Fishing has been on an upswing during the past several years. Fish are big, healthy and fun to catch. Many bass tournaments are held at the lake and the professionals pull in large numbers of fish. But you don't have to be a pro to catch fish at the big lake. Powell is usually kind to novice fishermen and seasoned anglers alike.
Having good strategy and technique will help you catch quality fish, but the simple approach also works. If you put a piece of hot dog on a weighted hook and let it sit on the bottom behind your anchored houseboat you will probably catch a catfish. Carp and bluegill often come alongside houseboats hoping to find quick meals. They can often be caught using jigs, standard baits or simple table scraps.
Serious fishermen take advantage of predictable cycles at the lake. Fishing success starts to pick up in April as the lake's water warms. Largemouth start to move shallow and build nests, and provide good action as the month progresses. Smallmouth quickly follow. During late April and May, bass fishing is usually red hot along the lake's rocky shorelines.
Crappie follow a similar patter and provide very good action during spring, as they congregate in brushy areas in the backs of canyons. Catfish and bluegill are usually easy to find and provide good action during the entire warm season.
Striped bass also start to become active in April. They can often be found in huge schools as they stage to spawn in late April and May. They are typically caught by anglers trolling or jigging in deeper water toward the backs of canyons or in front of spawning areas.
Walleye are active year-round but can be hard to find during the winter. The best walleye fishing usually takes place in May and June.
As the heat of summer sets in, bass move deeper. Smallmouth and largemouth are still caught in good numbers by anglers who use weighted jigs or other strategies to work the deeper rock slides.
After spawning, striped bass range freely throughout the lake. In early summer anglers have to hunt them down. In July and August, they start to feed on the surface chasing young-of-the-year shad. Schools of stripers literally "herd" the shad into coves or up against cliffs. The surface of the lake appears to "boil" as tiny shad leap out of the water with big stripers in hot pursuit. Fishermen eagerly cruise the lake looking for those boils. When one is found, any shad-imitating lure will be attack by stripers if it is pulled through the boil. Lures are often hit again and again until a fish is hooked. The action can be fast and furious. Many anglers say the boils provide one of their all time favorite fishing experiences.
During fall, all species provide good action. The fish sense winter is coming and they feed voraciously. During winter, most fish species are less active but can be caught by anglers who search them out and make careful lure presentations.
There are no limits on striped bass and walleye at the big lake. Anglers are encouraged to catch and harvest as many stripers as possible because the fish reproduce prolifically and numbers need to be thinned to keep the predator/prey relationship in balance.
Most of Lake Powell is located in Utah and you need a Utah license to fish on the Utah side. The area near the dam is located in Arizona and you need a Arizona license to fish there. Businesses near Bullfrog and Wahweap sell licenses and permits.
Utah and Arizona resident license holders can purchase "reciprocal permits" allowing them to fish anywhere on the lake.