LAKE POWELL: Lake elevation: 3,611 feet
Water temperatures: 5662°F
Based on last week's extreme water clarity, we went further uplake to see what conditions prevailed. We found crystal clear in Llewellyn Gulch and Cottonwood Canyon with 25 feet of visibility at the mouth of both canyons. As we went further back in the canyon, the water clarity declined to about 15 feet. We went up the San Juan and found clear water as well, to the extreme found in the main channel canyons. In Piute and Neskahi, water clarity was about 15 feet. It is likely that water clarity will decrease as water temperature warms and runoff begins.
Right now, you are more likely to catch fish in canyon areas where the water clarity is less than 15 feet or you can fish bait at depths greater than 30 feet. You can catch more fish during the early morning or late evening when the direct sunlight is blocked by high canyon walls.
Smallmouth bass were active and healthy in all of the canyons we sampled. The water temperature on our trip ranged from 5662°F, which is ideal for prespawn bass activity. We saw only one fresh bass nest on our trip, and it appeared to be very recently fanned. Bass spawning is imminent, though, and you can expect to begin within the next week at a water temperature between 60°F and 66°F. Sight fishing for bedding bass will peak from April 1825. Expect to find bass spawning beds in three feet of water in small-sized rocky areas rather than on sandy substrate. Largemouth beds will be in the same locations, but near a bush, overhang or stickup.
A wide range of bass baits worked well for us, including Senkos, Ned rigs, double-tailed grubs, Chatterbaits and shad-shaped worms. Long casts were more effective than dropping the bait near the fish we saw swimming near the boat. It was fun to watch bass look at and interact with the bait before they turned away. It was possible to watch how bass respond to our lures and learn from that moment.
We didn't see many stripers as they seem to be moving from the locations they occupied over the winter. Those fishing with anchovies in the main channel caught slightly more fish than during the previous week. Healthy, robust stripers that are going to spawn this year are heading to their prespawn locations where they will wait for the rapid warming that triggers spawning. Spawning usually begins around May 10 and may continue until the first week of June. Spawning fish do not feed on shad, but will eat plankton. This is an ideal time to catch big stripers on small lures or flies. Fly fishing for stripers peaks in May.
We did not catch walleye on this trip because we did not deploy bottom bouncers or tip our bass baits with a piece of nightcrawler. The walleye catch will increase each week from now until the end of May. Try to slow down and maintain bottom contact with you favorite walleye lure. I find that tipping a bass jig with a one-inch chunk of bait makes me fish slower and target walleye instead of bass. Walleye are numerous and willing to hit baits that enter their holding zone on main channel points and ledges. Fish for them in low light for best results. The ideal spot is a wind or wave induced mud line that covers the clear water and gives walleye a sense of security while they wait for food to swim by.
Spring is here. It is time to go fishing for warmwater fish.