January in February continued last week, lots of rain and wind to contend with, making fishing tough. The long term forecast calls for moderating weather in the coming week, and hopefully the fish will respond accordingly. Add in a full moon on the 27th and it could make for a very good bite. The lake level came up, and many parts of the lake muddied up as well, but that will be to your advantage as the new muddy water moderates. The lake level as of Friday afternoon was 1069.96, 1.04 feet below full pool, up .22 feet from last week. The surface temps went the opposite direction of the lake level and dropped slightly to 47 degrees. 

Striper Fishing

After a brief glimpse of spring, last week’s cool down squelched some of the activity in the backs of the creeks. I think those patterns will reemerge soon with the pending weather forecast. The stained water in the rivers and creek backs should warm quickly, attracting the bait and the gamefish right behind them. Until then, many of the Stripers are still in the creeks around the bait schools, over a 30 to 70 foot bottom, basically the same patterns/places we have utilized for several weeks now. Use the mud lines where applicable, the activity will often be best around the color change is most pronounced. Of course the smaller creeks, and the coves that did not experience an influx of new water will remain stable and fish in those areas are probably still hanging around.  

A mix of free lines, down lines, and planer boards will still be applicable, and a little weight on the planers and free lines has been a plus. Keeping a Mini Mack in the spread is also beneficial, either as a flat line or behind the Perfect Planer. Herring, Trout, Shad and Shiners have all been productive, and give the Stripers a mix until you see a preference. Don’t rule out using spoons and dead sticking jigs to catch these deeper fish, both of these techniques should remain viable methods for a last a couple more weeks. 

You will have plenty of stained water areas to fish, and you may be able to use this to your advantage. This stained water will often warm quickly and the Stripers are not hesitant to venture into the of colored water. Basically if the bait is there the Stripers will likely be there as well. I think that the fish in the stained water are often easier to catch, especially with artificials.  Casting a bait to the banks while you are pulling the live baits will often be very productive. Small jigs, 3/8 1/4 and 1/2 oz,  Flukes on a lead head, flukes on a weighted keel hook are also excellent choices.  

Bass Fishing

The Bass bite is still pretty good, the difficulty is dealing with the changing water conditions and fish movement. There are many patterns producing, and also many baits that are effective. The deeper patterns I think offer more consistency, particularly after last weeks inconsistent weather. Look for the pre-spawn bite to ramp up with the improving weather, and the shallow patterns that really were starting to develop should become reenergized. Fish moving into the creek backs, up on clay banks and points should respond quickly to the Rock Crawlers and Rapala DT’s, along with spinnerbaits and jerk baits. Until then, deep brush, rock bluffs, rocky points, ditches and drains are all likely areas to target. The depth range is also wide, 20 to 40 feet, so try and narrow that down as your day progresses. 

One of last week’s patterns, fishing the creek backs, drains and ditches is still a productive pattern. The ditches and drains may be the best choice, because they do not get the influx of new water like the creek channels. The fish on these structures may also be using a big depth range, but generally moving into the shallow end of that range early, getting deeper as the day progresses. Cast green and brown pattern jigs with Hula grubs or twin tails, the smaller Keitechs on a lead heads, or the worms on a Shakey Head. Super Spoons also remain productive on the deeper fish, especially in areas where the bait is layered up on the bottom. 

Our best bite may arguably be fishing after dark. Lights, both submerged and above water lights, are holding some good numbers of fish with some big fish, both Largemouths and Spots. The night bite is not limited to fishing lights, with some fish roaming around points and reef poles. With improving weather, night fishing may be more appealing, and the full moon may also benefit this pattern as well. Flukes, small buck tails, and Keitechs on the lead heads are effective on the lights, as are pitching live Herring. Jerk baits and crank baits are effective on the points and reef poles. As a bonus, you’ll probably get some Stripers off the lights to help keep you awake. 

Good Fishing!

Capt. Mack

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