The fishing has been very good on three North Carolina lakes this winter. Jordan Lake, Gaston Lake and Shearon Harris Lake have all been steadily producing quality fish.
After Christmas, we got on Gaston Lake and reproduced nearly the same results as in November. Striped bass were still chasing baits trolled slowly in twenty plus foot of water. We had success with sassy shads, swimbaits and Bama rigs. Four colors of leadcore and we were in the zone. We just had to stay under two miles per hour.
Then, in early January, we got on Jordan Lake and started catching striped bass in lots of different areas. Fish are hitting slowly trolled artificials, swimbaits and also are taking metal jigged vertically. The mix of fish has been good as well with nice largemouth bass, white bass, white perch, crappie, yellow perch, catfish and even carp. Small baits are again producing far more fish than anything bigger than the small shad on the lake in abundance right now.
Just use stout hooks.
Harris lake is fishing very similar to Jordan lake. Main lake points and current breaks anywhere adjacent to baitfish and deep suspended target fish. Fish slowly and patiently; you could be waiting for 1 or 2 bites a day, but they could be giants. Bass are present and feeding early and late in the day in twenty feet of water.
Kerr lake was fishing really good last fall and early winter. I got on the lake in late December, and we caught fish, but they were all shorts. I haven’t been back or heard much from locals there in weeks.
Here are a few from this morning on Jordan lake. I was on the water three hours and caught my personal best largemouth and a very big striped bass minutes later.
The winter bite is the same as it usually is this time of year each year. You just have to fish steady and believe the bite is coming. And when it does be ready. Use your electronics and don’t fish areas without bait and marks on your sonar. Make note of the depths you’re in when you catch and stay in those depths.
I’ve had the topwater on the fly rod ‘bug’ lately, and got out on the river yesterday for several hours.
Every year I get out the fly rod around May and start chucking bugs at the bank. But this year has been different. The action, at least with the bream, has been non-stop. It’s fun having constant engagement with these fish when they are crushing bugs on top of the water. At times every cast is met with a greeting; even if not a full take…
But yesterday there were tons of takes, and the bass came to play as well; especially as the final hours of light cast their long shadows and the sun neared bed for the day.
I started out catching bream by the dozens, literally cast after cast. They were all stripped in, none big enough for a long enough run to get on the reel, but a ton of fun nonetheless.
After an hour or so, the first bass took a popper…
Then it was back to bream heaven…
I decided around 6pm to paddle up to a set of rapids and boulders a good ways from the launch and rested a while. But it wasn’t long before I saw the clock hit 7pm and decided to start plugging the foamy areas in search of the largemouth bass. And I found them…finally a fish got on the reel…after a crushing take, I strip-set the bass and the fight was on…
Such a fun day on the river…I think I’ll go again now!
Striped bass and white bass were chewing good on Jordan Lake this past weekend.
I didn’t have the highest of hopes for the fishing before this weekend arrived. Weather reports were clear blue-bird skies, with very little predicted cloud cover and HOT. Luckily, Saturday there were storms forming south and east of the lake throughout the day, so the pressure was moving… The large, multi-cloud-form goliaths hovered all day and loomed large late, but never drenched us. Lightning started coming from the thunderheads as we trailered the boat though.
Captain Stu and I got on the lake around 3pm Saturday and started catching fish right off. We found a very big white bass, close to 16”, after finding good sonar marks in an area with light boat traffic. The fish hit so hard we thought it was a striper, but when we saw the tall profile as it came boatside, I yelled, “I’m having fish tacos for dinner!”
We ran though the area a few more times, but it was still early, so without another taker we moved on. And we found fish again and again, literally everywhere we trolled the rest of the afternoon. Bait balls are already on the main lake….
