Lake Powell Fish Report for July 19, 2023
Lake Elevation: 3,584 ; Water Temperature: 74-82 degrees Fahrenheit
Fantastic spring runoff into Lake Powell is beginning to slow down after a wet and wild spring that allowed the lake to rise approximately 60 feet. For the past few years, while the lake has been extremely low, all boats launching at Wahweap have been forced to travel through the main channel while heading uplake. Rising water allowed the Castle Rock Cut, between Wahweap Bay and Warm Creek, to fill with about 4 feet of water. The Castle Rock shortcut reduces the uplake trip by 12 miles from Wahweap launch ramp to the mouth of Warm Creek.
The Cut has been full of all kinds of boats that take advantage of the calm water and the shorter uplake trip. It is uncertain how long the Cut will remain open as the lake level stabilizes and then declines. It may only be open for a week, but each day it is open will make travel uplake much better.
My fishing trip last week was amazing as we launched at Wahweap Auxiliary Ramp before the sun came up and headed uplake looking for stripers feeding on the surface. After idling though the Castle Rock Cut, we put the boat on plane and traveled about 200 yards before we saw surface activity on the calm water. The boat was taken off plane and idled toward the surface activity. There were four anxious anglers in the boat who immediately cast toward the fish feeding on the surface. The first cast resulted in three hits from surfacing stripers. Two fish missed the hook while bumping the surface lures, but the first striper was hooked and landed. We look around and saw many small surfacing schools within range. Our boat driver headed toward the next school, and within two minutes we were close enough to cast. Another striper was landed, and we knew this was going to be a great day of fishing.
Small striper schools were abundant in Warm Creek. They hit the surface, fed quickly on small tiny shad, dove deep and then rose to attack the next shad school. We saw many surfacing schools feeding from the Castle Rock Cut to the mouth of Warm Creek. Many schools were feeding in the main channel from the mouth of Warm Creek to Gunsight and beyond toward
Padre Bay. Some schools were out of range or went down too quickly, but the catch rate was about one to two fish from each school that came up within casting range. Striper size was about 1.5 to 3 pounds. Average time between each surfacing school was less than five minutes.
Fish behavior was dependent on time of day. Fish caught before the sun came up were feeding individually. We even caught some individual smallmouth bass surfacing with the stripers and eating shad. It seemed these fish were chasing small groups of shad. Then, as the morning got lighter and the sun rose, stripers began bunching up and feeding on larger shad schools that were grouped tightly together. As the sun got higher, the number of surfacing striper schools declined. The best time to fish was from first light to 8 a.m. We were able to find more striper schools feeding on top from 8 to 10 a.m. After 10 a.m., the surface action quit and stripers dropped down into deeper, cooler water. It may be possible to catch deep stripers on spoons or by trolling but, we had 50 fish to clean and the sun was getting HOT, so we went in and took care of the fish.
The surface feeding activity we saw was more active than slurps but not quite as aggressive as full-blown boils. Shad were abundant and it seems that the striper surface feeding action will continue into August. Shad have lots of brushy habitat that can be used for protection from aggressive predators. Stripers were robust and healthy. It looks like shad, stripers and bass will have a great summer with high water, plenty of brushy cover and ample food and plankton for each individual species. That is great news for FISHING at Lake Powell.