Lake Powell Fish Report – March 7, 2013
Lake Elevation: 3600
Water Temperature 46-52 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
Declining lake level will have a huge impact on spring fishing. Current lake level is now at the projected low of 3600 and it will likely decline another foot before spring runoff reverses the lake level. That is great news for boaters using the southern lake as it will allow the construction crew currently deepening the Castle Rock Cut to remove one more foot of soil and make the pass last a bit longer in future low water situations.
But fish care more about the water level as it relates to forage and cover. This current generation of fish has been displaced from living in the luxurious brush zone where cover and forage have been abundant. Now brush is 4 feet out of the water on dry land. Fish habitat has reverted to rocks, shelves and boulders. Shad have left clear water for the added security of murky water where sight-feeding predators are not quite as efficient. Crayfish are now the prime targets for many predators.
Welcome to the new (old) Lake Powell. These are the conditions prevalent in the 1980s after the lake filled and water level fluctuation eliminated brush. Fishing strategy must be altered to match the new conditions.
Critical factors for successful anglers begin with water color and temperature. Expect shad to be in colored water and to avoid clear water. Predators will follow. The best fishing pattern today is to fish in muddy water using shad imitating lures like medium running crankbaits, swim baits, jigs and spoons.
Colored water is literally the spring hot spot as murky water warms more quickly than clear water. Yesterday there was a 2-3 degree temperature difference between clear and cloudy water as the day progressed. As the surface layer warms fish move to warmer shallow water. As water cools overnight fish move back to the depths where they are more comfortable. Therefore fish deeper water in the morning and move to shallows in the afternoon.
Stripers are still in the backs of the canyons in muddy water. Best technique is to troll or cast shallow running lures from the 25-foot channel toward shore. Expect most stripers to be in water less than 10 feet deep. They are in small bunches rather than schools since muddy water requires them to feed individually instead of in schools.
Bass will be feeding on crayfish in both muddy and clear water. They don’t move as much as stripers so are more likely to be satisfied with water conditions found in their home cove. Fish deep with crayfish imitating lures for smallmouth and shallower around any available cover for largemouth. In these harsh conditions tumbleweed piles will be the preferred habitat.
Fishing technique and conditions are different this year but it is still Lake Powell, which always provides a very special fishing experience.