When the lake boils…
My decades-long adventure with striped bass at Lake Powell
Wayne Gustaveson is the DWR's project leader at Lake Powell. His 34 years at the lake have given him unique insights into this popular fishery. He shares his fishing tips and reports at www.wayneswords.com.
Lake Powell was my first job, and it will be my last job. For over 30 years, I have been a biologist at this dazzling recreation area — and I love it. In the beginning, many people told me that Powell was unmanageable due to its great size. But I am quite tenacious and had to find out “truths” like that for myself.
Striped bass were stocked in 1974, and I came along in 1975. We grew up together. I began to track their patterns, observing the trademark feeding boils that churned the surface of the water.
It didn’t take long to discover that stripers could reproduce without limit in their new environment. The striper population was out of control and very hungry. It was obvious that we couldn’t feed the millions of fish produced, and adding more forage was not the answer.
After brainstorming the problem, we formed a plan: we would use Lake Powell’s millions of visitors to reduce striper numbers. We just needed to send each visitor home with one striped bass. That would control the striper population and improve fishing for all species. The concept was simple, but implementation was more challenging. My plan was to notify the public about this great fishing opportunity, providing enough detail so that anyone who wanted to catch a fish could do it.
So I started sending out weekly fish reports. Each week, I described a specific location and technique that allowed the lake’s visitors to catch abundant striped bass. Fish were readily available, and we found that anyone with a desire to try could catch a striper most of the time. After the Internet grew in popularity, we put the fish reports online, where they were available to all.
The rest is history. In 2006, anglers caught more than two million striped bass at Lake Powell. The most gratifying result of my fish report effort is that anglers bought into the concept and began adding their own reports. It’s unheard of — anglers now tell the world about their best fishing spot!
The end result is that Lake Powell is being managed with the help of anglers who catch and keep as many fish as possible. You can join the effort, too. Just click on www.wayneswords.com and come visit Lake Powell. We always welcome more striper anglers!