Lake Powell Fishing Report

Lake Powell

by Wayne Gustaveson

I begin my 2021 fish reports with a warning about the low lake level. Last week I saw random rocky structures sticking out of the water that I have no recollection of seeing previously. Do not take short cuts. Stay in the middle of the main channel while traveling uplake. The backs of canyons now have sandy beaches and many sandy areas that are still under water. Go slow in the backs of canyons. Stay alert while boating in the main channel or major canyons. For those that have not kept up on the lake level, be aware that the Castle Rock Cut is closed. Launching is only possible at Wahweap Main ramp, Antelope Point private ramp, Bullfrog Executive Services ramp and Halls Crossing ramp. Be extremely careful and cautious when boating over the length of Lake Powell from Wahweap to Trachyte Canyon.

Here is what to expect as water finally starts to warm up (50 F or better): Largemouth bass are the first fish to respond in the spring. They will seek warmer water, which is often provided by vertical cliffs with southern sun exposure. The rock picks up solar heat and transmits that into water of shallow, calm coves. Check for temperature spikes and fish around brush (if possible) in the warmest water found. If no brush is available then search in murky water in the backs of canyons. Bass like spinner baits, and a variety of plastic grubs. Fish slowly along the bottom from 5-15 feet

Smallmouth bass need a bit more warming before taking off. They increase activity a couple of weeks later than largemouth. Smallmouth are more numerous and occupy rocky shorelines in a wider range of habitats. The 10-25 foot bottom contour will be the favored depth. Smallmouth will be on rocky points and ledges without regard to the occurrence of brush. Brush only becomes important when it harbors the food source. If shad are present over the submerged creek channel, then fishing location will be the rocky drop-off at the canyon edge. If bluegills are hiding in a shallow cove, expect bass to be in deeper water just out of sight at the edge of a drop off. Smallmouth bass like shad shaped worms on dropshot rigs, spinner baits, and plastic grubs.

Stripers have spent the winter in the backs of major canyons in deep water. Unfortunately, the shad supply is dwindling. There will be a few threadfin that survive and spawn during May, but the best option for hungry stripers will be gizzard shad, which spawn in late April and May. Until then stripers will be moving from deep water in the backs of canyons toward the main channel. Most of the stripers caught in the springtime will be eating anchovies. Bait fishing will be the best way to catch hungry stripers beginning in March and continuing through May until shad spawn. Warmer, shallow, turbid water in the backs of coves provides a safe haven for Gizzard shad. They are swimming in shallow water eating plankton. Many smaller bass and stripers are swimming in the shallows eating plankton and enjoying slightly warmer water. These small immature bass and stripers are fun to catch.

Walleye are just beginning to spawn. The males are ripe and off feed but the females are still eating and gearing up for spawning. Target clean rock structure to find spawning walleye aggregations. I was surprised to catch a large adult female walleye in deep open water in Gunsight Canyon while spooning for stripers last week. There are more walleye in the northern lake but the southern lake has walleye that will respond all year long.

Catfish are happy to hit bait as well. There was a new lake record channel catfish caught during February by Bob Chubb. The new record is now 18.85 pounds. There are more catfish out there willing and waiting to hit what you offer them.

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