Our weekend party boat pulled out from the Wahweap Marina fully stocked with booze, beer, bait, and soon to be baked boatswains. We were pulling a pair of wave runners and a fishing boat through the Colorado River channel. past buttes, bluffs, banks, spires, cathedrals, and towering monuments, the kind you see at the Bijou during a John Wayne/John Ford film festival.
Before pulling out of the marina we power boated over to the marina store to buy fishing licenses. There was a million dollar fish tournament going on at Lake, Powell, and we were determined to catch that rascal. We were informed that we had to have a fishing license for both Arizona and Utah, because Lake Powell shares the borders of both states. We realized that we had Utah licenses but were fishing in Arizona waters.
Meanwhile, everyone else threw their gear into assigned bunks. That night Chef Boy-ar-dee "Scurvie" whipped together a cordon bleu salmon dinner fit for a five star table as the sun set on Tower Butte, a ragged, decayed molar rising like a Pleistocene fossil out of the plateau off our port side.
LET'S HAVE A RUM PUNCH
After a few more rum punches, it was a conversation of past adventure bragadoccio, yarns, and blarney. Everyone seemed to agree in appointing Scurvie the galley swag for the rest of the trip, even though it was mainly hotdogs and sandwiches during the day. But the next night it was marinated steaks grilled on the propane foredeck stove, with the meat proving to be as tender as sandal soles. I didn't tell Scurvie I used my cut as fish bait. I think everyone else demoted him a Michellin star or two as well, but no one wanted to cook, so we continued to pump up his food finesse.
LAKE POWELL GOLF
The two teenage boys onboard, "Wild Bill" and "Wild Blakely," lost their imaged milion dollar fish prize poker hoards to the Professor in a continuous game of Five Card Stud, reminiscent of the Barbary Coast, with the Professor's made-up rules.
The next morning Danny powerboated Jaime and Scurvie into the National Golf Course in Page, Arizona, for a round or two on the links. Everyone else just sunbathed on the top deck like ruby-throated rainbow trout left too long on the grill. Some people should never be allowed into the wilderness. The skipper (Danny) returned a few hours later as another terrific storm swelled up, sending the greasy sunbathers below. Golf ball-sized hailstones pummelled the alumnium houseboat roof like popcorn, rattling everyone's nerves, and then gleamed in the oxide sand and red sandstone rocks, like while alien gemstones. As this spring storm blew out the lake returned to a pacific peace.in time to pick up the two pickled duffers stranded at the 19th hole. Read more on the Lake Powell National. Click Here.
Labyrinth Canyon winds its way from Padre Bay like a boney finger, pinching the sandstone puffball canyon walls narrower and steeper. At the end of the canyon I hiked on miles of sandy trails through rivertine shrubs, dead animals, shade, sun, shade, sun, and like an English maze garden. other canyons that shoot off or into the one we are on. But which one? I would not want to be here during a flash flood. In fact, there is no trace of the earlier storms the last two days, the sand sucked every molecule into it's earthern lair. The sand is dry; we take our shoes off; the oxide pushes between our toes like old, but still warm, campfire coals. The horizon is only up and it is an infinite turquoise and cloudless. Blakely and I hear sheep bleating, so we know we are on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
There are many introduced fish species in Lake Powell, and one of them was worth one million dollars. The marina sponsored tournament, received national attention on the airwaves and television, and was expected to last all summer, or until someone snagged the true trophy fish. Needless to say, my retirement fund is still swimming around the lake, someone else's lucky lunker. Little did we know that on the very same weekend when we are busting our bait, someone catches the prize winner right off the marina dock.
I found that fishing for stripers is best at night, and best after sunset, angling off a sandstone point, or a finger of land pointing into a bay or above an underwater sandbar jutting up from the depths. Stripers love trout fingerlings up to about six inches, so anchovies or frozen shad from the marine prove great substitutes, or a 7/8-ounce Bomber Long A lure. Use a green Spanish mackeral look alike, rather than the yellow, but keep a yellow and chrome as standbys. Vary the lure color every hour or so. Because stripers are a warm water lover, they are often found in the shallows. Lake Powell stripers get to be about five pounds maximum, as opposed to larger lbs. in Lake Mead and up to 50 pound whoppers in Lake Mohave, downriver. Modify the crank actions with jerks and wiggles, but start off slow, at a snail's pace. Always set the hook immediately with stripers. Often a bump is a strike is a catch.
