September 2007

These Stripers Can Take ‘The Heat’

Looking Back And Looking Ahead

By Wayne Gustaveson

HIS FIRST! -- Ten-year-old Brody Gilbert with his dad Keith Gilbert (Arroyo Grande, Calif.), proudly display Brody's first Lake Powell striper. Father and son caught plenty of bass, sunfish, catfish, and stripers on a five-day houseboat trip to Oak Canyon near midlake.

Water temperature is at the summer peak with sheltered coves registering over 90 degrees during afternoon heat.  The main lake is holding at 82 F which is pretty warm for fish.  They adjust by going deeper.

Some species can tolerate the warm surface water.  Surprisingly, largemouth bass like the heat particularly when in the shade of a tree or bush.  One interesting report had largemouth bass in the shade of the tamarisk tree line on the San Juan waiting for big desert grasshoppers to fall and land on the water.

Topwater fishing under that line of trees was great.    

Juvenile stripers can stand the heat.  They feed on tiny shad that are basking in the plankton-rich warm surface layers to avoid predators that need cooler water.

Every morning and evening stripers up to 20 inches round up shad and drive them to the surface where feeding is intense for a brief moment.  These boils are happening at random times and places throughout the lake, but the most consistent boils are found from Good Hope Bay upstream and from Piute Canyon upstream on the San Juan.
Dry Rock Creek, Navajo, mouth of West Canyon are usually good for a quick morning boil.  Surface action ceases after 8 a.m. although a random boil can occur anytime — any place.

Smallmouth are not put off by warm water.  They just drop down a few feet with rambunctious juveniles anxious to eat, residing at 10-15 feet and larger adults down at 20-30 feet. If snorkeling around camp, smallmouth can be teased into visual range by simply tapping on a rock with another rock. 
Curious fish come to see what the noise is about.  My guess is that tapping a big heavy lure would attract bass which could then be caught with a trailing plastic grub.  Try this and let me know how it works.

If it really works I will take credit; if not, I disavow all knowledge for even suggesting it!

Anchovy fishing for stripers continues to be beyond belief. Adult stripers have gone deeper — some as deep as a 100 feet. Anchovy chum gets a school going and they just keep feeding as long as the bait continues to fall.

Stripers are also shallow — particularly the very common yearlings from 14-20 inches. Find morning boils and then concentrate fishing in those areas through the day and into the night. Bait looks good to hungry fish with a high metabolic rate from living in warm water.

Green lights attract plankton, bait and predators in the cool night hours.  Night fishing near Hite and upper San Juan will leave little time for enjoying the meteor shower going on in the dark sky.

But, glance up occasionally after taking a fish off the hook to get a complete Lake Powell experience.  There will be time to sleep when the vacation is over.
At press time, lake elevation was 3,606, and water temperature was 82-90F.