‘The time is now’ at Lake Powell

Vikki Berrera of Phoenix, Arizona, displays a walleye caught recently near Lake Powell’s Moki Canyon. Walleye fishing will get even better in May, said Wayne Gustaveson. His secret to success: Tip a plastic jig with a live worm to target walleyes.

The best tip I know about fishing Lake Powell is this: When Wayne Gustaveson says “the time is now,” drop everything and go.

Gustaveson is the long-time (30-plus years) fisheries biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources who likely knows more about the 186-mile long lake than anyone around.

He used those long-awaited words this week in his regular Lake Powell fishing update and suddenly there’s no reason not to pile into the car and head west, where some of the best fishing of the year awaits.

The key to spring fishing at Lake Powell is water temperature and it takes only a few warm days, expected to arrive this weekend, to warm up the 186-mile long impoundment.

There’s a lot of water running into Lake Powell now and a lot more yet to come, especially after last weekend’s round of storms and cool weather delayed runoff.

Gustaveson said the lake is rising 18 inches week, most of that water coming down the Colorado River.

The reservoir as of Wednesday was at currently at 3,577 feet elevation, about 123 feet below full pool (3,700 elevation), and is expected to rise to around 3,620 feet elevation, Gustaveson said.

“The most I’ve seen Lake Powell rise is 18 inches in one day,” he said in a recent email. “We don’t have that kind of monster snowpack but I expect the reservoir to rise another 40 feet.”

Although rising water is good because it covers brush and provides cover and spawning areas for bass and crappie, it adds to the complexity of fishing.

Runoff inflow “puts some stain in the water and reduces visibility,” Gustaveson said. “Heavy mud (chocolate milk color) makes it difficult to catch fish, while light murky water is great.”

As water temperatures warm from the present 55-60 degrees, bass and crappie move to the nests for spawning.

The encroaching water levels and discoloration challenge the angler when it comes to spotting fish on nests and even re-locating nests seen a day or two earlier.

“Search rocky structure with drop-offs near shore for best results,” Gustaveson suggested.

It won’t take long for water to cover the Castle Rock Cut at the south end of the lake. This shortcut substantially shortens the trip up and downriver and Gustaveson expects the Cut, which has been deepened to allow easier passage, to be open by Memorial Day.

As the days continue to lengthen and the air heats up, so will the fishing, Gustaveson said.

“Fishing in May at Lake Powell will be at the spring peak,” he said. “You can use a fly rod, troll, cast, or fish bait to catch all the species that swim here. The right time is now.”

More information at http://www.wayneswords.com.


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