Jordan Lake Report 3 – 22 – 20

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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).

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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.

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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.

 

 

A Trip to the River, A Trip to the Taxidermist…

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Photo by: Tom Sullivan

So with recent daytime temperatures reaching into the 70’s and 80’s, water temps are on the rise.

The high waters from this past winter have all but receded, and the lakes and rivers are coming to life.

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Driftwood like this can be found all over local lakes in the trees anywhere from 10′ to 15′ in the air from this past winter’s flooding. Photo by: Tom Sullivan

And with the mercury rising, the river dwellers are waking up; white bass in particular. Every year around the end of March or the beginning of April, white bass begin their spawning run up the creek arms and rivers which feed many of our NC lakes and reservoirs.

These small to medium sized specimens are voracious feeders, and many who chase them throughout the year in NC swear they are, pound for pound, among the hardest freshwater fighters anglers can target.

And I would have to agree.

It’s not just how hard they pull, but how long they can go on feed. They are often found schooling, or busting the top of the water column chasing bait fish on cloudy and windless days. And they are also fantastic table-fare. I prefer them fried but they are also great grilled or even pan-seared.

So I went to fish the northern creeks of Jordan Lake this past week, before the temps took a nose dive this week. I figured the run could be starting, even though notes in my journals suggested to wait a while longer. I couldn’t wait it out any more.

Upon arrival I noted the water was still cool, and started to fan cast around some areas that have been good to me in the past. Nothing. Not a sniff. I paddled to a few different areas and was afforded the same luck. Too cold I thought. It was last Monday and I’d played hooky from work (it’s ok I’m the boss), and I was starting to think I might ought to rethink the days’ activities.

But then I decided to try a little trick I’ve learned will fill a stringer on days these particular fish seem lock-jawed. I opted to troll the shallows with a weightless in-line spinner. It’s a delicate strategy, but often proves beneficial when cast and retrieve techniques aren’t panning out. One does not need a lot of line out, nor will you need to paddle fast.

I prefer to let out about twenty feet of line and paddle around 1.5 to 2 mph.

I was quickly glad the boat hadn’t found the bed of the truck prematurely.

Within moments of starting to troll in an area I had confidence in, I had a big fish on. I thought it was probably a large mouth bass; until I saw the stripes.

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Photo by: Tom Sullivan

The fish fought hard and after bringing it to the kayak, I realized it was a really big white bass. I didn’t have a scale but I was planning on keeping fish for the fryer. So I would weigh it later. I didn’t even have a measuring board, but I knew this fish was a big female.

White bass have no size minimum for the creel, but I try to release any fish less 12″. This one turned out to be 17.5″ and just under 3 pounds; a trophy by length and weight from NC waters.

I trolled another few hours up until the clouds finally broke and caught several more big females. I caught all the fish on a brown haired, #3 inline spinner. The fish seemed to completely disappear when the sun showed itself around midday, but I had a nice stringer of fish for the fryer and one in particular I needed to weigh.

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Photo by: Tom Sullivan

Once home I found a digital scale and realized I had indeed caught a citation white bass. The minimum length and weight used to be exactly the same as a crappie, but the length has recently moved up an inch from 16″ to 17″. I’ve released multiple whites over the last few years that have been trophies and regretted it, so I took this one to Howard Walters at Furs, Feathers & Fins Taxidermy. Howard did a deer mount for me this past winter and has become my most trusted taxidermist. His quality of work, pricing and timeliness are second to none in my book.

I have been out to the lake 3 times in the last 2 weeks and caught whites each time. They are biting in rivers and creeks that feed lakes or impoundments with white bass present. I hear the bite is going really well on the Eno River as well.

These fish will bite when others are lock-jawed, but I do prefer to fish for them on cloudy days with light winds. So get out there and take some in-line spinners with you. You’ll most likely get a stringer full of delicious tasting fish, and you might just get a wall-hanger for your troubles as well.