August 2007

Lake Powell: An Amazing Fishery

By Wayne Gustaveson                     

Dark moon and afternoon monsoon winds have turned up the heat, causing the lake to “boil” in the early mornings.  From dawn to 8 a.m. look for surface disturbances as stripers chase shad to the top and against the canyon walls.

Shad are still small following a late hatch of threadfin, so stripers are not making a lot of commotion as they feed on tiny shad near the surface. Scan carefully to see five to 20 stripers churning the surface in a room-sized area. 

The good news is that enough bigger shad are mixed in so stripers will hit a full-sized Super Spook or other big topwater bait. Cast the big bait long and far to the quickly moving school before it gets out of range. 

A topwater bait pulled through the surface feeding school will get hit repeatedly by the 14-20-inch schooling stripers. Follow the diving school to the bottom with a spoon to prolong catching while waiting for stripers to resurface.

I am changing over to braided line with the topwater reaction bait tied directly to the braided line.  Boiling fish are not fussy and will hit surface lures while on the surface, despite the visible line.

Braided line is very strong so fish and lures are not lost to breakage in the intensity of a boil. Fish not caught up in a boil will avoid lures on visible line. Have two rods ready with different line to be able to use both techniques when necessary. 

The very best place to be is at Hite where it is still possible to launch a fishing boat on the primitive “ramp.” Wood and debris is less of a factor now with the lake declining.

Motor downstream at planing speed in the early morning while scanning for fish. Stop near the boil without running through or disturbing the feeding fish.

Boils are quick. Probably only two fish can be caught from each. But, many boils are happening, so on a good, calm morning 30 fish can readily be taken from 15 different stops. 

Sometimes it is possible to keep up with retreating schools with a trolling motor, but a school across the bay is best approached with a quick burst from the big motor.   
About two to three hours after daylight, boils cease and fish head to the bottom. Near Hite, trolling will work on resting stripers.

In the main lake it’s time to dig out the anchovy bait and fish from 40-60 feet in the general area where fish were seen boiling in the morning. Chumming with finely cut anchovies is a great way to get the school started.

Keep the boat over the chum for best results. If no stripers hit bait after 15 minutes, try a different location.  
Bass feed with the stripers on top in the morning. Then they go down to 20-25 feet to beat the heat. Fishing plastic bait dropped straight down to the 20-foot contour along the edge of reefs and points is still very effective for bass.

Lake Powell has many mouths to feed, and forage is at a premium.  Fishing is quite good for hungry fish even in the 80-degree water of midsummer. This fishery is truly amazing. .

At press time, lake elevation was 3,609, and water temperature was 81-85F.