Six Species Slab Smackdown

 

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So this afternoon was a no-brainer to go after some slabs.

I wanted fish tacos and I was lucky enough to find the ingredients today. The weather was what I call perfect for fishing. Light winds, overcast, rainy-at-times and cool with constant approaching weather.

I got on the water around 2:00 and started catching fish right off. There was bait on top of the water, but I never saw any surface activity. I launched and headed into the back of a cove I’ve had plenty of luck in over the years and hit a keeper striper before I could get all three lines out.

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I had two rods spooled with leadcore already out and was dropping back a crankbait in the center of the spread when the first rod doubled over. It was a decent fish and fought hard, digging deep repeatedly in 20 fow. I lip-gripped the striped bass and brought it into the yak. It was about 21″, so I took a quick pic and released it. I was only planning on keeping whites or crappie.

I trolled through the area a while and picked up a few small catfish before landing the first white bass. I thought it was a striper, as usual with the bigger whites. It was almost 14″ (feature photo) and hit the ice. Then, I trolled right back through the same spot and hit a nice crappie, just about 12″ and it too joined the white bass.

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Then, the sun popped out, the temperature went up and the bait and fish vanished. The wind picked up a bit too, so I trolled across the lake and hit a different area. Once there, I found fish on structure and started jigging after a few passes with no takers. I caught several bream, with one nice one first. I thought about keeping them, but turned them back.

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Then, I caught another striper, it was short and also quickly released.

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Right afterwards, as the the bait sunk back to the bottom I pulled the first time and felt a huge bite. I was sure I was hung then felt the shaking and new I was on a nice fish. It dug good and shook its head several times before I turned it upward and was able to bring it to the side of the yak. Awww. Anyway it was nice fight…

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The afternoon started getting late and I was headed back to the ramp and the wind died. The clouds covered the sky again and I decided to tie on a chugbug. I love those things. Rivers, lakes wherever. I chucked it along a bank a few times and had one blow up. I figure it was a maybe two pounds, but it was fun for the sixth species of the day.

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After that the wind started up again and I split. Only kept the crappie and white bass but it was just enough. I love overcast calm days on the water.

 

Jordan Lake Stripers

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I got out on Jordan Lake today to chase striped bass and white bass and found the fish feeding readily.

I started out jigging in about 18′ of water and hooked the only striper I kept on a piece of metal. The fish fought like a much bigger striped bass, but once I landed the 21″ specimen I knew I had a grilled dinner, so I put it on ice. All I needed at that point was a fresh lemon. This fish had a fair amount of broken lines, but it was just a striped bass.

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But after a few more minutes of jigging and no takers I could see action on the surface of the water around me. The wind was light and I had trolling gear aboard, so it wasn’t long before I started pulling hardware. I started off in 15 FOW and had marks all around.

And I was quickly rewarded for the change of tactics. Clouds had been moving in from the west, and as the afternoon progressed, the colors changed from reds to purples tinged with orange as the sun found its way to the horizon. The wind slightly changed to a WSW and it wasn’t five minutes into the pass when the leadcore rod with a sassy shad doubled over. I fought the fish while keeping the other line moving and landed another nice keeper striped bass before releasing it after a quick pic.

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After I turned around to make another pass through the area I immediately found my sonar lit up again. And after another few moments the same rod doubled over again and I fought a really nice white bass to the boat. I thought it was another striper the way it fought, but once I boat-flipped the large panfish I knew I had another cooler fish. It hit the ice and I set back out.

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There was a slight lull and I changed jig heads as I was running through the same general area. At times I would pull cranks and at times I didn’t. But after a while I decided to change colors and ran a chartreuse Bomber over shallow structure. I’d been running a white Bomber as my prop-wash bait, but it was a deep crank, so I opted for a 6′ – 8′ model and quickly found fish receptive.

