The scenic beauty of Lake Powell compliments the fishing.
One thing that has made Lake Powell one of the first choices of anglers these days is they never know what will come out of the deep. Could be any one of a dozen species, some showing up more often than others.
Another reason is fish there are seldom alone. Where there is one, it’s possible there could be a hundred or more nearby. And the likelihood of catching several fish and/or even a different species is great, especially now.
Possible catches include striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and crappie, all present in great numbers in the lake. Then there’s always the possibility of hooking a northern pike, green sunfish, blue gill, catfish, tiger muskie, carp or the newest introduction, the gizzard shad.
It's easy to see how the largemouth bass got its name.
Trout once swam in the lake, but have rarely been seen since the 1970s.
And, if there is a time when a fish is more likely to bite it’s now, when a fish’s mind is focused on reproduction. The lake’s big five—stripers, largemouth, smallmouth, walleye and crappie—are all in the spawning mood.
According to Wayne Gustaveson, lake biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and author of the popular Wayne’s Words, a weekly update of fishing conditions on Lake Powell, “Bass fishing does not get any better than the success seen in the last week."
Recent catches include largemouth up to seven pounds and smallmouth up to four and a half pounds.
And the big bass, he says, “are being caught at an unprecedented rate.’’
Wayne Gustaveson holds a largemouth bass. Large bass are showing up with unusual regularity this spring.
Largemouth and smallmouth are being caught pretty much anytime of the day. That’s because the males of the species have built nests and are guarding those nests until the eggs hatch. Until then they are very protective and will aggressively hit anything that could be of threat.
Largemouth choose to spawn in brushy areas, while smallmouth hang round rocky shorelines.
Striped bass, now, are a different matter. Stripers tend to be finicky eaters during the spawning period. So Gustaveson suggests fishing early in the morning and later in the afternoon, when they are more likely to bite.
“Full sun on the water slowed the bite considerably,’’ he reports.
Gustaveson says there are no bad fishing spots around the lake these days, only that some areas are better. These would include the San Juan arm of the lake, Good Hope, Padre, Hite and Wahweap bays.
Finding striped bass during the spawn will require anglers to move around and fish different depths. And, if available, keeping a close eye on a fish finder. Best success has come from trolling and fishing different depths.
Largemouth, now, may require a change in technique during the spawn. Since the bass nest in brushy area, fishing with an exposed hook can be a problem, so to make the hook weedless put on a plastic worm or grub on the tip.
Smallmouth hold around rocky shorelines and can be fished for using a double-tail plastic grub, tube jig or plastic worm on a lead-head jig. Cast in towards shore and then retrieve in a jerk and reel motion.
Like largemouth, crappie like brushy habitat so in the pursuit of a bass an angler may come up with a black crappie or visa versa. There are, however, not as many crappie in the lake as there are largemouth.
Fish for walleye by trolling along steep canyon walls pulling bait.
This is the time of year when walleye are most likely to be caught.
Gustaveson points out that there has been a dramatic rise in surface water. What it means, he adds, is “young bass are excited about the rapid rise in temperature and seem to be willing to eat anything put in front of them. Juvenile smallmouth bass are in the rocks, along shallow rock ledges, and willing to chase lures seen from a long distance."
There are reports of anglers fishing the San Juan Arm catching more than 100 bass in a day.
He adds that “the old standby lure’’ and proven bait are working best.
Lake Powell Records
Striped bass—48 lbs., 2 oz.
Largemouth bass—10 lbs., 2 oz.
Smallmouth bass—5 lbs., 1 oz.
Walleye—9 lbs., 15 oz.
Northern pike—16 lbs., 7 oz.
Channel catfish—24 lbs.
Bluegill—1 lb., 8 oz.
Black Crappie—2 lbs., 14 oz.
Green Sunfish—14.7 oz.
Tiger Muskie—24 lbs.
Gizzard shad—3 lbs., 4 oz.