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: 3,599 feet
Water temperatures: 63-67°F
Lake water temperature is holding in the mid 60s, which makes all fish happy. The full moon this week delayed good fishing success until mid morning, and then afternoon fishing was just great — particularly for stripers on bait. Early-morning bait fishing at the dam and other steep canyon wall locations was slower than usual. Anglers caught fish randomly, but big schools were not active. At 10:30 a.m. that changed and schools became hyperactive. Still, the good bait-fishing spots further uplake (Navajo Canyon, Warm Creek Wall, Labyrinth Wall, etc.) seem to be better than the dam and buoy 3 now. Run uplake and try some of the spots that have not been fished as much to find a secluded location with a ton of fish ready to bite.
The striper spawn is now imminent. Each year I dream of finding a spawning school where it is possible to catch a mature fish or even a trophy every cast for hours at a time. I say ‘dream’ because it all happens at night when I am home in bed. If you are camping on the lake it would be wise to check the nearby coves and points by trolling and casting shallow running crankbaits, just as the sun sets. You may be near the spawning school that has been inactive all day long and becoming super active at night. My search for spawners happens early in the morning before the sun rises. I look along the east walls of the tall canyons where the sun’s rays are delayed by morning shade. Ripe males and females can be caught trolling and casting in the pre-dawn light. These fish are bigger and healthier than the stripers caught on bait during the day.
Trees and brush along the shoreline are getting much closer to becoming fish habitat as the lake rapidly rises. Largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie will gladly leave their current barren locations to find a tumbleweed or tamarisk tree in three feet of water. They love to be near, live in and never depart from brush structure once found. Fish near brush for these fish as the lake comes up.
Smallmouth bass are still living on the rocks. They have built nests to spawn and some are still actively guarding the nests. As the lake rises, smallmouth bass tend to stay at the same nesting location. This week, adult smallmouth will be four feet deeper than last week since the lake came up that much. Fishing success is still really good for those using jig heads and plastic baits worked along the bottom from 10 to 25 feet deep. Do not hesitate to use top-water baits for bass at first light in the morning and as the sun sets at night.
Channel catfish are awake and actively eating. They will spawn in early June as the water temperature climbs to 72°F. Anglers are catching them all day long now on bait fished on the bottom. Some striper anglers are catching catfish each day as the anchovy temporarily resides on the bottom near a striper fishing spot.
Walleye fishing is now at its peak. The best locations are in the upper lake in the backs of the canyons where water color is stained but not muddy from the huge runoff event currently happening. Reports of walleye caught in huge numbers are coming in from Red Canyon in the far north and many canyons between Bullfrog and Good Hope. My choice to catch walleye would be from Bullfrog down to San Juan including the Escalante. In a new fishing area my first exploratory efforts would be to troll bottom bouncers or flat line lures in 15-30 feet of water near shore or over open water reefs. When you find walleye, target that area specifically with bass grubs or worm harnesses tipped with a tasty nightcrawler. Work the worm slowly along the bottom in the area where a walleye was randomly caught to find many more in the walleye gathering spot.
UDWR is actively tagging walleye to have target fish in the water for anglers to catch from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. If you register for the contest and catch a tagged walleye, you will be awarded a gift certificate donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse. We'll share more information — as well as contest rules and signup details — prior to July 1. For now, practice honing your walleye skills.