Colorado River Northwest Fishing Report

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October 21st, 2009

LAKE POWELL — Report courtesy Wayne Gustaveson, Utah Division of Wildlife. Sept. 30, 2009
Lake Elevation: 3635. Water temp: 72-74 F.

In the last report the fall fishing pattern was explained. The pattern is all about shad and how game fish feed on the unusually abundant shad population. Shad have moved out of the open water into the backs of the coves where brush offers some relief from the relentless pursuit of predators. Predators hold in deeper water waiting for a feeding opportunity. Bass hold at 10 to 15 feet in close proximity to shad, while striped bass hold at the first deep break from 25-50 feet where water is cooler. Both species make frequent trips to the shallows to visit their dinner. This pattern will remain in place until water temperature cools enough to drive shad into deeper water. Expect shad to be in the backs of canyons through most of October depending on weather patterns.

Knowing shad location and striper feeding schedule gives anglers a starting point. Striper boils are not commonly working all the way to the thick brush in the far end of the canyon. Shad schools venture into open water to feed at first and last light. These open water and deeper shad are striper main targets of opportunity and not shad in 5-10 feet of water.

Find a short canyon near the main channel with shad along the shore where bottom depth is 20-40 feet. Canyons that fit this bill last week were Kane Creek and Kane Wash, Main Rock Creek, Rincon, Slick Rock, Knowles and Cedar Canyons. There were many other canyons with striper surface activity but these had significant boils reported at dawn or dusk.

Absence of visible boils should not be a deterrent. If conditions match the above habitat description, cast surface lures along the shoreline to create your own boils from stripers and bass that are looking up for an easy feeding opportunity.

Spooning striper schools seen on the graph at 40-60 feet is the best technique during most of the day. There are active striper schools in almost every canyon. They are easier to find in a short canyon like Rincon than in a long narrow canyon like Smith Fork. Just graph the areas where bottom depth is between 40 and 60 feet dropping spoons on all the fish traces within that zone.

Bass fishing with topwater lures around brush and shad in shallow water at the back of the canyon provides non stop morning and evening success. A surface popper worked slowly with frequent pauses is irresistible to 10-14 inch large and smallmouth bass. Bigger bass are feeding with stripers in the morning and evening boils.

Standard smallmouth techniques like bottom bouncing plastics baits on bare rocky points is not as effective as fishing topwater baits around shad and brush. All predators are keyed on shad now and shad live in or near brush. Adapt your fishing techniques to take advantage of the excellent fishing opportunities that currently exist. This may be the time to learn how to use surface lures or spinnerbaits even if your favorite technique is fishing with plastic along the bottom.


LEES FERRY Report by: Ted Wellingm Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009
Today’s Fish rating
Upriver: 6.50
Walk-In: 6.50
Key: 1 = Go fish somewhere else
10 = Rent a helicopter and get here now!
Today’s Weather: Sunny, High 82, Low 52
Up River crowd rating
2.0 No crowd
Walk In: 1.0 No Crowds
Key: 1 = Sleep late and fish where you want.
10 = Very crowded, get up early

Fly Fishing: Fishing has been reported as very good, started a little slow yesterday morning but, picked up as the day progressed. We are still wading the gravel bars, fishing a dry- dropper rig over the back eddies and a longer leader and a double nymph rig as we drift the channel. I anchored just outside 6mile island and fished from the boat and did well using a scud and a San Juan worm. As I lifted anchor to drift that section I pulled up a pad of moss that was filled with scuds, a delightful sight. The weather has been perfect, the reason October is my favorite month to fish the ferry.

Walk in: Had a report today for this section, fished well. Most fish landed were taking the San Juan worm. Most colors are working but, the favorite is the natural or the worm brown. I have started to color the front quarter of the worm dark brown and leaving the back section tan and putting an orange collar just behind the eye. It looks great, and for now it seems to be a good pattern. This will have to be time tested. I have also heard there is no need to get down there at the crackers, as this section is really picking up after noon. HMMM !

I will leave this report below for us spin heads as it seems to be accurate!

