A few years back, I fought a large Striper in Last Chance for about 15 minutes. I saw her flash a couple of times so couldn't tell how big. She eventually straightened the split rings on my Super Spook.
My last fish report suggested a pattern for finding striper schools by cruising toward the back of a major canyon while watching the graph for a quick depth change from deep water to a consistent depth range of 65-85 feet. On Feb 12th there was finally a small break in the weather where the sun was out with no wind blowing. We loaded the open boat with no windshield, put on ski goggles and headed to Warm Creek. Normally the trip to Warm Creek takes 10 minutes from Wahweap but with low water the Castle Rock Cut is closed and the 15-mile ride is closer to an hour.
We finally completed the long journey, saw the anticipated depth change, slowed down and started graphing for fish traces. It helped my confidence to see a huge school of grebes hovering over the 65-foot deep bottom. Amazingly, we graphed a couple of fish traces within the first two minutes and then saw a hump on the bottom that could have been a rock. Rocks are usually irregular in shape while fish traces are smooth and blend into the bottom. This looked like fish so we dropped spoons quickly to the bottom.
It only took about two minutes of bouncing slab spoons on the bottom before the first striper was hooked. With three anglers in the boat, there were plenty of spoons to imitate a shad school and the fish responded aggressively. Within 15 minutes the cooler was half full of 2-3 pound stripers. The fish were in good shape and were squeezing out shad as the stripers were quickly lifted off the bottom, and brought to the surface.
Fishing could not have been much better, but then that changed as well. Nob Wimmer was using his homemade 1.5 ounce spoon and consistently tossing stripers in the cooler. The he said “I’ve got a big one”. He said the same thing on a trip to Warm Creek on December 12, 2017 and eventually put a 30-pound striper in the boat. I looked at his spinning rod bent over double, watched the line going out and knew we were about to see another trophy striper. The time was 10:15 AM and the fish finally turned over on the surface at 10:30. I grabbed it by the jaw and brought it into the boat. The fish was 38 inches long but we did not know the weight until we placed it on certified scales back at the office. This fish weighed 20 pounds (officially 19.45 lbs).
We ended up fishing for 90 minutes following the same school for the entire time. We counted 80 small stripers and one trophy fish at the fish cleaning station. We had a calm ride back through the main channel and Antelope Point Marina before returning to Wahweap Main Ramp. It was a great day of fishing that makes me want to go again next week.
We had our houseboat back in Kane Creek of padre bay. Daughter Natalie towed her brothers ignition failed boat back to Wahweap and while there met a fisherman leaving with many stripers. He gave her leftover bait (anchovies) and instructions. The only fishing pole they had was an old catfish rig I stocked with 25# test. They tried it in the open Padre Bay and returned to the house boat with the fish, no pole and a broken shovel. I was not there. It was a team effort with daughter Natalie Porter and 11yr old Tyra and Natalie's boyfriend Travis story and his daughter Maddie story. It had been on the back of their ski boat before getting back to the houseboat. They measured the length only at 46". More photos then I froze it--curled up in the freezer. Thawed it after return to Wahweap..then I measured it..only 41". Did not weigh it. It had been warm that first day and all the family left without the fish so I threw it away. Thanks for the interest. None of us have ever caught anything that big before.
This 43" striper was caught on July 11, 2020 by Jack Davis using a sinking fly line. He let the line go down very deep where the big striper found it. He played the fish for 30 minutes before landing it. Here is Jack holding the fish that weighed between 25-32 pounds.
Occasionally a big, trophy striper is caught. The timing is usually random, dependent on the right lure contacting the bottom at the same instant that the big fish is actively searching for food at the exact spot. The number of trophy sized fish in Lake Powell is small compared the length of the shoreline. The reason for this is the schooling behavior of striped bass. They feed as a team and work well together until food is scarce. If a large striper stays with the school it may not get enough food to grow to trophy size. If it heads out on its own, it has to change its forging techniques to feeding on larger game fish including bass, walleye, carp and catfish.
