KSL Outdoors: Fishing Lake Powell for striped bass

(Adam) Welcome to KSL Outdoors and welcome to beautiful Lake Powell. You know ever year biologists from across the state gather for their annual American Fisheries Society meeting. This year they are down here at Wahweap and today we are going out with the man, the myth, the legend of Lake Powell, that’s right Wayne Gustaveson.

(Adam) Wayne how are you doing? (wayne) I’m doing great. (adam) you ready to go fishing? (wayne) I think so. (adam) alright. (wayne) look at this. (adam) what are they doing? (wayne) this boat, they are going to take that truck over to start dredging the Castle Rock Cut.

(Adam) well before we go fish, lets go take a look at it. (wayne) Ok.

Lake Powell is at an elevation of 3599. Castle Rock cut was previously deepened to an elevation of 3608. Crews right now are working hard to try and dig the cut down an addition 8 feet before runoff starts. Once the water rises and floods the cut, it will save boaters gas and time as they won’t have to drive the 12 miles through the main channel.

(Adam) When are they going to be done, have you heard? (wayne) I’m still guessing, it all depends on when the lake starts to rise and if it starts to rise, we don’t have a great runoff coming but my guess is May 15th. Memorial day for sure.

It is a pleasure anytime you get to fish Lake Powell with Wayne Gustaveson. Wayne has been a fisheries biologist at Lake Powell for over three decades. His knowledge and passion is contagious. Just last night Wayne’s dedication was recognized at the American Fisheries Societies annual banquet as he received a lifetime achievement award.

(Bruce Bonebrake, DWR Regional Supervisor) I don’t know anybody that deserves the “mr. Lake Powell” label more than Wayne does. Congratulations Wayne. (applause)

(Wayne Gustaveson, DWR Lake Powell Project Leader) It’s gratifying. I got a lifetime achievement award for doing what I do and today I got another reward as I went to the fish cleaning station and the people said, “hi wayne, I read your report and you said this would be a good week and we’ve got all these stripers here we just caught, thank you.’ What more can you ask.

Wayne also has a website devoted entirely to Lake Powell. It’s called Wayneswords.com It’s full of valuable information on hiking, camping and most important, fishing. If you logged on right now, it would tell you to get to the lower end of the lake, because the striper fishing is on fire at the dam!

(Adam) how has it been going? (anglers) we’ve got a whole cooler. They are jumping out of the water. We don’t have any more room in it. (hold up fish) (adam) nice.

(Wayne) alright Adam there is two different techniques right here. We’ve got the fish down about 30-40 ft. So you can drop it down straight under the boat, oh just had a hit. I was dropping it down straight under the boat. The other option is to cast out about 40 ft and when they hit set the hook. but either cast out and let it come back to the boat, or drop it straight down to them or keep going down for some of the bigger fish.

(Adam) way to perform under pressure. (angler) there you go, it’s been like that all day. We’ve been here the last three days and it’s been everyday just like this.

(Adam) and wayne you were talking about this, you haven’t seen what I would call a phenomenon in a few years like this were the fish are coming to the dam. (wayne) that’s right they’ve been in the back of the canyon for 5 years because there has been a bunch of brush back there. Lot of food, good habitat, right in the back of the canyon. And then, our lake went down, down, down, now there is no brush, the shad have gone out into the open water. (adam hit) What are you doing. (adam) I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing, i’ve got a little one on I think. (wayne) so they’ve left the backs of the canyons, they’ve come down, they’ve hit this barricade and they are stacking up. So they are all stacked up in front of Glen Canyon Dam right now.

The rig is simple, a quarter ounce jig head, tipped with a third of an anchovie, even the kids are latched into fish.

(hook fish) oh hook set. (adam) there he is, so people just got to get down here. How cool is this three generations over here next to us. (wayne) oh I just enjoy watching it, little barbie rod going off. Grandpa is just doing great, he’s catching all the fish. ok and you are schooling me. (adam) oh that’s because I’ve got a school under me otherwise I wouldn’t be able to catch them.