This was my first striper double of the year (feature photo) and after fighting the fish to the boat, I released them after taking pics. I only planned on keeping 1 striped bass for a grilled dinner over the weekend and the white bass was a bonus. As you can clearly see, one fish was caught on a sassy shad and one was landed on a crankbait.

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I caught a few others, but released everything else. All my fish were caught in 14′ to 24′ of water and almost every fish was caught using white sassy shads on chartreuse jigheads.

Good luck!!

Roanoke River April 2017

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Saturday, a good friend and I decided to launch on the Roanoke River in search of river-running striped bass.

We set out in Williamston NC and headed upriver. The current always seems to be strong there, but that day the water was clear compared to my previous trips. We’d planned to travel to Plymouth, but the shad report was good where we were, and with decent water clarity, we opted to go ahead and fish. We didn’t leave early by any means either and weren’t on the water til nearly 1:00.

We threw shad darts in white and chartreuse from the bank and had chasers nibbling as well, but they wouldn’t commit. So I tied mine on with a 1/2 oz trolling weight and let out plenty of line once we’d launched. The water was fairly deep, so I put out another line with a white sassy shad and a chartreuse jighead and headed hard into the current.

I wasn’t two-hundred yards up the river before I hooked my first shad of the year on the troll. It put up a great fight and I snapped a pic once I landed it.

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I continued upriver and it wasn’t long before a striped bass hit the sassy shad. It also put up a great fight and the current had me turned quickly. I thought I’d lose the other line and lures to the bottom of the river, but I was lucky and pulled them in after landing the striper. I took a quick pic and released it. I didn’t measure the fish, but I didn’t plan on keeping any unless they were at least 20″. It may have been a legal 18″ fish, but I decided to let the first one go.

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Shawn and I continued upriver again and after a while of fighting the current we found a great spot to try cut bait. We tied Carolina rigs and sent out baits into eddies and currents, but found no more striped bass. We did find a great bend in the river that gave us action until we left however. We caught plenty of catfish. They were the whitest channel catfish I’d ever seen. The fish were suspended in deep water, almost 40′, and we anchored on the point nearby and fan-casted the area.

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We caught several of these guys and released all of them. Then, we tried to search further upriver and trolled a ways again. But the boat traffic was heavy and we soon started running out of time. So we headed back to the area that gave the most action and that’s when Shawn hooked into the big gar (feature photo). I’d had two on prior to his hookup, but each fish came unbuttoned before I could get them to the boat.

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I paddled over to his position to get a few pics. Then, when I paddled off, he reeled in his other line and saw another gar take the bait at the boat. He fought that one and landed it too. That was the first gar-double I’ve ever witnessed.

The day had grown old by that point and we hadn’t found the striped bass in any numbers so we decided to call it a day and made the drive back to town. We honestly didn’t see anyone catch a fish yesterday and it was one of those afternoons when you saw the same boats running all over the place. Although, we were told the bite had been good. And I don’t doubt it, the fish don’t always know how nice a day it is. But we’d had plenty enough action to have a good time.

I advise anyone interested in this years striped bass run on the area rivers to check these shocking reports weekly. They update them pretty regularly and you can use them to plan your trips with an edge. They feature the Tar, Roanoke, Neuse and the Cape Fear.

Good luck!

 

 

Winter Stripers

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The water was glassy and I had winter stripers on my mind.

I got to the last day of January and realized I hadn’t been on the water yet in 2017. So I took the second half of the day off and decided to go after fish I knew would be fat and full of fight.

And I wanted to grill some fresh fish.

It was a mid-60’s day with no wind and it had been warm for a few days. Definitely a no-brainer to go kayak fishing.

I started fishing around 3:00 and it wasn’t long before I had my first fish of the year; it fought hard but turned out to be a foul-hooked white catfish; probably three pounds or so. I didn’t take a pic and thought, uh oh.

