Forecaster: When Lake Powell warms, fishing will be fine

With the 2012 fishing already a month under way, Utah fisheries biologist Wayne Gustaveson has forecast anglers may find this year the best in a decade at Lake Powell. Largemouth bass, stripers and walleye are being caught now, with smallmouth bass and crappie predicted to start hitting in April and May.

That Sunday afternoon snow-and-rain squall sending early season gardeners scurrying into the house also was setting back the Lake Powell fishing season a few days.

Prior to the weekend, fishermen plying the 186-mile-long impoundment a few hours west of the Grand Valley had been enjoying an early spring, with sunny skies and temperatures reaching into the 70s during the past week or so.

It seemed the fishing was just about to break out of the winter doldrums when the weekend cold front swept into the region.

The wind and snow accompanying Sunday’s storm was enough to send surface water temperatures dropping and gave the lake’s stripers, bass and walleye a case of lockjaw.

“As always happens in the spring, cold fronts erase the warming as water returns to the base temperature after windy conditions or a cold night,” said longtime Lake Powell fisheries biologist Wayne Gustaveson of Page, Ariz. “We should see the fishing improve again as soon as the weather warms up.”

Gustaveson, who has seen Lake Powell’s fishing fortunes rise and fall along with the lake’s water level, has built his reputation not only through his much-respected insights, but with his angler-friendly website,, and the accompanying weekly fishing forecast.

The website is an absolute compendium of facts and knowledge about Lake Powell’s fisheries and many anglers figure winter is about over when that first fishing forecast of spring arrives in their email inbox.

Gustaveson began this year’s round of forecasts a week earlier than usual, because of a wedding trip he had planned and because, well, the fishing started earlier than usual.

“I started a week early because the fishing was good and I was going to be gone during the first week of March when I usually start,” he said. “I wanted to get that one pattern out to the public so they would know what to expect for early season success.”

Revealing that one time-specific pattern — slow trolling a suspending jerkbait around and through the submerged trees — is typical of Gustaveson’s desire to share his knowledge of the lake with as many anglers as possible.

Subsequent reports have divulged other patterns and techniques Gustaveson and other anglers recently used to success.

“My goal is to share as much information as I can to make it easy for anglers to catch fish,” said Gustaveson, who manages the Lake Powell fisheries for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “I’ve found that by giving anglers specific fishing information they can harvest more fish, specifically striped bass, and keep the fishery in balance, which improves fishing success for all species.”

With the cold front moving on and warm weather back in the immediate forecast, Gustaveson said anglers should find fishing success improving daily.

“Once the water starts warming, it’s crucial to fish when the water is warming instead of after a front when cooling has occurred,” he advised.

Thanks to a couple of good years of spawning success for many species but particularly the shad forage base, Gustaveson predicted this year’s fishing might be better than normal.

“The potential for good quality fish is the best it has been in a decade,” he said. “We’re usually talking about the quantity of fish caught at Powell while this year we will be talking about quality first and quantity second.”

He said anglers now are focusing on three species: largemouth bass, walleye and stripers. Other species, including smallmouth bass and crappie, will become more active as the water warms to 55 degrees and over in April and May.

“This will be a great year,” said Gustaveson, and he certainly should know.

The weekly Lake Powell fishing reports can be seen at


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