June 3, 2020 - Slurps and End of Striper Spawn

wayne gustaveson

Staff member
June 3, 2020
Lake Elevation 3605
Water Temperature 71-75 F

We confirmed that striped bass spawning began last week. We found spent ovaries in stripers caught on our weekly fishing trip. Water temperature, which is the spawning trigger, rose significantly. This was the largest striper spawning population observed in the past three decades. How will this impact fishing success?

First, stripers have been mostly missing in action since most of the population was in prespawn mode. Usually only a small percentage of stripers spawn, while the rest run to the canyon walls and are easy to catch on bait. That did not happen this year. Now, stripers are getting back into their favorite pastime, which is chasing shad. We saw a few “slurps” mostly with yearling stripers (6-10 inches) surfacing on tiny (1/2 inch) shad. Some anglers in the northern lake reported larger stripers that were catchable from slurps. This feeding pattern will grow more intense each day as more post spawn stripers begin searching for food. Expect adult stripers to start slurping in the next two weeks as shad grow to larger size. This will then lead to “striper boils” in July.

Right now, use small surface lures or small spoons to attack striper slurps. While waiting for slurps to pop up, troll the backs of canyons and coves with shad colored and bright colored lures.

Trolling results surprised us as we fished bass grubs in the backs of canyons with limited success. While trolling out of the canyon, smallmouth bass attacked the trolled lures. My guess is that smallmouth may be reacting to the increase in open water shad. I suggest trolling bright colored bass lures to increase your harvest of spunky, fat smallmouth bass. We caught many more bass trolling this trip.

While working and watching the shoreline, a tumbleweed cove would occasionally come into view. Not surprisingly, each brushy cove had a small heard of bluegills. These beautiful, bright colored pan fish are fun to catch and excited to see a small crappie jig. It is wise to add a small piece of worm to the jig to increase the excitement of these small fish as they nibble at your jig.

As our boat hovered over the school of pan fish, we eventually drifted into deeper water. We dropped our jigs down below the visible school of bluegill into deeper water and were surprised to find walleye lurking just out of sight. These walleye were patiently waiting for a bluegill to swim into deeper water. We quickly caught three nice walleye on small grubs and probably saved a bunch of bluegills in the process.

As the lake continues to rise and covers more brush, walleye will move into the brush line to find more forage. Trolling across the top of brush or along the edge with shallow running crankbaits may increase your walleye catch. Walleye will be catchable for about two more weeks before slipping into their night feeding mode when most anglers quit fishing for the day.

Catfish are bigger than usual and very abundant this year. They will be easy to catch at night near camp on worms, night crawlers and hot dogs. Catching catfish is a great way to end your long fishing day.