After jigging a spoon a short time later another fish was on. (feature photo) The fish was barely hooked, but I managed to swing it into the kayak without losing tension. It was just over 20″, and a perfect eating fish. So he went into the cooler. I fished a little while longer without another bite and decided to move around a bit.

After watching the sonar a while, I came over what looked to be a school of crappie. The vertical column of fish, I thought was unmistakable. I back-pedaled to stay right on top of the marks and dropped the spoon. It was struck hard instantly, but the fish broke off after a few seconds. I dropped back down and jigged again awhile without another bite. The fish had been feeding all day I could tell. They were lethargic, but it was mid-afternoon. I figured it would pick back up towards sunset.

After trying a couple other spots and marking very little, I again came over good lines on my unit. I dropped the lure and it was smacked on the drop again. This time the fish held though, and I fought it for close to two or three minutes before it was boat side. I hadn’t brought a net, I rarely do anymore (I prefer the fish grippers) but today, with fish again hitting only one of two treble hooks, I missed it. I lost a nice 24+” class fish within a foot of my arm.

It happens, but I was shaking.

I dropped right back down though and after a few moments I was on again. After another decent fight I had another winter striper at the side of the yak. I swung it in as it looked short, and once measured it was just shy of a keeper at 19″.

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I snapped a pic a tossed this one back in and dropped back down. Again, a fish hit the lure on the drop, but after another lengthy fight, and sighting another 24″ class fish barely hooked, I lost tension at the boat missing with the lip-grippers. It was then I decided to go back to bringing a net. You just don’t reach your hand into a striped bass’s mouth with treble hooks in play. And winter stripers are so full of piss and vinegar they fight as hard in the boat as they do on the line.

I was again shaking but dropped back down regardless. And after another few jigs of the spoon I had another strike.

I knew I had another nice striper on. I fought it just like I had all the others and soon had it too at the side of the kayak. It was a good one and just like the rest, only one of the hooks on one treble hook held it to my line.

But this time the lip-grippers found their mark and I pulled the second keeper in. It was 24″ and close to six pounds after weighing it later.

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Not long after I put that one on ice a stiff south wind hit the lake and vertical fishing was out. I paddled back towards the launch and snapped a close-to-sunset pic before heading out and cleaning fish.

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Photos of Late..

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I’ve got a rain here in Cary today today, so I’m working on woodworking projects, but I decided to share a few pics I’ve taken lately. The Sagittarius piece is the companion piece for my Stepfather, the Scorpio was a birthday gift for my fellow Scorpio Mom.

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I got out Saturday afternoon for a Surf n’ Turf attempt. However the fish weren’t biting, and the deer are still pretty darn scarce in my neck of the woods around Jordan Lake at least. EHD is still hampering numbers badly. But it was a beautiful day and evening nonetheless.

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This is a spot on the lower half of Gaston Lake. I’ve always thought the chain was really cool so I took a pic.

Below are just some random shots I thought were kind of neat. Sort of work-in-progress pics.

And the mill in progress…

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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.

Best Striped Bass Topwater Bite of All Time!

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Striped bass and largemouth bass were slam knocking the chug bug out of the water this morning for almost 3 hours!

It was literally the best topwater bite I’ve ever seen. And I’ve had years of throwing Poprs, Buzzbaits, Jitterbugs etc…you name it. There was sufficient cloud cover and the wind stayed down til I left.

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The fish were so keyed up they were knocking the bait out of the water almost a foot at times, and doing it repeatedly. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then they were coming back for it and engulfing it. I had stripers jumping like largemouth, It was incredible.

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Fish after fish til the clouds broke and the sun came out. I probably caught 10 – 15 bass, biggest around 3 lbs, 8 striped bass (all skinny but 3 at 24″) and 2 white bass. Both whites swiped at the bait and hooked themselves on the outside of their body. It’s a big bait for a white for crying out loud.

I left the lake a little after 9 and was home and cleaned the fish by 11…That’s what I call a meat run.

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