By: Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3619 Water Temperature 51-56 F
Days are longer and weather warmer. Base water temperature taken in the morning has finally begun to increase. There is still some work to do but warm spring days are on the way. It is time to start planning spring fishing trips.
If current weather conditions continue, expect largemouth bass spawning to begin sometime near the 2nd week of April, followed by crappie and smallmouth during the 3rd week. Striped bass and walleye fishing will steadily improve through the month and peak during May. This is exciting news but the size and quality of all fish at the lake this year makes it so much better. Fishing success this year will be at a high point.
Right now water temperature is 53F in the morning which is still too cold for most warm water fish. Largemouth bass live in shallow brushy water. They are catchable but water is often clear and a stealthy approach is needed. Long, soft casts that plop down with little splash are needed to entice a bass bite where a big splash just spooks bass in shallow water. Smallmouth bass are in deeper water, usually on the first break at the base of the brush forest. Success for both species improves in the afternoon as water warms. My strategy is to fish for stripers in the morning and bass in the afternoon.
Stripers remain in the canyons. Sorry to those waiting for stripers to come to the main channel where they are so easily caught on bait. That is not likely to happen this year. Forage conditions are strong with both gizzard and threadfin shad living near the terminal end of each canyon. Stripers are not prone to leave their food source. To find them go to the back of the canyon.
Young stripers had been randomly scattered and feeding individually in the backs of canyons where bottom depth was 15-35 feet. Fish producing areas are marked by a significant color change from clear to murky water. Plain clear water is not as good. Trolling in any direction would randomly place the lure in front of a feeding fish. In these conditions small stripers were often caught every 100-200 yards. There was a subtle change in striper behavior detected when scouting for this fish report yesterday.
It took me a while to discover that these fish schooled up and quit feeding during full moon. Fish were no longer randomly scattered so trolling back and forth in the open bay was no longer successful. Instead, stationary schools had to be located before fish could be caught. School fish were then easily caught as the boat followed the same course along the shoreline to the holding school. Stripers just can’t help themselves when a wobbly lure wanders close by. Each pass produced one or two 14-18 inch stripers.
Trolling should be used as a precision tool, not a straight line journey 5 miles in length. Hook a fish, mark the spot and then return along the same route to duplicate the catch. It is that easy. On this day the school was on a perpendicular point some 50 yards off shore. We trolled parallel to shore at 3.5 mph. When shallow water appeared on the graph we turned toward the center of the lake dragging our Thunderstick JR lures in an arc that followed the extended point. The school was at the end of the point where depth was 25 feet breaking immediately to 45 feet. Each time a fish was caught we returned to a stating point 50 yards down shore and repeated the short trolling path.