Lake Powell water temperature climbed dramatically in the past week. Ninety-degree days cause the water temperature to climb quickly. Surface temperature in the morning is now 66 Fahrenheit, and that rises into the 70s in the afternoon. Warm temperatures also lead to spawning. On my fishing trip last week, we saw carp spawning on the surface all over the lake from Wahweap to Rock Creek. Carp spawn on the surface and prefer to spawn in brushy habitat. In the back of one narrow canyon cove, we saw a school of carp splashing in floating tumbleweeds against the steep canyon wall. I had the impulse to cast near the carp to see if they were interested in a green plastic double tail grub. The carp ignored it, but as the grub descended, it was quickly eaten by a nice smallmouth bass. Another cast resulted in a 16-inch striper quickly grabbing the grub. The next fish to grab the grub was a 22-inch walleye. It soon became apparent that bass, stripers and walleye were hanging out under the floating tumbleweeds and possibly eating the carp eggs as they descended. Carp eggs are adhesive, but they will sink until they stick to brush or rocks. Hungry predators will obviously eat carp eggs, but they prefer larger wiggly items like plastic baits. That was a great discovery.
We found other spawning fish in narrow slot canyons about 15 feet deep. Black crappie were schooled up between 10-20 feet and were willing to hit an eighth-ounce chartreuse grub with a white tail. Smallmouth bass were also guarding nests in the backs of some of the rocky coves. It was interesting to search for spawning fish all around the backs of canyons. Most coves were void of fish, so we looked quickly in many slots and coves, and when a spawning school was found, it was a quick reward to catch a bunch of fish. We released most of the spawners but kept a few walleye and some smallmouth bass. All the largemouth bass and crappie were released. It was a great day of fishing.
There was one secret cove in a slot canyon just barely wide enough for my Boston Whaler boat to enter. We pushed the boat around the narrow cliff edge and could then cast to the back of the canyon. This brushy cove was a largemouth bass spawning sanctuary. Every cast was quickly inhaled by a bass from 12-20 inches. This spot was the highlight of our fishing trip. After about 20-minutes of catching we pushed the boat back out of the narrow cove and left all the bass unharmed in their secret sanctuary.
Expect to find spawning fish over the length of the lake. Walleye have completed their spawn, but bass, stripers, crappie, bluegill and green sunfish are in spawning condition. We found a lot of narrow coves and small canyons where many fish were grouped together. If there are no fish willing to bite in your normal fishing spots, move quickly to small coves, narrow canyons and shallow rocky areas in the back of canyons. When the fish respond to plastic baits, the game is on. Fishing at Lake Powell is very enjoyable during the spring spawning season.