Colorado River Northwest

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February 28th, 2008
Colorado River Northwest

LAKE POWELL – By Wayne Gustaveson. Fish are waiting for the days to lengthen and the water to warm just a bit. For now the best fishing is under the marinas with night fishing being better than in daylight.

Powell Outlook: in trying to predict future fishing results, I have looked in the past for events that are similar to conditions that will be in place in 2008.

Striped bass populations are near the bottom of the population “boom-and-bust” cycle and will be rebuilding. Young stripers will dominate the catch.

Smallmouth bass lag a year or two behind stripers in population swings. Bass will be represented by a balanced population equally represented by young and old fish. Other species are less abundant than the big two so it is almost impossible to predict subtle changes in their abundance and catchability. Fish populations in 2008 most closely resemble conditions found in 1999.

The second major factor is spring runoff. Spring inflow has been modest the past few seasons. Snow pack is currently building with more storms on the way. An optimistic viewpoint suggests that a large spring flood is expected. With fingers crossed then, water level increases in 2008 will be compared to 2005 when the lake level increased more than 40 feet. Fishing results will be more similar to 1999 when shad abundance was small.

The largest variable cannot be estimated. That is the effect of storm fronts that cool the water and drastically impact fishing success for a 3-5 day period following the storm. Those events will happen but are not factored in because of their unpredictability. Typically, warming periods provide the best spring fishing, regardless of moon phase.

With that introduction this is my best guess on fishing prospects for 2008.

Fishing success for striped bass and walleye will improve in late February. The best early success will be found near the inflows of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers. Fishing will improve lake-wide in the backs of canyons rather than the main channel. Slow trolling (2 mph) will be the most effective technique.

March fishing success will be punctuated by spring storms making fishing success spotty. Some of the best largemouth bass fishing is found on warm March afternoons in shallow coves with brush. Shad scarcity will make crayfish the most sought after prey item. Crayfish are best imitated by bottom bouncing grubs fished in rocky structure. Stripers on a crayfish diet are extremely susceptible to anchovy bait. In the main lake bait fishing for stripers will catch more fish, but at the inflow area trolling and casting will be better.

Smallmouth bass and striped bass fishing will improve in April. Search for both species in the murky colored water in the backs of the canyons. Clear water is colder and not as productive until water warms above 60 degrees.

Best spring fishing will occur in late April when water is warming but runoff has not significantly increased lake elevation. Expect bass to spawn the third week of April. Bass will be visibly building nests on the shallow shoreline.

Striped bass will be in the same canyon locations with bass, just further out in deeper water off the edge of spawning flats. In those special years when bass spawning precedes lake elevation rise, fishing success is beyond belief. An early snow melt will negate this event.

Expect the lake to be rising rapidly by the Fourth week of April. Runoff will muddy the water all the way to Bullfrog by mid to late May. When northern waters are stained, fishing for most species is better south from Bullfrog to Padre Bay.

May is the very best month to catch walleye when they are forced to feed during the day as warming water increases their metabolism. Walleye numbers are highest north of Bullfrog and walleye like murky water.

Striped bass will be caught half way between the back of the canyon and the main channel. Lack of abundant shad in the canyon moves stripers toward detectable current of the main channel in April and May. Striper fishing success by numbers will certainly be less, maybe much less, than seen in the record breaking harvest years of 2005 to 2007. Finding moving striper schools will be challenging but once located the school will be cooperative. Striper health and condition will be dramatically improved, making up for fewer fish caught.

LEES FERRY – A proposed experimental flow event (40,000 cfs) could occur in early March – if it is approved. Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists expect no adverse affects to the Lees Ferry fishing from this proposed operation, and it could actually help improve the food base if all goes well. The trout are currently on redds, so now is a great time to fish the Ferry.

Report courtesy Lees Ferry Anglers, by Ted Welling on Feb. 19: Today’s Fly Fishing: What a day to be on the river! The weather was wonderful, and the fishing was very good today. If you were drifting the channel the scud, and the egg was the fly of choice. Some were wading and the San Juan worm with a midge dropper was the ticket. Others were using a dry-fly with a zebra midge dropper and reported doing well. And last but not least, some anglers were swinging a streamer (wooly bugger) and reported doing good with that set up as well! So I would venture to say just about any approach one decided to use, there was a fair amount of success. That being said, it was a nice day to be here at the ferry. And we are expecting this weather to continue for the next week or so. If you have other plans……. Change em’.
Check out:
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Walk in: Only one report from this section today and it was not bad. This angler arrived later in the day, around two o’clock pm. I had advised him do not to expect much.. Well, here he comes into the shop around 6.00 pm this evening, and smiling. Now he didn’t burn down the house but, reported having an alright day. That is a lot better than the reports I have had lately.

Spin Fishing: Also had a report from a client that likes to use a spin rod with a jig. I won’t give up his secret place, but I will tell you he was not up river. Using a spin rod and a jig he picked up six to eight fish in just an hour or two. Way to go Bill !!! T

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has detected whirling disease in a small percentage of Lees Ferry trout that were collected for a random sampling. For those of you who are not familiar with whirling disease; this disease only affects fingerling trout and limits their survival. Adult trout can harbor the disease but in all respects appear healthy and normal.

