Lake Powell Fish Report for May 18

Wayne with walleye caught on a green grub in shallow water.

Lake Elevation: 3,523 ; Water temperature: 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit

Lake Powell has been rising for the past week. Last Friday when I launched at the Stateline Auxiliary ramp, the lake water was lapping at the front edge of the new cement ramp. There were four launch lanes open. The ramp is supposed to be at 3,523, but it looked closer to 3,524 in the afternoon. Great news! The launch ramp is open to more boat launching than expected. I think Bullfrog ramp is going to be closer to more launching lanes than expected in the next few days.

Water temperature is now in the magic range of 60-65F, when bass and crappie are in spawning mode. Spawning beds are now visible in shallow water with male bass building the nests and then guarding the eggs after they are deposited on the rocky nest. It is likely that most nests will be in shallow rocky coves and along points reaching out into the lake. Expect the spawning season to last for the rest of May and into June. Male bass will protect the eggs until they hatch and then protect the swarm of larval fish for a day or two. Then they will go back to the nest site, invite more female bass to their home and then protect the second set of eggs for another four or five days before that group hatches. Some males are able to protect three successful nests during the spring spawn. That is why it is important to release male nest-guarding bass when they are caught by anglers bouncing jigs around the active nests.

Stripers will spawn in the coming weeks depending on water temperature. They do not protect the young because they survive by producing a large number of eggs, which are spawned on the surface. When fertilized the striper eggs sink to the bottom where they rest for two or three days before hatching. Unfertilized eggs float on the surface and are pushed toward shore by the wind and water current. It is possible to identify a spawning site by an abundance of floating eggs along the shore. It may be possible to return to that spawning area at night and find actively spawning stripers.

Fishing success will increase as fish spawn. Look for bass in coves and along the rocky shoreline. Bounce plastic jigs along the bottom near shore and out to 25 feet deep. The bigger female bass will be in slightly deeper water than the shallow location of the nest built by male fish. Males on nests may be easier to catch but females are larger fish and worth pursuing. I recommend releasing all largemouth bass caught during the spawn. They are few in number and require brushy habitat to protect the young. Smallmouth bass can be harvested because they have an abundance of rocky structure needed to provide adequate nesting areas. Smallmouth bass are much more numerous than largemouth. These should be the target fish for those wishing to harvest fish during the spawning period.

On my fishing trip on Friday we caught stripers, smallmouth bass, crappie, walleye and bluegill. Water temperature was 60-66F. The spring spawning events are beginning. Expect fish to be near shore in shallow water. We had good luck catching all species of fish with small crappie jigs (chartreuse body with a white tail), and green plastic single tail worms. Fishing is going to be great for all fish in Lake Powell on calm days during May.