Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lake Powell Spring 2013

Fishing Time: Thursday – Monday (25th-29th)
Weather:  Daytime T-80s, nighttime T-40s, clear skies, very little wind
Moon Phase:  90% Moon
Location:  Lake Powell – Good Hope Bay (Blue Notch)
Water Temp:  Morning – T-65-69, Afternoon – T-69-72
Mudlines:  Mudline #1 -Just north of Scorup Canyon, Mudline #2 – south end of Good Hope Bay
Best Baits:  Largemouth/Smallmouth – Jig and Trailer, Stripers – trolling mid diving crankbaits, Crappie – marabou under a slip bobber, Walleye – trolling mid diving crankbaits in 30 ft of water off rocky shorelines, Sunfish- random lures
Who Went:  Bobber John, Rick, Me
The alarm went off at 1:30 AM and I laid there wondering why I didn’t just stay awake for the two hours of sleep I received after packing and preparing for our annual Lake Powell trip.  Normally I would be extremely tired after only two hours of sleep, but when fishing at Lake Powell is in my future, I was more awake than ever.  We had the boat and Rick’s Jeep loaded and on the road by 2:30 AM.  We arrived to Bullfrog Marina at 8:00 AM.
With water levels dropping close to 40 feet from this time last year, we were forced to launch at Bullfrog and make the 20 mile jaunt up lake to Good Hope Bay.  Launching at Hite Marina is no longer an option.  Once on the water I was barely able to get my boat to plane with all our gear, water, and extra gas on board.   
We didn’t spend much time looking for the greatest camp spot, just wanted to make sure it was in the semi-stained water that has treated us so well in the past.
We were limited this year as many of the long canyons and coves are left high and dry due to low water.  We unloaded the boat in Good Hope Bay and set up a base camp for the next 4 days.
Here is the day by day recap…

Thursday:  Following camp set-up, we hiked up the hill and let the lizards we caught on last year’s trip go free.
Mad Max and T-rex are now free to roam the red rocks they love.  Unfortunately, Bobber Johns lizard did not make the trip back home to Lake Powell (R.I.P Big Tex).  After some tears were shed we jumped in the boat and began fishing right from our camp-site.  Within 15 minutes I had 3 different species in the boat.  First it was a largemouth, then a smallmouth, and last but not least a walleye.
All were caught on a jig/trailer.  Rick and Bobber both got into the mix as well with some smallmouth and a couple largemouth.
We fished most the canyons in Good Hope Bay trying to get a feel for where the bass were hanging out.  Random bass were caught along the way while we continued our search.
We finished the evening south of Good Hope Bay in Ticaboo Canyon where the water was clear and the bass were tough to find.  We gave trolling a try and this ended up being a great choice.  We all began catching walleye with a few random stripers getting in the mix.
After piling 10-12 walleye in the livewell for a fish fry, we called it a night early to save some daylight for filleting fish.  I tossed out a rod with a worm from camp and couldn’t keep the channel cats off.  They were all small, but it was fun and kept me entertained all night.
Friday:  Started fishing near camp again and all landed some decent smallmouth and largemouth.  Rick landed one very nice smallmouth over 2 pounds.
We ran up to Scorup (Ultra) canyon which is basically the last canyon heading north before the water turned to chocolate milk (runoff mudline).  We had some success in Scorup, but it wasn't red hot.
We did however, start to see some bass moving shallow to begin their spawn, which we knew was a good sign.  We fished a few of the bays just south of Scorup and put a few more bass in the boat, with an occasional random walleye and pesky sunfish. 
We finished the evening fishing two coves deep inside Good Hope Bay where we began seeing bass on beds.  With no brush to be found the largemouth and smallmouth were building nests on any rock shelves where sparse gravel was found.  We found this year’s Big Bertha settled on a large flat sandstone rock accompanied by another nice bass, but could not get her to bite (as usual). 

We worked all the way to the back of the canyon sight fishing the entire way and found another nice bass on a bed, so Bobber John threw a drop-shotted roboworm right on top of it.  Instantly the nice bass was hooked and Bobber fought it halfway to the boat before his 8 lb test line snapped.  The bass was left with some roboworm jewelry, but wouldn't bite again. 

As we worked out of the cove we gave Big Bertha one last chance.  I tossed a jig up onto the flat sandstone where her nest was, but I couldn't see her due to a slight breeze which caused the water to ripple.  When I felt the thump I couldn’t believe it.  I reeled in my slack and set the hook on this year’s Big Bertha.  After a good fight I landed this 4 lb 13 oz largemouth.  Finally we can say that we landed the biggest bass seen on our trip.
That night we ate like kings!  It started with some pickled pike appetizers that Rick made from the pike we caught last week at Yuba Reservoir.
Then we cooked some leftover tinfoil dinners from the night before and gorged on fresh walleye until we couldn’t eat anymore.
The walleye lived up to its name as the best eating freshwater fish and it tasted amazing.  We threw out some rods again from camp and caught more channel cats, but they shut off shortly after dark.  Bobber took an epic spill in the soft mud trying to set the hook on a catfish.  His foot completely submerged into the mud.  Needless to say he was none too thrilled about it.
Saturday:  Woke up to the sounds of tournament fisherman racing by our camp in their high speed bass boats.  The Bullfrog Open was on Saturday and Sunday.  A total of 82 boats were entered and every cove and canyon suddenly had a boat in it.  We started the run from our camp and put a few bass in the boat and then ran up to Scorup Canyon again, but found tough fishing for all species.  I did land a walleye and John caught a crappie.  Also caught a few bass, but nothing like the day before. 
With slow fishing and tourney boats everywhere we headed back to camp and went on a hike/lizard hunt.
We hiked up to last year’s campsite and was amazed to see our old camp high and dry, 40 feet above the current water level.
We caught a few lizards and found the lone leapord lizard in the same place Rick caught him last year (obviously territorial).  Rick caught him again and in the bucket he went for Bobber to take home as a new pet.
We hiked back to camp and hit the water again looking for some spawning bass.  We fished the cove where I caught Big Bertha in hopes that someone else may get the chance at catching her or any of the other nice bass we found in this area.  Big Bertha seemed to remember us and was not interested in anything we threw at her, but we did find a few bass to bite.
After catching a few Largemouth we made the run back to Ticaboo Canyon for the evening and continued to catch more walleye and stripers.
Once back at camp Rick noticed that the leopard lizard had escaped the bucket and Bobber had lost his pet.  Again Bobber was not too thrilled.  We night fished once again from camp and Rick broke the channel cat streak with a lonesome walleye.
 
