Got to the bait shop this morning at 5:40am to get medium shiners and medium to large Gizzard Shad.
After getting our bait we headed for East Bank ramp where we were launching. Crossing from the east to the west side of the lake we headed into Bald Ridge Creek.
Today I’m a believer. We caught a nice 33 ¼” striper on a 3” shiner with a #6 trout hook using a 10lb leader.
This was after catching a 20 ¼” striper.
Both were caught on free lines in Bald Ridge Creek giving us a total of 53 ½” for the weigh in at OBT. After that we caught 8 spotted bass two of which were 4 and 5 lbs. Water temp was 50.9°. We tried for another couple of hours to get a bigger second striper to no avail. We decided to head over to the back of Young Deer Creek to find the same pattern and pull our spread. The water temperature was a little warmer at 53°. We didn’t see any fish there but lots of diving birds. Not sure why they were diving but as we moved into that area we didn’t see any bait clouds. Time was running out so we left the back of Young Deer pulling Umbrella Rigs towards the humps at Tidwell. Again we didn’t see any bait clouds or stripers around the humps. Time to head to the ramp and get to the weigh in.
Somehow I just can’t get my head around that concept but it’s true. Stripers are going after smaller baits that imitate threadfin. Even though smaller baits like small shiners are catching lots of spotted bass we managed to get a small striper to hit on a Planer Board 50ft behind the board over a 40ft bottom in Four Mile Creek yesterday.
It was tournament day for the Lanier Striper Club. We caught a total of 6 spotted bass one of which was 18 ½” long for the spot pot. After the success in Four Mile we moved closer to the weigh in just in case we got a kicker to go with our other striper, inches are inches in this tournament. As luck would have it we did catch another striper on a rainbow Umbrella Rig in front of Vanns Tavern.
Well it was off to the weigh to see if we at least won big spot. For stripers we had a total of 37 1/4″ with 2 stripers. Not a decent total but not a skunk either.
It was rough out there today. The morning started out with a dense fog warning, low cloud ceiling blocking the full moon then sunrise.
We chose to launch at the fifth ramp at Aqualand because there was water enough to access the courtesy dock and still be near the main channel saving time as we headed to Flat Creek. Well the dense fog curtailed that idea as we could only go 8 mph towards our starting position.
The Oakwood Striper Club tournament lines in was 7:30am and we now would get a late start. Upon arriving in the very back of Flat Creek it wasn’t so much that it was a parking lot yet for boats but we counted well over 12 boats and only 3 striper fishing including us. We had to keep turning with our spread to avoid nearing some of the boat’s that were in a Spotted Bass tournament. Known by experienced anglers too many boats crowding around each other creates too many sonar pings which affects fish. That’s probably why we saw so many fish on the screen and no other boat seen catching anything in any including us. We left this area and started to pull Umbrella Rigs near the mansion at Balus Creek and was able to hook up with a good size Spotted Bass. We continued into Balus heading for my “go to” Spot which was an underwater plateau near deep water. While a dangerous place to pull a 9 hook rig you just have to have your eyes glued to the chart to avoid getting too near the shallows. No luck here today. With time running out we headed to 3 Sisters for one more all out try since weigh in was 45 minutes away. When we got there we took a minute to look around to see the water was calm, no other boats around, no wind, a picture perfect day and felt the warmth of the sun on us.
It was another cold cold morning supposedly warming up to 65° today. Yeah right. We hit the water at 7:30 this morning with hopes of getting at least one more striper before years’ end and breaking in Bob’s new net in the process. Unfortunately the only striper we caught today was on an Umbrella Rig and you just lift the entire rig fish and all into the boat.
We had launched at Laurel Park and headed to Wahoo Creek on a tip from a fellow angler. We marked a few fish at the end of some long bait clouds but were unsuccessful using planer boards, freelines, diagonal bobbers, downlines and a transom line. We used medium trout, medium shad and some hefty looking bluebacks to no avail. There were two other striper boats in that same area. Nobody caught anything so we left and headed for Gainesville Creek. We didn’t mark anything there. We changed our tactics and tried downlining in the main channel which was tree-free. No takers. Finally we switched to umbrella rigs 120’ behind the boat and hooked up. Today’s water temps remained in the low 50s making the stripers slightly lethargic which is why we were only successful with the reaction bite.
The stripers really slapped us around today on our third tournament start of the year. We were fishing over a 30’ bottom, water temp at 52.4° with a planer board when the first striper slapped and stunned our 10” Gizzard Shad with its tail but didn’t come back to eat it. The same thing happened about 30 minutes later when we had another large gizzie as a transom bait 20’ behind the boat. While these were the best strikes of the day because it takes a big striper to swallow a 10” shad whole we didn’t get another hit on live bait. Partner asked about maybe trying umbrella rigs which was a good idea considering we had nothing to show for the hours of freezing cold temperatures at 36° followed by rain and even colder temperatures that we endured. We had a small spotted bass on the port side umbrella rig in just a few minutes. We started again running 3 mph with the port side rig at 100’ and the starboard side at 80’. Before I knew partner had our 1st striper on. 19 ½”, a dink but no zero. Yay.
No more time for rigs. We had to run back to the ramp to be able to get to the weigh in on time.
