Yep, I caught Stripers on a Skitterwalk

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So with the nights cooling off I’ve gotten back on the water for stripers a few times over the last few weeks.

Last Saturday morning I hit a lake and found fish eating a ChugBug steady until 9am. The fish were knocking the bait out of the water repeatedly. It was incredible. Literally the best topwater bite on freshwater I’ve ever experienced. Never had so many fish come back to a bait they’d knocked 10″ out of the water so many times. That post with pics is here.

So I went back one day after work and the bite was non-existent in great conditions. It was cloudy, the wind was down and shad came to the surface in many schools a few hours before sunset; but the small baitfish were unmolested. Not a single fish surfaced that afternoon and I finally resorted to a Texas rig to catch one very small largemouth bass. The area was devoid of life. The water is still really warm for striped bass in the afternoons.

So this am I decided to hit the Cape Fear river and try my luck there. This proved to be a great decision.

Literally non stop action til about 8:00am.

I starting catching fish in the dark…

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It’s a little unnerving in a river, by yourself, yanking a topwater bait across the water towards the yak in the dark when a fish unloads on it. The sound was violent and water sprayed me all morning. But that’s what getting up at 5am is for… And they kept hitting the ChugBug. Even some nice ones….Biggest one, the Skitterwalk fish, was almost 26″ and not too skinny for a late summer fish, probably 8 pounds.

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I lost a few too. Last weekend not a single fish came unbuttoned, and there were a lot of bass mixed in. This am no bass at all and I had 1 good fish come unglued at the boat. I couldn’t complain though…When the bite slowed at one point, I remembered I had tied a white Skitterwalk on one rod. I had never hooked a freshwater striped bass on one so I chucked it out in a lull.

First few pops…and this comes on board after quite a tussle…Sometimes a quick change of baits is all you need.

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The bite died at almost exactly 8:00. I tried to find other biting fish but the area closed for business just like that. As often in late Summer you will see fish bite great for about an hour or two but can shut down quickly in shallow water.

I had other things on the agenda for today so I headed out at 9:00.

Man what a morning.

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Cape Fear River Mixed Bag of Fish

Photo by: Drew Blair
Photo by: Drew Blair

The river was finally close to a normal level this weekend, so I called a good buddy and a trip was planned.

We arranged to meet another good friend on the Cape Fear river on Friday evening after work. We would fish for bait, then for gar and catfish into the evening hours. The weather was predicted to be fair and rain was supposed to stay away. We met at a local lake first and caught bream on small worms, then made our way to the river.

Once we launched I started off throwing a crankbait, and quickly caught two carp. They actually ate the bait. Then after a little while I landed a 17″ shad on an in-line spinner. We had plenty of bait.

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Drew started off the action with a few gar and catfish. He caught his fish on cut bream fished under a small float, which he drifted down the river. The key to catching these fish, especially the gar, is letting them take the bait freely. The less resistance they feel the better.

Photo by: Shawn Harris
Photo by: Shawn Harris

Shawn also caught a nice blue catfish before the night was over, (Feature Photo). I hooked into something big after hours of soaking bait, but it ran me over a rock and cut the line within seconds of taking off on a blistering run. We fished til near 10:30 and called it a night. We had one slight mishap. After pulling anchors to make our way out, Shawn realized his paddle was missing. We thought it must have come off the boat when he was fighting his catfish. So Drew towed him back to the launch. It wasn’t a big deal, but good thing we were all together.

Drew and I got back on the water the next morning, and started off catching fish again on artificials. I hooked a 29″ longnose gar on an in-line spinner, and to my surprise brought it to the boat. Then, I fished for carp for a few hours, and caught a load on corn, and Drew fished for gar and cats again and caught a few more too. He came paddling up after we split for a while holding an extra paddle…Shawn’s from the night before! He luckily found it down the river a bit. Now that was a surprise.

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Photo by: Tom Sullivan
Photo by: Tom Sullivan

Just before leaving I threw the crankbait a few more times and hooked into a 23″ bowfin. It was a decent mixed bag of fish caught over a two day period. No giants, but they’re out there.

Photo by: Drew Blair
Photo by: Drew Blair

Trophy Hybrid Bass on the Cape Fear River

Photo by: Joey Sullivan
Photo by: Joey Sullivan

Area rivers are still high and stained from recent rains, but the water temps are heating up, and with it the action for hard fighting current dwellers.

My brother and I hit the Cape Fear river today for the afternoon bite and the action was steady. It was cloudy for the most part with occasional periods of sunny skies. I started off fishing some fast water and the first fish was a bruiser. After throwing a crankbait over a boulder and slowly pulling it through the hole I felt a vicious strike. The fish instantly peeled off drag, and I had to brace the rod with my off hand to keep the pole from flattening out and breaking off over the rocks my line was rubbing. I maneuvered around the rocks and managed to tighten the drag a touch without losing pressure on the fish and started to gain some line. It probably took five or six minutes of nerve-wracking fighting to get it close, and after a few more runs I netted a 25″, 8lb plus hybrid bass. A nice first fish for the day for sure.

My brother quickly started catching too. He first caught a white bass and then soon enough he also had a citation fish. He was throwing a crankbait as well, and hooked into a nice spotted bass. It was well over 15″.

We both caught our share of carp, fishing corn in small holes here and there, before heading back to the swift water as storms approached from the west. There I caught a citation, 16″ white bass close to 3 pounds, and Joey hooked into a huge largemouth bass right afterwards, but it broke him off after chaffing the line on a rock.

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Joey’s spotted bass
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16″ white bass
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22″ channel catfish
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23″ carp

 


All fish were released very much alive.

We started for the truck when the storms caught us and we had to load the vehicle in pouring rain, hail and several bolts of lightning right on top of us. Spring is great for fishing and some days will be awesome, but don’t mess with the storms. They’ll sneak up on you quick this time of year. We were fortunate enough to see a turkey and a double rainbow on the drive out too. Quite a lucky day.

We fished and had success with square bill crankbaits, Texas rigs, and Carolina rigs. Inline spinners were unproductive, and poppers as well, which was surprising as they have been quite effective lately. Slow rolling the cranks through the swift water was the key. I’ve been fishing inline spinners and poppers a lot lately and they have been producing consistently, but not today. Always bring an assortment of baits along on spring time trips because your plan may be solid, but the fish just might not agree. Be ready to switch it up.