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: 3,630.5 feet
Water temperatures: 81–85°F
Lake Powell was busy over Labor Day weekend. The weather was warm and the winds were calm. Many visitors enjoyed camping in the warm and beautiful summer conditions. There will be another week or two of warm weather, and then the cooler fall weather will arrive. Right now the lake is capped with 80°F-plus water, which is warm for really good fishing. In the spring time, the best fishing occurs when the water warms into the 60s. Right now, we are waiting for the temperature to drop into the 70s. Once that happens, here is what you can expect:
Photo courtesy of Wayne Gustaveson.
Striped Bass: Small stripers are accustomed to feeding in really warm water. The quick boils of Labor Day weekend featured 8- to 13-inch stripers. Older stripers that have boiled the last two months have done very well. They are two inches longer, fat and strong. I didn't hear many reports about larger stripers feeding on top, which means that the bigger fish were too hot to boil, the lake was too busy or shad were moving away from main channel spots that were hot a week ago. It really does not matter why there were less boils because there are still huge schools of shad in the backs of the canyons. Stripers will now move out of the main channel and work toward the backs of the canyon. The next boil period will likely erupt as soon as stripers make the transition to searching the canyons, instead of the main channel, and find shad in side canyons lakewide. I predict that top water fall fishing will begin in mid-September and boils will be big and long lasting. Expect boils to be near shore instead of in the middle of the channel. Look for giant splashes in the backs of canyons.
It has been difficult to see stripers on the graph because the schools are spread out and chasing individual shad near the surface. When the schools become tighter and are move to shallower water, it will be easier to identify a striper school. During the fall, always have a top-water lure ready to cast, but use a spoon when you see a school on the fish finder.
Smallmouth Bass: You can find smallmouth in deeper water when the surface water is so warm. Recently, the best technique has been to visibly locate a submerged brushy reef near shore. Move to the breaking edge of the reef and fish on the next drop off where water depth is 15 to 30 feet deep. Smallmouth are grouped in schools in the deeper water. You can see these groups of fish holding near the bottom. Once you're over the school, drop plastic grubs on leadhead jigs or dropshot-rigged, shad-shaped worms into the school. Right now, bass fishing is a lot like striper fishing. You can locate bass on the graph rather than just looking for the right structure and bottom depth.
I have found the best bass schools by trolling a mid-depth crankbait along the breaking edge of the reef. When you catch a bass, check for curious followers by casting plastic grubs to them as they chase the hooked fish right up to the boat. Bass fishing has been quite good using this method. Catch bass until they leave the spot or the boat drifts away, and then troll again to find another hungry group.
Bluegill: Adult bluegill have grown quite large. You can find them in the deepest brushy water available. With the lake water level going down, those brush piles are getting shallower and are visible in the clear water. Drop mealworms or Gulp minnows down to the tops of the brush to catch some very colorful feisty fish.
Channel catfish: Catfish are active in the evening near camp. Use some leftovers from dinner right behind the houseboat on a sandy beach in water that is about 10 to 15 feet deep. Catfish really like the murky water near the end of the canyon where good campsites are found.
Fishing is still really good at the lake, but will get even better in the weeks to come.(09-06-17)