Information compiled by Wayne Gustaveson, www.wayneswords.com
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 elevation: 3,633.9 feet
Water temperatures: 79–83°F
The lake's water level is declining slowly. It would be great if the lake stayed at or above the current level forever, but there are some advantages to declining water levels in the late summer and fall. First, the flotsam the rushed downstream with the huge runoff will be stranded on the shore, making boating much safer. Next, clean sandy beaches will be increasingly available for shore camping and daily visits to the lake.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Gustaveson.
Most important to me, with my total focus on fishing success, is that it's easier to identify fish habitat and which fish should be in each type of habitat. Bass anglers are habitat oriented as they search for the best structure that will hold the fish they want to catch. Largemouth bass are often in thick brush in relatively shallow water. Smallmouth bass will be prowling along the edges of a brushy ridge or cove. As the water declines, those habitats will be easier to find and then successfully fish.
This week, rocky points that extend out into the bay (primary points) — separated by a cove or indented shoreline — were the common smallmouth habitat. Smallmouth bass were consistently holding on the points and ignoring the coves. Focus on fishing the primary points, and ignoring the coves and shoreline, to catch a lot of bass. I caught a few nice smallmouth bass while fishing open water reefs looking for striper boils.
Stripers are also starting to follow the rules established over the years. Normally, stripers chase shad to the surface at first light in the morning and go quiet after about 9 a.m. We left Stateline ramp at first light, ran uplake and found boiling stripers in Warm Creek, Face Canyon, Gregory Butte main channel and mouth of Rock Creek. We did not stay long at any one spot because we wanted to see how far uplake the boils persisted.
We found stripers were still feeding quickly and stayed on top less than a minute. We ran to the feeding spot and hoped to be close enough to catch fish when the school resurfaced. If we were in range, then we caught fish. If not, we repositioned and hoped that the fish would come back in range. Our best success came when the boat was in range for the second uprising. We didn't catch many stripers when we tried the third boil from the same school. Surface lures worked better than shallow runners and spoons. Remember that as soon as the school leaves the surface, it dives for deeper water. If the school appears on the graph, you can catch more fish by dropping a small, heavy spoon to the depth indicated. One-ounce white or speckled Bomber slab spoons have been working well on the fleeing stripers.
Stripers in the southern lake are still feeding closer to the main channel than the back of the canyon. There are many more shad schools holding in the backs of the canyons, but stripers are gradually working toward the back and seem content to stay in open water until the shad disappear, at which time they will head further back in the canyon. For now, stripers are in the bays and you can see them from the main channel and main canyon mouths.
The best boil reports this week were in the main channel between the Escalante Arm and Halls Creek. The San Juan was great as well. I heard few reports from the northern lake, so the results were inconclusive. I would not be afraid to head north to Good Hope to find boiling stripers.
The only other fishing technique that was successful lakewide is downrigger trolling. Stripers quit boiling at 9 a.m. and can start up again anytime they want. When they are not boiling, they hold at 30 to 50 feet. Downriggers can deliver a shad-shaped lure to stripers at their holding depth, so you can catch them all day long while waiting for next boil. The afternoon wind prevents boils, but downriggers can overcome that as well.(08-10-17)