The arrival of whirling disease at Lees Ferry isn’t good news nor is it necessarily terrible news. Whirling disease has infected many of the Western states fabled trout streams with greater and lesser affects depending on the watershed. The Madison comes to mind as one river that was severely impacted while the San Juan suffered no noticeable impact from whirling disease. Lees Ferry has more in common with the San Juan than the Madison…both Lees Ferry and the San Juan are tail-water rivers with clear, cold water which is a consistent temperature year-around.

Consistent cold water temperatures are believed by most experts on the disease to keep the spread and severity of the disease in check. I’ll be sure to keep you informed as more data becomes available. In the mean time when you do come to Lees Ferry be sure to clean your wading gear thoroughly before you leave to prevent the spread of whirling disease. For more information visit: http://www.whirling-disease.org


LAKE MEAD – No new reports. The striper fishing at Lake Mead has been a little challenging. Catfish are still biting at night. The ramp is open at South Cove, but it is a gravel ramp. Be careful when launching here. The lake elevation has come up a little at around 1,117 feet above msl. State and federal biologists sampled fish populations in Lake Mead during October and found gizzard shad for the first time. This is not a surprise since they have been found in Powell since 2000.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

LAKE MOHAVE – The striper bite remains challenging. The stripers seen in the fall were fat and full of shad, with schools of shad being chased by striped bass. If the shad are making a comeback, we may see more mid-size stripers in the basin. If you can find schools of shad, throw a small crankbait. I’ve also received reports of largemouth being caught in 25 to 35 feet of water on drop-shots.

Biologists from both Arizona Game and Fish Department and Nevada Division of Wildlife installed fish habitat in Carp cove on Dec. 12-13. A total of 84 wood pallets and 16 4X4-foot PVC structures were put into Lake Mohave in an attempt to increase angler success. On January 29-30 an additional 54 wood pallets and 16 4X4-foot PVC structures were put into Lake Mohave at Box cove. Additional habitat will be added at several locations over the next two years. These structures are fish magnets.

There is a wheelchair accessible fishing pier just south of the main launch ramp at Katherine’s Landing. If you fish Mohave and are having luck, please e-mail me at mchmiel@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

WILLOW BEACH – Trout are stocked every Friday. The fishing for trout has been good from shore immediately following the stocking. Try using a Jake, Panther Martin, or other spinner’s or spoons. If that doesn’t work you can always use Power Bait.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see. If you fish Willow beach and are having luck, please e-mail me at mchmiel@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.
For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

TOPOCK MARSH –Water level is down, so be careful launching. The bass and catfish are in the channel. While the bite has been slow, there is no shortage of fish in the channel.

Game and Fish biologists surveyed the Marsh starting on the week of Jan. 15. The largemouth bass population was observed to be very healthy, as well as channel catfish. Crappie were also present, but in smaller numbers.

On Oct 13, 45 kids participated in a fishing clinic at Five Mile landing that produced carp, bass, channel catfish, and one green sunfish. One little girl caught a 10-pound carp her first time fishing.

You can access the marsh by boat at North Dike, Catfish Paradise, and Five-Mile Landing. All three also provide plenty of area for shoreline fishing too. For more information on the marsh, contact the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge at (760) 326-3853 or go to http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/arizona/havasu/index.html.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

COLORADO RIVER BELOW DAVIS DAM – Trout stocking resumed in October. Fishing has been good below Davis Dam, but look for it to be even better immediately following the trout stockings. Fish and Wildlife Service stocks once a month in this area.
The fish are stocked in two locations; Davis Camp and near The Riverside. I am getting some reports of the largemouth bite picking up.

Striper fishing has been slow, but fish are still being caught. Water levels on the river fluctuate, so be careful. You can check the Bureau of Reclamation Web site for flow predictions http://www.usbr.gov/lc/riverops.html before you go. If you fish the river below Davis Dam and are having luck, please e-mail me at mchmiel@azgfd.gov so I can share your successes with others.

Important notice: With the recent discovery of invasive quagga mussels in Mead, Mohave and Havasu, proper cleaning of all watercraft is critical to help prevent the spread of these invaders. Please drain and dry your livewell and bilge on land. Drain all the water you can from your engine. Also, inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.

For more information, go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web pages at azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

4 Responses to “Colorado River Northwest”

  1. Caught a 20 inch carp using a worm and yum powerbait at katherine landing around 5pm, slow fishing but several bites in few hours. Was fishing on bottom across from boat shop.

  2. David T.

    Congrats on the big carp. They are fun to catch. Carp are already spawning at many lakes in Arizona, so the bite will just keep getting better and better. It’s unfortunate that not more people fish for them – they are considered the number one fighting fish in Europe. Carp fishing is so popular there, they even have areas of catch-and-release only. And you don’t need a boat – carp fishing is often best from shore.

    Rory

  3. I use homemade doughballs and those get me at least 4-5, 6-12lb carp in no time at all.

  4. Tim;

    Dough balls are great way to go for carp. They are a lot of fun to catch and don’t need a lot of sophisticated tackle. As you no doubt know, they can be readily caught from shore at just about any of our desert lakes and hopefully more people will go out and get acquainted with them.

    Rory

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