Gaston Lake Citation Striped Bass

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It’s tough to fish Gaston Lake on a holiday weekend.

It’s even tougher after you spring a leak in your boat after treating it an unkind manner. I decided to hit Gaston Lake for several days and knew it would be tough to fish much at all. So I went with the attitude of just rolling with the park tanners and taking what I could get as far as fishing. I caught a few dink bass and stripers Friday afternoon before the masses hit the lake. But nothing of any size, and thunderstorms ran me off the lake early too.

Saturday morning was a repeat of dinks along with a few nice blue cats. After beating my skiff up a good bit just riding around and enjoying the cool weather on the water after fishing, my friend noted a leak in the front. Like a 2” crack. I put the hammer down and got back to my truck in short order and trailered the boat.

I remembered fixing a radiator years ago with JB Weld. It held for 6 years and I figured if it could do that against heat, water and pressure it could seal a popped weld on a metal boat. So me and Pop hit the hardware store, (lucky they were open) and purchased the goods.

It takes basically 6 hours to set good so I cleaned the area and applied the weld. So fishing that day was done. The next morning I put the boat in the water but there was still a touch of water coming in, but 90% stopped. But I looked out on the water saw jet skis already circling and decided to just fix it right. I could see I needed to go another ¼” to seal the crack.

I made the additional repair and was on the water in a dry boat by 4pm. I ran straight out of the creek and hit the main lake. I knew where the fish were so just got there and dropped lines. 10 minutes into the troll one of 4 rods doubled over violently and I grabbed the rod. The fish fought like a huge striper but I hoped it wasn’t another blue cat. I fought the fish as best I could to the boat and asked Raixa to grab the net. She’d never netted a fish like this in her life, so I told her to just go lower than she thinks she should and mentally crossed my fingers….After a nervous few seconds boatside the fish was in the net and I was kinda shocked. She was 32” and 14lbs+. We both kinda freaked a bit and after a short celebration and a few pics that fish went on ice.

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I turned around and ran back thru the area and hung over another rod and this came to the boat…

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Raixa got one heckuva fight outa that fish. But I wanted her to get her first rockfish. Then after another large circle I ran thru the area again and hung over another rod. And when I grabbed the rod it was shaking so hard I thought it was probably another striper so I gave Raixa the pole again (even tho it was my turn lol). But again it was another big blue catfish. She was still stoked (and bruised) after fighting 2 big fish. We went ahead and released it and after another hour without a bite and knowing we had about an hour of light left we hit an area close to home I’d caught a few shorts at earlier in the trip.

 

When we got into the area the water was slick and I dropped 2 leadcore rods and within seconds there was busting fish off to our left, then the first rod doubled over and I gave it to Raixa again and she reeled in her first striper. It was only around 17 or 18″ so without thinking I did what I would normally do in that situation and chucked it quickly back in the drink. Duh. No pic of her first one but she was fine with it. Then another rod went over and I reeled in a smallish largemouth too. We trolled another few minutes but the bait and fish split quick-like. It was about dark too so we reeled in the lines and hit the house.

I had a nice fish to clean for a 4th of July dinner. I could already smell the lemon and Old Bay’s, and it was good.

Late Spring/Early Summer Report – Lakes & Rivers

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The fishing on area lakes and rivers has really started to heat up.

The days have finally started to feel like NC weather should in June. And with weather trending warmer a few select target species have begun to feed heavily.

Striped bass are schooling on area lakes. Anglers are reporting good catches on Kerr, Gaston, Badin and the rest as well. The fish are shallow early, but move deeper as mornings progress, and the same can be said for the evening in reverse, from deep water in towards shore. Fish are feeding in as shallow as 5 feet of water on top water plugs and small crankbaits early. During the later parts of the early AM hours they will begin moving into deeper water and are taking bucktails readily. I’ve already had multiple doubles and triples consisting of stripers, white bass, catfish, perch and bass.

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These tactics can be used on all the lakes in our state to catch these fish and the action is on fire right now.

If you’d like to know more about the colors and styles I like to use comment after the report on the site and I’ll be happy to help you out with your questions.

Largemouth bass are post-spawn, but they can be caught early with soft plastics and smaller action baits, but the frog bite is still a bit slow from what I’ve seen and heard. It shouldn’t be long though and we should see bass begin feeding heavily again. Of course the river is always a great place to catch bass when our temps rise in NC.

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Catfish and gar are also starting to feed more often. Early and late as well as overnight of course, but they are feeding much better on rivers than lakes at present. And I would expect that trend to continue, at least as far as catching during daytime hours, for the remainder of the season. These fish are taking live and cut bait fished with Carolina-rigs on the bottom, or with floats if the area you fish is rocky. Shad and shiners, as well as livers will work.

Here are some more pics from Friday after work. I stopped counting fish and actually got worn out to the point I left biting fish. And that rarely happens. But I was trolling through heavy boat wake the entire time and for a two-and-a-half hour period I caught at least 1 fish per pass on a point where I found them. It was epic.

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Early Spring River Report

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I’ve been out on the Cape Fear and The Haw River recently; both a few times in fact. 

The fishing has been up and down, but the weather has been getting much better. Recent rains have had water levels all over the place, and with more on the way this week, things will probably remain hit and miss for a while.

Lakes however are producing good largemouth, both Harris and Jordan Lakes are good now. Use weightless texas-rigged senkos for bass on both lakes. Look for the grass and timber early and late in the day. Crankbaits and spinners are starting to produce, but the experienced angler will still try to fish for bass vertically as well with small to medium sized spoons during the day along with the worm fishing.

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Stripers are scattered on local lakes, but they too can be taken vertically, or slow trolling big in-line spinners and small sassy shads rigged on jigheads. Slowly. These fish are also very shallow now so expect to be fishing in the less than 15 feet of water the majority of the time. Carp and crappie are also biting well.

I found some gold on the Cape Fear river last week.

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These fish can be caught using sturdy hooks as one might use to texas-rig for bass. Simply anchor and scatter corn in the waters you suspect carp to inhabit. You will often see that most fish you see or hear jumping are carp. Then use a small weight to cast a hook with 2 or 3 pieces of corn hooked so that the tip of the hook is barely exposed; or not at all. Try to cast just in or around where the first hand-full of corn has settled.

Now this is the important part. Carp are like stripers and red drum in that they have big shoulders and will take blistering runs. You will find a bait-casting reel or any reel capable of letting line out freely, and especially with a clicker, will be the best option. And make sure you test that the reel is in free spool each time you cast.

Set the rod in a rod holder and wait. Likely the fish will tear out line and you will simply reel down on it. However sometimes these fish will ‘pop’ the bait and not run, set the hook if the line is jumpy and hold on. Carp are a blast on the water. I caught a few that day; along with a nice shad.

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I did some exploring too and found a tangled tow-strap. Cleaned it and its in my truck now. Then I found something a bit disturbing. I hope it was never going to be used. Maybe it was just for a boat tie-down.

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The white bass have still been hit or miss as well with some good fish taken here and there. I still believe the best of the run is to come. See here for tips to catch these tasty fighters. Here are few more pics from recent trips. I’ve caught crappie, white bass, stripers, largemouth, carp, shad and more lately. The fish haven’t been all that big yet, but they are starting to turn on.

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This bass tangled in another line with the frog pictured. That was interesting

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Yep, that’s a yellow perch on a spit…and it was good!