Happy Mother’s day to all! Sorry we are a little late with the report, I guess I fished too much this week, oh wait, I forgot, there is no such a thing. That was a silly thought! I’ll try and be a little more timely with next weeks report returning to a Thursday post. The bite is good, changing perhaps, but good overall. The lake temps held up well in sprite of this late season cold front, anywhere from 63 to 66 as of Saturday. Enjoy this cooler weather, after the first of the week it looks like a return to seasonally normal temps with lows in the 60’s and highs in the 80’s. The lake level is also holding up well, although we did fall .26 feet last week to 1071.76, .76 feet above full pool.
Striper fishing has been good ,but we are still dealing with a wide range of patterns and fish being scattered out all over the lake. Live baits are probably the best pattern, but there are some good opportunities to catch fish casting your favorite artificial as well. The downline bite remains prolific, maybe not as strong as in recent weeks, but still a very good pattern. Look for the fish in pockets, on flats beside the creek channels, around points and humps, and deep saddles. Fishing over a 35 to 40 foot bottom seems to be a good depth to target. Free lines and planers are also producing, and a lightly weighted free line is a plus. Just add a #5 or #7 Split to the line, maybe a couple if the wind is pushing your boat speed higher than you want.
There is also a very good shallow bite, with fish pushing up on banks and points in a little as 3 feet of water. Some of this is associated with the Shad/Herring Spawn, but certainly not limited to that condition. Wind and low light probably enhance’ this technique, and an early start is a bonus as well. To locate spawning bait, look for areas with rock, rip rap or naturally occurring rock, (watch the Heron’s, and what few Gulls are still present)most of the bait fish spawn on this type of structure. If you can see spawning baitfish, there will most probably be fish around, both Stripers and Spots, that are generally very catchable. Live baits on free lines and planers and pitching Herring to surfacing fish or up on the points is also effective. If you want to cast, and you need to be throwing something while the baits are soaking, Flukes, swim baits and Mini Macks are extremely productive. I have had really good success this week casting the Mini on the bait spawns and just blind casting to points. On the latter, think of the run and gun method that you wools use with a Redfin or other topwater. Throw a Mini up to a point, if the fish is there he will generally bite it on one of the first couple of cast, then you go on to the next place. Thus far, the fish have been a little reluctant to take the top waters, They will roll on them, but the hook up ratio has been low. I am not sure why, and hopefully it will improve in the next few days. In the meanwhile, the above mentioned baits will get the bite and the hook up!
The dock lights are producing very well and this pattern is effective on all parts of the lake. Casting small buck tails, Flukes, and swim baits, and soft plastics on lead heads should all get the bite! Of course a live Herring on a pitch rod is always a good choice. This bite is good from sundown throughout the night until just after first light!
The Bass bite has been good, but they fish are definitely starting to transition into post spawn patterns, or at least some of them, with fish showing up in and around brush and humps as deep as 25 or 30 feet. There are also some fish really shallow, so to some extent you can pick the type of fishing you like. As with the Stripers, there are still plenty of Bass picking on the spawning bait, swim baits, soft plastics on a lead head, top waters and Minis are all good choices for this pattern. This is primarily an early am bite, and has applications all over the lake. The other shallow patterns revolve more around structure and are generally enhanced by low light conditions, but will have application all day as opposed to the fish on bait spawns which tend to go away after the first couple of hours of the day. The weather also can straighten either pattern, with cloudy, rainy, pre frontal weather helping the shallow patterns, and the clear blues behind the front pushing more fish into the deeper patterns.
On the deeper structures, a topwater or swim bait cast over the area is always a good choice, you can always follow that up with a subsurface bait (a lightly weighted Fluke has been a good choice) bait or worm if the fish are slow to respond to the topwater. One footnote on some of these deeper fish: if you are seeing big groups of fish that will not bite, factor in you may be watching a bunch of Channel Catfish? They love brush, and they will group up fairly well. They will also move around in the water column, not limited to the concept that all catfish stayed glued to the bottom. The lake is full of them so be aware of that variable.