Don Allphin

Justin Hicks, of Delta, Colorado, holds one of several six-pound stripers caught on topwater lures in early fall 2018 at Lake Powell.

Readers consistently ask the same question after spending time at Lake Powell. “How do you find striper boils?”

My wife, Jeri and I, will be spending time on Lake Powell later this month and I will be writing about our adventure, but for now, allow me to share a couple of stories that might help you understand how to find striper boils.

I wrote a book about finding, viewing, and photographing bears in Yellowstone. Although I explained what attracted bears to certain areas, the truth was and is that you find bears where they find you. The same is true for finding striper boils.

Iin 1998, I experienced my first striper boil on Lake Powell. A friend, Kent Pendleton (Provo), invited me to experience the Hite area in early September. We went prepared to catch large and smallmouth bass but had a few topwater lures tied on just in case we spotted a striper boil.

We fished from very early to very late and (although we caught a lot of bass) we saw no striper boils. As we talked about our lack of stripers and planned our next day, we figured out that stripers (especially in the fall) are focused like lasers on baitfish. We then, focused on finding shad (rather than stripers), got up early the next morning, located points and coves off the main lake in calm water, and watched for any kind of surface activity.

But, even with our determined efforts it took until 5 p.m. that afternoon before all heck broke loose. We headed up the Colorado River above Hite looking for shad and almost like an explosion, we had wall-to-wall stripers smashing the surface and chasing the school.

They trapped the shad against cliffs on the east side of the river and the stripers were so excited they literally knocked themselves out chasing shad into the cliffs.

We caught fish on almost every cast for over two hours, regardless of the lures we chose. We learned that baitfish control where you should look for striper boils. Look for baitfish early in the morning and late into the evening to better your odds of seeing surface activity.

In 2009, another friend, Justin Hicks (Delta, Colorado), joined me to fish in a team bass tournament in early October. We were allowed one striper in addition to five small or largemouth bass according to the rules of the event.

We chose to fish in Hall’s Bay (near Bullfrog) and because the water was cooling but still over 70 degrees, early in the morning we found ourselves in the back of a deep-water cove throwing topwater lures. After a few minutes, we both noticed a section of the cove coming alive with tiny pock marks that looked like tiny fish feeding on the surface. There were no fish jumping but we realized a school of shad was hanging around the cove.

We fished the edges of the shad school and within a few casts, stripers began to slam our lures. We actually created a boil by retrieving our topwater lures which splashed and popped as they came back to the boat. We initially saw a tiny blow up or two as they attacked our lures but then the entire surface erupted. The key was (once again) finding baitfish and fishing the edges of the school.

The key to finding striper activity and boils (especially when the water is above 70 degrees) is to fish very early in the morning and in very calm water. You must be able to see surface activity. Then, try to find schools of baitfish because you know that if baitfish are in an area, predator species are nearby.

As in my bear book, stripers are where they find you, but you can learn to be where stripers should be by locating baitfish and fishing the edges of the schools. Later in the month, I will provide a little more detail after my next adventure to Lake Powell.

Don Allphin can be reached at don@donallphin.com

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