Late Summer Striped Bass Fishing

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Late Summer Striped bass fishing can be very tough.

But Captain Stu called me yesterday around 3pm and said he was ‘trailering his boat and headed to the lake’. I took a quick look at the barometer and it was dropping. There was weather around, the south-westerly wind was light, and it was nice and cloudy…we got on the water around 4pm and decided to run around and look for bait.

Normally, this time of year on our area freshwater impoundments, we are headed towards turnover as the thermocline (if its present) starts to bring the low-oxygenated water from the lower layer of the lake to the top. The stripers are as skinny as they’ll be, as they’ve been chasing bait all summer, trying to stay alive, with an incredibly sped-up metabolism. They just feel like crap, they start to scatter, and they can be very difficult, even when and if found, to get to bite any kind of hardware. Throw in fishing on a lake recovering from a massive kill and, well you get it. I didn’t have much for expectations.

But we caught fish. We started out in deep water, but found no bait, then as we moved shallower we found 15-18 feet of water to be the zone. We pulled spoons and crankbaits over marks and bait for almost an hour without so much as a tail-slap, then when approaching a point a channel catfish doubled over the first rod. Stu fought it and it looked like dead weight. I figured we’d treble-hooked it. But then it started fighting, we thought it was a striper, but it was just a 2 or 3 lbr. I noticed the wind had picked up and thought that was what had triggered the strike and that ended up proving out the remainder of the afternoon. Our strikes came at times when drizzle started or the wind changed. So as we bounced cranks over another point, during a light shower, a decent largemouth pulled a rod down as I was working the deck. Stu got that one too, maybe 2 or 3 lbs again, but it fought him good.

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He likes to run with 6.5’ poles with 10lb test to get more bites. I’ve been warning him about trolling with that light of line……A few minutes later two rods rolled over and the rod I had been working on, to remove a spoon and add another crankbait started bouncing wildly. I knew it. I boat flipped the 17’’er on the troll to help Stu, which appeared to have a bigger fish, but he lost it. Shucks.

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But we had our first target fish. After that the bite died, we ran through the area a few more times, but we had plenty of time. We hit another spot, fully intending to return, and hit a crappie straight off, but then fished that area another hour without a bite. After checking a few other areas, but finding no bait, we returned to the first location and dropped lines. Stu hit the same run on his gps and doubled over one of his ’light outfits’. I grabbed the rod and looked at him and smiled. The fish was pulling drag going for another county and wildly shaking its head. I tried to hand him the rod, but within five or six seconds, before he grabbed it, I felt the line snap. It was a big fish. Of course we debated it a bit.

He’s right on one hand, on many occasions; I have found that a lighter rod and line, on the troll or casting, will out-perform a stronger setup, as far as strikes, but on the troll, with other lines in the water, if a big fish bites a light setup, the only real option is to reel everything in and dead-boat the fish. But we didn’t have time for that. The fish broke us off so fast we didn’t have time to think of that. We pulled around a little longer and noted the wind die down, bait started coming up and the water column had obviously dimmed considerably. We pulled in the gear and hit a spot I know that will often give busting action when protected from the wind, and the breeze was right. We only had a few more minutes, but we found bait up top and within a few minutes noted surface crashing about 50 yards from our position. Stu managed one more bass out of that commotion, while I was jerking a skitterwalk that walked its walk with impunity. It was another schoolie which was quickly released. We called it a day, grateful for the handful of fish which consisted of four species, and trailered the boat in the dark. 

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Photos of Late..

sagittariusscorpio

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.

yak

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.

gastonchain

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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Triples! How to Catch Multiple Striped Bass Simultaneously from a Kayak

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So the fish are still chewing on area lakes. Water temperatures on Gaston and Kerr, as well as other lakes have the stripers feeding heavily.

The fish are schooled up in 30 plus feet of water and you can literally catch a limit with one pass; if you have the right setup.

I left the boat at the dock as I needed to log some more fish for kayak wars. So I took the Native Mariner and set out at dawn with 2 rods double-rigged with white and green bucktails. I also used white and green worms and flukes for trailers.

The first hookup was just after sunup and both rods went off simultaneously. All 3 fish were just under keeper size for the lake, but 1 rod had 2 fish and the other had the single.

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I had a few singles here and there also, but after an hour or so on the water, I had the best of my two triples for the day. One rod went off and it felt huge. While I was fighting it, and keeping myself pedaling along, the other rod went off again!

I brought the first catch in, a striper, catfish double, (that’s why it felt huge) then brought in the second rod with another striper (feature photo).

Several of the fish were well over 20 inches with one just under 25 inches and probably 6 pounds.

Only one store was open at 5:00am this morning and they were out of ice, so I didn’t have the cooler with me. So all fish were released alive as quickly as I could get them dealt with and back into the water. They seemed to be doing fine, and there were no floaters by the time I left the lake.

Summer is especially hard on stripers because their metabolism goes into overdrive. They have to eat a lot more than usual to keep weight on and if they are fought too long they will likely stress and die. So it is very important this time of year to use medium heavy tackle when playing these fish. It’s a lot of fun to fight striped bass on medium gear, but its bad for the fish when its so hot.

I was using 2 medium-heavy Ugly Sticks with bait feeder reels spooled with leadcore. I was able to stay on the fish, which stayed in 30 feet of water all morning, but had to follow the bite down. At first they were busting and feeding heavily 10 feet down. But soon I had to let out another color as the marks were showing at 15 feet. Then finally I had 3 colors out plus the bucktails, which had me catching fish 20 feet down til I left.

All fish were caught on bucktails and nothing looked at a crank bait.

The last multiple hookup was around 9:00am and the fish hit the jig 20 feet below the surface. Both fish were on the same rod so it was quite a fight. They took line repeatedly actually seeming to work together. This normally doesn’t happen with multiple hookups because you can feel them fighting each other as you reel in. I thought I had one big fish, but the biggest of the pair was 24″ and perhaps another 6 pound fish.

Leadcore is crucial for flat-lining, as it eliminates any doubt where your lures are running; of course if you know your speed. This can be done with any gps; handheld or on your fish finder.

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I was on the water from 5:30 to 9:30 and left before boat traffic showed up. Great Sunday on the lake.

Some pics of the nicer fish.

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