Ripe with irony, this week’s column is dedicated to those that simply cannot store their boats for the winter and look to the south for fishing opportunities this time of year.
A friend of mine recently asked how cold it gets at Lake Powell in the winter and if I thought it would be worth it to go down during December and January. My immediate and heartfelt answer was … that depends.
I absolutely love to fish Lake Powell in the winter, and in the years since I discovered its wintertime beauty, including clear water, magnificent scenery, and not even a handful of other anglers or boats, I plan on at least two trips to the Bullfrog area before the middle of March.
The reason I told my friend “that depends” when asked if it would be worth the trip in December and January comes down to weather, and companionship.
Allow me to explain.
Wintertime fishing at Lake Powell can be fantastic for certain species. I generally target stripers, walleyes, and crappies for the freezer. One or two trips a year will put enough filets on ice to hold several family fish fries in the middle of the summer, or around holidays.
Winter is the time to “spoon” for all of the above-mentioned fish species, and where (specifically) to fish is dependent on finding shad (baitfish), and that brings weather into the equation.
For years, I have written about how to watch the weather for just the right time to go to Lake Powell. Firmly instilled in those of you who have taken my advice, were the instructions to wait for several days of a warming trend with little or no storms predicted.
For example, if a week’s weather was predicted to be stable, in the high-20s at night and possibly the mid-40s or even 50 during the day, I would leave on the second day of the warming trend and stay for two nights. This will most likely give you at least two or three days of calm, conditions which will allow you to explore sections of the reservoir fully, in search of baitfish and therefore the species to want to target.
In calm water (with breezes no stronger than 5 to 7 mph), you could move north from Bullfrog and quite literally check each canyon for shad until you find sufficient activity to stop, drop your spoons and start catching fish.
If, on the other hand, you were faced with big winds, cold temperatures, and consistently, large waves, you would be limited in your ability to locate active schools of fish. Even though you can hide from most winds in the middles or the backs of canyons (which also happens to be where you want to look for active fish), as you continue to move up lake, it would be challenging at best to navigate the main channel in the cold, the wind, and the waves.
The other thing to remember is that you might very well be the only boat within 20 miles of your destination. This means that if you were to breakdown, there will be no one to give you aid or assistance. For that reason, companionship in the form of another boat full of your angling buddies could very literally make or break your trip.
There have been times that we have found fish up to 40 miles north of Bullfrog. If we were to have broken down, it very well may have taken a week to get help. So, having two boats working together, more water could be covered in your search of fish, active schools could be found much quicker, and the relief of knowing you won’t be stranded would be … priceless.
If you are planning a trip to Lake Powell this winter, please contact me and I will give you all of the details as to how to locate and catch the species you seek. If enough of you want those details, I may even write another column dedicated to the processes and techniques.