Don’t get spoiled; trophy stripers worthy of respect

Shane Spravzoff of Flagstaff, Ariz., displays a nice smallmouth bass caught from Padre Bay at Lake Powell. Bass fishing is picking up in the southern lake and should get better through October and remain good in November. Lake Powell fish are growing much heavier each day as the lake now has ideal conditions for fish growth.

Lake Elevation: 3,652 asl
Water Temperature 74-75 F

PAGE, Ariz. – Water temperature is poised to fall now that cool weather is here.  But as this report was written it remains at 75 degrees where it has been for the past few weeks.  The warm weather through the end of September has not allowed much change in fishing conditions or results so for one more week fishing remains tough, more so in the southern lake than the north.

It is evident now that more than warm weather is responsible for current fishing conditions. The greater cause is abundant forage and a wide band of brushy habitat. Conditions for fish are perfect.  They have plenty to eat, lots of places to hang out, and little need to chase down plastic lures when real food fish are close at hand. Perfect conditions for fish translate to poor conditions for anglers to catch fish.

This pause in fishing success should give us time to contemplate the future of angling at Lake Powell. We have become accustomed to catching stripers as fast as fish can be caught on rod and reel.  We are really spoiled with past results and our expectations are not met when only a few stripers are caught on a fishing trip.  We need an attitude adjustment concerning striped bass.

When was the last time you caught a 4-pound bass, walleye, or trout?  That event is well remembered and documented.  Yet 4-pound stripers are caught often and not held in the same regard with other fish.  The reason is stripers are plentiful in Powell and often declining in physical condition when forage is getting low.  But all of those conditions are now reversed.  Stripers are getting large and packing on the weight.  The few fish being caught now are strong fighters and perfect specimens. The next striper you catch may be a trophy.  Each fish now will provide a strong fight and is worthy to be a wall-hanging trophy.  Savor the fish caught this fall and next spring as they will be trophy fish and should be viewed with that respect.

Right now there are quick boils occurring near Hite.  There is lots of fishing pressure making it tough to catch boiling stripers. Trolling works lake wide anywhere a few stripers are seen feeding on top.  Lucky Craft deep-diving pointers are the best flat line trolling baits but shad raps and other shad imitating baits that run at 10-15 feet are running a close second.  Leaded line (Stump jumpers) and downriggers are a better bet as they can deliver all lures to the exact depth where stripers are seen on the graph.

Stripers are still missing-in-action on the southern lake.  A few stripers are caught but most of them are caught while fishing for other species. The best fishing pattern is to target long points extending into the main channel or bay.  Brushy flats in the backs of canyons are often good. In both cases cast rattletraps (lipless vibrating lures) across the point or flat and speed reel it back. Fat fish are reacting to something swimming right past their nose instead of searching for food.  There is plenty to eat now so try to make the fish react to your bait to get a quick hookup.  Bass fishing is heating up in the south now.  Most surface feeding action seen now involves smallmouth boiling off points and flats.  Occasionally stripers are caught while buzzing baits across the brush tops.

More stripers are being caught fishing at night under lights than during the day.  Suspend a light at dusk which will draw plankton and shad.  Stripers will gather later under the shad school. Fish with bait in deep water (50+ feet) under the light to catch nocturnal feeding stripers. The next report will talk about lower water temperature and higher catch rates.  Can’t wait!


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