May 16, 2018 - Stripers are Spawning

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wayne gustaveson

Staff member
Lake Powell Fish Report – May 16, 2018

Lake Elevation: 3609

Water temperature: 63-70 F

By: Wayne Gustaveson or


Striped bass are now actively spawning. Unlike bass, stripers do not build nests on the gravel bottom or protect the young. Male stripers have been ready to spawn since the first of April. Females are now experiencing the spawning trigger which is a rapid water temperature rise. Stripers spawn on the surface which makes a surface disturbance similar to a striper boil, but the event occurs after dark when no one is there to see it. Having witnessed a few of these night time spawning events I can attest that the experience is unforgettable.

My first spawning event occurred on the Warm Creek side of the Castle Rock Cut in 1984. We located a dormant striper school there in the afternoon and returned on a moonless night. When the night sky was fully dark, we cast white bucktail jigs into the spawning cove, which was 30 feet deep and about 50 yards long. Striped bass males are extremely aggressive when spawning. It was not possible to reel in the jig without getting hit or catching a fish. Occasionally a large female was also hooked. We harvested over 150 stripers weighing 3-4 pounds with a few larger females, including the biggest which weighed in at 22 pounds.

Striped bass spawning will continue for the next two weeks over the length of the lake. It is now possible to see visible striper schools during the day in the clear water. We have seen schools at Buoy 25, and along the east wall of Padre Bay, Last Chance and Rock Creek. They tend to move around so I suggest trolling the shoreline at dusk. Mark the spot where a large concentration of fish is found and return there after dark to find the spawners. We recently tried to locate a spawning school before the sun came up by trolling in 12-25 feet with Lucky Craft pointers. When the first fish was caught (4:30 AM MST) we immediately cast randomly around the boat and caught male stripers on every cast until the sky began to lighten up (5 AM). No more fish were caught after light intensity increased at 5:30 AM. These spawning events can be found over the length of the lake.

Bass fishing continues to be the best target for daytime anglers. Smallmouth bass are found over the length of the lake along sloping slick rock shorelines with broken rock habitat. Common holding depth is 3 to 20 feet. They can be caught on green or smoked color plastic jigs, either single or double tail, Senkos, and Ned rigs. It is fun to throw topwater lures at first light and again in the evening. There are still many shorelines that have clear water which makes it necessary to throw very long casts to prevent spooking bass prematurely.


Largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill will be near any submerged brush pile. Since that is not common at the current water level, look for shaded areas with rock habitat. Use the same lures as listed for smallmouth bass. When trying for bluegill, downsize the bait and add a piece of night crawler to increase the catch.

Walleye are now at their feeding peak for the year. They will be caught more often now, in the next two weeks, than over the rest of the summer. Walleye congregate in shallow, murky coves following a wind event or a tour boat wake in the main channel. They can be caught now by trolling across a main channel point with a diving lure that hits bottom at about 12 feet. It is wise to troll a floating lure as quagga mussels may cut the line as the lure hits bottom. If it is a floater, you can double back and find it on the surface and use it again. Slowly dragging a single tail grub with a night crawler attached along the bottom can be very effective. Using a bottom-bouncing rig with a night crawler harness, slow trolled along a level bottom works as well. Walleye are one of the best fish to eat fish found in Lake Powell. Keep walleye and stripers to help balance the population. There is no limit on these species so keep all you can catch or give away.

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