Lake Powell Fish Report – November 22, 2017
Lake Elevation: 3625.71
Water Temperature: 59-62 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com
Following three weeks of gill netting over the length of the lake I finally got back out on the southern lake to see how fish were responding to angling techniques. The biggest surprise was water temperature which was still in the 60s near Thanksgiving. Next the shoreline brush was still covered by the slowly declining lake level. Finally, the behavior of striped bass was unusual for this time of year.
Recent bass tournaments have proven that large and smallmouth bass are abundant and prowling through shoreline vegetation to feed on bluegill and sunfish. Topwater lures worked well cast over the top of submerged brush, along with plastic grubs that could be fished straight down to avoid snagging in the brush thickets. Bass fishing remains good as expected in these conditions.
Normally in November, water temperature drops, which forces threadfin shad to leave the shallow brush sanctuaries. In deep water the temperature remains stable and is not impacted by random wind events and cold nights. Stripers typically follow shad to the depths, form large schools and feed on shad at 30-90 feet over the winter.
That is currently not the case. We were surprised to find stripers roaming the shallow water in small groups instead of big schools. Recent reports of stripers feeding on the surface in the brush line have been given often in the past weeks. Basically, stripers were feeding in shallow water as they are prone to do in October.
We hoped to find a boil but were disappointed. Instead, we found a few small groups of fish (less than 5) which we could troll for or drop spoons on. When we saw the striper group on the graph in 15-30 feet of water we had equal success hooking up trolling or spooning. We caught more fish spooning because we could get the lure back into the water quickly while they were still active under the boat. Action was fast enough to keep us interested and fish quality was terrific.
We ended up with 35 stripers and a walleye with most of the fish caught on spoons. Surprisingly, our normal shad pattern spoons were not as effective as a more colorful Dixie Jet Spoon with a white background, chartreuse line and an orange spot. This lure looked more like a bluegill than a shad. Back at the fish cleaning station we found that stripers were feeding mostly on sunfish in the brush zone just like bass caught in recent tournaments.
Fishing over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend will be best in shallow brushy water where sunfish are abundant. It seems all game fish are using this drive up window for their fast food needs with great success. I am thrilled that sunfish had a very successful spawning year and are surviving in the flooded brush line which is normally out of the water this time of year. That takes some of the predatory pressure off shad until the water finally cools forcing these bait fish into deeper water.
Health and condition of large and smallmouth bass, walleye, stripers, and other sport fish are at a peak not seen since 2011. Fishing success will remain excellent for all species until water temperature drops into the low 50s which should occur in early December. At that time spooning in deep water for healthy stripers will successfully continue. Smallmouth bass shut down in cold water, but largemouth bass and walleye will continue to feed for a short time.
It has been a banner year for sport fish as they have survived well, had plenty to eat, and grown to larger size. When that happens, fishing success sometimes declines because fish get fussy and can eat at their leisure. If you experienced that, just know you can return in 2018 and get even with the larger fish you missed this year.