Fishing Help at Bullfrog over thnksgiving

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wayne gustaveson

Staff member
I got this question from Roy:

My name is Roy and I've been reading Wayne's words for many years now to keep up with the Lake Powell information. Although I only get out to Powell once every 3-5 years. We are heading to Bullfrog for ThanksGiving weekend. I'd love to be able to get into some fish although my expectations are low for this time of year. I'm thinking searching the canyon mouths all the way to the backs would be a good start for stripers. I hear that people use frozen anchovies to catch them. What other baits do you recommend, since pretty much all of the stores will be closed ThanksGiving day? Maybe I can drive back out to Hanksville on Friday, unless the Marina will be open and selling anchovies. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

I gave him this response:

Bait fishing is often good right at the Bullfrog Marina at night with anchovy bait. Drop bait down to the bottom under the covered slips where marina lights attract fish. Slowly work it back up until the holding depth is found. Chum to activate the striper school.

During the day move to the back of Bullfrog Bay and troll for stripers with deep diving lures like a Deep Thunderstick. I like the white colored lure. We had a boil down south yesterday. Look for surface feeding activity.

Trolling with downriggers would work well. Set the downriggers for 40 feet. Concentrate on those areas where fish are seen on the graph. Our sampling shows Bullfrog to have the highest numbers of threadfin shad so fishing should remain good there until after thanksgiving. When forage is plentiful, stripers feed at their convenience. Try dawn and dusk, then mid day until you find the preferred feeding time and concentrate on that time when fishing in the future.

DO NOT drive back to Hanksville to buy bait. I got the rule changed and it is now legal to cut up stripers and use that as bait. It works about as good as anchovies and is very convenient. I use the thin stripers to cut up for bait and fillet the fat fish to take home to eat.

Does anyone have any recent reports or suggestions for fishing Bullfrog on Thanksgiving?
Hi Wayne! Got back Monday. Fished the back of Bullfrog Bay all weekend. Stripers are stacked in 18-40 ft of water. They were not taking spoons. Trolling black and silver deep thundersticks and reef runners. Fish were holding close to the bottom. Shad schools were every where. All fish caught had empty stomachs though. The bigger fish were skinny. We did not fish more than a couple hours mid morning and had filled the live well. One boat I talked with had caught 55 per day using down riggers and/or deep divers. No fish caught off the docks. Plenty of shad but no stripers with them. Odd for this time of year. It might be possible to anchor over the fish and broadcast anchovies to get them going on bait and then switch to spoons but we did not try that. We were averaging about 8-10 fish per hour. This pattern has been holding for a month in the back Bay. Hope this helps.
For what its worth, I was at bullfrog about three weeks ago and fished off the marina dock three nights. This was during the dark of the moon time. Fished until midnight or a little later and had fairly good luck. We used two green lights and the best bait was mussels that you can get frozen at Walmart (hard to keep on the hook). I had striper meat, sucker meat, and frozen minnows, but the mussels caught twice as many fish. Others fishing with anchovies were doing fair also. Went to the fish cleaning station one morning and there were people I saw at the dock the night before and they had about 140 stripers that they were cleaning. They said I left too early and at about two am the fish moved in and they caught them until daylight. Said they caught them on anchovies and worms at about 30 ft deep.

Went down to try and catch walleye but in a week we only caught 5 walleye and no tags. Caught stripers, one walleye, and one nice crappie trolling plugs in Halls canyon in 20 to 30 ft depth. The best area was on the South side where the submerged trees are, but after loosing several plugs we moved away from the tree area. Stayed around Bullfrog and Halls most of the time. Went up to Cedar one day and got an ice chest full of bluegill on worms. Tried for walleye and after only one walleye we started catching bluegill. A lot of fast action and fun until you start cleaning an ice chest full.

We had a lot of fun and the weather was perfect, just not as many walleye as we would have liked. Think I have some pictures I will try and post later.
Bluegill fishing is very under rated at Lake Powell. There are millions of bluegill ready for harvest. Not Yet will you give us your assessment of Bluegill as table fare compared to other Lake Powell fish.
I like bluegill, but then I clean hundreds of small perch from Fishlake so the bluegill don't seem that small to me. They are like all other fish and must be taken care of and kept on ice or they will loose quality fast if not taken care of. There is not a lot of meat there and you must do a good job and get it all or you won't have much. I don't mind cleaning small fish, but some people don't have the patience to spend the time to clean bluegill and perch. The ones we caught took about 20 to get a quart bag stuffed full of fillets.

I think they are about the same quality as bass and other white meat fish, but the fillets are thin and I like them best dipped in tempura batter and deep fried, but I also batter with cornmeal or ground up crackers and then just fry them to golden brown. I like walleye best, but I like to eat bluegill better than striper, very mild meat and no fishy taste. There is nothing wrong with properly cared for striper but I don't like any of the red meat taste and it also takes time to get it all trimmed off. The small stripers are better than the large ones in my opinion. Seems like the large fish fillets are tougher and less smooth texture than the small ones.

Just like everyone else, I have my technique for filleting fish. I like to take the first side off on a regular fillet board, and then I take the second side off on a special slightly rounded board. If I place the head of the fish beyond the end of the board and hold it with my left hand, then the back bone is supported on the board and it is easier to take that second fillet off very close to the back bone without cutting through the back bone. I use a sharpened table fork to hold the fish when taking the ribcage off and to hold the skin while taking the meat off the skin. I don't like any bones so after washing the fillets I lay them on a cutting board and make a cut each side of the pin bones and take that very thin strip out. Now they look like a butterflied shrimp. I know some people think I am crazy but I really pride myself in getting every bit of the meat I can and ending up with a perfect fillet.

I think that another very under utilized fish in Lake Powell is the cat fish. It is not my first choice, but they are good and I would rate them ahead of trout for table fair.
Thank you for the very detailed and helpful report. I recommend all Lake Powell anglers spend a little more time fishing for bluegill and walleye in 2017.
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