July 15th, Slurps / Boils

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Dan Keller

UT DWR Fish Biologist
Every other week we travel the length of the reservoir collecting zooplankton, fish, and other water data to determine the status of the fishery and equally important to assess the potential future. This time of year, covering the entire main channel and several side canyons including the San Juan Arm provides a fantastic opportunity to observe stripers feeding on the surface, a.k.a slurps. Since our mileage, route, and time on the water is similar between trips we could consider this a survey of sorts. Comparing the number of slurps from this trip to two weeks ago I would say the peak “slurp season” might be behind us now. However, the more exciting form of striper surface feeding, Boils !!!, should soon take center stage at the Lake Powell fishing scene. The feeding activity we saw on this trip was more aggressive, the shad that hatched in May are growing large enough to give the striper schools a workout. I attached a picture to show how shad have grown compared to May. These shad are now searching for their own food (zooplankton) and no longer drifting in the water in their larval / planktonic phase when stripers can lazily slurp them from the surface. As shad grow larger and harder to catch, stripers must rise to the challenge, or go hungry. When stripers push shad to the surface the competitive nature of feeding fish results in a frenzied boil of water, mixed with hungry predators and panicked prey. It’s fascinating just to watch, add a fishing rod and no limit on striped bass to the equation and you now have some of the most exciting fishing one can experience.

Two weeks ago, the most striper activity was around the Rincon, this trip it moved up lake a few miles to Buoy 86 and Lake Canyon. The water is starting to clear up at Bullfrog and Good Hope Bay allowing stripers to find the shad. While collecting our samples at Red Creek we had slurps going on all around the boat.

Fishing around our camp on the San Juan we located bass by looking for islands or rock piles offshore and fishing the deeper saddles between the island and shore. Water temperature at all our sites was in the 80’s, so look for bass in cooler habitats. The shade provided by canyon walls is a good place to start. As the sun set we switched to top-water lures and caught several smallmouth and two largemouth.

Traveling back to Wahweap on July 14th we observed lots of surface activity in the main channel near Rock Creek. These fish were moving fast and despite lots of boat traffic and wakes the fish were staying up for a few minutes giving us the chance to catch several fish before they would disappear.

I look forward to seeing reports on where anglers are finding boils, they should really pick up over the next few weeks, especially on the north end as water continues to clear up.
 

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