March 29, 2017 - Waiting for Warming

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wayne gustaveson

Staff member
Lake Powell Fish Report – March 29, 2017

Lake Elevation: 3595

Water Temperature: 52-56F

By: Wayne Gustaveson

Lake Powell is rising. It has come up one foot since last week. Spring runoff has begun way early and should continue unabated during April and May. That is exciting as it may get the lake level up to the brush line in time to allow bass and crappie youngsters to find cover shortly after they hatch out. That has not happened for a very long time and will be very beneficial for restocking the lakes sport fish and forage fish supply for the next generation.

Cool blustery weather has kept the lake water temperature down in the low 50s and slowed down fish activity. Fishing results slowed down after a very warm week but did not stop the fish from biting. Here is a recap from San Juan, Escalante, Bullfrog and the northern lake.

Water clarity at mid lake is crystal clear. Fish were easy to see in water as deep as 25 feet. Unfortunately, that makes it easy for fish to see boats and anglers making them shy away before they can be caught. The key to catching all species of fish in clear water is to fish in the afternoon as the water warms up and throw very long casts so the fish are not as flighty. Warming water makes fish more active but they can still see the boat. The only guaranteed method in this clear water world is to head to the back of the canyon where visibility decreases, water temperature rises and fish are much more likely to hit your lure offerings.

The backs of canyons in the Escalante and San Juan provided decent fishing but not much better than that found in Bullfrog Bay where striper trolling was working at the rate of about one fish caught every 10 minutes. I suggest waiting until the next warming period before making a long run to the San Juan or Escalante.

No matter where you are on the lake, the most effective technique this week was to cast double or single tail plastic grubs to the bank in slightly colored water. Work the bait slowly along the bottom in 15-30 feet of water to find smallmouth bass, crappie, stripers and largemouth bass. Add a piece of night crawler to target walleye. In all cases, look for the edge of drop-offs and focus on habitat where fish hold before moving to a new spot. The drop off is an excellent place to drop a lure or plastic bait.

Stripers in the southern lake have been going crazy down at the dam. Average catch was about 50 fish for each boat checked this week. Bait used was typically anchovies but those using striper meat as chum and bait also had great success. Many are fishing right at the barricade but some are finding willing fish further away from the barricade along the west wall. Fishing pressure has not been heavy this week due to cooler weather so all have been able to find a good fishing spot. I have received no recent reports of fishing success further uplake, but I think that if the good spots are all taken at the dam then fishing on the left turn just upstream from Buoy 3 would be a good choice. Then the standard spots at the Power Plant intake, Navajo Canyon points, and other spots along the main channel will provide good catching results as well.

Pick a spot where a broken rock point or ledge is found along the steep cliff wall. Cut up 3-5 anchovies and chum the area. Then cast out a chunk of anchovy and cast it out 30-60 feet from the boat and let it settle slowly back toward the boat. When it is hanging straight down under the boat slowly reel it back in and repeat the process. If no fish are caught in 15 minutes try another spot. You should be able to find your own school after trying 3 or 4 spots.

The weather will warm dramatically in April. Watch the weather reports and plan a trip as soon as the air temperature warms into the high 60s and low 70s. The next warming period will ignite super fishing in all Lake Powell species. They are ready and willing and just waiting for warming before incredible spring fishing starts again.
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