Spin Fishing: I did a little spin fishing the past few days and did well.
I was using both a Panther Martin and a Vibrax Blue Fox both gold, and I can’t tell you what worked better. Both did the trick. It was not on fire or nothing but, I was pleased. So, if you have been thinking of fishing,,,,,,,, C’mon down, fishing is good at Lees Ferry. There are a couple other lures that are working well, stop by the shop and I will put you on the right track. Ted

Fishing Synopsis and Forecast by Terry Gunn 9/28/09
Recent Fishing Conditions
:
Fall is in the air and the weather is near perfect with cool nights and warm days. The current water flows are a constant 10,200-cfs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These flows began on Sept. 1 and will continue until Nov.1 when normal fluctuating flows will return. This is the second year of these experimental flows and we feel that they are preferable to the extremely low fluctuating flows that normally occur this time of year.

In years past, the flows in September and October have been the lowest flows of the year and have reset the “green line” to the 5,000-cfs level from the 12,000-cfs level of the summer flows. This has effectively reduced the food supply in the river by a significant amount. Then the higher flows of November and December arrive; but because of the declining sun angle and the shade of the cliffs, photosynthesis and aquatic production in the river declines and the areas of the river that were desiccated by the low flows do not regenerate until the following spring. This will not happen this year because of the steady flows in September and October the green line will stay high.

Fishing has been good and relatively predicable. The midge hatches have been prolific and the fish are feeding on the emergers in both shallow and deep water. The current fish population is better than we have seen in many years with several different year classes present in good numbers and perfect physical condition. I cannot remember seeing such a diverse range in fish sizes; we are catching fish from 12-in to 20-in and everything in between.

You may remember from my previous reports my mention of our prolific spawn of 2007 and that the river was full of small fish that disappear from the time that they reach 3” and reappear when they are 12” long…well, they showed up in mass immediately following the 8,000 constant flow in June. They are everywhere! For the first time in many years we are catching fish of all sizes, from 10’’ to 20” which is typical of a very healthy river. The only downside is that our average fish size has dramatically decreased; the river is still chock-full of big fish but the challenge is getting your fly past the smaller and not so smart little fish.

The current health of the river is outstanding…better than it has been in years. Last year’s above normal runoff into Lake Powell delivered and stirred up countless tons of nutrients into the water and this nutrient rich water is passing through the dam and into the river. Algae is everywhere in the river and this provides food and habitat for the aquatic food base that the trout depend upon. Lake Powell rose more than 30-ft this year which is good news for the fishing and all of the people in the southwest who depend on this water for household use and electrical generation. The rising lake and the nutrient load will guarantee this trend of healthy trout populations and good fishing will continue for the next several years.

The turning point and the beginning for the recovery of the Lees Ferry fishery occurred in 2005 when Lake Powell had the first above normal snow-pack and runoff year since 1997. Last year we had almost exactly the same conditions. The above normal winter snow pack and runoff into Lake Powell in 2007-08, stirred up a tremendous amount of nutrient laden sediment that had accumulated at the lake mouths of the Colorado River, San Juan River, and the Green River. Lake Powell elevation increased 43-ft. and the rivers flowing into the lake mixed the sediment and nutrients into the lake water. It usually takes several months before we see this mixing affect. The increased nutrient load in the lake and river is evident this spring by the dramatic increase in aquatic vegetation and aquatic organisms throughout the river.

For those of you that remember what the fishing was like in 1999 and 2000…you should be as excited as I am about the current conditions and what the increased nutrient load should do for the fishing at Lees Ferry.

Lots of stuff happening at the Ferry and it is all good!

Recent Fishing: With the steady water flows we are wading the riffles, drifting from the boat, and anchoring in the deep tail-outs of the riffles. Fishing techniques have been mixed between using a “heavy nymph rig” which is a 9 to 12-ft leader, strike indicator, split shot, and dual fly rig, or a “double tiny” rig with a long leader and 2 bead-head midges on 7X, or a dry and dropper rig. I have been using 6 and 7X fluorocarbon tippet and feel that the lighter tippet results in a much higher success rate than say 5X. Anglers might argue that they break fish off on such light tippet but my argument is that in order to break a fish off, you first have to first get a fish to eat your fly and you are going to get more eaters with lighter tippet than heaver tippet.