We followed the fish from deeper water to shallower water as the evening wore on and though we caught a ton of nice white bass, a few perch and a really nice crappie, we only found one striped bass just short of a keeper. But it was still a nice fish and fight; Stu got the honor…
We fished til near dark, and continued catching, it was an afternoon of chinese fire-drills for sure; multiple double and triple hookups resulting in the two of us working our tails off… Then finally, exhausted, we hit the ramp. I cleaned the fish once home and had fried fish by 10:30pm lol; long day; then I woke at 4:15am to go again with my friend and his girlfriend.
Well, we did have plans….good ones!
Dawn was beautiful…
We had our kayaks in motion before dawn and started pulling hardware before the sun was up. And we started catching fish right off. Stripers, white bass, crappie, catfish and perch attacked our lures the entire time we fished, and like the day prior, literally everywhere we fished.
All the stripers were short, though we landed maybe 20 between the three of us. Then there were the white bass, which we caught a ton of. And although we all caught near citation specimens, Erin caught the biggest. This fish had to be 2 pounds and close to 16 or 17”. She fought it a good while, so it gave me time to cruise over to her and snap a few shots. (Below & feature photo)
Her man was busy racking up numbers as well; he landed at least 3 in the 15” range. Perhaps the new regs on the white bass are working, I’ve noted bigger fish per catch the last 2 years, and this was the first time in a while I’ve had a couple days catching the numbers we did.
After fishing the majority of the morning in fairly shallow water, we followed the fish to deeper water and caught them in a variety of ways; mostly trolling though. We used crankbaits, sassy shads, bucktails and spinner baits and hooked up at pretty fast speeds; luckily our adrenaline was pumping!
We released every single one of the critters, and after the crowds and the heat started up just before noon, we hit the ramp and split. Pretty good weekend.
The fishing on area lakes is finally starting to heat up.
I’ve hit Falls, Jordan and Gaston lakes over the last few weeks, and here is what I’ve found.
Falls Lake was still slightly stained from recent rains a couple weeks ago. I launched mid-lake and found white bass feeding right off in 15 feet of water. They were taking small inline spinners trolled slowly across points and humps. Catfish and perch were also taken off submerged trees with metal spoons in similar water depths.
Gaston Lake was slow, as water temps there were struggling to rise. Stripers were non-existant at the mid lake level and all reports indicate the fish are still in the northern extents of the lake on spanwing grounds. Anglers have had success trolling live shad, very slowly, as well as bucktails early and late. Water flow, as usual, is key there in the waters leading to the back of Kerr Lake dam.
I hit Jordan Lake yesterday, on the last day of April, and found striped bass, white perch, castfish and crappie feeding fairly well. The fish hit trolled crankbaits, sassy shads on jigheads, and small metal spoons jigged vertically.
The fish were staging in 15-20 feet of water, but there were some moving around a bit. I found no fish feeding shallow that day, but bass anglers have been hitting the flooded banks, and flipping soft plastics with success. Crappie are also being taken shallow, but mine hit a fairly large Bomber crankbait in deeper water.
So, the fishing isn’t white hot yet, but with temperatures hitting close to 90 later this week, I’d say it’s about to pop off. This weekend should be fantastic, wherever you decide to venture.
I got out on Jordan Lake this afternoon and found striped bass, white bass and crappie feeding heavily.
It was a perfect afternoon; the cloud cover was thick, rain was light to non-existent, and the wind was light. I couldn’t stand it.
Launched the kayak around 1:00 and started into a narrow area I’ve found fish laying before. I started with both rods rigged with KVD 1.0’s; the pics will show what happened…after just a few moments, one of the rods bounced, and I decided to reel it in and make sure it was clean; the area I was fishing was shallow and there was no reason to pull crap around. But on the retrieve, as I was approaching a fast rate, the rod doubled over with my first striped bass of 2018.
I didn’t want to be disrespectful to the fishing Gods, so I tossed it back after a quick pic.
Then after a few more minutes, and having no luck, I thought to myself, I’ve seen this movie before, let’s speed this up, and within seconds this nice crappie joined the party. Well it is spring….burn em!!!!
After that, the pattern had revealed itself and the fish repeatedly fell prey to the same technique. Stripers, catfish, perch, crappie, and white bass couldn’t resist the tiny crankbaits.
