March 2006

Lake Powell angling is like fishing two separate lakes.

Wayne Gustavesen and a fresh catchSTRIPER SAGE -- Here Gustavesen is shown enjoying the results of another successful day of fishing.

Photo and Story by Wayne Gustavesen

Lake Elevaation: 3593
Water Temperature: 47-50

The northern lake is typical for late winter, with challenging fishing for most species. Forage was abundant last fall.

Fish are fat and have gone dormant for the winter. There is very sparse catching during daylight, with stripers providing more action at night under fish-attracting lights.

The southern lake, accessed from Wahweap or Antelope Point, is the place to be. Forage was scarce last fall, and stripers are hungry, making them vulnerable to anglers. Two patterns are working well.

First, stripers are cruising main channel canyon walls from the dam to Navajo Canyon. Best catches have come from the barricade line in front of Glen Canyon Dam.

Tie the boat to the west side of the barricade line and cast anchovy pieces on a small jig head toward the wall. Chum often.

Stripers usually hit as the bait is sinking. If no fish are caught within an hour, try a different location.

The power plant intake, Antelope Canyon, and Navajo Canyon have produced many stripers when fish are located in the channel as they are now.

Second, some striper schools and individual fish are still in the backs of the canyons from Warm Creek to Rock Creek. Schools hold at 25 feet and make periodic sojourns into the very shallowest water.

Canyons with sandy beaches where aquatic weeds and sunken tumbleweeds are emerging are the best spots. Small sunfish hiding in the weeds are vulnerable to predators as the weeds dry up.

Use suspending crank baits fished with a stop-and-go retrieve for best results. In very shallow water, a rattletrap fished along the bottom is effective.

Walleye, smallmouth and largemouth bass are taking advantage of the displaced bluegill as weeds dry up. Fish the same suspending crankbaits and rattletraps near emerging brush piles and aquatic weeds to catch a variety of predators guarding the cover for a chance to eat a small fish.

Fishing in the main channel of the lower lake is going to be good all spring. Stripers are not finding shad forage in the back of the canyon as they have the past 3 winters. Without shad, they move to the channel following current as water flows through the dam.

This fishing is reminiscent of the early years when many learned to fish for stripers using bait. The good old days are here again. Expect bait fishing for stripers to be good for the next 2 months.

Glen Canyon dam is the closest and easiest fishing spot to find. The prime spot is along the west wall near barricade buoys 2 through 4. A shallow ledge attracts stripers to the spot while the remaining wall is sheer cliff.

The drawback is that only a few boats can cast to the small ledge. If the prime spot is taken, look for other rockslides or terraces along the wall that may attract fish.

The NGS power Plant intake creates current and will attract stripers. Sloping rock points in the main channel, Navajo, Antelope canyons, and the mouth of Warm Creek will produce a large number of stripers to bait anglers this spring.

If one spot is not working try the others to locate a personal school of stripers. There will be an abundance of fish caught this spring in the southern lake.

Use a small leadhead jig or circle hook with a light weight to let the bait settle slowly to 20 to 60 feet. Cut the anchovy into one-inch chunks. Put one on the hook and throw two in the water for chum.

Other game species are being caught sporadically but the main action is for stripers drawn to current. Best fishing is in the south with only fair fishing for all species in northern Lake Powell.

At press time, the advice was, if planning a lake trip now, go south for better fishing; the lake elevation was at 3592, and the water temperature was 47-50 F.

No one knows where and how to catch stripers in the Lake Powell area better than Wayne Gustavesen, who guides anglers with his words every week at