Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Lake Powell Trip 2012

Fishing Time:  Thursday – Monday
Weather:  Daytime T-80s, nighttime T-50s, clear skies, very little wind
Moon Phase:  New Moon
Location:  Lake Powell – launched from Hite Marina and camped at Blue Notch
Water Temp:  Morning – T-58-63, Afternoon – T-63-67
Mudlines:  Mudline #1 -Just north of Blue Notch, Mudline #2 – south of Blue Notch about 2 miles
Best Baits:  Largemouth/Smallmouth – Jig and Trailer, Stripers – trolling deep diving crankbaits, Crappie/Bluegill – random lures, Walleye – Curly tailed jigs tipped with worm, Carp/Shad – bow and arrow
Who Went:  Rick, John, Me
This spring’s annual Lake Powell trip could go on record as the most successful to date.  We had beautiful weather for five days straight, with temperatures during the day pushing 90 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky.  Nights were calm with only a light jacket needed.  It was a little breezy the first day, but after that, perfect.  The largemouth and smallmouth bass were in the shallows spawning and were seen guarding their nests in the clearer water south of the mud line.  The crappies were also spawning and building nests right next to their bassy friends.  The stripers were there in numbers if you were willing to hunt and troll for them, but we didn’t spend a lot of time chasing them due to the excellent bass fishing, that as usual, was too exciting to pass up.  We actually found and conquered a few walleye by using knowledge of where they might be and targeting them specifically instead of only catching them by accident.  We caught a few random bluegill and sunfish.  We used Ricks bow to find and destroy some carp and gizzard shad, and even caught one mudcat from shore near camp using the cut up gizzard shad for bait.  We caught 10 different species of fish in all.
We camped in Blue Notch Canyon (just off Good Hope Bay) which was between mud line #1 and mud line #2.  I never really noticed until this trip that there was two mudlines.  It went from chocolate milk to stained just north of Blue Notch, then there was a stained- crystal clear mudline about 3 miles south of Good Hope Bay.  We were camped within the "in-between" zone which coincidentally produced way more fish than the other two zones.
I would say that the average water temp was 65 degrees, but we found water above 70 (the last day at Hite boat ramp) and we found water under 60 degrees in the clear water.
We fished all three clarity levels of water, and just about every kind of shoreline.  The pattern was gravelly/sandy shorlines that had flooded brush, in the "in-between" level of clarity (not clear, not muddy).  The smallies would bite no matter how close you got to them.  The largies would typically not bite if you saw them, but if you could remember where their beds were and come back to them in an hour or two, you could get them with a precise cast and little splash-down.  If you stuck to it, you could catch 2-3 pound largies all day with the best bite being from about 2:00-7:00. 
We spent half a day chasing lizards and using the most ingenious lizard catching technique I have ever seen, thought up by none other than the engineer and master innovator Rick Everson.  We even filled four mouse traps in one night.  
Nothing that lived was safe while we were in Powell this year, and I think we all felt like we were 12 year old kids again.  The only goal unachieved on this year’s Lake Powell trip was not landing Big Bertha.  Every year we spot a monster largemouth in the shallows and every year the goal is to catch her.  Last year’s Big Bertha was an absolute monster probably pushing 7-8 pounds, while the biggest one we could find this year was more like 4-5 pounds, either way, a very nice bass.  Unfortunately, like last year, we came home without Big Bertha.  Below is video of John trying to make the perfect cast and land Big Bertha...
Thursday:  Left my house at 4 a.m. and arrived at the Hite Marina by 9:30 a.m.  Loaded our gear and watched as Rick almost sunk his jeep on the primitive boat ramp launching my boat.
By 1:00 p.m. camp was set and I wandered over to the shoreline to take a look, and that’s when I saw it…  Nests, nests, and more nests!  . Bass were spawning everywhere, and right around our camp site in Blue Notch Canyon, was prime spawning ground around the shoreline and island.  
We fished every square inch of our camp area the first day and probably had the most fish per cast that first afternoon.  When you would get up on some of the largemouth beds and watch them, it was interesting because you would often see giant gizzard shad teaming up and chasing them off their beds.  I’m assuming they were after their eggs, but I'm no biologist.  It was kind of sad seeing them tormented like that.  The shad were relentless.  We started noticing that most of the beds were right next to submerged bushes, so we started focusing our casts right next to bushes and our success picked up tremendously.  We mostly fished with jigs/trailers dragging them through prime areas.  Best colors seemed to be brown to light tan/orange.  
As it got dark, John tried some topwater poppers and hooked quite a few smaller largies.  He also hooked a 14-inch crappie on a topwater bait, which I have never seen before.
Friday:  A lot of the same tactics as Thursday.  Beat the hell out of the fish around our camp, then ventured out into the east end of Good Hope and found lots of good shoreline holding fish.  We traveled south about 5 miles and tried a few canyons on the east side pulling up mostly smallmouth with an occasional crappie and largemouth bass.  
This area was in the clear water and it seemed more difficult to locate the largemouth without spooking them.  We went into Ticaboo Canyon (dink smallie-ville) and tried our luck.  
Rick caught a walleye on a jig/trailer (another first) and we decided to make a few passes trolling cranks for stripers and eyes.   To our surprise we caught two nice crappies and a bluegill (first timer #3).  
After that, we headed back to Good Hope and Blue Notch to fill the rest of the day pitching the bushes/beds for largies.  We had a bass-tournament of our own on Friday, just counting total number of bass.  Rick took the honors with 18, I caught 15, and John had 13.

