The first part of May saw cooler than average weather with some big temperature swings. It looks like we have one more brief cool down in the middle of next week and then maybe we can put the cold gear away for a few months. The lake fished well through all of this and anglers have reported good catches for all species. The lake level as of Thursday evening was 1071.66, .66 feet above full pool. The surface temperatures were in the mid to upper 60’s.
Stripers are biting, and the patterns and techniques are still very varied. There are also some differences in patterns between the lower and upper ends of the lake. I think the best bite remains in the upper part of either river, at least in terms of numbers and consistency. The down line bite has been very strong, but live baits on the planers and free lines, especially a weighted free line, have also produced well. Look for the fish to be on points on flats adjacent to creek channels or the river channel, over a 30 to 60 foot bottom. They are moving quickly, but if you see a bunch of fish on the sonar, park on them, chances are more will show up periodically and you get a couple bites each time they appear. Drumming, or other noises of your choice may help pull them to the boat.
On the lower end, there are still plenty of shallow Stripers, especially if you can find spawning baitfish. This bite has all day application, but may be better in the am hours. Several baits will produce, Herring on the planers, top waters, swim baits, Flukes and Mini Macks to name a few. I have had really good luck casting the Mini to points, and I’ll post some more video to help explain that this weekend. I think the topwater bite is still subpar for this time of year, but seems to be improving. Approach these shallow water patterns with the same mindset you would if you were fishing a Redfin, run and gun. No matter which bait you choose, the fish will generally respond very quickly, so get the easy bites and move on. Shallow points(a long gradual taper seems to be best), saddles, and shallow humps are all likely areas to target.
What about the surfacing fish? I have seen very little schooling activity, but it does seem to be increasing slightly. If you see fish chasing bait to the surface, I think the best bait to cast to them is the Mini Mack. When I have gotten around them, they are quick to take the Mini and the hook up ratio is very good. If you like to fish after hours, the Green light fishing is still good, and that is productive all over the lake. Casting a small buck tail, fluke, jerk bait, or a live Herring should get the bite.
The Bass bite remains very good, with the fish responding to many techniques. I think there are still spawning fish in the shallows, maybe we had a group of fish spawn on that last full moon, and there are still fish lurking around any bait fish spawns you locate. Casting the Mini to these areas has been very productive and is accounting for some big Spots. I did have a couple of request to define shallow, so I’ll say less than 10 feet, and I have caught several big Spotted Bass in the early am that took the bait in 3 feet or less. Flukes, swim baits, jerk baits, spinnerbaits, and top waters are also producing well. Topwater fishing is definitely better, and should continue to improve! I really like a Super Spook this time of year, but there are many good baits that will produce well so pick your confidence bait and try and tweak the bite each day. Remember that the wind and weather will have an impact on these shallow fish, and pre frontal conditions have been energizing this bite.
If you like to fish the deeper off shore structures those patterns are also productive as more fish move deeper and onto the brush. Moving baits and top waters cast over brush is a good pattern now, and we have fish showing up around the sea walls and breakwaters. Super flukes are also very productive now, and I like to add a light weight to the Fluke so that I can retrieve it fairly quickly bit still keep the bait sub surface. Try rigging the Fluke on one of the Gamakatsu Superline hooks, the extra weight will also enable you to make longer cast which can be a big plus if you have schooling fish around. Other baits to try are the Sebile Magic Swimmers, 3/8 oz Steelshads, Zara Spooks and Sammies.
Many of you have ask about the Spot tails and yes they are shallow now and easy to catch, and with more Spotted Bass moving into deeper water and beginning to congregate that technique will be getting stronger every day!