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Wayne’s Last 2020 Lake Powell Fishing Report

Wayne’s Last 2020 Lake Powell Fishing Report
October 30
06:30 2020

October 28, 2020
Lake Elevation 3592
Water Temperature 61-65 F

By A. Wayne Gustaveson

 

This will be the last weekly fish report from Lake Powell in 2020 since we will be out on the water the next two weeks performing annual gillnet sampling. This has been the most unusual year with lake closures, followed by unprecedented crowds as the lake reopened.  Fishing was great for smallmouth bass, but stripers were less predictable. Now, as we go into the winter months, fishing success has returned to normal. Here is what to expect in the winter of 2020. 

 

Striped Bass:  Stripers will follow shad all winter long.  Find shad balls on the graph and stripers will be in close proximity.  My winter technique is to watch the graph while trolling.  Always be ready to react when a striper school swims under the boat.  If the school is much deeper than the trolling lure, stop immediately, drop spoons and try to activate the school. One fish biting a spoon transmits a signal to other schooling stripers that a feeding opportunity is happening and they all need to join the party.  Drop more spoons to catch more fish.  The feeding reaction can last for an hour or wear off in 5 minutes if no other fish grabs the spoon.   When the school runs away, go back to trolling to catch fish and to find more schools. Stripers hold in deep water, 60-120 feet deep. Shad schools are shallower, 40-80 feet.   There are significantly more shad in the northern lake so fishing results will likely be better from Bullfrog north.  It is more difficult to catch stripers in the southern lake but I like the challenge.  Busy boating spots close to the marina make it hard to catch stripers in the summer and fall.  As the boats go home, stripers come out to play in the quiet waters. Catching stripers is possible from Wahweap to Padre and beyond.  We have caught our largest stripers (15-30 pounds) during the winter close to the marina.   

 

Smallmouth Bass:  We stocked smallmouth bass in 1982 and it seems that 2020 may be the best year for catching smallmouth bass. There are always great numbers of small bass caught but larger fish performed exceedingly well.  Threadfin shad had a giant spawn in the 50-foot rising waters of 2019.  Smallmouth targeted more shad with that bumper crop.  Then in 2020 larger bass continued to search for more shad. They found them in deeper water.  Smallmouth fed more like stripers, searching for shad off shore. Anglers followed their lead and began fishing at 30-40 feet to target the larger bass.  It worked very well.  I saw more big smallmouth caught this year over any other year. 

 

Largemouth Bass:  The 2019 high water year resulted in a huge spawn of largemouth bass.  The paltry water rise in 2020 did not allow another strong year class of largemouth bass to survive since there was no brush to provide shelter for the young fish.  The good news is that the yearling largemouth from 2019 were able to find large weed beds on Spiny Naiad where they could forage and seek shelter from other predators.  These bass need another year of high water in 2021 to cover the brush and allow them shelter.  If that happens it is possible that another strong year class of largemouth bass will be there in 2021.  Only time will tell.   

 

The sport fishery is dependent upon an abundance of shad. Young shad need brush for protection.  Many shad hatch each year, but predation occurs when they are tiny (less than an inch long).  If brush is available, shad can hide in the branches and quickly grow to 2-3 inches.  Shad provide abundant forage for all other predators if they can survive to adult size.  Then a bass or a striper can get a full meal by eating one big shad instead of 50 small shad. I have my fingers crossed for a huge runoff in 2021, which will provide the food necessary for great growth and abundance of forage and sportfish in 2021.

Wayne’s Last 2020 Lake Powell Fishing Report - overview

Summary: Wayne's Last 2020 Lake Powell Fishing Report

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