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: 3,592 feet

Water temperatures: 64-70°F

Lost stripers are found!

Dave Sellers, expert fly angler from California, found stripers using flies while anglers using conventional tackle struggled. Try tying a fly on a spinning rod and trolling it along the surface to catch plankton-eating stripers.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Gustaveson

Striper fishing has been difficult in May since most are accustomed to fishing with bait for big schools of fish in deep water of the main channel. But not this year. Stripers are in great shape and in spawning condition. In April, schools of stripers were found in the backs of canyons eating shad hiding in shallow water. But not now.

It is now apparent that these schools of prespawn fish have moved out of murky water in the backs of canyons into open bays often near the canyon mouth and main channel. Prespawn schools are holding in spawning coves next to deep water waiting for water to warm enough for spawning to occur. With no shad in spawning coves stripers have only plankton to eat while waiting. Plankton move just enough to group up in shallow open water. Stripers cruise along just under the surface until a plankton congregation is encountered and eat a few microscopic tidbits as they wait. In these conditions, shad-imitating crankbaits are ignored except at low light morning and evenings. This is why striper fishing has been tough in May.

Now enter Dave Sellers, an expert striper fly fishermen from California. He discovered that these schools were often near the surface and could be caught on flies by long casts expertly retrieved. That did not help me much since I have not used a fly rod since I was a teenager. But he did give me one technique that I could successfully perform and it worked for a fish collection that was needed this week. Here are Dave’s words (which I edited for this report) that I used to catch stripers:

'We headed back to Padre Bay to the cliff walls on the east shore and located a big school under the boat. We went fishless for about an hour. Rob handed me the controller to his boat troller and he laid out for some shut eye on the leaning seat on his Ranger Bay Boat while dragging a fly behind the boat. Happy accident! it wasn't 100 feet before the rod was just about jerked out of his hand. I cast out and gave it a long count. Nothing. Then, I resumed trolling looking for schools. Rob did not have his line in water any longer as he was staring at the graph with me. Another 15 minutes and we decided to get on the main motor and slowly head across the mouth of the cove looking for fish on finder. I dragged my fly line out this time and cruising at tuna trolling speed, a hook up occurred inside of 30 seconds. The two clueless fly casters finally got a clue. The fish were not on the graph because they were on the surface. After getting my fish in, we shut the motor down and started casting. Every cast again. This time many of the takes were within the first two pulls, and once again, bone jarring. The fish, as expected, would pile under the boat with the caught fish. But this time, it was not a problem. For every school we dragged in from our casts, there were more out around us. It was yet another evening of abundance.'

I found ripe male stripers using Dave’s description of the habitat and then trolled a clouser minnow on my spinning rod with 7-pound fluorocarbon line along the surface at 4 miles per hour and hooked up within 5 minutes. Then we circled around that location continuing to catch shallow stripers on flies. We got one triple while trolling 3 flies and we even caught one fly casting when stopped over a school that we drug under the boat.

For the next week (or maybe two), it is possible to find mature adult stripers by trolling flies along the surface. This magnificent but incredibly unusual year continues while fishing Lake Powell.

Bass and walleye are still being caught in big numbers while working the shoreline with green plastic baits and square bill crankbaits. The walleye bite in the northern lake is monumental. Add a live night crawler to target these toothy and tasty game fish.

Come enjoy fishing at Lake Powell. There is something for everyone right now.

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