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Lake Powell Fishing Report

Information compiled by Wayne Gustaveson,

Attention: Lake Powell is infested with quagga mussels. Protect other Utah waters by cleaning and draining the water from your boat before leaving Lake Powell. Your boat must be dried for 18 days before launching in another water. If you plan to launch soonet, a professional decontamination is required. Locate a decontamination station and learn about quagga mussels.

Lake Powell


Lake elevation: 3,635 feet

Water temperatures: 79–83°F

The striper slurps are done, but boils have just begun.

Boil season has started and will continue through September.

Photo courtesy of Wayne Gustaveson.

The shad we removed from striper stomachs after yesterday's fishing trip were small adults that can swim fast, rather than larval fish that cannot swim well at all. When stripers pursue larval shad, they trap shad against the surface water and devour the small shad. When this happens, anglers only see the striper mouths breaking the surface or perhaps the small wake created as stripers compete with one another to eat the most shad. When shad are able to swim fast, however, stripers still try to trap them at the surface but the speed and activity are much greater. The surface feeding event is called a boil, as individual stripers jump out of the water while chasing shad. You can see a boil from far away when 10 to 50 stripers are jumping out of the water at the same time in a tight formation. These stripers are aggressive, so you can catch them by casting a surface lure or shallow running crankbait just beyond the action and retrieving it through the feeding school.

Since boil fishing is the most exciting type of fishing you can do in fresh water, we started out early yesterday searching for boils in the southern lake. Unfortunately, the sky was overcast and a breeze kept the surface stirred up, which prevented stripers from finding shad schools and driving them to the surface. We left the ramp at dawn and three hours later had covered a lot of water, but we had seen no boils. We caught an occasional striper or smallmouth bass while trolling and watching for surface action.

At 8 a.m. the breeze stopped and the sun came out. Twenty minutes later, we saw the first boil break the surface about half way back in the canyon. From 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., fishing was intense and very successful. The striper count in our cooler went from three to 35 in 60 minutes. This is a typical boil fishing experience. It involves lots of looking and the right weather. When it all comes together, it is extremely satisfying.

Look for boils in the canyons and bays, early and late in the day. These feeding events usually last for about an hour and then the lake calms down again. Recently, we have seen striper surface action in Kane Creek, Labyrinth, Face Canyon, Buoy 25, Dove Canyon, Last Chance and Rock Creek. These feeding events can occur anywhere shad and stripers come together. Our shad sampling shows that shad numbers are higher than normally found in July, which means that striper boils will be seen frequently over the length of the lake for the rest of July and August. There are more shad at Bullfrog and Good Hope Bay, so boils will be better and more prolonged in the northern lake.

Stripers move quickly while boiling. You can see them against the shoreline and then, a few minutes later, they'll pop up in the middle of the bay. Move quickly to get in casting range of the school. Stop your boat before it gets close enough to put the feeding fish down and use equipment that allows a long cast. Effective lures include Kastmaster spoons, topwater lures that can be retrieved quickly (like Sammies), Jumpin' Minnows, Ima Skimmers, shallow-running rattletraps and Lucky Craft lipless crankbaits.

Bass are often on the edge of the boil and respond well to surface lures after the boil has subsided. Top water fishing at dawn and dusk will be great for both large and smallmouth bass for the rest of the summer. Walleye get excited as the fleeing shad run past walleye ambush points in the brush line.

The fishing dynamic at Lake Powell has changed as boiling stripers stir up shad and all the other game fish want to get in on the action.

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