Photo: Striped bass caught now are as healthy as they have ever been due to a bumper crop of shad. Stripers are selecting threadfin shad in the main channel and saving gizzard shad next to shore until later in the year. Fishing is challenging in these high forage conditions but very rewarding when catching these beautiful prime young fish. Lake Powell Fishing Report
October 8, 2014
Lake Elevation: 3606
Water Temperature 72-74 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson
October is hunting season. It’s time to put on the blaze orange sweatshirt, load some weapons and get in the boat. The weapons should be transported fully loaded because the game appears quickly and then runs off even faster. If fully ready and very observant there is time to get one shot off before the game slips out of range. This is not a road hunt but rather a very exciting fishing trip. The critters being pursued are surface feeding striped bass and smallmouth bass. The weapons are fishing reels fine tuned to cast very far with great accuracy and they are loaded with heavy, long-casting lures that resemble shad. Yes – Fishing striper boils in the fall is more like hunting than fishing.
Our quarry this morning was found in the same range as reported last week but there were some subtle differences. Early morning fishing during the full moon is not as productive as it is under dark night skies. We headed out at first light but did not see any surface action until we reached Rock Creek. Even then the action included only a few stripers jumping here and a couple over there. We eased over to the spots where the last splash was seen. If another fish or two came up they were easy to catch when the boat was in casting range. Stripers in pursuit of shad are single minded and will bite just about anything that wiggles. But once they dive and start looking for another school they are hard to catch.
For two hours we chased single splashes and rolling turbulent waters which were big stripers feeding just under the surface. These fish were working individually since shad numbers are high enough to allow stripers this luxury. Usually the striper school has to surround shad and hold them in place before feeding. Not now! Shad are numerous making stripers a bit more challenging to capture.
After 8 AM surface boils began holding more fish and the action persisted a little longer. We caught stripers at the mouth of Rock Creek by running a circle around the big bay looking for splashes. Big splashes usually mean stripers are feeding but we also caught smallmouth as they boiled in two locations.
Next we headed down lake to look at Last Chance again. It had been calm and quiet early in the morning but this time through there were more aggressive small boils with an exciting climax of one big boil that stayed up for 5 minutes. The big boil came up at 10 AM.
That’s a good summary of how to catch stripers now. They are easy to snare when hitting the surface and hard to find when not on top. The very best way to catch fish now is to find a school on the graph and drop spoons to catch a lot of fish in a short time. But the schools holding on the bottom are just as hard to find as the fish boiling on the surface. Trolling is the last resort as both chasing boils and spooning are more productive.
The best time to fish now is the last few hours in the evening. The best location is in the main channel from Padre Bay to Trachyte. The best recent report came from the main channel just upstream from the mouth of the San Juan.
All of the stripers caught had threadfin shad in their stomachs. These shad are open water fish while small gizzard shad are found close to shore. I suspect that stripers are selectively pursuing threadfin shad in open water and will save the gizzard shad in coves and backs of canyons for later in the year.
Fishing in these high forage conditions is more challenging than when stripers are really hungry. But catching fish now is more rewarding as these fish are in abnormally prime physical condition seldom seen on Lake Powell. Catching 10 stripers now makes a successful trip. Catching 20 or more is like fishing in Shangri-La.