Everyone who goes to Lake Mead and particularly South Cove is sad over what we are seeing.
The lake has dropped significantly from last year, and from what I understand is at its lowest level since the lake was created.
New islands and other hazards are popping up everywhere, making nighttime and even daytime use by boaters challenging.
But for me - and yes I am a fishing guide - things have changed a lot this year, and I've got to believe it has to do with the lower water levels.
Places that I have fished for years are suddenly not usable anymore.
That meant having to find other areas and utilizing other techniques to make friends and clients happy over their fishing experience.
And while we try mainly for striped bass, or stripers as we call them, which are the most prolific game fish in the lake, this summer has been a time where we have caught other fish that in the past were not on our catch list.
July has been a time on the lake where our clients have set records for stripers, channel catfish and even carp.
A week ago while fishing striper boils, Rich Nowicki brought in the largest striper that has been caught on our trips this year. That fish weighed 4 pounds, 7 ounces, and was caught on a crankbait.
Now understand that the average striper anglers will catch on Lake Mead right now is around 1 pound, 8 ounces, so a fish like that is indeed special.
The best 10 stripers our clients have caught weighed 20 pounds, 14 ounces, while the best 40 fish, which is a benchmark we use to assess the total quality of the fish, is currently at 64 pounds, 14 ounces.
Coincidentally, last year our top team brought in a 40-fish bag that weighed 74 pounds, 2 ounces.
This year we have caught a large number of channel catfish while fishing at night.
We use small pieces of anchovies, squid, sardines, and even gizzard shad for bait while fishing for Mr. Whiskers and their silver buddies.
So far this summer, my anglers and I have caught more than 25 cats that have weighed 3 pounds or more.
In 2013, our largest catfish was caught by young Brycen Rodriguez. That cat weighed less than 3 pounds.
This year, Dan Butler started off by catching two big cats that weighed over 5 pounds. I was sure that he would win the big cat of the summer. But a week later, another client from Tucson got one that weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces, and I was SURE that would be big cat.
But then on July 2, Randy Hopp from Newberg, Ore., came down and caught a fish we call the "Black Mamba" that weighed an incredible 8 pounds, 4 ounces.
That record stands today.
The surprise of the summer is the catching of carp.
In the past five years at Striper Hunters, our clients have caught just one carp - and that was landed in 2013 by a young lady from Scottsdale.
We just never caught them, though we would see them when fishing.
But this year we have caught over 20 of these gold bugle mouths, and none of them have been small.
The smallest we have caught weighed just under 5 pounds.
The carp we caught seemed to get bigger and bigger. A client caught a 6-pound fish and I was amazed, then reeled in a 7 pound, 8 ounce fish. Then another of my anglers brought in one that weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces.
Then a lady from Phoenix, using an ultralight rod and reel and 6-pound test line, brought one to the boat that weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces.
Surely that would be the big one.
But then we had our first double digit carp, a monster fish that weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces.
And just a week or so ago, Kevin Nowicki from Valle Vista hooked into a carp that set yet another record. His golden beauty pushed the scales to 10 pounds, 8 ounces.
In the unusual fish category, I actually hooked in the mouth a normally plankton-feeding gizzard shad that weighed over 2 pounds! Don't know what that fish thought it was eating, but I fileted it and am now using it for bait. I caught a second gizzard when I set the hook and snagged it just outside the mouth.
Probably the most exciting fishing this summer has come the last month when we started chasing boils in the evenings and early morning.
Stripers are feeding heavily on small shad right now, and by cruising up and down the lake until you see the water splashing, then sliding in quietly and tossing in shad colored jerk or crank baits, you can fill up ice chests very quickly.
Our best morning, with four anglers and myself in the boat, produced over 80 stripers in about an hour.
Last week I had the pleasure of fishing with Kingman residents Dave and Peggy Ballard and their daughter Heather and son-in-law Brad. We got into some boils that resulted in them taking home a lot of filets.
They had never fished for stripers using this technique before and it is safe to say they were impressed with how fast the action was.
When it was over, we had lures with torn off hooks, and hooks that were straightened out on lures. It was a ball!
I'm not sure how long this boil bite will last, but anglers who want to fill up their freezers with striper filets should make it a priority to try this special kind of fishing.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Article comment by:
Fish ? Yes, I fish. Over the years I have witnessed the fish population in the local lakes and rivers decline. The Colorado river and nearby lakes produce a few good size fish but the numbers have gone way down. When I read that dozens of fish are taken by ONE person, I think, Why ? I have always disliked "limits" placed on the taking of fish but as time goes on, I think the "taking" of dozens by one person is unfair to the other fishermen (women). Do you really need sixty Stripers in your cooler ?