Biologist: ‘Fish are grinning at Lake Powell’

Lake Powell angler Raquell Dibble shows the excitement of fishing at Lake Powell. This year’s spring forecast is calling for water levels to rise in the lake, creating better habitat for fish.

Most of us still have snow piled in the shady spots on our lawns and that has Wayne Gustaveson smiling.

The veteran Lake Powell fisheries biologist is eager to spread the word that fishing conditions at the reservoir this summer likely will be some of the best in recent years.

Water levels in the reservoir, which dropped substantially during the long drought starting in 2000, are expected to rebounded a bit thanks to plenty of snow in the upper Colorado River basin.

“A modest increase would allow the lake to lap at the remaining layer of green brush that has been growing on the lake shore since 2002 when the lake declined due to drought,” Gustaveson said.

The effect of having all that drowned brush along the normally barren and rocky shoreline creates more living space and shelter for all fish, he said.

“It has been a long road back but the journey has really been worth it,” Gustaveson said.

Secondly, there are plenty of forage fish, including both threadfin shad and gizzard shad, to provide sustenance for countless predators, he said.

But easy pickings for fish doesn’t always mean easy fishing for anglers.

“Anglers will have to adapt to be successful,” Gustaveson cautioned.

Largemouth bass will stick to the brushy areas, forcing anglers to cast lures into thickets and between underwater tree limbs.

“If this is new to some anglers, they will have to invest in spinnerbaits or weedless lures,” Gustaveson said. “Or learn to embed the hook inside a plastic bait, allowing it to swim through tree branches without hanging up.”

Smallmouth bass should be plentiful, but this year they may be found more in the open water, chasing the abundant shad.

The most-abundant game fish, striped bass, “are fat and constantly chasing shad,” Gustaveson reported.

“Fat stripers will be in the backs of the canyons near shad schools,” he said, and advised anglers to cover lots of water while trolling deep-diving baits.

“Each time a fish is caught, stop the boat and try casting, spooning or bait fishing to increase the catch. If the school moves on then troll again to relocate them,” he said.

Walleye and crappie will be bonus fish this year, Gustaveson said, with the best walleye fishing predicted for April 15 to May 15 in the upper lake.

“Fish are grinning at Lake Powell,” he said. “All of the little necessities for successful fish life are perfect.”


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