PAGE, Ariz. — With water levels rising and bass beginning to school, anglers who will be competing at the 2023 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional at Lake Powell Aug. 30-Sept. 1 are hitting the fishery at a great time, according to Utah B.A.S.S. Nation president Rick Culver.
“It is a great time of the year to be there,” Culver said. “To me, this is the most dynamic and diverse fishery in the West. It is like no place I have ever fished. The fishing has gotten better every year for the past four or five years even with the low water. It is still going to be hot, but it is a healthy fishery.”
Stretching nearly 186 miles through Utah and into Arizona, the Colorado River impoundment is the second-largest reservoir in the country and provides a scenic background for the final Nation Regional of the season.
The Western Regional will feature teams from Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Anglers will take off starting at 6:10 a.m. MT from the Stateline Boat Ramp and weigh-in will be back at the ramp beginning at 2:10 p.m. Full coverage will be available on Bassmaster.com.
The last Bassmaster event held on Lake Powell was in 2000, an Arizona Invitational that was won with 25 pounds, 8 ounces. Much has changed since then, leaving a lot of unknowns for anglers across the country.
With much-needed rain and snowfall along the path of the Colorado River over the winter, Lake Powell has risen over 50 feet already this year, and Culver anticipated that will only improve the bite. Anglers will be surrounded by high canyon walls as they run and fish.
“It is a desert lake with gin-clear water at that end of the lake,” Culver said. “We are still in a drought, but it has come up 53 feet this year. It is higher than it was at any point last year.”
Lake Powell features both smallmouth and largemouth, and both species will be roaming in schools and wolf packs looking to feed on shad. Anglers will be able to target some of these bass by finding schooling stripers.
“Guys are going to see some epic boils from the striper,” Culver said. “Everything should be schooling up, and there will be wolf packs of smallmouth starting to chase the baitfish. The striper will be busting gizzards. So, if you find the bait, you will find the striper and then the bass.”
The shad will move back toward the back of the canyon pockets, Culver said, and the bass will be located in the pockets on flats and secondary points. A lot of the bass early in the morning will be in 10 feet of water or less, and topwaters like buzzbaits and walking baits will be big players.
“They are going to be feeding and feeding hard, and as long as there is a little chop and the wind isn’t excessive, it will just be a matter of finding the right stuff,” he said. “The water is so clear, but the fish don’t care.”
With the water level rising, Culver anticipates that vegetation, tamarisk and sage brush that haven’t been in the water for years will come into play.
There is also plenty of deeper water, and a drop shot often comes into play on Lake Powell’s deeper points and humps.
There are plenty of opportunities to find bass close to takeoff, but depending on wind and boat traffic, anglers will have opportunities to make long runs up to Bullfrog Bay and up the San Juan arm as well.
The top-finishing boater and nonboater from each state will punch their ticket to the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship at Lake Hartwell scheduled for Oct. 18-20. The winner will earn the title of Nation’s Best and receive an invitation to the 2024 Bassmaster Elite Series. The Top 3 finishers will head to Tulsa, Okla., for the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.
Visit Page is hosting the event with the Courtyard Marriott in Page serving as the host hotel.