Lake and fishing conditions were mostly stable last week, however the lake level did fall slightly, 1070.90 as of Thursday evening, that is .10 feet below full pool, and down .26 feet from last week at this time. This is the first time the lake has dropped below full pool since February 1st of this year! The surface temp was 81 degrees. Next week’s extended forecast calls for more seasonally appropriate weather, and we should see low temps in the 60’s and highs in the low 80’s, good fishing weather!
The Striper Bite has been similar to last week, with last week’s patterns still in play and a couple of new ones that are in the picture now that we are moving into fall. The umbrella bite is still very good, pulling the full size rigs over main lake humps, or contour trolling over ridges and along the bank has been a consistent producer. The only changes I see in this pattern is the depth, the fish are using a greater depth range with more fish holding on the humps from 25 feet down to a 45 foot bottom. You may need to fish the rig a little further behind the boat, 140 to 150 feet as opposed to 110 to 120. I also found that RPM changes or kicking the boat out of gear and dropping the rig into the fish would get a few extra bites. Fishing rigs with underspins may be a plus, or adding a couple of underspin jigs the existing rig may also be worth a few extra bites. This bite will work all day, but I think is strongest from mid morning on.
The other method that is consistent is fishing live baits in the pockets, with the fish pushing back into water as shallow as 35 feet. Live bait has been the big producer here, and a jigging spoon may be a good compliment to the live baits, bringing in a couple of bonus bites from Striper and Spotted Bass. This pattern may also work all day, but I think is best from sunup until 9:30 or so, which fits in nicely with the above mentioned trolling pattern.
Some other techniques that you may want to consider are fishing dock lights after sunset or before sunup, and be prepared for the schooling fish which are showing up more frequently. The schooling fish are still very random, may show up anywhere or anytime, but I think the afternoon or evening offers the best opportunity. A Mini Mack or Magic Swimmer will be hard to beat for casting to the schoolers, but spoons, top waters, and buck tails will also get the bite if you can get the bait to them before they sound. There are enough fish on the humps and points that will take a topwater even when you don’t see them chasing bait. A big walking bait, Magic Swimmer or popper cast over humps and points will pull a few fish up to the surface. The dock lights are starting to produce some decent numbers, mostly smaller fish but the big ones will not be far behind as the water cools. Jerk baits, buck tails and live Herring will be the baits of choice for the lights. On the shallower lights, the Herring may not survive well on the pitch line so change them out often.
The bass bite is pretty typical for this time of year, you may have to work for your bites, and the good news is the topwater bite has been somewhat energized in the last few days. In the early part of the day you can catch fish casting the top waters to shallow structures such as secondary points, shallow brush, and shallow humps. After the am bite is over, fishing the brush is still a great technique. Several baits are effective for this pattern and vary from day to day so make adjustments based on wind and the amount of sunshine. Walking baits and Chug bugs have been strong if you get a little help from the wind, Magic Swimmers, Spy Baits if the conditions are calm. This pattern is a numbers game, so think run and gun to make this work. Of course the drop shot is still a solid producer, an if the water is slick back the boat off of the brush and cast the drop shot as opposed to fishing it with a vertical presentation.
There are a few Bass showing up on the dock lights, this pattern is ok and should improve with cooling water temps. Jerk baits and Flukes are likely choices to cast at the lights. Another pattern that may not get you big numbers but may produce some really nice fish is casting to the marina seawalls. The bait of choice on the seawalls can be very varied, but top waters, flutter spoons, Spybaits, and jerk baits can all be effective. Like fishing the brush, the wind can often really enhance this bite, bigger more aggressive baits in the wind, smaller subsurface baits if the water is slick.