The weather continues to be crazy, lots of rain, and the lake may reach an all time high this within a few days? Plenty of questions about the lake being open, and it is, just check with the Corp, or controlling entity of the ramp you are using to verify that it is operational. The weather forecast indicates more of this volatility, so keep the rain gear and cold gear handy, we still have a way to go to before we get to spring. The fishing has been pretty good, especially given the conditions we have experienced since the first of the month. As of this writing, the lake was 1076.71, 5.71 above full pool, only .43 feet from reaching or surpassing the record high level of 1077.14, set 49 years ago on April 10th, 1964. The surface temps have also weathered the storm well and were around 50 degrees, slightly warmer in some of the creek backs.
The Stripers seem to be holding tight to the deep water patterns that have been the norm up until this point in the year. There are some fish showing up in the shallower water or back in the creeks, but those patterns are still sporadic and may remain so until the lake and the weather stabilizes. The deeper water is very stable, and I not sure it may be deceptively clearer then what we see on the surface. Watch for the areas of stained water to warm quickly with just a little help from the weather, that could trigger more bait and fish to venture into shallower water and into the creek backs and coves. Until then, the strongest pattern remains find the deep bait, and you’ll find the fish. The bite is largely a Herring bite, but Medium Shiners and Gizzard Shad are also viable baits. As we discussed last week, use the mud lines to your advantage, they can cause fish to congregate. When you locate the deep bait, even if the water is stained, it is probably worth setting up and dropping the down lines. Some days the fish are picky, and you may get a lot of those light, subtle bites, so hooking the baits in different ways and leaving the reels out of gear may help raise your bites to hook up ratio.
The Trolling bite is actually good, mostly in the upper parts of the lake, or in the creeks, areas where you can locate fish that are up in the 20 to 40 foot level. You’ll need pretty clean water( from a clarity standpoint and the amount of debris floating on the surface) to make this bite work, and after Thursdays rain dump I am not sure how difficult that will become. If the water is just stained, the umbrellas, both the full size rigs and the Mini Mack’s are effective. Adding baits with flash or trailers that cause vibration may be a plus. Try using a Capt Macks’s Striper Spin on the Center of the big rigs or try the Capt Macks Pro Rig, which is built with under spins rigged with 4 inch shad bodies. The bladed Mini’s will probably be a plus in the stained water, and adding the chartreuse trailers may also get an extra bite to two. I had a reader ask about he bladed Mini Mack and it effectiveness for the low speed Stealth trolling? It will do fine and the blades will spin well at speeds of .5 mph or greater.
Bass fishing is also good, and like the Stripers the Spots may be a little more reluctant to bite then in past weeks so finesse techniques may be a plus. I think the deeper patterns are the best, at least in terms of consistency and numbers. There are some fish in relatively shallow water, however, they may look for a new home after this last influx of new water. The shallow patterns may not offer numbers, but have produced some really nice fish up until now.
The dock bite is very good, the depth of the fish is still very inconsistent, but 15 to 25 feet seems to be a good depth range to target. Worms are the most prominent bait on this pattern, you can cast them on the Weedless Wonder or the drop shot, both are effective right now. This pattern is still producing a lot of single bites, so keep moving and fish a bunch of places and you will run up a nice string of fish. These fish are mostly keepers with a few big fish mixed in, but with all of the changing conditions on the lake you can always find docks with good water. The Roboworm in the Green Weenie, Green Neon Pumpkin, and Prizm Kraw are solid producers. This pattern is good all over the lake, or at least if the dock is not in an area that is blown out with muddy water.
Rocks are also a reliable structure, but you may find that rocky areas on points or flats may be difficult to locate visibly with an extra 6 six feet of water to contend with. The heightened water levels can throw off your visual perception of things so factor that in while you are casting to these areas. Hopefully you have a waypoint on them, and that will not be an issue. Worms, Jigs, Boogers with a Hula Grub, and depending on the depth, a crank bait are good choices for the rocks. Rock from 10 to 25 feet may hold fish, and even deeper on the bluffs.