Rising water levels and temps good omens for Lake Powell
If you haven’t been looking, Lake Powell is rising.
The elevation as of Thursday was 3,583 feet (full is considered 3,700 feet) and going up about six inches per day.
It’s the highest Lake Powell has been in six months, and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries biologist Wayne Gustaveson says the “lake looks refreshed” with water covering previously bare shoreline vegetation.
“The rejuvenation is needed as low water over the past two years has changed how fish do business,” Gustaveson said in his latest “Wayne’s Words” fishing report. “Largemouth bass and crappie need brush to protect newly hatched fry and also to provide housing for adult fish unaccustomed to traveling the bank to find food.”
Gustaveson said bass searching the shoreline for food often spend more energy searching than they gain by eating.
The rising water level and warmer water temperatures (around 62 to 65 degrees) provide food, in the form of spawning shad, and shelter, in the form of underwater brush.
Gustaveson said the warming water is moving smallmouth bass onto open-water reefs, where they can be caught on plastic baits or crank baits fished on top of the reefs.
“Larger fish are in deeper water, near the breaking edge of reefs where small fish are found,” he said.
Walleyes are being caught on plastic grubs, especially those tipped with a live night crawler, fished in the backs of canyons and coves on a bottom bouncer and worm harness.
Gustaveson said walleye are more numerous in the northern half of the lake.
“Look for wind-induced mud lines near long points dropping into deep water,” Gustaveson suggested. “Murky to muddy water coves are great walleye spots in the month of May.”
Dropping water levels in recent years killed off brush needed by shad, which are the primary food of striped bass.
Subsequent depletions of the striped-bass population are more noticeable in the southern lake, Gustaveson said.
Near the inflow, more shad survived the winter, he said.
Trolling remains the best technique for finding randomly scattered stripers found in the backs of most canyons where water depth is near 25 feet and water color is murky.
Gustaveson suggested watching the electronic graph for fish concentrations and then throwing a floating marker where fish traces are most dense.
“When a fish is caught trolling, cast lures or drop spoons in the area to catch trailing stripers,” he said. “Finally, when trolling and spooning quit producing, return to the marker, chum with anchovies and catch more fish from the same area.
“This multipurpose fishing process is quite effective and will provide good numbers of stripers at the end of the day,” Gustaveson said.