fishing better later on.   These stripers are perfect eating size.  Just put some ice in a cooler and place fresh caught fish on ice immediately.  They will then keep until the end of the trip when filleting is possible.  Take the fishing rods along on the wakeboarding adventure.  Stop for all boils to add variety to the trip. It will add a new dimension to the summer Lake Powell adventure.


Lake Powell Fishing Report by Wayne Gustaveson 6-17-14

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Photo Caption: Adam Jones and Deborah Williams found a trophy striper thrashing on the surface near Warm Creek. They tried to save the fish but it died due to post spawning stress. It was then turned over to Utah Wildlife resulting in the discovery of many interesting facts about trophy stripers in Lake Powell.


Early Saturday morning, June 14, a call came stating a big striper had just been caught at the mouth of Warm Creek. It took about 20 minutes to get there but we soon found a boat at the corner of Warm Creek and the main channel. Adam Jones and Deborah Williams were right there and when we got in range Adam held up a huge striper.   We got out of the wind and headed to shore where we could get the full story.

Adam and Deborah were out at dawn fishing along Warm Creek Wall when they noticed a surface disturbance.   As they got closer it proved tobe a giant striper thrashing on top. They got close enough to net the fish and then tried to resuscitate the fish and release it. But it was to no avail, the big fish succumbed within minutes of capture. They measured the fish using hand widths and came up with 45 inches. That’s when I showed up and began discussing options.

Adam would like to have the fish mounted as it was the biggest fish he ever “caught”. But it is entirely possible to make a fiberglass mount by just supplying dimensions and a picture to the taxidermist. It was determined that I would take the fish, determine exact measurements, and perform a necropsy to determine cause of death. I put the big fish on ice and headed back to the lab. This fish was 44 inches long and weighed 28.75 pounds (certified scales) with a girth of 25.5 inches.

Most striped bass of this length exceed 30 pounds but this one had an empty stomach except for 3 carp spines. It had been eating recently but the mostly empty stomach, which was 14 inches long, did not add an extra pound or two which is common when the stomach is full. That also explains why the girth was 2 inches smaller than other stripers of this length.

The cause of death was likely spawning stress. The 10-inch long ovaries were spent suggesting this fish had just completed spawning. Full ripe ovaries can weigh 2-3 pounds which would add more weight and girth to this fish. Striped bass are a marine fish that are adapted to life in the ocean. As they mature they seek water temperature in the mid 60s. Juvenile stripers can survive well in warmer water. This genetic change with age, separates large and small stripers and protects small fish from predation by larger ones.

In fresh water the opposite is true. When adult stripers mature and are forced into deeper, cooler water it is adult fish that struggle. Shad live in warm water where juvenile stripers reside. When adults are forced to leave the warm zone their food choices become limited leaving juvenile stripers on top with shad and the competitive advantage. If adult stripers are not large enough to eat 1-pound carp, and catfish then they become malnourished. This explains why there are so many large, lean fish in certain years.


But this trophy fish was healthy and well nourished. Striped bass are surface spawners so they must abide the warm water during spawning. If they stay in 75+ degree water for an extended time, lactic acid builds up in the muscles beyond the capacity of the fish to recover. This is the cause of death of most trophy fish that are found dead on the surface. My best guess is that this fish succumbed to post spawning stress and excessive lactic acid buildup in warm water which prevented the fish from diving into deep water.

Scales were read to determine age. This fish was similar to other trophy striped bass from Lake Powell. The age was 10 years which seems to be the maximum life span of large stripers. Striped bass that do not leave the school seldom live longer than 5 years, while trophy fish live twice that long. Large stripers are loners that hunt catfish, carp, and walleye in the cooler water. They do come into shallow water to eat shad on occasion when shad numbers are high and hunting forage does not require a long stay in warm water.

I want to thank Alan and Deborah for sharing their fish with us so we could learn more about the rare trophy fish that do swim in Lake Powell.


Lake Powell Fishing Report by Wayne Gustaveson 6-5-14


Photo: William Thompson, age 15 from Idaho Falls ID, caught a big striper in the Escalante River Arm of Lake Powell. He was fishing with his family when stripers started to boil in the back of the canyon.  He caught the first striper from a boil in 2014.

Lake Elevation: 3592.3 Water Temperature 67-74 F

Lake Powell came up over 6 feet since last weeks’ report.  Fast rising water means fishing success along the shoreline declines as water covers new ground.  Seems fish and fishermen get separated this time of year.  The answer is to fish deeper water unaffected by rising water and to use specialized techniques.   Walleye may be the best target species right now using techniques and gear specifically designed for that purpose.  A walleye worm harness works very well. These rigs can be purchased or home made. They include a double hook harness with an attractant spinner blade separated by beads, which are joined with a swivel.  They can be trolled behind a bottom bouncer or cast with braided line with a bullet sinker to keep them on the bottom.   Fish early and late for best success, but do not pass up a main channel “mudline” with colored water trailing off a long point during the day. Yes, this is much more technical than putting an anchovy on a hook but it is very effective now.  

Walleye are more likely to be caught from Padre Bay to Good Hope Bay but are found in Wahweap, Warm Creek and Navajo for those willing to take the walleye challenge.  Find a main channel or canyon rock slide that falls into deep water.  Cast the rig into 10-15 feet of water and work it slowly but methodically into water as deep as 30-50 feet. Walleye have a very subtle bite so be alert for a small tick. Set the hook on the first touch.   Stripers are hit and miss now. They turn on for an hour or two at the usual spots (see previous reports) near the dam and along the canyon walls.  If stripers are not found on the first attempt, return in an hour or two for another try.   Trying a series of previous hot spots will likely lead to filling a cooler half full by the end of the day.  One plan would be to try the barricade by the dam, then move along the cliff wall fishing over shelves extending out from the wall. The next spot would be on the corner near Buoy 3 and then the Power Plant intake.  It is likely that a good number of fish would be caught at one or more of these locations.  Those productive locations will vary each day.

Bass fishing has been good this spring but average size has been small.  Habitat and forage conditions have been very difficult for bass and crappie.  Shad and crayfish forage declined dramatically when the lake declined for 2 years in a row.   Now the lake is rising and covering new brush.  It is encouraging to see many small bass that are ready and willing to fill the new niche being provided by improving lake levels.   This week much new green brush was being submerged and some young tamarisk trees which began growing last fall.  As the lake continues to fill the old tamarisk brush line at 3604 MSL will be submerged.  Old mature tamarisk trees residing above 3612 MSL will also be covered before runoff subsides.  Habitat is changing for the better and all fish will benefit.    Our weekly samples in May found only a limited number of young shad in a few canyons.  But samples taken this week showed young shad in every canyon.  As newly hatched shad grow and move into open water small stripers and bass will find them and begin to grow.  This cycle is repeated each spring. We know there are enough shad to soon produce slurping fish boils.  The remaining question will be the strength of the shad spawn and how long it will last.   With new brush in the water, shad will have some protection from predation and be able to grow larger than they did in 2013.  Large shad provide much better forage for all of Lake Powell’s game fish.   I like the way the pieces are falling into place this year.  Adult sportfish populations declined last year but now many young fish remain.  The new forage crop will not be shared by as many fish as usual.  Numbers of forage and sportfish are more balanced.  This is a rebuilding year and conditions are just right for a positive result.                  

September 2014
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