Lake Powell report
Information compiled by Wayne Gustaveson, www.wayneswords.com
Lake elevation: 3,597 feet
Water temperatures: 65–72°F
Memorial Day forecast
Many anglers are coming to Lake Powell for the first time this weekend. For new arrivals, here is a fishing rundown. First, the lake's water level is rising and the water is warming. The runoff water in the inflow areas near Hite is cold and muddy. In the main lake, shad are spawning but bass and crappie are done. Fishing is transitioning from spring to summer. Basically that means that topwater fishing is good at twilight, but that you should fish at a depth of 12 to 25 feet the rest of the day.
You'll most commonly find striped bass on the south end. Bait fishing is off the charts from the dam to Navajo Canyon, along the main channel to Padre Bay (Buoy 25), and in the San Juan Arm. Near Bullfrog, there are fewer fishing hotspots. If you find one, you'll catch a lot of fish, but if you don't you may leave without catching any fish. The best spots this week were Lake Canyon mouth and the main channel walls near Halls Creek mouth.
When fishing in the main channel for the first time, try chumming and bait fishing to find a willing school. The most successful spots are often near a shallow bench (20 feet), terrace or rocky point in otherwise deep water (100+ feet). Stripers come into the shallow zone to find food that's not available in deeper water, but they want to be near deep water for safety. Cut bait has strong scent and great attractive powers. Hungry fish can't resist the scent and will move quickly to a shower of bait in the water. Once the school is activated, you can catch a number of fish at the same location.
Here are some incredible spots to try for stripers. Find Buoy 3 and then head upstream to the corner leading to Antelope Canyon. Try fishing close to either the north or south wall, but not in the open water, in the afternoon. You should also head to the Power Plant intake (Buoy 8), which is marked by a fence on the top of the canyon wall, and try fishing in the afternoon. Finally, try fishing Navajo Canyon near the first set of double islands at the two main points on the left hand wall beyond the islands.
Padre Bay has striper schools in many areas near where the 20-foot slick rock point is surrounding by deep water. You can also find great fishing in the mouth of West Canyon right now. The easiest way to find a moving school is by trolling a deep diving lure in 15 to 20 feet until you catch a fish. Then chum that area to attract and catch following school mates. This technique works all the way uplake to the San Juan. In the San Juan, you can find huge schools of stripers in the back of Deep and Desha canyons. Start looking where the bottom depth is 25 feet. The same goes for the Escalante.
Smallmouth bass are the next best fish to find. They are active all day long along the rocky shoreline. Smaller bass will be in shallow water, while the larger adults will be deeper than 15 feet. Use plastic tubes and grubs. This week, free floating baits rigged Carolina-style were working better than bottom bouncers. But they were all successful.
Now is the time to catch walleye. They occupy rocky structure and murky water from 12 to 30 feet over the length of the lake. Fishing is better in the north, but steady over the whole lake. You can catch walleye by trolling at 12 to 25 feet or casting plastic grubs and tubes. Adding a piece of nightcrawler to the plastic grub will add more appeal to walleye, but bass will go for this rig as well. To target walleye specifically, cast a worm harness and drag it along the bottom near structure and in shaded areas at any time of day. Troll the worm harness slowly behind a bottom bouncer rig to cover more walleye habitat. There is no limit on walleye this year. Catch them now when they are more responsive, because they go nocturnal in June and are a much harder target.
Catfish are warming up because they're getting ready to spawn. They are very active in the warmer bays near the good camping spots. Bluegill and green sunfish will often come to camps to use parked boats for shade. They are easy for kids to catch on a small hook with a live worm for bait.
If the message is not crystal clear, then let me add that fishing is excellent right now. Please bring your fishing rod along on your family vacation. You won't be disappointed.