After a strong spring fishing season, summer is expected to bring even better angling conditions to Lake Powell.
According to Wayne Gustaveson, Lake Powell project leader for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Carbon County fisherman heading to Powell in the upcoming months can look forward to good days on the lake.
"Fishing success this spring at Lake Powell was some of the best in recent memory," he commented. "Striped bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and catfish were in great physical shape, with all species being bigger, fatter and stronger. All game species were enjoying the afterglow of a huge shad forage fish crop in 2003."
He continued, "Now attention is shifted to the new shad crop just being spawned. Another banner shad year will be unprecedented. If, in fact, shad survive at a high rate, then bass and stripers will grow to the next level. These prospects are almost scary. Stripers and smallmouth exist in very high numbers. If they grow larger still, then fishing success at Lake Powell would rival or outclass any fishing hole in America."
He said this year will most likely be a decent shad year, but there will not an abundance of shad. Game fish will then maintain their current good size and condition. Fewer shad than last year will make game fish hungrier and easier to catch. The end result will be some of the finest fishing ever experienced in scenic Lake Powell, Gustaveson noted.
Anglers should expect a short lull in catching during early June as water levels and temperatures rise. Summer will bring stability and better fishing. Then shad will grow and move out of the muddy water in the backs of canyons and coves to open water, where game fish will "boil" as they trap the new shad crop on the surface. Small shad are poor swimmers, so early boils will be little more than a "slurp" as yearling stripers line up, shoulder-to-shoulder, and swim with open mouths as they mow the shad crop from the surface, Gustaveson indicated.
As shad grow larger, then adult stripers join the fray and swim faster and work harder to keep shad schools boxed in. These boils will be more violent and easier for anglers to find. Stripers drive shad schools against shore where smallmouth bass and walleye wait, with open mouths, for the striper train to arrive. Expect boils to occur very early each morning. Gustaveson said this will be the most common method of finding bass and stripers this summer.
When stripers boil, they can be most effectively caught with surface lures, such as Zara Spooks and Jumpin' Minnows. When not actively boiling, open-water stripers can be located by trolling Shad Raps, Wally Divers and Thundersticks across the ends of prominent points. Smallmouth bass feed near rocky structure, Gustaveson pointed out.
The best rocks are those with a shad school close by. Catch bass on plastic tubes and grubs. White and silver plastic baits will work when shad are present. During the day, bass eat crayfish and can be caught on green- and brown-colored plastic lures, he said.
Anchovy bait has not worked well lately. Abundant shad have stripers craving only live fish. The exception is at night when plankton, shad and stripers can be attracted by a floating light. Then night-feeding stripers may inhale anchovy bait fished at 40 to 60 feet. Night fishing lets anglers avoid the daytime heat and crowds. Some of the largest catches of stripers are taken at night during the summer months, Gustaveson asserted.
There is a favored lake location for [the] best summer fishing. Last year, stripers began boiling in Bullfrog Bay and continued for most of the summer. The year before, it was at Hite. Angler reports will soon pinpoint the epicenter of activity.
Those reports will be compiled on www.wayneswords.com, where current information can be found for planning an upcoming fishing trip.