Ethan Dutson holds a four-pound striped bass caught near the dam at Lake Powell.

Just my luck that the week before we arrived at Wahweap Marina, the lake fishing for striped bass was phenomenal.      

The report from Wayne Gustaveson, the King Neptune of Lake Powell for the past 38 years, project leader and chief biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and author of Wayne’s Words, a weekly report on how and where to catch fish, was that a group of anglers caught roughly 200 striped bass in nearby Warm Creek Bay in a few hours. “If you’re able to find the school it’s non-stop action,’’ he says.

The secret is to fish at the mouth of canyons and along canyon walls and mid-lake. In some cases a little chumming with anchovies when a school is found helps the cause. One of the most popular lures is the silver and blue Kastmaster. Of course, a fish finder helps a lot.     

When we arrived at the same location, a cold front the day before had lowered the barometer, which pushed the fish into other areas of the lake. 

So, we turned our attention to smallmouth. And we caught smallmouth. 

Anglers move in to fish around rocky structures, a favorite habitat for smallmouth bass.


Anglers move in to fish around rocky structure, a favorite habitat for smallmouth bass.

A half-ounce jig head with a plastic grub, muddy brown in color, cast into rock structure and retrieved worked best. Some fish were shallow, others were 20 to 30 feet down, again, on rock structure. 

Had we been a week earlier or one week later, it’s very likely we could have caught more. But that’s fishing. And, besides, hooking a fish at Lake Powell is a bonus. The real experience is being out on the lake enjoying what one well known photographer refers to as one of the most spectacular settings on this earth.  

The lake is down about 110 feet from the full mark. The flooding in Colorado a couple of weeks ago brought the lake up two feet. Unfortunately, most of the Colorado water went east. 

As for what to expect in the spring, expect more of the same. 

The lower lake level has left the largemouth and crappie habitat high and dry, so fishing for these two will be difficult. 

Smallmouth, now, have chosen broken rock as their main habitat, and there’s thousands of miles of broken rock along the shorelines, so smallmouth fishing will be excellent. Stripers are in the recovery mode. Shad, the main food source for most of the fish in the lake, didn’t do well last year, so the older, larger fish have been displaced by the smaller one- and two-pounders . . . and plenty of them. 

When the shad spawn next spring, the stripers will grow rapidly. So expect good fishing for striped bass, smallmouth and possibly blue gill.