It's Time To Head To Powell For The 'Spring Fling'
June 1, 2016
Fishing success has been great despite early mid-May's lingering cold and winds. The good news now is that morning water temperatures now exceed 60 degrees, which opens up opportunities for the second round of Bass spawning, continuing gizzard shad spawning which will soon be followed by threadfin Shad spawning. More forage is on the way for the many predators in Lake Powell.
All Fish Are Hungry
For this week, all fish are hungry and warming temperatures only increase the desire for food and protective instincts for those in spawning mode. In short, the spring fishing peak for 2016 is now. A brief look back in time reminds us that the past two years have been strong Shad years which led to high fish production and survival.
Smallmouth Bass and Stripers are at a peak in numbers, Largemouth Bass and crappie are maintaining and walleye are reaching a new population peak. There are a lot of fish and many more opportunities for anglers. Here is the rundown on fishing opportunities.
Smallmouth Bass are in spawning and protection mode. Nests are very close to shore. Look for Bass in the shallow coves beginning at the first primary point, and then on smaller secondary points and finally all the way in the back of each cove. Males are shallow and larger females will be in the same vicinity but in deeper water.
Search for bays and coves rather than steep cliff walls. There are a surprising number of Bass on gentle sloping sandstone points extending well into the lake or sandstone reefs in open water. It is likely that the sun warms these spots and attracts all fish looking for warmer water.
The clear water in most of the lake allows you to see fish in shallow water that is 10-15 feet deep. The highest concentrations of smallmouth beds will be on the north shore, with southern exposure. These are the warmest spots and are presently very attractive to warm-water fish.
The most popular fishing techniques include casting Yamamoto grubs in watermelon color on ¼ ounce lead head jigs; using Shad shaped worms on dropshot rigs. KVD minnows and Zoom worms are working well. Pounding the shoreline with shallow running jerk baits works just as well.
Largemouth Bass are found right alongside the smallmouth. Some coves will be smallmouth sanctuaries while largemouth will be found more often in others. Both were found guarding beds in May.
Striped Bass are found from the shallows to the depths. Bait fishing is the most popular and productive catching method in deep water. The same spots are still producing in the southern lake: the dam, Buoy 3, Power Plant Intake, Navajo Canyon points. In the north, bait fishing is getting more consistent at Moki Canyon, Halls Creek wall, and Lake Canyon mouth.
Look for other anglers catching fish along the main channel walls and join them. More bait in the water usually means that more fish will be caught by all who are fishing.
Another Group Of Stripers
Another faction of Stripers can be visually seen swimming over the slick rock points and islands in the large bays. These are generally juvenile Stripers that are following plankton concentrations. They feed slowly and continually on the tiny food items, eating over 500 individual plankters each day. In past weeks these fish have ignored trolling or casting lures as they focused on plankton.
As the water warms, they are more likely to hit a small jerk bait or spoon. We had good luck recently with Ghost colored Lucky Craft 78SP Pointers and blue and silver small War Eagle Spoons. At the right time and place, the sight-fishing striper catch was "amazing". Look for warming spots (north shore, with southern exposure) where plankton is thick and shallow running small Stripers are seen just by looking in the water.
Stripers can also be caught trolling in stained water in the backs of canyons where runoff is flowing. Storm Thundersticks worked well on the San Juan in the murky Great bend. The San Juan and Escalante are the best spots to try right now with a wide variety of fish being caught in big numbers.
Walleye fishing is peaking from Padre Bay to the Colorado River. They can be caught on a wide variety of methods. Slow trolled bottom bouncers dragging a worm harness is very popular and effective. Trolling Wally Divers and other "banana lures" along the lake shore in 12-15 of water is equally effective. Casting plastic grubs for Bass often results in a surprise walleye.
Tipping the bass grub with a one inch piece of night crawler eliminates the surprise factor and tips the scale from bass fishing to walleye fishing. Whatever the technique walleye are the go-to fish for the next three weeks particularly from Bullfrog north.
Walleye were caught very effectively at Warm Springs, Cedar, Knowles, Forgotten and Crystal canyons near Bullfrog. Trolling around the island outside Hall's Creek also produced along with the fingers and drop offs that are across the main channel from Hall's Marina along the western edge of Bullfrog Bay.
In summary, if you like to catch fish, it's time to head to Lake Powell for the "Spring Fling"! And, keep my motto in mind: "Quality of life is measured by amount of time spent fishing."
At press time, lake elevation was 3,593, and water temperature was 60-66F.