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Playing Hooky For Stripers

Momentarily captivated by the early morning glow on Gunsight Butte, I’m brought back to reality by a solid “CAST NOW!” command.

Before the boat has fully glided to a stop, Wayne’s hands are off the throttle and onto a nearby rod.  Stripers have surfaced nearby and the fishing action begins.

A quick cast, a pump rod and a twitch of the topwater lure and the fight is on with another deep-diving, strong swimming striped bass.   The pull against the rod is greater this year. The stripers are well fed and full-bellied and they use that weight to muscle down towards deeper water.

Before the first fish can be landed another rod tip bends towards the water, followed then by a third.  It’s a classic triple play.  With all three anglers fighting fish at the same time

Wayne Gustaveson, Utah fishery biologist, beams like a proud parent.

It's opening season for Lake Powell striper boils; a defining Lake Powell experience.  What Wayne likes to call “A Most Singular Event”.  He speaks the truth.  Adrenaline is a powerful drug and the sensory excitement of an aggressive striper boil is an addictive and memorable experience. 

Funny how  the buzz of the 4:30 a.m. alarm clock sounds so much different when reason for rising is a fishing adventure versus the drags of another day at work.  This morning we find that we are not alone on the notion to ‘play a little hooky’.  

Word of the stripers boils has spread through Page quickly and several other boats can be seen bobbing gently in Padre Bay waiting for next boil to erupt.   Some will be late for work and school this day but for the time being, the distant demands of work and school take a back seat to the pure pleasure of the moment and the immediate task at hand.  Namely, the challenge of landing the fish quickly, removing the lure and casting out again before the school of fish ends their surface feeding frenzy. 

The Lake Powell fishery is extremely healthy thanks to three straight years of abundant shad.   Wayne says he can't remember the lower lake striper fishing ever being better.  It might be attributable to lowering lake levels.  Whatever the reason, don’t miss your chance to partake in this exciting  topwater action.  Wayne adds “Right now we are fishing the good-old-days”. 

I call it “just what the doctor ordered”.

stiper boil.jpg (25187 bytes)  wgatwork.jpg (16882 bytes)
   (length squared x girth) / 1200 = lbs.??                A Proud Fishery Biologist


Excerpts submitted by Tiffany Mapel

Hi all, just returned from my yearly Trash Tracker trip at Lake Powell.  Cleaning the shores for a nicer, cleaner Powell!   Here's the trip report.

Saturday, August 7th--We awoke to a perfect blue sky. After a quick breakfast, we were in the Eliminator (the trash barge) and off by 7:45 ready to start the day.  We crossed the channel to Ribbon Canyon to see Guido (another sunken boat we found last year) and
clean the shores.  We take a few pictures, and clean the canyon.  Next, we head downlake, cleaning the shore as we go.  Through Register Rocks, and to Cottonwood Canyon.  Cottonwood only goes in two turns, then the water ends.  It must be a magnificent canyon
at full pool.  I've never been in it before, and can only visualize how spectacular it is.  We cleaned all over in Cottonwood, and I hiked up to the full pool line to get some pictures. 

That night, I fixed my usual Mexican fiesta for dinner, and Pat whipped up her usual strawberry margaritas.  We fished off the back of the houseboat, but only managed a few catfish and carp... Still, the Stripers elude us...

Sunday, August 8th--Another beautiful, perfect morning.  We cleaned the shore down to Llewellyn Gulch, then into Llewellyn.  Lots of cans and junk where the water ended.   Amazingly, most of the cans we find are old ones--they have the pull tabs, and
they're really corroded.  Hardly any newer cans at all.  I guess that's a good sign. 

We walked up the clear stream flowing into the canyon, cleaning trash along the way.  Found a beaver pond, complete with a beaver!  We left him alone.  There were also deer
tracks everywhere.  There were lots of cool drainages which also had clear springs flowing in them.  Lots of tadpoles and toads.  We also spotted a blue heron.

Then we cleaned the channel down to Reflection Canyon.  Not too far out of Llewellyn, I spot what I thought was a bowling pin in the water, buried in the sand right near shore.  It was!!  A real AMF bowling pin!!  We're used to finding lots of golf balls, but a bowling pin?!?! 

We took a quick swim break, then headed for Reflection.  The underwater sandstone arm
that stretches across the canyon was much more visible than it was in June.  The water was only 4 feet deep over it.  We walked across it and took some pictures.

We cleaned both branches of Reflection.  I stirred up a large covey of Chucker  Quail in the left branch.  They are beautiful birds.   Both canyons have clear spring fed streams flowing in them, and lots of animal life.

Back on the houseboat, we have our evening swim, and I fix chicken and shrimp kebabs for dinner.  It's another starry clear night on the top of the boat, and the Perseid meteors are starting.  Every once in a while, one will streak across the sky, leaving a white tail that's visible for a few seconds.  Very cool!

Monday, August 9th--Another perfect morning.  Enough already!!  Went to Anasazi Canyon.  Cleaned along the way, and into the canyon.  Found the double arches in Lehi Canyon, the left branch off Anasazi.  Climbed up to see the pool beneath the second arch.  Bruce jumped in, and it was only a few feet deep.  If you walk beyond the double arches and follow the sandy stream bed, you'll come to the coolest waterfall and pool.  It was very refreshing, and we all took turns standing in the pool and letting the waterfall spray us.

After Anasazi, we went to Rainbow Bridge Canyon.  This canyon was in desperate need of a major clean up, and I don't think that Trash Trackers have been in there in a few years.


Here's a Lake Powell story:

After a few days of camping stress caused by waiting on about 50 people, Steph (my wife) and I decided to get away from the crowd and go in our boat to find a secluded cove to take a bath.  After miles of searching (Steph's very inhibited), we found a very hidden narrow cove  with solid red rock reaching hundreds of feet above us.

The cove was only about 20 feet wide.  It was very shady and quiet and kinda spooky.  The water was deep and crystal clear and was the perfect place to take a  bath.  Steph soon finished and was back in the boat and I was still  bathing and standing behind the boat on a rock that was about 3 feet under the water.  All of a sudden I felt something bite me on the butt  and I screamed (it must have echoed for miles) and jumped about 10 feet  right back into the boat. I looked at my butt and it was bleeding where I had once had a mole.  (The mole was still there but it looked like a "hanging chad.")  I looked back into the water and there I saw a huge Bluegill looking up at me...... I still hadn't rinsed my hair, but I wasn't going back in! 

Tears and soap began to fill my eyes and I needed some sympathy (I normally have a high tolerance for pain), but Stephanie was rolling on the floor of the boat, laughing. (Why can't our wives be  like our mothers when we are suffering).......we decided not to go back  to town to a hospital, but instead went back to camp.  I didn't get much sympathy at camp.  Several of the guys there said they had been fishing but the fish weren't biting....after relating the experience to them  they asked me if I would go fishing with them and troll with my butt in
the water............Several of the men regularly fished bass tournaments and they were considering developing a new bait,  "Bob's  Butt Mole Bait"......I told them live bait was not allowed, but then  they wondered if a mole was live skin or dead went on and

Anyway, after a year I have healed up pretty well.  I am a little timid about getting back in the water. I've been looking for a Speedo swim suit made out of shark proof steel material.......if anyone knows of one, please advise........

Bob Wright


Friend of Lake Powell