When wading the riffles you need long dead drifts. There are 2 types of drifts; perfect dead drifts and all other drifts. Perfect dead drifts catch fish at Lees Ferry; all other drifts don’t catch fish here. You get a dead drift by mending the line, then throwing slack line on the water. If your line is straight from your rod tip to your indicator or you move your indicator during the drift, then your drift is not perfect and will not catch fish. The key to success is to stay over fish, get the flies down to the bottom, and get a long, perfect dead drift.

The high flow experiment, 4/08, was basically a non event as far as the fishery is concerned. It came and went with few visible changes to the river or the fishery. For more details and to see my complete comments go here: http://coloradoriverconservancy.org/

For details on Lake Powell conditions and snow-pack, go here: http://lakepowell.water-data.com/

For a real time graphic view of water releases and ramp rates go here: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/uv?09380000

The AZ Game and Fish Department has detected whirling disease in a very small percentage of Lees Ferry trout that were collected for a random sampling. A more recent sampling turned up no sign of the disease, which may mean that it was a “one time” exposure, where the disease was not established or that the disease is present but at a very low prevalence.  Anglers should still use caution in cleaning their equipment both before and after they have fished here or in other waters. For more information visit: http://www.whirling-disease.org


LAKE MEAD –Lake Mead water level have remained fairly steady. The current level is around 1,094 feet above msl. The striper bite has been fair. Fishing under submersible lights at night can yielded large numbers of fish.  The lights are more productive when used around the new moon, on dark nights.  The next new moon is Oct. 18.  Most stripers being caught are in the 1-pound range, with occasional fish up to two pounds.  Stripers are being caught 12 to 60 feet of water.  Catfish are biting well on anchovies.  Largemouth bass are being caught in isolated coves around the lake.

Launching conditions at South Cove will continue to deteriorate as the water level continues to drop. The concrete ramp the National Park Service completed last year is one lane with cones marking the edges. Use caution not to go off the sides of the metal extensions at either side. National Park Service is working to keep the ramp open.  Temple Bar Launch Ramp is two lanes.  Launching conditions in general are better at Temple Bar than South Cove.

Important notice: With the 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 lake level is around 633 feet above msl.  Fishing for stripers and catfish seems to be fair. Stripers and catfish are being caught still fishing with anchovies. Submersible lights are very effective for stripers when used on dark nights.  The next new moon is October 18th. Bass are located both in shallow water and on fish habitat in 15-20 ft.

Biologists from both Arizona Game and Fish Department and Nevada Division of Wildlife with the help of volunteers, National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation personnel have continued to install fish habitat in Carp Cove, Box Cove and now Shoshone.  Fish habitat consists of PVC structures, wood pallet structures, tamarisk bundles, and some Christmas trees. The largemouth, bluegill and catfish are really utilizing the new structures. 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 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 www.azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

WILLOW BEACH – Trout are stocked every Friday. Trout anglers fishing from shore were catching trout on and around the pier area. Those successful at landing trout were fishing with salmon-egg scented Power Bait, flies, and Power worms.

Important notice: With the 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 www.azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

TOPOCK MARSH – The water level is up and the bite has been fair. Both bass and catfish are biting. Catfish are biting on anchovies and night crawlers.

You can access the marsh by boat at the 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 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 www.azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

COLORADO RIVER BELOW DAVIS DAM – One angler reported catching good size trout and small stripers in the area of Veterans Bridge.  The striper bite has been pretty good.

Trout stocking resumed Tuesday Oct. 13.  Rainbow trout are stocked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service monthly. The fish are stocked in two locations; Davis Camp and near The Riverside. Trout fishing at the stocking sites is great immediately following the stockings, then the fish move out and you need to find them. Anglers typically report catching trout on the Arizona side across from the Riverside and off the shore of Davis Camp. USFWS will be stocking trout once a month from October until March. Remember to fish for trout, you need a trout stamp on Class A and Lifetime fishing licenses. The 2009 Class A Fishing License goes on sale for half price in November and December. Community Park is good place for the morning fishing. Anchovies work best for catching stripers, but you may also catch catfish and trout.

The water level will go up later in the day, but it will drop after sunset. 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 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 www.azgfd.gov or visit http://100thmeridian.org/.

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