Subtle changes in techniques make fishing trip a successs
Lake Elevation: 3,651 asl
Water Temperature: 67-72 F
PAGE, Ariz. – Oct. 20: The armor plating worn by most game fish this fall is finally starting to tarnish. There are a few chinks now apparent that can be exploited by anglers willing to meet bass and stripers on their own terms. Subtle changes in techniques and timing can turn a fishing trip into a success when resorting to normally fishing logic may result in failure. Here are some suggestions.
Stripers in the main lake have ONLY been active in the evening. Chasing stripers all morning into the afternoon is not a good choice right now. This will likely change as the moon darkens completely but since full moon the only noticeable striper activity is found at dusk.
Stripers currently hold somewhere near the brush line that rings the lake during the day. I have not been able to locate the holding spot. If they could be found at depth then this report may be different. My guess is they lay on the bottom at the edge of the deep brush where it is difficult to distinguish fish on the graph. Then as the afternoon light fades, stripers move into the shallow brush to attack shad for the evening meal.
They may feed individually or as a group. We did see a nice 10-minute boil this week right at sunset. The surface action started right on shore in 2 feet of water and then proceeded out through the brush ring to perhaps 15 feet before dissipating. No boil was seen the next night at the same location but individual and small groups of stripers fed at the same location and could be caught sporadically on deep diving cranks (Norman Deep Little N), and rattletraps (blue and chrome). Surface lures drew a swirl and then the fish could be caught by following up with a rattletrap in the same spot. Be prepared to snag up often as all the action is right in the shallow brush.
In the upper San Juan and at Hite action is different as stripers can be caught trolling throughout the day. Look upstream toward the bridge for best action. Boils are not really happening but quick striper surface flashes are often seen. These stripers are more likely caught trolling or spooning but their splash gives reference to their location making fish easier to find.
Bass fishing is really quite good when the bait is presented properly. Standard reaction techniques such as dropping a single tail grub to the bottom does not work as well as placing the same grub on a Carolina or drop shot rig. Most effective baits have been smoke sparkle, green pumpkin or watermelon colored single tail grubs. The best drop shot bait by far is the Yamamoto shad shaped worm. Bass seem to want the bait to be suspended just off the bottom and it should remain motionless for as long as possible. It is hard for me to fish slowly enough to be an effective bass angler right now. I hope others have more patience.
Fishing the bait directly below the boat in 15 feet of water and only moving it when necessary catches more fish and keeps the bait from climbing into a tree. The best location is half way back in the canyon where a short deep water cut offers fish a little more depth but still provides the brush forest they favor. Small bass can be caught throughout the day. Larger bass enjoy the same schedule as stripers. As evening approaches big large and smallmouth bass begin feeding in the brush where they have spent the day. Big bass hold tight in really thick cover. They come out of their closet to feed and then retreat into the woodwork once more. The last hour of daylight is prime time for both quality bass and stripers this week.