Warming trend keys bass spawn at Lake Powell
Lake Elevation: 3,609 asl
Water Temperature: 51-57 degrees F
PAGE, Ariz. – The aquatic tension in Lake Powell is reaching critical mass. Days are getting longer. Water temperature warms in the afternoon only to crash back to the low 50s at night. Noticeable frowns mark the faces of impatient bass and crappie.
Spawning time is overdue and bass are getting anxious. What’s the hold up?
In reality bass spawning is right on schedule. For the past three years spawning occurred when early morning water temperature exceeded 54 degrees. This week base temperature is still 51.8 F. In 2009 and 2010 the spawn began as base water temperature rose eight degrees from April 14 to April 20. In 2008 spawning occurred a week earlier but was then halted by a cold front during the same critical week near April 20th.
This year warming is forecast to occur this weekend. Expect nest building to begin now with actual spawning occurring as soon as early morning temperature spikes. The moon watchers luck out this year as spawning will occur during full moon. That has not been the case for the past 3 years. Spawning is dictated by water temperature and not by moon beams.
The big bonus this year will be about the large size of spawning smallmouth bass. With the resurgence of largemouth bass in the brush in recent years, smallmouth have been ignored. Expect to see some very large smallmouth bass caught during the spawn.
Hopefully the current lake record of 5 pounds, 6 ounces will be broken this spring. Duration of the bass spawn will be from April 18 to May 10 with the warmest, calmest times providing the best fishing.
Striped bass are still biting well in the southern lake but they too are waiting for warming in the mid and northern lake. Hotspots include the forebay at the dam, Buoy 1 and 3 in the main channel, Antelope and Navajo Canyons. Adult stripers are present in large numbers in the channel and also in the canyons.
New regulations prohibit tying up to the barricades in front of the dam. Consider a new strategy when fishing the main channel and forebay. The current hot spot at the barricade line connecting to the west wall in front of the dam is created by consistent chumming over a time. Fish and fishermen both come to the same place.
It is possible to create other consistent fishing spots. The key ingredient is a ledge with a depth of 20-40 feet that extends into the main channel. Chum the shallow shelf above deep water and stripers will find food as they travel along the cliff wall searching for crayfish. Repeat the process and fish will return. One proven method is to chum a likely spot or two in the morning and then return in the afternoon to fish at your own private striper hot spot.
Yesterday we found stripers holding on the bottom in the back of Navajo in 33 feet of dirty water. They were reluctant to bite until we discovered that dropping a piece of anchovy on a 3/8 ounce short shanked jighead would entice fish to bite. The secret was to gently raise the bait 3 inches off bottom and then ease it back to bottom. The bite was subtle but could be detected with a sensitive rod. When the bait rising off bottom felt different, either lighter or heavier, a hook set was in order. Our catch immediately went from none to ‘every cast’ when we discovered the right technique.
Fishing is good right now but expected to get superb as bass and crappie begin to spawn.