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: 3,628.12 feet
Water temperatures: 68–70°F
We fished the Escalante early this week with mixed results. Our camp was in 50 Mile Canyon and we fished the canyons near there.
Fishing was slow on Monday afternoon, but we did find two schools of stripers and identified a pattern. The location was in the main Escalante River Channel between Three Roof Ruin and Explorer Canyon. The water depth was 20 to 30 feet in the channel. We fished on points sticking out from shore into the channel. Striper schools were small and appeared to be laying right on the bottom. As we graphed the point from a depth of 25 feet toward the shoreline, we found a small group of fish marks at 17 feet. If we dropped spoons right into the school, we caught a few fish. If the spoon missed the school, we wouldn't catch any. We then ventured further up the channel toward Explorer and saw another point and found the second school by graphing up slope. Again at 17 feet, we saw a tight school on bottom, dropped spoons and caught a few more fish.
No striper boils were seen or reported in the past week.
We had more time to fish on Tuesday. We looked at the sights including La Gorce Arch and Cathedral in the Desert, and both were awesome. We caught a few bass on topwater in the brushy treetops in the backs of the canyons at a channel depth of 9 to 15 feet. Then, as the sun got higher in the sky, the bass quit. Fishing was tough in some very good habitat and locations. We ran down lake as far as Cottonwood Canyon without catching a fish. We headed back toward the Escalante and began trolling and casting along a big rockslide near Hole in the Rock. We caught stubby smallmouth all along the rocky shoreline on a variety of lures. We checked another rocky shoreline to see if this was the only spot they were hitting. No, smallmouth bass turned on everywhere we tried from 2 to 4 p.m. The number of fish we caught immediately went from none to too many.
This reminds me so much of springtime bass fishing pattern, when they will not bite at all in the cool morning and then turn on like crazy as the water warms in the afternoon. With temperatures now in the high 60s, bass behavior is much like it is for pre-spawn fish. Afternoon is definitely the best time to fish, but that feeding period may get longer as weather continues to stabilize and the full moon continues to wane.
Back at camp, we learned that stripers exhibited the same behavior. They did not bite in the morning but, trying the same rocky points after 2 p.m., the stripers took off and we caught 30 fish.
The pattern right now is up to the fish. It is not about the best lure or the best spot. Many different types of spoons, bucktail jigs and medium running crankbaits worked when stripers were active. Nothing worked when they were inactive. During the afternoon primetime, we caught bass using topwater, shallow square bill cranks, rattletraps.
I suspect the same timing will apply to catching fish over the length of the lake this week. If you can only fish for a short time, make sure it is in the afternoon. I feel that fishing will improve in the next few days, as the weather warms and the lake remains calm. Wind tends to mix warm water from the surface with cool water in the depths. That drops the water temperature and slows fishing success. Warming water will improve just as it does in the spring.
We saw fishing improve dramatically in one afternoon. Hopefully that magic two-hour period will get longer and finally last all day. When fishing is tough, just look up and see the beauty and majesty of Lake Powell. It is worth it!(10-11-17)