When you come down, bring a big cooler with a lot of ice to keep your fish cool until you have a chance to fillet them. Wayne expects great fishing this year for Stripped bass lake wide and he believes this technique will start working its way up lake for stripers near Bullfrog.

(Adam) that’s just today? (angler) yeah and we’ve thrown back at least this many. We’ve only been here for a half hour!

(Tag) and you are thinking a couple of more weeks people up at Lake Canyon, Moki, buoy 95 will start seeing the same phenomenon. (wayne) darn right, it’s that year, fish have moved out of the canyon, into the channel, they’ll be along that wall. Moki Wall will be famous again. (adam) get down here with your family and friends, catch some of these great fillets. Hey coming up on KSL Outdoors, we’ve got more from Lake Powell, important information you’ll need to know, but first tonights quiz question.


(Drew Cushing DWR Sport Fish Coordinator) down here at Wahweap this year for the AFS meeting, the Utah chapter. It was a fantastic week, we had all the fishery professionals, from state agencies, federal agencies, private consultants, business and then the last two years we started inviting anglers down here to participate.

(Drew) we’ve had some relationships that have been established and the most fun thing is the fishing tournament that we do at the last day of the AFS meeting.

Every year during their annual AFS meetings, biologists team up with local fisherman to compete in a friendly, but competitive fishing tournament. I’ve drawn good friend and angler George Sommer.

(George Sommer, Chairman Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council) that was the weirdest bite. I tell you what. (adam) that’s a good bass, oh my gosh George! oh he had a follower. he had one following it.

(George) it’s a good one. that other one is right underneath him. (net fish) George that is a tank. Oh yeah, yeah baby.

(george) we are in the spot now. (adam) this is what we needed to find, stuff like this. Good fish, that is going to put us on the board. (george) yes it will. (adam) that could be big fish of the day.

George and I are throwing Pepper Custom Bait Spinnerbaits. Trying to cover as much stained water as possible. We are trying to catch not just the biggest bag of bass, but the biggest bag of stripers and walleye.

(Wayne) So Lake Powell is crystal clear right now. So as you head to the back of the canyon, you’ll find the lake suddenly turns a murky color. it could be green, it could be chalky white and then as you go further back it turns into a muddy color. The green section between the clear and the mud is where you are going to find all the fish, largemouth, smallmouth, walleye, crappie.

(Wayne) They’ll be on rocks, structure, but they are using colored water as their cover.

(Adam) I don’t know what I’ve got, I’m guessing it’s a striper.

(Adam) The old blade, here he comes.

(net fish) (adam) Good fish. good job Adam. big fish of the day. are we in the Striper pool. (george) We are all in.

(Drew) This year we had 8 boats, probably 24 people in the tournament and it was a lot of fun, everybody caught fish and you know we had a number of people that participated in AFS that had never been to Utah, never been to Lake Powell.

(Adam) was that a good hit? Actually I just got hit. (hit fish) got him? there we go. (adam) not real big, doesn’t feel it. (george) but that’s number four. smallie isn’t it? (george) no. you caught a walleye. yeah baby. we are representing all the species today.

(George) here’s our bass, I want to weigh big bass.

At the weigh in, George had the biggest bass of the day, at 5.35 pounds. We also had the biggest bag of bass, largest striper at nearly 6 pounds and the largest walleye.

(Paul Rutlinger, Tournament Dir.) an envelope with one thousand five hundred and ninety five dollars in it. Cash money I might add. (adam) let’s go to Vegas everybody. (paul) cash money, and that’s going to go to George Sommer and Adam Eakle.

Every angler that won, donated the money back to the American Fisheries Society. To help these biologists with their annual meeting. George and I will be back to defend our title.

(Adam) thanks guys for all you do, a lot of fun.

(Adam) well the bass fishing tournament that is part of the AFS meetings here is always a lot of fun, really competitive, but friendly competition as well. Good to give back to these guys that manage out Utah waters. Hey lets head back now to SLC to the guys at Fish Tech for tonights fishing report.

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