Scores of youth groups descend on Lake Powell every summer, drawn by sun, sand and water. Mostly they ski, tan and throw water at each other. Some do a little fishing, but most don't do much catching.
I know a group that proved to be an exception. Thirteen young men and women – and four adults – did some serious fishing on the lake and came back with a lot of fish. The group was lucky in that it included Kevin Staheli, a veteran Lake Powell fisherman.
"We took six young men and young women at a time in my boat; fished for about five hours. Everybody caught fish. We could have kept catching them all day long. We caught stripers and some catfish. We caught about four or five stripers that went 6-7 pounds. Others were smaller, but went over 20 inches. We caught one big one the day before that went 13 lbs. That's a pretty good fish."
Staheli was raised in Enterprise, just north of St George. He's an avid fisherman who can often be found trolling on Strawberry, fly fishing the Green, or exploring one of Utah's lesser known hot spots. "I would say Lake Powell is my favorite," he said. "There is no place else like it."
The group used anchovies on the end of light line and 10 pound leader. Staheli said the light gear is important when the water is clear.
"I knew where we wanted to go. I use my fish finder to locate fish on the graph, then we stop. The fish were down about 35 feet this time, right up against a sheer cliff. We dropped the anchovy right down in the midst of them and then they would hit it. The water was only about 84 feet deep in that area."
The group tied their boat to the cliff, then drifted back and forth. Wakes from other boats rocked the group – and their lines – giving action to the anchovy. When they drifted close to the cliff, they pushed off with a 20 foot rod.
"We cut the anchovies in half; kept them on dry ice so they would be frozen. Didn't even try to hide the hook. Just slipped it through and dropped it down. It's better to keep anchovy frozen solid. They will stay longer on your hook. When thawed, they are really mushy and a mess to fish with. Put them on dry ice and they stay hard all day long."
"I've been fishing Powell for years, Staheli said. "My Dad and I fished in the first striper derby they came out with, and took 2nd place. We caught 10 fish. Their weight came in at 49 lbs., 15 oz. It was a two-day team tournament, my first fishing trip ever on Powell."
"Lately I've been working the mouths of canyons, right where the canyon begins from the main channel of water, where there are lots of shear cliffs, I try to graph along the edges. If I pick up something, I go in and try it for awhile. I've caught a lot of stripers on white Mr. Twister jigs. Also T-spoons and bucktail jigs with twister tails, but I can't find them much anymore."
"Locations change with the seasons. When they are spawning they are up high and you can toss a plug at them. Later on when it gets hot they are a little deeper. You have to go with bait. Basically, I just go along the edges because there are shear cliffs all through those canyons."
"The heaviest line I've ever used is 10 pound test, and I've never had one break free yet. If you hook a big one, you do have to play him."
"If you see fish boiling, feeding on the surface, you can use a surface plug or spinner – about the same things you would use for bass. You can kill them but the action usually only lasts a few minutes."
"If they are not hitting in one area, you just have to keep moving," Staheli concluded.