Lake Powell ready for another season

Brett Hepworth and his family from Cedar City, Utah, capped their President’s Day weekend trip with a seven-pound striper from Wahweap Bay. The youngest girl, Whitni, caught the biggest fish.


Lake Elevation: 3,575

Water Temperature: 50-53 F

PAGE, Ariz. — Weather is warming, trees are budding in the high desert, and it’s time to start thinking about fishing and what to expect from Lake Powell in 2014.

The lake’s elevation has dipped to 3,575 feet, the lowest point since 2005. With the precipitation falling this winter in the Colorado River drainage, we can expect the lake to reach 3,600 or perhaps a bit more.

The old brush line came out of the water when the lake dropped below 3,604 mean sea level. If the lake exceeds that level, the inundated brush will provide cover for bass, crappie and shad.

Unfortunately, bass and crappie spawning occurs in late April and May when the lake will be below the brush line. This means the young fish that use brush for cover will see minimal survival.

Smallmouth bass, walleye and striped bass, all of which are more keyed to rocky structures, will have good production, but their population density will depend on how many shad are produced.

Overall, fish numbers are down, with largemouth and crappie taking the biggest hit.

There are some adults, but there have been few young fish recruited to the various fish populations that anglers seek.

The bright spot for shallow shoreline fishing will be smallmouth bass. They rely on rocky structure for protection and crayfish for nutrition. In the current brushless, low-lake conditions, smallmouth bass will be the fish to pursue from March to June.

Smallmouth bass will be found most often between the green and murky water sections created by wind or wave action in the back of each canyon. Then, look at the rock structure in the green/murky zone and fish on the shady side of the rock. Yes, I said it was going to be subtle. 

Walleye also will be on the shady side of rocks in the muddy/green zone, but they feed best just before first light and after sunset.

Striped bass were literally jumping in the boat last year, looking for the last anchovy in the bait bucket. Now that huge population of adults has been replaced by young offspring.

Young stripers will feed on the surface and chase shad. Boils may happen in summer, but in the spring look in the backs of main canyons in the colored water.

Troll shallow, midrange and deep runners to find fish. The best trolling lures the past few years were Lucky Craft Pointers, Glass Shad Raps and Storm Deep Thundersticks. It’s good to have an assortment of lures, but the real key point when trolling is to locate the fish holding zone.

Many times stripers can be caught at exactly the same spot while all of the water in the immediate vicinity of the “sweet spot” seems fishless.

Lake Powell is so big it takes a fishing village to understand it. We invite you to share your insights at


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