My inaugural fishing trip for 2019 began the morning of Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. We chose that day because there was a chance of a little bit of sun and no wind. The air temperature was 34 degrees and the water temperature was at the normal winter reading of 47 degrees. I dressed in my normal 15 layers of clothing and waddled onto the boat.
The first stop was the Castle Rock Cut. It did not take long to confirm that the Cut is now impassable. You can walk across the Cut in the mud but the only way a boat can make it is if you carry it on your back. I do not recommend that. Take the long trip around the main channel and through Antelope Point Marina.
We chose to fish in Wahweap Bay instead of spending our short allotted time running instead of fishing. First stop was Lone Rock Canyon where I successfully fished for bass and stripers just before the New Year. The rock at the mouth of Lone Rock Canyon was our first stop, but instead of catching a three-pound largemouth bass, we got a bite from a small striper on a green-and-black wacky rigged senko. We saw the fish but it spit out the bait before we could land it.
An hour passed without another bite. We switched over to spoons and searched for deep stripers directly east of Lone Rock beach. The only evidence of fish in the area was a few single marks on the graph swimming at mid-depth.
We tried fishing Ice Cream Canyon on spoons and jigs but didn't have any success. Our next stop was the mouth of the cove leading to the Big Sand Dune. Again, we saw a few single fish marks at mid-depth. The only logical way to target these individual fish — which ranged around at 25 to 40 feet — was to troll a deep diving lure or use downriggers. We put on some 20-foot deep divers and headed towards Castle Rock. It only took a few minutes to find the first taker: a very healthy 2.5-pound striper hit the Rapala DT20 ( which dives to 20 feet) in chartreuse-lime color. A short time later, we caught another very healthy 2.5-pound twin on a similar lure in Helsinki Shad and then Cisco Shad color. The key here is to troll at 20 to 30 feet with a lure resembling shad.
Later, as we filleted fish, we found that each fish had shad in the stomach. Those single marks we saw on the graph were stripers that had fed on the shad that were out looking for another target. Striper schools were tight to the bottom and not often visible. When you find single targets at mid-depth, it is an indication that trolling is the best technique. When large schools are seen moving the best technique is to drop spoons or bait into the schools. This pattern should hold until the lake water starts to warm in the springtime.