Water temperature today (49.6F) was essentially the same as found last week. Therefore, it seemed the results of our weekly trip would be similar to last week while fishing in the back of a major canyon with cloudy water to find active cooperative fish. The choices heading upstream from Wahweap included, Warm Creek, Navajo, Gunsight, Last Chance, West Canyon, and Rock Creek. All have been moderately productive recently.
The first stop was in deep water (90 feet) where a few fish traces were seen holding tight to the bottom. Spoons were deployed and one was bumped but no fish were caught, so we moved on. Few fish were seen on the graph at bottom depth of 50-80 feet. We then moved to the back of the canyon trolling the shoreline rocky points with Lucky Craft XD pointers in chartreuse shad and ghost colors. Catching was slow until we crossed one rocky point where the water depth changed quickly from 40 to 25 feet. A striper school was graphed on top of the shallow ridge with two quick hookups as our lures crossed the ridge. The school followed the two hooked fish so spoons were dropped and more fish were caught. After that fishing was again slow as the school left the ridge and did not return. For the rest of the morning a few random stripers were caught trolling with the most productive bottom depth being 20-30 feet. After lunch 2 anglers had 15 stripers in the ice chest. Two more side canyons were trolled after lunch without success except for one random walleye caught trolling. It seemed we might as well return to Wahweap.
We returned to the first spot to tell some friends that we were returning to Wahweap. They looked at us like we were crazy. We took the hint and tried fishing the back of the canyon once more with completely different results. Stripers hit trolled lures with aggression. If the school was on the bottom, spoons were whacked with passion. When one fish was reeled in the whole school followed and more fish could be caught by casting lures in any direction. After each fish was landed we just glanced at the graph to see where the school was holding and at what depth before choosing which lure to use next. In the next hour our catch increased to 40 stripers.
What was the difference? Water temperature increased from 50 in the morning to 53 in the afternoon. Warming caused a complete change in attitude from the same fish. Temperature increase to 53 is the first hurdle but a larger increase to 57 and above is the key to catching warm water fish in the springtime.
Back at the fish cleaning station the walleye was examined and found to be prespawn. The walleye spawn is not yet over so do not expect walleye catching to pick up until mid April.
Other anglers at the cleaning station reported good afternoon fishing in Navajo and Warm Creek where stripers were caught trolling in murky water at the back of the canyon. I was glad to hear that smallmouth bass were caught in good numbers on Yamamoto creature baits in clear water coves in Navajo Canyon. There was also a second hand report that bait fishermen had caught stripers at the dam over the weekend.
In summary, fishing results improve dramatically as the water temperature increases each day.
Catching is usually better in the afternoon than morning or mid day. Water warms first on the surface so fish tend to go shallower when seeking warmth and feeding opportunities. Expect fish movement as the day progresses. Expect better results by fishing in the backs of canyons in greenish gray colored water rather than in clear, deep water of main channel and bays.
The fish caught had empty stomachs except for smaller stripers that were eating plankton in open water.
Fish that we caught remembered what shad looked like as they ate our lures. Bait fishing is probably working well but was not tried on this trip.