Colorado River Northwest

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November 28th, 2007
Colorado River Northwest

LAKE POWELL — By Wayne Gustaveson. Lake Elevation: 3,599. Water Temp: 59-61

The first freeze of the season occurred on Thanksgiving Day. The cold temperature finally allowed the water surface temperature to dip into the high 50s. Fish respond to cold temperatures by exhibiting springtime behavior. Best fishing happens when water is warmest – usually in the afternoon. Feeding periods are farther apart meaning there are times when fish just will not bite. These dormant periods are followed by brief feeding sprees that make it very worth while to be fishing on a cool day.

Striped bass: Still very abundant although average length is smaller than in the spring, fish health is greatly improved as the older generation is now mostly gone giving way to the new rising generation. Shad are moving deeper and stripers follow. Expect to find striper schools in canyons with shad where bottom depth is 40-60 feet deep. They can be deeper when resting and shallower when feeding but graphing in this range allows a good starting point when searching for the first school of the day.
Striper schools have been most recently found in Wahweap Bay near Lone Rock, Dry Rock Creek, San Juan past the Great Bend, and Trachyte and White Canyon near Hite. Night fishing is good near the marinas.

When shallow, stripers can be caught trolling shallow running “trap” baits or shad raps with a bit of chartreuse and shad color. When deep, swim baits like walleye assassin and Yamamoto swim baits are very effective when retrieved slowly along the bottom. It is very important to use the graph to located fish during the winter. They don’t move much so a large school can be very close but not caught unless the boat is positioned directly over them. Anchovies are always effective.

BASS: It has been a great year for big black bass. The trophies are still out there and can be caught by fortunate anglers in the right place at the right time. But most average-sized bass are hanging in one of two locations:

Largemouth bass really like cover. Sunfish are hold up along the bottom in weed beds. Some of these weed beds are shallow with an edge exposed as the lake drops. Others are down as much as 20 feet. Largemouth bass will be right in the weeds (including tumbleweed piles) all winter long. They stay surprisingly shallow and follow the forage. Weed busting lures like spinnerbaits or vertically fished jig and pig baits are the winter standards. Some lake areas along the main channel are very clear. Look for murky water for best success.

Smallmouth bass are rock oriented and will be deeper along breaking edges of long points or terraces. Both bass species are in cool water well below their preferred temperature range in the winter so feeding may not happen every day. But they do feed and can be caught. Smallmouth bass eat crayfish that hide under rocks. Use a bait that resembles their prey and stays close to the bottom. Nothing is better in the winter than the standard plastic grub that has been so effective for the past 20 years. Just experiment with grub colors, swimming action and speed of retrieve to refine the most appealing pattern on any given day.
OTHERS:
Walleye feed well in winter. They congregate around brushy cover where bait fish hide. Murky water is more comfortable for them and they are a very effective night time predator. Spoons, swim baits and plastics are effective cold weather walleye baits. Walleye can often be seen in shallow water around brush.  Put a drop shot bait right in front of their nose to wake them up.

Crappie suspend in open water or hold up in schools near brush in winter. They don’t feed often but they can be started once a school is located. Fishing at night under lights may be the most effective cold weather crappie technique.
Sunfish hide out during the winter trying to avoid bigger fish. Do not expect to catch many bluegills.


LEES FERRY – Today’s Fly Fishing: Today’s reports were not too impressive, matter of fact the reports I received were down rite terrible. Now, there is a reason for this. May-be even three. #1A cold front that just had to arrive the day before Thanksgiving. #2 A full moon that is glowing up in the sky so bright and beautiful. #3 Staging, the fish are beginning to stage for the spawn. They are down deep and are very hard find, and even harder to get to take any interest in your fly of choice. This will only last a month or so. After this staging occurs and the fish start to move up and on to the reds it will be on again, and will most likely improve each month until this time next year.
Walk-in fishing: No real ideal how the walk in fished today, as I only spoke with a couple of anglers that fished at the walk in late this afternoon.

Spin fishing tips: This week end was reported as good for those that were working the channel. Big pink glo bugs were a sure fire way to catch fish. Some anglers fished the rubber worm bouncing off the bottom and did well.
Fishing Synopsis and Forecast by Terry Gunn 11/08/07. The recent fall weather has been almost perfect with most days in the 70s which is warmer than normal. The ramp rates in November have been considerably different than those we saw in October. The water has been quickly rising in the morning and peaking at a higher rate than last month; around 11:30 a.m. the water is dropping like a rock, then rising again late in the afternoon. You have to pay close attention to the boat or you can end up high and dry.
The water-flow will increase in December and we will be moving back into the boat to drift nymphs. For a real time graphic view of water releases and ramp rates go here: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/uv?09380000
The trout have been moving into the riffles to feed on the small (size 28) midges that are hatching most days. The riffles are easy to wade once the water begins to drop.

The fish continue to look good and are strong and in great physical shape and the overall size has increased from last year. We are seeing a tremendous number of fingerling trout in the river as a result of the terrific spawn that we saw this past spring which bodes well for the future…the downside is that these fish will not be of catchable size until after next summer.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently 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 State’s 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 – The striper fishing at Lake Mead has slowed a little, but is still pretty good. Trolling crankbaits along steep shorelines in Greggs Basin was yielding stripers.  The ramp is open at South Cove, but it is a gravel ramp. Be careful when launching here.  The lake elevation remains fairly steady around 1,111 feet.  State and federal biologists sampled fish populations in Lake Mead during October and for the first time, found gizzard shad in Lake Mead.  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 has been good in spots.  I have received multiple reports of fat stripers full of shad and 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. 

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.  The water level is down for the winter.  As the water temperature falls in the basin, some of the stripers will return to the open water, but many of the big stripers remain in the vicinity of Willow Beach year round.  The water level has begun to drop for the winter. Look for the surface elevation to drop to around 12 feet below full.

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 are in the vegetation outside the channel.  Try using quick movements to trigger strikes through the thick vegetation. Catfish have been excellent. Try using mackerel, anchovies, worms or shrimp in the early morning or night.

Kenne Probst caught 25 catfish, with most in the one-pound range, using frozen anchovies. He said one angler caught a 15-pound striper.

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 following 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.

Striper fishing has been slow, but fish are still being caught.  Steve Walker caught a 4 ¼ lbs Largemouth while trolling an anchovy.   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/.

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