January 15, 2020 - Banner Year Begins

wayne gustaveson

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Lake Powell Fish Report –
January 15, 2020
Lake Elevation: 3607
Water temperature: 48 F
By: Wayne Gustaveson http://www.wayneswords.com or Wayneswords.net

The amazing 2019 fishing year is now over, but some of the results of high water and large amounts of forage remains. Fish health is the best it has been in decades. Stripers, bass and other sport fish are fat, healthy and robust. These unusual changes have led to behavioral changes in where fish live, how deep they are, and how they respond to angling.

Recently, smallmouth bass were lurking at about 40 feet and responding to plastic baits fished slowly along the bottom. Largemouth are hard to find because their numbers are down, brush is slowly declining as lake levels decline and largemouth are often dormant in the winter. Fortunately, a successful spawn in 2019 resulted in many young largemouth that will survive and grow if they continue to find brushy habitat. Walleye are fat and content with deep shad schools providing excellent forage. Lake Powell fish are fat, happy, and preparing for another great year in 2020. All they need is a big rise in lake level and another strong shad year.

Stripers have been holding in deep water. On our last fishing trip in 2019 stripers were holding at 135 feet under flocks of grebes. Yesterday, we saw the same grebes, but fish marks seen on the graph were on the bottom at 100 feet. For some reason that seemed a lot shallower than on our previous trip. We tried spooning and trolling to no avail. I thought about using a downrigger at 80-100 feet but did not have one. From 10 AM to noon we caught no fish in shallow or deep water.

At noon we headed back to the grebe markers, saw a few fish on the bottom and dropped spoons to 100 feet. This time the fish responded positively and we started to catch a few. Stripers were still very fat and healthy. In the next two hours, we put 20 stripers in the boat. The average fish was over 20 inches long and weighed 3-3.5 pounds. Bringing the fish up from 100 feet sometimes results in a pressure change that forces the stomach to protrude out of the mouth. It is best to keep these fish. We kept all 20 and then saw some of the fattest striper fillets that ever came out of Lake Powell.

Their are a lot of variables in when fish decide to bite. Right now afternoon fishing is better than morning. We were not brave enough to try fishing at first light with air temperature near freezing. It is much warmer in the afternoon and fish are a lot more cooperative.

We noticed threadfin shad were the target species found in striper stomachs. Shad were 3-4 inches long. Threadfin shad usually have a good spawn every 3rd year. I am really hoping that Lake Powell can have another high water year, combined with abundant shad forage, which will result in the 3-pound stripers growing to the 5-pound mark in 2020. Fishing in Lake Powell is going to be memorable this year regardless of water level, but the opportunity to produce huge stripers for all to catch is a strong possibility. I am quivering with excitement over the Lake Powell fishery this year.
 
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