WHAT IS YOUR RECIPE FOR SUCCESS?
- Check last years’ log for temperature and conditions.
- What is your multitude of techniques? Can you remember what to use when you are on the water?
- Go with what you know.
- Go where you caught before.
- Share each other’s experiences.
- Don’t give up.
- Keep changing tactics.
- The realizing, you need a bigger net.
- The swimming along or swimming toward you stripper.
- Go Big or Go Home.
- If high winds are expected bring a windsock.
- Onboard tackle boxes work best.
- Know your bait tolerances for water temperature.
- Water temps are also critical for catching stripers.
- Make decisions with safety in mind.
- Always give drag.
- Use GPS trails to navigate.
- Use a time limit and stick to it. Set an alarm.
- When fishing area gets crowded, leave. Too many pings from sonars affect fish.
- Learn from others.
- Change your presentation if fish stop biting.
- If marking fish with no bites come back later.
- If fish not taking bait in one direction, go in the opposite direction.
- If you suspect a bite pickup the rod, tug the line, tighten the line or pitch a herring.
- Pull at different speeds or do crazy Ivans.
- When windy never use anchor or spot lock with lines out.
- Don’t put out full compliment of rods when checking new area.
- Don’t be discouraged by others telling you it’s not time for this or that.
- Avoid fishing too close to tree tops to avoid the freight train hit.
- Don’t leave fish to find fish.
- Pass the rod from one to another.
- Don’t get too greedy with too many lines out.
- A fish is a fish is a fish (if you are striper fishing and catch something else enjoy it).
- Catching one day is different than another day.
The same pattern worked again today fishing in 58° water around 1pm. We were pulling boards and free lines with medium shad when we both heard that familiar zing sound that reels make when a fish is on. We looked around to see which rod went off and couldn’t tell as none of the planers were tripped or any of the lines were moving at all. I told Bob to pick up one of the planers and reel slightly and sure enough it was the right one because the planer board buried itself beneath the surface. At one point the striper cleared the surface for a brief second before taking off again going deep. Bob turned to me and handed me the rod and said “your turn”. I grabbed the rod as the striper continued to strip line out of the reel. Give and take, give and take, adding drag a little at a time. I finally saw the planer board and the shad still running up the line. This fish still wasn’t ready to come in as it turned and went toward the motor. Partner told me not to worry as he dipped to net the fish and it bent the hoop of the net as he raised it into the boat. After measuring it at 32 ¼” and taking pictures the striper was back in the water to be caught another day.
With the air temp at 38° at 7am – brrr, we launched from Laurel Park ramp since the Clark’s Bridge courtesy dock was now in inches of water from the lowered lake levels. We cruised up to Clark’s Bridge bay on a tip from a fellow striper angler. Water temp was 48° as we circled the bay in front of the ramp and did figure 8s in the hopes of starting out the day with a nice striper. After just a few minutes the starboard planer went down with a medium shad and stinger but no fish on and the shad had its tail bit off and it lost an eye. With no confidence fishing here we left heading farther north only to find 44° water temp and no life anywhere on the screen because of the colder water. We decided to head south to find warmer water. We had been fishing all morning in the main lake channel and needed to change our approach. With the morning temps being heated up by the sun which finally came out from behind the clouds, the water temperature hit 58°. Positioning ourselves in the mouth of a creek with a 50’ bottom we got hit at noon thirty by a 34 ¼” striper. This was our first transom bite ever. The shad was only 20’ behind the boat and went 60 feet out in 10 seconds. Bob grabbed the rod as it continued to strip out line. I reeled in the adjacent rods as this fish was going wherever it wanted to go. After the fish tired he was easily reeled in close enough to net it and lift into the boat. This was no skinny river fish. After measuring it and taking pictures we released this fat boy back into the lake.
Bob Fields and I came in 5th place in both the Lanier Striper Club & the Oakwood Striper Club combined tournaments and 10th out of 38 boats in the Don Brown Memorial Tournament for ALS today. With the blustering winds gusting at times to 20 mph and the air temperature just below 50° it felt like 40°, we set out to fish near Dog Creek north of Clark’s Bridge ramp about 2 miles. Shortly after getting all of our lines out I lost a striper on planer board with 8” gizzard shad. I thought it was because I was using a circle hook so I changed it to a J hook and added a stinger. An hour later the same thing happened, planer board went under and popped up again. The lesson learned here was that after the planer board went under I didn’t wait a few more seconds for the striper to come back for the bait it just stunned with a slap of its tail. Common mistake when fishing in colder water like 52-55°. We were just south of Don Carter park. We decided to leave for warmer waters and left that area heading south to Laurel Park to pull umbrella rigs in the river channel. The water temperature here was 62°. Before I could get my line in the water, it was FISH ON. Bob not only got this 27” striper, it was his first on a urig.
Got winded out on Friday and Saturday to go striper fishing. Got an invite to go Crappie fishing today and caught 20 stripers and only 10 crappie. I even got a striper double. What are those chances. I’m going right now to buy a lottery ticket.
Thank you Brett Blouin for a lot of fun fishing today. Brett beat me with 11 stripers while I only had 9. He even beat me on the crappie at 7 to 3. You go Brett.