Lake Powell report
Information compiled by Wayne Gustaveson, www.wayneswords.com
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.
Lake elevation: 3,607 feet
Water temperatures: 78–83°F
Lake Powell fish are getting fatter. That is a good thing, coming off a difficult year with low water and very little brushy habitat. Our studies show that the shad population is nearing a peak not seen in this decade. Lakewide shad numbers from our first shad trawl in July are well above average from Wahweap to Good Hope, with Bullfrog showing the most shad of all stations. The August trawl sample next week will assess the strength of this year's shad class. The large shad population probably has much to do with the challenging fishing results found over much of the lake.
Right now, fishing is best in the northern lake. Stripers are still boiling from Bullfrog all the way to Horn (Buoy 129). The boils are much quicker than they were two weeks ago, but they are consistent. Stripers are feeding both in the bays and in the backs of canyons. It takes patience and persistence, but those who actively search are finding boils and catching a respectable number of stripers. These stripers will hit topwater lures, shallow-running crankbaits or medium-sized spoons.
In the southern lake, finding fish is less certain. There are few fish reports because many recreational boaters are still wakeboarding and tubing. You'll want to get an early start in order to avoid boat traffic and wakes. I headed through the Castle Rock Cut at first light and saw a splash on the Warm Creek side. As the boat slowed to a stop, a surface lure was ready to cast but no other splash followed. However, the graph showed a fish school at 45 feet, so I dropped a spoon instead. A fish hit the spoon on the first hop and quickly came to the boat. To my surprise, the expected striper turned out to be a walleye. We tried again with the spoon, and caught another fish. This one was a catfish! Both fish were eating shad. It turned out to be one of those crazy days.
Trolling and graphing for stripers turned into a smallmouth-catching experience. The best trolling lure this day was the Bomber Flat A in shad color. The bass chose habitat near a gently sloping brushy shoreline where the bottom depth was around 15–20 feet. Smallmouth stomachs were empty except for an occasional crayfish.
Fishing in the southern lake is still a mystery, and it's been tricky to identify a solid pattern. The most consistent striper spot is Navajo Canyon, but the stripers are moving up and down the canyon and changing their feeding times. One day, there will be small boils at dawn near the canyon mouth, while the next day the boils occur at 11 a.m. near the big sand dune. This sums up the unpredictable fishing pattern. Fish are where you find them. I will try to make more sense out of this by next week.