December 4, 2019 - Winter Season Begins

wayne gustaveson

Staff member
Lake Powell Fish Report –

December 4, 2019

Lake Elevation: 3611
Water temperature: 55-57 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson or

Lake Powell water temperature has dropped into the mid 50’s. Each year as winter arrives, threadfin shad that were hiding along the shore in warm, brushy water to avoid predation, seek deeper water where temperatures are more stable. Shad are fragile during winter where a rapid drop or rise in temperature may be fatal. Constant temperature (48 F) in deep water allows shad to survive the winter. Deep-water threadfin shad were happy for a moment until stripers discover their presence and begin attacking the large shad ball. Luckily, cold water temperature reduces the number of times stripers attack shad. Stripers do not feed as often in the winter.

Currently, threadfin shad are moving into deep water with stripers following close behind. Huge numbers of shad this summer made fishing more difficult. Now the shad movement is making catching more predictable. Yesterday, we discovered a striper fishing pattern that should last through most of the winter in all major canyons.

We began in deep water, half way back in the canyon where water depth was over 100 feet. The graph showed a long line of fish hovering 5-10 feet off the bottom. The line of fish was uniform and consistent in holding at the same depth near the bottom. My guess is this line of fish was adult gizzard shad resting near the bottom. As we continued graphing toward the back of the canyon, we noticed breaks in the shad line with groups of fish holding at 70 feet.

We dropped spoons on these fish targets, worked the spoons quickly up, and down, with speed reeling added in, followed by a long drop back to the bottom. These fish were stubborn, but finally one of them took the spoon and the game was on. School fish showed up on the graph following the hooked fish up to 30 feet before dropping back to the bottom. We put eight fat, 3-4 pound stripers in the cooler before the school got away.

We searched further back in the canyon and noticed a scattered flock of grebes actively feeding. We headed toward the grebes and dropped spoons, immediately hooking up with 2-3 pound stripers in 45 feet of water. When that school got away, we continued to the back of the canyon where we trolled in 20-30 feet of water with Lucky Craft XD 100 Pointers in chartreuse shad color. We consistently caught yearling stripers (1-2 pounds) in the back of the canyon. Since, bigger fish were in deeper water, we headed back to the grebe “marker buoys” at 45 feet and dropped spoons. Another school turned on and we caught more 2-3 pound stripers. From 11 AM to 1 PM, we boated 27 stripers. We lost about 10 more fish that hit spoons but came unbuckled before we could get them in the boat. These fish are FIESTY!
Western Grebe

This pattern should work lakewide. Graph for deep schools. Look for humps or breaks in the solid line of gizzard shad on the bottom or for groups of fish holding above the long shad line. Drop spoons. Work them aggressively to attract interest from well-fed stripers. Then take a break from spooning by trolling in the back of the canyon for smaller, fat fish. Then look for wide spread grebes, feeding on the surface to mark the next spot to spoon for more stripers.

At the fish cleaning station we found 2-3 inch shad to be the target size for all the stripers caught. Our spoons were 4 inches long and trolling lures were 5 inches.

The winter fishing season has now begun. Spooning and trolling for massive stripers is working great. Wear warm clothes and catch lots of fat fish. WG

Andrew Washburn with striper caught trolling in Warm Creek
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