Saturday:  The day from hell.  I dont know if half the population of Utah came to Lake Powell for a one day trip or what.  All of the sudden, there was 3 boats in every corner of the lake.  I’ve never seen so many boats up north before.  It was hot and miserable, and the fishing all but turned off due to the pressure and people spooking fish.  
We decided to head north and try the super-stained water.  We gave Two Mile Canyon and Four Mile Canyon a couple hours and probably had 3 bites to show for it… Miserable.  We trolled around "The Horn" and pulled up a few stripers with one over 5 pounds, then we went back to Ticaboo Canyon to seek some shade with the high cliffs and took a break for a while.  
We saw a few guys catching some walleye on bottom-bouncers in Ticaboo, but there were about 6 boats packed in there so it wasn’t even worth getting in the mix.  We wasted some time bowfishing carp. Rick shot into a pod of carp and to our surprise, put a hole through one of the giant shad we kept seeing!  Was cool to see one up close, and I think the largemouth were thankful as they treated us well the next day.

Sunday:  Had the lake to ourselves again.   Only saw one or two other boats and the bite was back on.  
Back to the same old tricks pitching jigs and some plastics onto beds.  We went back into Kathy's Canyon which is back in Good Hope, and we wished we would have found this canyon earlier.  LMB were all over in there.  Just about any crevice or bush that looked like it could hold a bed had one or two fish sitting on it.  We took several passes through Kathy's, in between passes we hit some shoreline out in Good Hope and our campground area in Blue Notch.  
We did another bass tournament and decided to do a 3-fish max weight competition.  By the end of the day, we all had bags close to 9 pounds, with Chris taking the honors by a few ounces.  Rick caught a 13 inch crappie on a jig/trailer (first #4) and John caught a nice bluegill on a creature bait (first #5).  
At night we found a sunken island in Good Hope that was about 15 feet deep and made a few passes drifting jigs.  Caught two stripers and two walleye in the first couple passes then the bite shut off.
Monday:  All of our batteries were pretty well shot, our food/water was about gone as well as our gas.  Rick taught us the coolest lizard catching gadget known to man, made from a stick and dental flaws, so we caught a bunch and took them home to the kiddo’s.
Goal is to keep them alive until next year’s Powell trip, then take them back and let em go.  We gathered some really cool red sand and sandstone near Hanksville on our way home to make our lizard aquariums.
Before leaving we gave a few of the lunker largies a last chance where we remembered their lairs, caught a couple, then packed up and headed out.  
When we got back to Hite boat ramp, the water was 77-degrees.  Beautiful weather the entire trip, very little wind, severe sun burns, and lots of fish.  Pretty much caught as many 2-3 pound male largemouths as your heart desired.  The only downfall was we didn’t catch any of the big bertha females.  I guess that’s the tradeoff from going a few weeks later in the spawn.

No comments: