Shad removed from striper stomachs after yesterday’s fishing trip were small adults that can swim fast rather than larval fish that cannot swim well at all. When stripers pursue larval shad, they trap shad against the surface and slurp up the small shad. Anglers only see the striper mouth breaking the surface and perhaps a small wake created as stripers compete with one another to eat the most shad.
However, when shad are able to swim fast, stripers still try to trap them at the surface but the speed and activity are much greater. The surface feeding event is called a “boil” as individual stripers jump out of the water while chasing shad. When 10 to 50 stripers are seen jumping out of the water at the same time in a tight formation the feeding action can be seen from far away. These stripers are aggressive and can be caught by casting a surface lure or shallow running crankbait just beyond the action and retrieving it through the feeding school.
Since boil fishing is the most exciting type of angling experience performed in fresh water, we started out early yesterday to search for boils in the southern lake. Unfortunately, the sky was overcast and a breeze kept the surface stirred up and prevented stripers from finding shad schools and driving them to the surface. We left the ramp at dawn and three hours later had covered much water but had seen no boils. We caught an occasional striper or smallmouth bass while trolling and watching for surface action.
At 8 a.m., the breeze quit and the sun came out. Twenty minutes later, we saw the first boil break the surface about halfway back in the canyon. From 8:30 to 9:30, fishing was intense and very successful.
The striper count in the cooler went from three to 35 in 60 minutes. This is a typical boil fishing experience. It involves lots of looking and the right weather conditions. When it all comes together, it is extremely satisfying.
Look for boils in the canyons and bays early and late in the day. These feeding events usually last for about an hour and then the lake calms down again. Recently, we have seen striper surface action in Kane Creek, Labyrinth, Face Canyon, Buoy 25, Dove Canyon, Last Chance and Rock Creek. These feeding events can occur anywhere shad and stripers come together. Our (UT-DWR) shad sampling shows that shad numbers are higher than normally found in July which means that striper boils will be seen frequently over the length of the lake for the rest of August.
There are more shad at Bullfrog and Good Hope Bay so boils will be better and more prolonged in the northern lake.
Stripers move quickly while boiling. They can be seen against the shoreline and then a few minutes later pop up in the middle of the bay. Move quickly to get in casting range of the school. Stop the boat before it gets close enough to put the feeding fish down. Use equipment that allows a long cast. Effective lures include Kastmaster spoons, topwater lures that can be retrieved quickly such as Sammies, Jumpin’ Minnows, Ima Skimmers and shallow running rattletraps, and Lucky Craft lipless crankbaits.
Bass are often on the edge of the boil and respond well to surface lures after the boil has subsided. Top water fishing at dawn and dusk will be great for both large and smallmouth bass for the rest of the summer. Walleye get excited as the fleeing shad run past walleye ambush points in the brush line.
The fishing dynamic at Lake Powell has now changed as boiling stripers stir up shad and all the other game fish want to get in on the action.