Lake Powell report

Information compiled by Wayne Gustaveson,

Attention: Quagga mussels have been detected at Lake Powell. 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 you can launch in another water. If you plan to launch sooner than that, a professional decontamination is required. Learn more about these destructive mussels.

Waterbody Report
Lake Powell

Lake elevation: 3,614 feet

Water temperatures: 76-80°F

Our trawling crew just completed shad sampling with a midwater trawl for the month of July. The trawl has a 10-foot square opening that leads into a 50-feet long funnel-like net culminating in a plankton bucket where shad are captured before being counted and measured. This survey has been done every summer since 1976 which gives a long history of how shad have fared over the last 40 years. The survey also indicates much about how striped bass behave as they pursue shad throughout the lake.

Stripers are eating full sized surface lures now as they boil along the surface at midlake locations. This striper consumed a 5-inch top water lure, which has only 2 inches of lure protruding from the mouth.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Gustaveson

Bullfrog was the winner among trawl sampling sites with over 400 shad of various sizes collected in each sample. Good Hope Bay was second with 170 shad collected. Wahweap came in last with only 50 larval shad per trawl tow. Now when we compare fishing success for stripers, it makes more sense that the best fishing is found midlake where shad numbers are greatest. Likewise the least number of stripers are caught in the southern lake where shad are low in number.

Here is the fishing report. Stripers are boiling along the surface from early morning to late evening from Oak Canyon to Good Hope Bay. In the midlake trawl samples we found shad of all sizes from tiny half-inch larval fish to 3-inch adults. Midlake boils consisted of small stripers mixed in with large adults up to 5-pounds. Larger stripers come up more regularly when shad are big enough for a quick meal. Then big stripers dive quickly to deeper cool water.

In the southern lake there are a few slurps with yearling stripers feeding on a small number of tiny shad. The good news here is that shad will grow and boils will occur in August when the tiny shad now living in turbid water in the backs of canyons swim into open water where larger stripers can find them. Southern stripers can still be caught but it requires trolling, or spooning, or bait fishing to get down to the striper holding level.

For now, go north to Bullfrog/Halls and then look upstream or down for serious boils action that occurs in the main channel very early in the morning and repeats regularly throughout the day and into the evening when winds are calm. These stripers will take full size surface lures, swim baits, spoons and crankbaits. It’s your choice. Catch them and keep as many as you can use or give away.

These fish are healthy and strong. All you have to do is keep them on ice immediately after capture and vacuum pack them if they are not eaten fresh within three days in the refrigerator.

NEVER put striped bass on a stringer and tow them around for hours in 80-degree water. The water in your live well is also 80 degrees. If stripers are put in the live well do not allow water to circulate. Replace water with crushed ice where stripers will stay fresh. Treat stripers like ice cream. Always keep them cold. You will thank me for this chastisement later if you take my advice and fry up striper fillets that never got warm. Do your own taste test to rediscover how good eating fresh striped bass can be.

Smallmouth bass are still at it. While searching for stripers in the southern lake by casting and trolling and spooning we caught 11 stripers and over 25 smallmouth bass, without even trying. Bass were on 45-degree angle sloping shorelines with brush along the edge. Crankbaits cast toward the shore were viciously attacked by smallmouth from 8 inches to 2 pounds. We could have targeted bass and caught 100 fish. But we kept looking for the elusive stripers and did not have time, on a one day trip, to run to midlake where the boiling action starts.

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