Wayne, SMB question

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mattdaddy

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Hi Wayne, I was laying in bed last night dreaming about my trip down to Powell this weekend I started to think about small mouth bass fishing... as I read through fishing magazines and see all the big small mouth bass pulled out of the cold northern waters , I cant help but wonder why I don't catch bigger ones at powell? I would think the southern water would give them a longer season to grow a bit more but seems like all I catch are cookie cutter size. Is it due to an over abundance of fish? Maybe I need to learn better techniques on how to catch bigger fish? Any thoughts or suggestions?
 

wayne gustaveson

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Staff member
There are some nice adult smallmouth bass but more commonly there are a ton of small ones making competition for food intense. That also makes them easy for us to catch often. A decade ago we had a very stunted SMB population with few fish larger than 12 inches. We raised the limit from 6 to 20 to remind anglers that it is fine/necessary to catch and keep abundant species (Stripers, Walleye, Smallmouth).

The year we raised the limit the number of bass that were harvested increased from 11% to over 25 %. That fall the average size increased to over 13 inches. It is critical to keep small fish in an overpopulated population. A slot limit does not work if there are not enough fish harvested of any size to make a difference.

I recommend that all of you that want to see bigger SMB keep a limit each time you go out particularly in the out of the way places (San Juan and Escalante and Good Hope Bay). That will reduce competition among the fish that are left and make the available forage go that much further.

Yes Lake Powell is infested with largemouth bass tapeworm which slows growth but if forage was unlimited then bass would grow to trophy size despite the parasite.
 
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wayne gustaveson

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Staff member
Wayne, would you recommend keeping a limit for each person fishing each day? Or keep one limit during the trip?

I think one limit per trip for each person would be fine. The further you are from the marina the more important it is to keep more smallmouth. The San Juan is the destination that needs the most harvest.
 

coachk

Well-Known Member
From my experience, Lake Powell SMB are some of the best eating fish only rivaled by Lake Powell Crappie. Yes I think they are better than the walleye. Austin and I usually keep a mess for dinner each day in the 10-13" range and send all SMB back 14" or bigger. We usually spend about 3-4 days on the water and at 2 trips per year we eat nearly 20 of them.
 

Edward Gerdemann

Well-Known Member
Hi Wayne, I was laying in bed last night dreaming about my trip down to Powell this weekend I started to think about small mouth bass fishing... as I read through fishing magazines and see all the big small mouth bass pulled out of the cold northern waters , I cant help but wonder why I don't catch bigger ones at powell? I would think the southern water would give them a longer season to grow a bit more but seems like all I catch are cookie cutter size. Is it due to an over abundance of fish? Maybe I need to learn better techniques on how to catch bigger fish? Any thoughts or suggestions?

I've been fishing for smallmouth at Lake Powell for over 22 years or so, and I will agree I have caught far more small bass than large ones. I believe there are a lot more big smallmouth in the lake than fishing success on the big ones would indicate. My theory is the biggest smallmouth spend a vast majority of their time in very deep water - 50 feet deep and more. I know they can go very deep as I once caught a 2 1/2-pounder near the bottom at 72 feet on a jigging spoon. I thought there were stripers below the boat which is why I dropped the spoon, and I ended up with a smallmouth. That is not the only time, either, as I have caught a number of smallies at 45-50 feet while jigging for stripers. Most folks would never think of fishing for bass that deep, but that's what it might take to catch some bigger ones. If you do this don't expect to catch a lot of fish, but you just might get a real buster fishing that deep.

Another other option is to night fish. I don't know of anyone on this board who night fishes for smallmouths. Powell is a dangerous lake to run at night, especially if you get off the main channel, which is why I don't think very many people do it. Nevertheless I think fishing at night using some bigger Yamamoto Hula Grubs on heavier (3/8 to 1-ounce) football head jigs might produce some real dandies. I wouldn't expect a lot of 10 to 12-inchers on this setup, but big smallmouths like a mouthful and this would get the attention of any big bass in the area. For this type of fishing forget the light action spinning rods and use a medium heavy to heavy 6-6 t0 7-0 bait caster with a minimum of 10-lb.-test line. In fact, for night fishing you might be able to get away with using 30-lb.-test braid instead of the fluorocarbon line most of us use for daytime fishing in these clear waters. I don't particularly like night fishing and have not tried it here, however my friend John Conrad, who has done a light of night fishing at Lake Pleasant, Alamo and Bartlett, believes it would be very successful at Powell. He has suggested that some time we run up to a good area in Last Chance Bay or Rock Creek in the late afternoon/early evening, fish in that spot all night and then head back early the next morning. That way we wouldn't have to run the lake at night. Maybe someday I'll take him up on that.

The single heaviest 5-smallmouth stringer I've ever caught at Lake Powell was just a shade over 14 pounds, and I caught them all in Wahweap Bay along Lake Shore Drive within sight of the marina. I had two twins that were exactly 3-lbs., 8-oz. each and three others ranging from two to 2 1/2 pounds. I think there are a lot of big bass in Wahweap Bay, both green and bronze, due to tournament anglers bringing them back from uplake and releasing them there. In the fall I sometimes catch my biggest smallmouths of the year in the backs of canyons and coves in relatively shallow water, particularly if the area is shaded all day and if there is deep water close by. I did catch one of my best smallies in July in just 15 feet of water, but that was on an overcast morning off a long point coming off a gravel island opposite the mouth of Rock Creek. I also caught two walleyes there that morning.

I do a lot of drop shot fishing with relatively small baits which is great for catching large numbers of smaller to medium size fish, but it's probably not the best method for catching a lot of bruiser bronze backs. There's no doubt in my mind if I fished some larger jigs, even in the daytime, or larger unweighted Senkos in the spring and fall I'd probably catch a few more bigger smallmouths. The problem is it's hard to give up the 30-40 fish a day I typically catch on a drop shot in exchange for a shot at three or four extra nice fish using these other lure/methods. Those are choices all angler has to make. Fortunately on Lake Powell the fishing is good enough that we can make those choices. I've fished for smallmouths in a lot of places, including prime waters in Ontario and New England, and Powell in my opinion rates favorably with any of them. :D

Ed Gerdemann
 
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mtnpull

Well-Known Member
My boys love to keep fish. I think it's an age thing. But it's been fun to teach them why you want to keep all the stripers and walleye and smaller / mid size smallies and why you want to throw back the LM. It's fun to watch them now discuss how to "handle" the fish we catch. They now take pride in doing what is best for the fishery.
 
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