Talked to Chris Penne at DWR. They will be doing some samplings soon to gauge the overall health of the lake, the shad and the predators. He also suspects a big shad die-off. In that case the wipers and walleyes will be hungry when the leftovers are cleaned up...before the shad spawn some new recruits.
Last trip to Hyrum (3 weeks ago) the perch bite was rely off and they were spitting up small minnows ( like 1 to 11/4 inch or so) so small I was unable be absolute in there identity, but I was guessing perch. This confused me because the perch caught were full of spawn that still needed some time. How big a window is the perch spawn or do smallies or something else go first and that is what I was seeing.
Appreciate your feedback!
Some years, when storms and water temps prolong the spawn there are some late arrivals that do not survive into winter. The water cools down too fast in the fall and the zooplankton numbers drop. The late arrivals are unable to switch to the detritus diet on the bottom and starve to death. Not unusual to see large numbers of tiny emaciated shadlets dieing and floating to the top in November. The terns are mopping them up fast in the early morning after a night dieoff. You would think there was a wiper boil going on. But nooooooo.
The small fish you observed being "recycled" at Hyrum are doubtless last year's perchlets. They only reach a little over an inch their first year. That is what makes them such a big forage item not only for perch, but for smallies and trout too. A lot of the trout caught through the ice are stuffed with them. That is if the perch population is large enough to produce sufficient fry for predator forage.
Perch spawn first. Usually just after iceout. In some lakes that are icebound longer they can even spawn beneath the ice. Seldom in Utah.
Then walleye...where walleye are present. Smallies don't spawn until water temps are over 60...usually after about mid May. But their yearling young are voracious feeders on baby perch...both the survivors from last year and the new sac fry from this year.
The channel out is at least 7' in the middle...shallowing up briefly to about 5' at the mouth but then quickly dropping to 8-10 feet outside. Once you clear the entrance stay on a straight west line for a couple of hundred yards before turning north or south. There are some shallow sand bars to the south and some rock-topped humps to the north. Then, when you come back in, line up to come back in the same way. It will be easier when they get the buoys in place.
Well, warmer days coming, soon I hope. See ya around.