Colorado River Northwest Fishing Report

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October 2nd, 2009

LAKE POWELL — Report courtesy Wayne Gustaveson, Utah Division of Wildlife. Sept. 22. Lake elevation: 3635. Water temp: 74 – 77 F.

Fall fishing patterns are now in place at Lake Powell. The pattern is all about shad and how 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 35-50 feet where water is cooler. Both species make frequent trips to the shallows to visit their dinner.

Find a shad school in the shallows- predators will be near!

Striped bass are the jailers. They like a deeper slot that provides quick access to trapped shad. They come in, feed quickly and then return to cool water. Stripers are forever vigilant. They look up for shad trying to sneak out. When shad attempt an escape stripers quickly rise and drive shad back into the shallows feeding as they go.

This behavior exposes stripers just enough for anglers to exploit them. Find shad trapped in the back of a brushy pocket. Follow the submerged creek channel out to a depth of 35 feet or better looking for a few fish right on the bottom. It seems now that almost every small bunch of fish graphed are catchable stripers. Drop the spoon to the bottom near fish. Jig it 2 or 3 times before reeling it quickly about 5 turns of the handle and then drop it to the bottom and repeat the process. During first and last light, stripers can’t leave the spoon alone and will quickly respond. Hook the first fish and watch the small group of individuals grow on the graph to an impressive striper school. When the water column is saturated with stripers speed reel spoons and drop back to depth as quickly as possible to maximize the event.

When the screen goes blank cast the spoon as far as possible, let it sink, then do a speed reel and drop technique back to the boat. Return the spoon to the bottom about 3 times on the retrieve for the best chance of relocating the moving school.

Stripers will boil each day but timing is sporadic. It depends on shad movement and when the last feeding occurred. A morning boil may be the only surface event of the day. If that feeding is missed then it may happen at noon. If not then they will surely boil at night. To maximize the chance of being in the right place find as many deep striper schools and return to check on them periodically. Yesterday boils were most active from the schools I was watching at noon.

Bass run a similar assault. About every two hours a few bass will rush in and grab shad. Be curious about every splash seen near shore. A big splash anytime of day is worth investigating. Move in quickly and cast surface lures to the splash ring. A quick response will result if a feeding largemouth, smallmouth or striper made the disturbance. This time of year all of my rods have either surface lures or spoons attached. I am only targeting stripers and big bass.

The pattern is working lakewide with only a few exceptions in isolated locations including the various marinas and the inflow areas. Marinas differ from the norm because they have overhead cover which tends to congregate shad. Near marinas there are still some quick open water boils.

Inflow areas differ because shad density allows predators to feed without effort. Only quick moving reaction lures draw a response. There are some short canyons with abundant shad where fishing results are lessened for the same reason. The key is to find feeding bass and strips near camp and frequent the feeding areas in a morning and evening fishing circuit to maximize fishing success.

LEES FERRY Sept. 27, 2009 by Lees Ferry Anglers by  Ted Welling
Sunday, Sept. 27th, 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 95 Low 57
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 pretty consistent as of late. Fish have moved out to deeper water. We are anchoring above the riffles and fishing from the boat. The gravel bars are fishing well but, you may have to fish a bit deeper to get to the fish. Fishing slowed up for a while mid-day but, later on in the day the fishing did pick back up, we feel the most productive way to get into fish is from your craft. The back eddies are still holding fish but, you are still fishing from the boat.

Same suspects, Zebra midges, scuds San Juan worms, brassies and the like.
Walk in: Word has it that this section is fishing well anglers are using the same bugs as up river. Dries –n- droppers, scuds, San Juan worms, and zebra midges. Anglers report fishing is productive from the boulder field all the way to the confluence. Fishing is more productive in the early morning and late afternoon.

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 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

Visit www.leesferry.com for daily fishing reports and updates.

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 1,093 feet above msl. The striper bite has been fair. Fishing under submersible lights at night 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.

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 635 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 Oct. 18. Bass are located both in shallow 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. Most fishermen were successful in the early morning and around noon, when the wind picked up. The striper bite should be good.

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 resumes in October. 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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