Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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UT: Is this Lake Powell’s year of the angler?

Fishing should be great at Lake Powell this year

LAKE POWELL – Striped bass will be hungry in Lake Powell this
year. And largemouth bass and crappie fishing at the lake could be
phenomenal.

Wayne Gustaveson, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ lead
fisheries biologist at Lake Powell, says 2011 could be the “Year of
the Angler” at the lake.

“Normally, hungry fish are easier to catch,” he says.

Gustaveson provides the following tips to help you catch fish at
one of Utah’s best and most popular fishing waters:

Striped bass

Gustaveson says threadfin shad-the main food source for stripers
in the lake-are low in number this year.

In the past, low numbers of threadfin shad meant fast action for
anglers as hungry striped bass aggressively went after their baits
and lures. But the appearance of gizzard shad-which have
established themselves across the lake-has changed that scenario a
bit.

“We have a lot of large gizzard shad in the lake right now,”
Gustaveson says. “They’ll produce more young as the water warms in
the spring.”

Gustaveson says some areas of the lake will have good numbers of
shad. In other spots, the shad will be scarce and the stripers
hungry.

Areas that have good shad populations are keeping some striper
schools near the backs of the canyons where the shad are. This is
slowing the wholesale movement of stripers to the main channel.

In areas that have fewer shad, the stripers are hanging out
along canyon walls. Bait fishing should be good for these hungry
fish:

If you want to fish for stripers that are feeding on shad, troll
in the backs of canyons.

Hungry schools that aren’t feeding on shad are found in the area
where each canyon intersects with the main channel. In these areas,
using anchovy bait can be a very effective way to catch lots of
stripers.

As spring progresses, stripers will leave the canyons and
congregate in large schools in the main channel. These schools
should respond readily to bait and chumming.

“Hot spots will become apparent as schools leave the backs of
the canyons and move towards the main channel,” he says.

In the past, main channel areas near the dam, the power plant
intake and Navajo Canyon have provided great fishing for bait
anglers in April and May.

In the Bullfrog area, Moki Wall, Halls Creek and Lake Canyon should
be fishing hotspots this year.

In the upper lake, Gustaveson recommends Red Canyon and Good Hope
Bay as good places to start your Lake Powell fishing adventure in
2011.

Gustaveson says adult stripers have a tough time when there
isn’t much food to eat. “Younger, faster, stronger juvenile
stripers are better at seeking out the limited number of shad that
are available,” he says.

“Young stripers should grow quickly while old adults will be
widely harvested in the spring,” he says. “By the time spring is
over, adult stripers will have faded out of the picture for this
year.”

Largemouth bass and crappie

If you enjoy fishing for largemouth bass or crappie, 2011 is the
year to fish at Lake Powell. Gustaveson says the lake level has
been fluctuating within a narrow zone that has good, brushy
habitat. That habitat has increased largemouth bass and crappie
populations to numbers not seen since the “good old days.”

“It appears that the lake level in 2011 will again allow bass
and crappie to share submerged brush habitat zones with the shad
and the sunfish that the bass and crappie prey on,” he says.

To find largemouth bass or crappie, look for brush-ringed
shallows at the back and along the shallow edges of many of the
canyons.

Gustaveson says good numbers of crappie are found in thick brush
at remote locations near Hite, the upper San Juan River arm and the
Escalante.

To catch crappie, pull your boat into the brushy thickets. Then
fish crappie jigs straight up and down in the brush.

Gustaveson says largemouth bass will have one more banner year
at the lake before the brush gets old and decays. “This may be the
last great year for largemouth bass at Lake Powell,” he says. “Make
sure you visit the reservoir and take advantage of the
opportunity.”

Smallmouth bass and walleye

If you’re after smallmouth bass or walleye, fish in rocky areas
that don’t have much brush. Gustaveson says you can find smallmouth
along most of the rocky shoreline at the lake. “But the average
size of a smallmouth bass will be smaller this year because most of
the forage in the lake is hiding in the brush zone,” he says.
“That’s an area smallmouth bass don’t utilize.”

Gustaveson says walleye are larger in size and more numerous in
the lake upstream from Bullfrog to Hite. Walleye are easiest to
catch in May, after they’ve completed their spawn and the warming
water temperature increases their metabolism.

“When those things happen,” he says, “walleye in the lake will
be active all day long.”

Channel catfish

Channel catfish are abundant and are readily caught all summer
long.

Techniques for various areas

A variety of fish will be available this year along most of the
lake’s shoreline:

If you’re fishing in brushy water, use weedless baits that can
bounce off tree limbs without snagging.

On open, rocky structure that doesn’t have brush, use
bottom-bouncing plastic jigs and spoons for best results.

Gustaveson says trolling works when your lure runs just deep enough
to tick submerged tree tops where walleye, bass and stripers are
searching for food.

Gustaveson also reminds you that Lake Powell is a deep lake.
“Deeper trolling techniques, like down riggers and leaded line,
allow lures to be presented down deep where stripers hold and
rest,” he says.

In early summer, the shad grow large enough to get the adult game
fish excited. “When that happens, top-water lures are best,” he
says.

Learn more

Gustaveson says 2011 will be remembered for the wide variety of
fish caught at myriad places on Lake Powell, using a broad array of
tackle and techniques.

For that reason, it’s more important than ever to stay updated
on what’s happening at the lake. You can do that by reading the
updated Lake Powell fishing reports at www.wayneswords.com.

“Weekly fishing reports and daily angler reports are posted here
so newly arriving anglers can catch fish in the same spots
successful anglers just left,” Gustaveson says.

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