Since lake levels around the state have come down in late winter, I’ve had the chance to fish Jordan Lake 3 times in the last week and the fishing has been pretty good.
I hit the river area about a week and a half ago in search of white bass to see if their run had started. Hadn’t been on the lake in months so I really didn’t know what to expect.
I tried trolling cranks and spinners but found nothing. Not even a perch. The white bass of Jordan Lake were seemingly not present yet. The water was a slight stain, maybe a touch darker than normal. It was cloudy with a slight west wind, and weather approaching, the barometer was moving, so I expected something to happen.
After paddling up one of the multiple creeks in the area, I decided to try casting for a bit. I threw upstream, downtream and crossstream and still had no takers. I threw a couple different cranks and spinners and finally selected a hairless brass spinner; it would be the last switch before I tried to troll out further on the lake to fish deeper water.
The line flew off the reel perfectly. I let it sink into the current downstream, and just before starting to retrieve, the line thumped hard. I set the hook and felt a large fish. I knew I was hung, but then the head shakes came. The fish darted towards me and into a tree and hung up. I detached from the tree I’d connected to and drifted slightly downstream and it came off still attached to the line. After a decent tussle, I pulled the largemouth bass from the river. It was easily 4 pounds (feature photo).
I sat there for another two hours catching one after the other. They almost all ran for the same tree and several hung in it and escaped, but most came off just like the first fish, and eventually into the kayak. I released all of them and left that afternoon without another species.
Michelle and I returned the following Sunday and fished deeper water in the river area. A buddy told me he’d caught some in an area he, my brother and I had done well in last year. Even though all the fish were short, due to, IMO ridiculous new regulations the NCWRC placed on white bass last year. They are a panfish, and now they have to be 14″ for the creel, and they reduced the creel limit from 20 to 10.
Crappie can be kept at 10″ on Jordan Lake, which is tougher than anywhere in the state I can think of. I just don’t understand it. White bass are extremely aggressive, plentiful, they are in no danger of decline and are stocked as put and take fish for the table, but now someone got the bright idea to make Jordan a trophy white bass destination, ignoring why the fish is stocked. We catch hundreds literally every year and have always released the overwhelming majority; the creel should not have been changed so drastically. It just makes it harder for law-abiding anglers to catch a meal, while 5 buckets get crammed full of every fish caught by many who don’t even have a license to fish. Happens every year in the Haw, the wardens get called, but nothing happens, they never even come. The reason is political and ridiculous.
Anyhow, we did find a lot of the notorious white bass, but only 3 were legal. We trolled chartruese bomber crankbaits and sexy shad as well. The fish also responded to inline spinners with and without hair. I use barrel weights to get them deep enough. We trolled 2 mph and fished water 10 to 15 feet deep and did really well. It was windy and cold but the fish cooperated. We probably boated 30ish white bass, most in the 10 to 13 inch range, as usual. We also caught crappie (a couple keepers which luckily allowed us enough fish for one good meal) catfish, largemouth and a striped bass. We released everything except 3 white bass and 2 crappie. The biggest white bass was 15″; the other 2 just over the 14″ minimum.
We came back one more time and caught even more fish, repeated doubles and triples. I’d say 70 conservatively in a morning outing and none were 14″. But again, luckily we found several fat crappie to make a meal out of.
Did I say how much I think the white bass regulations stink?
I saw several folks taking short fish, even one kayaker at Ebeneezer on the way out with a terribly short striper.
Folks, we can do better, and I’m not just talking to anglers.