Then, after a short break, cuz my legs were burning…my first double of the year, a duo of white perch that were far more trouble to document than they were worth…
I was releasing everything today, and these were no exception.
And the clouds got really scenic for a bit…
They seemed to roll in some direction I was supposed to follow, so I did, and then…bam!!
Three members of my family hit the grass flats at Fort Fisher, NC this past weekend.
My brother, mother and myself launched our kayaks from the beach side as the tide was starting to come in. We made our way across a waterway and soon found ourselves surrounded by big, blue sky and light-green grass-lined banks that stretched in all directions.
We tried throwing skitterwalks on top for a little while, but no one hooked up. However, we could see that bait and fish were present. My brother started throwing spinnerbaits and mirrorlures, while I resorted to fresh shrimp rigged on a carolina-rig with a 1oz weight.
Joey and Mom started into a few channels, still using artificials, and I posted up on a set of small islands of grass. I cut the shrimp into tiny offerings and lobbed a cast at the middle of the triple-chain to my right. It wasn’t a few seconds and fish were biting. I almost never fish with live or dead bait in freshwater, but when hitting these remote salty areas, I like to up my chances on blue-bird days. I’ve learned over the years these types of days can be difficult, as far as angling, and the effort to reach the destinations is extreme, so I will gladly take the ego-punch and defer to more reliable means to fill a cooler, and have a blast in the process.
The first area provided a few small croakers, but seemed void of any larger predator fish, so I broke my grass knot and moved further into the marsh. I never take an anchor in there anymore, the grass is easily tied into a knot around a kayak handle, which makes for a silent-makeshift-anchor, and less gear in the boat. It can be a little itchy sometimes, but its easily dealt with when you find yourself out of the wind, motionless, and catching fish.
I moved as quietly as I could through the many channels and found another spot that looked really active. Bait was present, some mullet were breaching the surface, and I could see swirls that looked to be drum. It was another area with many features, rather than an even-lined channel. I tied to the left side of an island, with another island to my back, and a channel cutting through straight ahead.
One cast to the point just before the channel, and within a moment, my rod was bouncing wildly. Drag peeled off the 7′ outfit, and I knew I had a drum on. The fish fought for several minutes, darting across the water in spurts, before I saw it was not a red drum, but a large-shouldered black drum. It’s dark vertical lines gave it’s identity away. These fish fight and taste almost exactly like their cousins the redfish, except they have bigger shoulders and a taller profile.
After boat-flipping the fish, I unhooked it quickly and put it on ice. And after another cast to the same spot, another drum quickly inhaled the bait. The same process was repeated and I had a second fish-taco-supplier aboard my craft. I casted again a few times, but both fish had put up quite a ruckus, so the area filled with pinfish, the dreaded bait-stealers. I figured the area could use a rest, so I went to find my family.
They were at the end of the channel section we had entered and posted up on two opposing points. Joey had caught a nice keeper redfish, and a few rats, and Mom had also resorted to shrimp, but had found the pinfish that came in on me. We tried that area a while, and Joey caught a keeper flounder, but the wind picked up and I talked them into going back to the area I had left to rest.
I got Mom to get into a spot across from the point where I’d caught the black drum, and I positioned myself across from her, on the other side of the point. She threw her bait in and was immediately hooked up. Something was really giving her a tustle, and Joey paddled to her to assist. I was sure it was a big red drum, but after a little while they determined it was a big stingray.
She was a little disappointed, but we told her to throw back in there. From then on, she kinda kicked our butts. I mean, Joey and I still caught more fish, but she repeatedly hooked up and landed red rum, black drum, pinfish, and croakers. It was really fun to watch her fight all those underwater denizens, especially since we were celebrating our birthdays. And she loves fresh fish as much as we do.
Soon, the water started to rush out on us though, and we had to retreat quickly to avoid being stranded in the marsh. But we had a great day and two coolers full of fish! So we opted to head home and join other family members in celebration. It was a great weekend.