Dog days of summer make fishing “have-nots” in southern end of Lake Powell

Austin Kimber, 14, of Delta, shows off one of the many stripers he and his family caught on a recent trip to Lake Powell. The dog days of August have made fishing a little bit harder in the southern end of Lake Powell.

Lake Elevation: 3,658 msl                        
Water Temperature 78-83 F

PAGE, Ariz. – It pains me to write this report as one of the “have-nots”. It is much better to be catching fish and telling others how to do it instead of just wishing for good fishing. The southern end of the lake, where I normally fish, is strangely quiet.

Fish of all species are difficult to catch. There is just no repeatable fish activity to build on. An occasional fish can be caught but a repeatable pattern has not been found. My best guess is that most fish, shad and stripers, are holding in deep, open water near the thermocline. The only way to properly present lures to these fish would be to troll with down riggers at a depth of 40 feet. I am not sure if that would work but it’s the only thing we haven’t tried.

So the rest of the report will be about reports received from happy anglers readily catching fish in the mid to northern lake. The very best spot on Lake Powell is “Striper City” which is the area from Hite to Trachyte Canyon. Small quick boils are found downlake as far as the Rincon.

Fishing is more challenging in the mid lake area around Bullfrog but it is much better than at Wahweap. The pattern is to see a surface disturbance and assess direction of movement. These fish will likely sound before the boat can be properly positioned to make a cast.

Instead of chasing the school, try to guess where they will resurface based on their movement. If the fish come up in casting range they can be easily caught. If the guess was wrong, look at the travel direction and try to get ahead of them for another casting opportunity. This is run-and-gun fishing but results are worth the effort.  Near Hite, schools are staying up longer and chasing them down is not such a demanding task.

Boils are found in the main channel of the San Juan near Nasja and Bald Rock Canyons. Piute Bay is quiet but we suspect the upper end of the lake near the San Juan River inflow is boiling just like Hite.

We have discovered from shad sampling that Bullfrog (average of 588) has the highest shad concentration followed closely by Good Hope Bay (462). There are 80% fewer shad at Wahweap (82) and in Piute Bay (83) on the San Juan. This difference in shad concentration obviously plays a part in striper surface activity. Now lots of shad equates to active surface feeding while fewer shad downlake means no surface activity.

Bass fishing follows the striper trend. Shad schools chased to the shoreline by stripers really get the attention of bass and other fish that eat shad as targets of opportunity. When stripers fail to chase shad then bass fishing is not as good. Crayfish have come shallow as most bass are in deeper water due to the high surface water temperature.

All these “dog-day of summer” anomalies will work themselves out in September as lake level and water temperature declines. But for now the wise anglers will “Go North” for fast fishing.


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