In the feast-or-famine world of fishing at Lake Powell, it appears it's time for fishermen to dine on striped bass again.
Fishermen are catching striped bass again, and with good-old-days regularity. In fact, some anglers are even finding "boils" to fish. Ten years ago, boils were common in the back canyons of Lake Powell. (Boils develop when feeding stripers herd schools of shad into canyons. A combination of shad leaping from the water to escape the stripers and stripers thrashing the surface after shad causes what looked from a distance like boiling water.)According to Max Bahos, conservation officer for the Division of Wildlife Resources at Bullfrog, the shad have made a recovery.
"This year, for the first time in a long time, I'm seeing some big schools of shad up around Good Hope Bay," said Bahos.
Back in the early 1980s, Powell was full of shad and the striped bass were enjoying the feast. To catch a striped bass in the seven to eight pound class was common. There were times when limits of 10 fish - before noon - were as common as seagulls.
Suddenly, the bass outgrew their welcome. They ate up their food source, almost completely, and there was nothing to replace it. Big fish got skinny and eventually died. Little fish never got to be big fish. Fishing went from fast and easy, to slow and tiresome.
According to Bahos, the shad are at the peak in what biologist believe is a three-year cycle for the small fish.
It is also believed that the reduction in striper numbers took some of the pressure off the forage fish.
Best fishing has been north of Bullfrog Marina, with some of the best fishing in the canyons off Good Hope Bay, especially in Blue Notch and Red canyons.
Some fish are being caught trolling and some jigging.
Fishermen should watch for schools of shad or "boils." Also, good striper fishing has traditionally been on rocky points leading out into the main channel and along steep canyon walls.
Fishermen has been using surface lures - in white, black or clear colors - if and when they find the boils.
Along steep walls and off rocky points fishermen has been jigging with anchovies.
The limit on stripers back in the early 1980s was two fish. It went from there to four, then a month later to 10. To help eliminate some of the fish from the lake, now, the limit on striped bass is 20 daily.
Good fishing has also been reported for smallmouth bass. The smallmouth is the most recent introduction to Lake Powell, and is felt by many to be the fish of the future.