Fish Species in Lake Powell: Large mouth bass, small mouth bass, striper bass, green sunfish, crappie, walleye, bluegill, trout, and catfish. The striper bass, the requisite catch for the tournament prize, usually feed on schooling threadfin shad or crayfish. A new entrant in these water is tilapia, from Africa.
Wahweap Lodge and Marina is where our crew of swabbies encamped, located three miles up-bay from Glen Canyon Dam, near Page, Arizona. The lodge has 350 rooms, dining room, lounge, gift shop, two swimming pools, and a spa. Scheduled and chartered cruises are available, from one hour to all day tours. The most popular tour is to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. A new fishing dock is now part of Wahweap Marina, especially designed for wheelchair access. Call Aramark for reservations, or for houseboats. See sidebar.
GLEN CANYON NRA
Lake Powell is maintained by law as a wilderness area. As a preserve, there can be no land-based toilets, refuse dumps, or drinking water, except at the marinas. Floating toilet facilites and dumps are in certain bays and maintained by the Park Service.
National Park Service rangers patrol the park daily, and they showed up to replace a broken window in a houseboat that anchored next to us. We denied everything.
The long meandering Colorado River draining the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains provides the water to Lake Powell. It took the Colorado thousands, if not millions of years, to rip and erode the sandstone into reds, ochers, and other colored twisted rocks that were then wind weathered into buttes.
Lake Powell has the longest shoreline (1,900 miles) of any of the lakes on the Colorado, even Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, which impounds more water. Lake Powell extends 186 miles through Glen, Narrows, and Cataract Canyons, and a myriad of smaller canyons such as Labyrinth, which is only wide enough at its end for a wave runner.
These sanstone mountains were once at the bottom of ancient oceans. Oxides give them a reddish color. The ancient Anazasi (ancient enemy) came to the Glen Canyon area about 800 AD. The USA's large indian reservation the Navajo abuts the Lake and Rec area.
Padre Point and Antelope Island are near the historic route of Franciscan padres, who over 200 years ago, at the Crossing of the Fathers, is now under water. The one-arm Civil War veteran, Captain John Wesley Powell, mapped the area in the 1860s, rowing wooden dories through the treacherous rapids that are now buried in a watery tomb. Lake Powell is named in honor of the Shiloh survivor.
GLEN CANYON DAM
Glen Canyon Dam was begun in 1957 as a controversial project and completed in the 1960s. It was created entirely from materials in the area. The dam rises 710 feet. The eight large turbines supply power to western communities. Below the dam is 15 miles of pristine riparian Colorado River. You can raft through Marble and Glen Canyon, with over 120 major rapids, before reaching Lake Mead.
The Page-based river trip concessionaire is Aramark's Wilderness Adventures, located at Lake Powell Blvd, or call: 520/646-3279 for float trip reservations. For river rafting call: 800/992-8022 or 645-3296.
We battened the hatches, and polished the brass and headed out the last day, with all maties wishing for another couple of wonderful days on Lake Powell. Next year I am going to use a Dupont spinner on that million dollar fish, and I will leave Scurvie and his wretched crew of misfits behind as well.
Damage deposits: Deposits are held as security/damage and are refundable upon the return of the rental boat in satisfactory condition.
Operating Manual and Safety Film: Become familiar with the operation and safely manual placed aboard each houseboat. The first section in this manual is "The 10 Commandments of Houseboat Safety." Also a 12-minute film on boating safety, approved by the National Park Service, is available on each Lake Powell boat.
Payment: Full houseboat rental fee must be paid before houseboats are tendered. Payment must be made with cash, traveler's checks, cashier's check, money order, or credit card. Personal checks are not accepted.
Important: Houseboat rentals are collected 45 days in advance. Full rental fee will be retained unless cancellation is received in writing, 30 days prior to boarding. NO refunds or adjustments will be issued due to late arrival or early check-ins. If you are delayed call your boat rental office. Should you plan to arrive a day or two in advance, it is suggested to reserve accommodations at the Wahweap Lodge.
The company is not responsible for running time due to equipment failure, weather, illness, accidents, or changes in plans. There is a radio onboard to call in for help or extend your reservation.
Early Check-in: If you arrive the day before departure, visit or call your boat rental office about early registration/paperwork.
Boat Check Out/Check-In: The boat rental company uses what the National Park Service calls the industry "norm" boat check-out at 8 a.m. and final day return by 2 p.m. While this does not permit full daylight use on the final day, it does allow needed pumpout, cleaning, and repairs.
Waiver of Liability: Any option waiver, limits your liability responsibilities to $250; in the event the boat is damaged. Liability insurance may be ordered through the central reservation office, or purchased at the marinas for an additional fee.
By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.