Early December southeastern Utah fishing report
Some mountain reservoirs have iced over. Others remain open. Ice conditions can vary from day to day. Snow over the ice and warm water underneath causes ice to rot. Presently, ice conditions are potentially life-threatening. Anglers are advised to wait a week or two. When you do take your first ice fishing trip, please fish with a buddy. Take along rope and a floatation device. Each angler should carry his own set of ice picks for self-rescue.
Huntington North State Park. Aquatics personnel conducted a creel survey last Saturday. Fishing success was slow for 12-inch rainbow trout, using worms or PowerBait.
Mammoth Reservoir. The ice sheet lays under two inches of water and six inches of snow. Aquatics Biologist Justin Hart warns anglers that ice conditions are dangerous. Please wait for thicker and safer ice. Closed to the possession of cutthroat trout.
Joes Valley Reservoir. The reservoir opens to fishing on Dec. 9.
Lake Powell. Winds and arctic cold temperatures have caused the lake surface temperature to drop two degrees in two days.The wind is still blowing meaning more rapid cooling.
This unusual rapid temperature drop signals the imminent arrival of "turnover". Lake Powell will lose thermal stratification this week as the upper hundred feet of water mixes and becomes the same temperature throughout. The deepest part of the lake (deeper than 200 feet) does not mix every year so there is still a distinction between water layers. This type of mixing pattern is referred to as "warm meromictic", meaning the water layers do not mix all the way to the bottom.
Most meromictic lakes have no oxygen on the bottom during summer stratified.When turnover occurs fish are able to range into the newly oxygenated water layers and travel through a larger portion of the lake. The phenomenon is marked by an increase in feeding activity. That is not the case in Lake Powell where oxygen is normally present throughout the water column in all seasons.
So turnover here does not have the same significance to anglers that is common in some other waters. At Lake Powell it just means that the water got colder and warm water fish have slowed down.
Expect slower fishing in most of the lake with the exception of White Canyon. The abundance of hungry game fish and forage make it likely that fishing will continue to be very good near Hite.Colder temperatures and storm fronts will cause all fish to descend deeper in the water column. Those that have been successfully trolling near White Canyon with shallow running Lucky Craft baits will now find it better to use deeper diving lures. Norman 'suspending' Little N's and other deep divers that troll about 20 feet deep will now catch more fish than those trolling the upper 10 feet.
It is still possible to launch at the gravel ramp near the historical site of the floating Hite marina. (See launch ramp page on www.wayneswords.com for details). A short boat ride to White Canyon makes for a great fishing trip. Stripers are the most common fish to catch but fat walleye and big crappie will hit the full size deep diving lures.
Over the rest of the lake expect slower fishing. "Slower" at Powell means catching only 20 fish instead of 100 when fishing for stripers.
As fish are stressed from poor forage conditions they cannot rest, and have to keep searching for food. It will be common to find schools of stripers searching for food in shallow water all winter long. Cast a topwater chugger or slow rolling spinner bait in shallow flood plains at the back of the canyon and around grass beds and tumbleweed piles. Locate a school of stripers and catch lots of fish in a short time. When they quit hitting artificial lures break out the anchovies and catch more fish.
Keep all the stripers caught to help balance the game fish with limited forage.
Winter fishing will be much better this year than in the past.
LaSal Mountains. All mountain reservoirs are frozen.
Scofield Reservoir. Ice forms along the shoreline at night, making bank fishing difficult. The Madsen Bay boat dock remains open, but the Mountain View dock has closed. It's difficult to predict when ice-over will occur, but Aquatics Manager Paul Birdsey says that Christmas is a good target date.