Many are wondering if stripers have moved into the main channel and are readily responding to anchovy bait. Reports have been few, so I made the early morning trek to the dam to get a first hand report. It was cold and breezy and the boat near the buoy line had been there for an hour without success. It was reported that they caught 5 fish yesterday. When stripers are abundant the average catch is 20 fish or more per boat. So far this spring, numbers of stripers caught in the main channel have been few.
Further investigation took me to Buoy 3, Power Plant intake, and Buoy 9 with similar negative results. Bait fishing gets better as the water warms but there are more stripers in the backs of canyons.
Best reports have been coming from Navajo, Gunsight, Last Chance and Rock Creek.
There was a major discovery with travel further uplake. Last week the hot spots were in colored water in the backs of canyons and the bite improved with warming.
This week the water temperature was still 50 degrees in the morning but it warmed quickly to 56 in the afternoon. Fish response was surprising as stripers could be caught in crystal clear water trolling and spooning. Trolling along the shoreline from Face Canyon to Gregory Butte and from West Canyon to Dove Canyon produced a great catch of 2-3 pound stripers.
If trolling, avoid the steep cliff walls with deep water near shore. Instead look for rocky points and humps and troll along the breaking edge where depth quickly changes from visible rock to deep water.
Surprisingly, the water visibility was over 25 feet. I saw fish on the graph at 25 feet and looked over the side of the boat and saw the actual fish. Of course, they could see me as well so the visit was short.
The positive result of clear water is that stripers holding at 40-50 feet could see our trolled lures trolled at 12 feet and come up quickly to investigate.
The Buoy 25 cove is like a nature observatory where stripers can be seen swimming at depth on some days.
While trolling, watch the graph for striper schools holding on the bottom or swimming suspended under the boat.
If the school is suspended just keep trolling because the deep fish are likely to come up and hit the shallow trolled lures. If the school is resting on the bottom (30-50 feet) then toss out a floating marker or hit the waypoint on the graph so you can return to the resting school and try spoons dropped right into the school.
Both of these techniques worked well on this trip.
Fishing success has increased significantly this week. Warming is still the trigger to watch.
Expect water temperature to rise this week so it is important to note early morning temperature as you leave the dock and then expect fishing success to improve as the water warms 3 degrees or more.
Fishing for bass is improving as well. On this trip a white grub tossed into clear water of a dry wash stream channel framed between two high cliff walls resulted in the catch of a 2.5 pound smallmouth bass and some smaller bass.
Bass are becoming more active and will be hiding in brushy cover for largemouth and rocky cover for smallmouth.
Bass were not caught trolling but were more likely to respond to plastic baits fished on bottom near rocky points and brush. It is necessary to throw long casts in clear water while short casts can be effective in murky water in the backs of canyons.
Expect bass to come shallow and start fanning nests next week if the weather continues to warm. If it stays cold then nest building will be postponed a week or two. Historically bass spawning begins the 3rd week of April but nest building starts as early as the first week of April.
Walleye have not turned on yet as they need another week or two to complete the spawning process. Expect walleye fishing to improve dramatically mid April. Bluegill and catfish will spawn in May and June.
Spring is here. It’s time for anglers to come and enjoy great fishing and beat the summer crowds.