Sunday:  Woke up again to the sounds of tourney boats racing by camp.  Wandered out of bed and into the boat and headed straight to Big Bertha cove.  It was very disappointing not seeing Big Bertha and most the other nice largemouth that were spawning in this cove.  Each one had been plucked off their bed and put into a livewell for a 20 mile boat ride south to the tourney weigh in at Bullfrog Marina.  It annoyed me knowing that fish all over the lake were being taken off their beds and unable to protect their eggs from predators.

We ran up lake to Scorup Canyon again and spent the entire afternoon catching bass, walleye, and then… Bobber found the crappie!  He threw on a crappie slip bobber and quickly put a few nice ones in the boat.
Up to this point I had caught every species in Lake Powell except a crappie so I rigged up a slip bobber and joined the party.
I found a few willing crappie in the very back of Scorup including the biggest of the trip at 15-inches and 2 pounds.  An absolute beast! 
We were running low on fuel for the trip, but decided to make one last run through the clear cove in the back of Good Hope Bay for some sight fishing.  We fished our way through the canyon, but the fish seemed unwilling and had probably seen 30 bass boats throughout the day. 

We thought we would finish out the trip in Ticaboo Canyon trolling for walleye, but when I tried to start the motor nothing happened.  I looked down at the gas tank and I was on empty.  I kept trying to start the big motor while Rick threw the trolling motor down and went about ten feet before it completely died (what are the odds).  We all sat there and looked at each other in amazement and I began picturing spending the night stuck in this cove with no coat, food, or shelter.  After a few minutes I tried starting the boat one more time and it reluctantly started up, so I got on the throttle and didn’t stop until we reached camp.  We had three 5-gallon gas jugs left which is what we needed to get back to Bullfrog, so I threw them in the gas tank and called it quits on boat fishing for the night.
 
We still had a few hours of daylight so Rick and I walked the shorelines and fished around camp while Bobber crawled into his tent for a nap.
We caught a bunch of smallmouth and harassed a few largemouth on their spawning beds.  Rick also snagged a shad.  We returned to camp right at dark and rigged up some poles for night fishing.  Rick and I night fished late as a last hoorah.  We landed a couple crappies and some more channel catfish.  Just before bed we rigged our rods and left them out over night.

Monday:  Slept in a bit then got up and checked our rods.  Ricks was empty, but my line was going in the opposite direction from where I casted.  Sure enough I reeled it in and to my surprise had a walleye on the end of my line.  A good way to end the trip.  Cleaned up camp, loaded the boat, and headed to Bullfrog.
Once in Bullfrog we unloaded gear into the jeep, gassed up the boat, then headed back out and fished the Bullfrog area for bass.  The water was much clearer in Bullfrog and we saw spawning bass everywhere.  We were able to put a few in the boat, but most of them were stubborn and wanted nothing to do with our offerings.  I did catch one last walleye trolling into the boat ramp and we caught a few bass right next to the docks at the ramp prior to trailering the boat.
As Rick was walking up the boat ramp to get his jeep he found a spiny desert lizard (Mad Max) so we made a pit stop after the boat was loaded and Rick caught him for Bobber to take home.  The aggressive lizard didn’t go down without a fight though and even drew blood on Ricks thumb as he tried to undo the noose he used to catch him with.
 
Conclusion:  The bass were spawning, but they seemed more stubborn to hit than past trips.  We still caught a ton of bass, but had to work for them.  This trip will go down as the walleye trip.  We must have caught close to 30 for the trip (record for us).  Unfortunately we didn’t find the crappie until the last day or I think we would have spent a bit more time targeting them.  The channel catfishing at night from camp was a fun addition to the trip. 

The tournament on Saturday and Sunday was a bit of a downer with bass boats everywhere and I think it affected our fishing.  The low water levels had the bass acting screwy and I don’t think they could make up their minds on how and where to spawn.  We didn’t find any submerged brush the entire trip which is what largemouth and crappie thrive in. 

It was disappointing to see how many bass were taken off their beds during the tournament.  I’m not sure what kind of affect that has on spawning and the future of the largemouth at Lake Powell, but more detrimental than the tournament fisherman is the need for more water in Lake Powell.  With no brush to spawn or hide in, all the fry from spawning bass and crappie will have a very low survival rate, and if the lake stays low for too long, the fishery will start to drastically decline, especially for largemouth and crappie.  Here's to praying for some wet winters in our future!

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