Conditions changing but fishing still excellent for those in the know at Lake Powell
Lake Elevation: 3,642 asl
Water Temperature: 70-75 F
PAGE, Ariz. – It’s now summer and big changes are happening. The lake level is increasing about one foot per day. Water temperature is climbing with an early morning base of 70 degrees which is the warmest water of the year. Not surprisingly fishing is changing right along with the other elements.
The biggest news is about striped bass. Bait fishing has taken a nose dive this past week. The fish cleaning station at Wahweap which used to resemble a stadium crowd during a big game is now lonely and quiet. Really this great change is more about fishermen leaving and water skiers arriving, but the end result is not many fish being processed. Bait fishing in the morning is very slow. It is not until mid day that striper schools return to the cliff walls that have produced so many great catches in previous weeks.
Stripers have found a food source in the backs of canyons and are exploiting the little shad that are now large enough to attract a major following. Slurps and small boils are seen each morning and evening. Bait fishing during midday still works because stripers return to favored holding spots after the morning foray into shallow shad water. But the savvy angler is going to chase the surface action now to reap the biggest reward.
Look for surface feeding events near locations that have produced well all spring. Good catches of stripers at Bullfrog, Halls and Lake Canyon are still correct but the location has changed. Lake Canyon mouth was previously hot for bait fishing. Now those same fish are being caught in the back of the canyon feeding on larval shad.
At Wahweap slurping action is found in Navajo, Rock Creek, Last Chance and in the main channel between buoys 28 and 32. In reality the shad – striper confrontation is happening in almost every canyon. It’s subtle and may not be recognized by those that have not seen a slurping event. The easiest explanation is to watch for a small boat wake where no boat is present. Look closely and see if fish are pushing the wall of water. If so, cast shad imitating crankbaits over and to the front of the leading fish to make contact with stripers from 12 inches to 4 pounds.
Watch this video for an idea of what to look for. http://youtu.be/gsvLbKClvfM
Bass, walleye and crappie fishing is less productive for the same reasons listed above. Topwater fishing early in the morning may be the best bet as bass are aware of the new shad crop just like stripers. Bass will drop back to the bottom (22-35 feet) after chasing shad in the early morning and evening. Use crayfish imitating (green and black) plastic lures during the day.
Since all fish are looking up and boils are often hard to approach, trolling rattletraps and Rapala flat raps may be a good way to catch a few fish while waiting for the next surface event. After the boil, drop spoons or shad imitating Gulp minnows down to 20-30 feet to pick up a few more fish.
Fishing patterns have changed dramatically with warming and filling but success is still excellent when tuned into current events.