The largest striper caught in Lake Powell weighed 48 pounds 11 ounces in 19991. Since the 1990’s only 30-pound stripers have been caught. Here is the latest report:
Ryan Litke and his wife Heather, ran up the San Juan for a few days to fish for bass. They had good success catching bass on Monday morning and then fishing improved as the water warmed in the afternoon. Tuesday (March 26th) got off to a slow start until 11:15 AM when Heather hooked a fish along the shore fishing a chatter bait. “She said, the fish was really pulling and that it was strong”. Ryan’s first thought was maybe she had false hooked a carp or maybe got a decent smallmouth or largemouth bass. As she played the fish for a few minutes Ryan realized it might be a bigger fish, so he started to take more interest in what was happening. Needless to say, after fighting the fish for another 5-10 minutes Ryan saw a flash and realized Heather had a good, if not great striper, and that is when he went into big fish mode and forgot everything else. After a few more minutes of slowly working the fish to the boat they decided the net wasn't going to work so they tired this big specimen out. When it rolled over near the boat, Ryan grabbed it by the mouth and yanked it over the side of the boat.
Everything from that point was a blur. Ryan remembered quickly measuring the length of the trophy fish at 44.5 inches and then placed it on the scale where it weighed 35.33 lbs. They took some quick pictures and then released the giant striper in hopes that someone else will get to catch that fish again someday. Not bad for a woman that has only fished Lake Powell a handful of times. This will be a hard, personal best to beat.
The trophy fish swam away because: 1) the water temperature was cool (52-54F). 2) The big fish was hooked in 12 feet of water and did not go down to the depths which can prevent a large fish from being successfully released. This was a great day for Ryan and Heather and also for the big fish that still swims in the San Juan Arm of Lake Powell.
Randy Tickner - STB Found floating - July 2020
Randy Tickner, mm28, past Gregory Butte in the main channel, entry to
West not to far away. It was a fresh floater. Looked like it got hit
by a prop.
Kim Dallas had booked a Uplake Adventure overnight Fishing Trip with her husband. They went uplake on Friday and fished their way back on Saturday. After leaving Rainbow Bridge they stopped downstream from Rock Creek and tried some deep trolling with Strike King 10X Deep diving lures. These lures get down deeper than 20 feet so they are near the thermocline where adult stripers can swim in water cooler than the 85 F water on the lake surface. Bottom depth was about 80 feet where they were trolling. Apparently, some big fish were stacked there in the afternoon waiting for a meal.
Bob got a strike while trolling his deep lure but the fish broke off. Then Kim got a hit but the fish got off. Kim tried again and got another hit and the fish was hooked! By the time she stopped the Fish Pro, and turned around to grab the rod from the holder, most of the line was gone as the fish made a fast run as big fish often do. She glanced down at the spool in time to see the last level of line disappear. Then the last knot gave way and the line was gone.
Bob pulled up next to her and was fortunate to see the bright yellow braided line floating on the water. Assuming she had snagged a rock, Bob stopped and picked up the line in hopes of retrieving the line and perhaps even saving the lure. He spent about five minutes feeding the line through the eyelets and tying it back onto the reel spool. Then he said "reel it in". After she reeled in about 50 feet the line got tight and it looked like she was stuck on a rock, but they were in 80' of water...she pulled hard and then the line moved! Bob said, you may have a fish and she then excitedly said, "I think I do!"
The battle with a big fish takes about 15 minutes. It swims in deep cool water, while the angler tries to pull just enough to make the fish swim. The first run is the longest and hardest. Luckily, this big fish quit running when the line went slack after leaving Kim's rod. If that fish had kept running another 50 yards Bob could not have found the line. When she played it again the fish would make shorter runs while being worked closer to the surface. When a big fish swims in warm surface water (80+) they only fight for about 5 minutes. When they roll on the surface, they are done. Warm water stress prevents a big striper from swimming back down.
The big striper was 25.5 pounds and 40 inches long.
Jason Burgess looked at WW. He saw the picture of the big striper caught the previous week by a girl on jet ski. He bought a similar Strike King 10XD, came to Lake Powell and started trolling in Wahweap Bay. He got a big bite and played this monster for 20 minutes. After he got it in the boat he went to the ramp, loaded the boat and came to my office. I weighed the fish at 28.7 pounds and 42 inches long. What a great experience!
Hi Wayne I thought you might like to see this fish. I found him swimming on his side, weak but still alive. I was able to open his mouth and pull him into the boat to take a photo. He was caught 11/20/2020 near 4 mile Canyon.
I bought a boat 4 years ago and have been enjoying Lake Powell. My parents took me to Lake Powell in 1972 when I was 10 years old and they were filling the lake I’ve been going ever since. I love reading Wayne’s words. Thank you for all you do.