“The Southern Tackle Box”
Beating the Banks in April
Finally it’s here! Spring has arrived and not a minute to soon. I’ve grown tired of these teaser days of semi warm weather followed by a cold front to make me think that spring is in the far and distance future. The weather is warming and the shoreline is a buzz with activity. The bass are moving closer to the shore and some of our stripers are moving out. Not all, but just some. In April, some of our lakes bigger stripers are getting pulled to the north by instinct and water temperatures and are starting their migration to the north to prepare for the spawn. They have been on the main lake gorging themselves for the journey and the toll of the energy expended during the spawn. This is the time when I’m heading north up the river in search of our bigger stripers, but not every trip involves going north. Unfortunately my wife does not share the same excitement I get from going striper fishing. She would rather stay on the main lake and chunk and wind all day for these squatty little green fish than put a bunch of live bait out around the boat, moving at the speed of a three toed sloth and kicking back for hours in a vegetative state while waiting for 3 minutes of shear excitement and glory. Well, I guess it’s to each his (or her) own. One thing I keep in mind is that she does control 100% of the lovin in the house, so keeping the peace and fishing for a few green fish is a fair trade in my book.
Now me being the engineer that I am, I’m thinking that if I have to go along with these green fish outings I might as well target my favorite species along the way. Now, one of the best little baits I’ve found for spring bass and a few hungry shallow or surfacing stripers is a little white quarter to half ounce bucktail with a little bit of flash on the top and sides. A long time ago I figured out that not all stripers leave the shallow banks to head north in April. A few nice stripers will hang out and stay near shallow water throughout the spring. Don’t ask me why but I’ve caught big stripers on the most extreme parts of the south end of the lake on one day and went up the river 12 miles to the north and caught the same sized stripers the next day, in April. With that being said, I don’t mind going along with the bass fishing. I have convinced my wife that one of the best baits she can use in April is that little bucktail for bass. She believes in that bucktail and darned if she doesn’t hammer them every April with that same little white bucktail. In the mean time, I’m tossing that same little bucktail and catching stripers as well as bass. The difference is that I’m watching all around the boat and sometimes I see surfacing stripers and I know exactly when to throw to get a hungry striper while the wife is steady beating the banks for bass, oblivious to what I am doing. Usually I’m scanning hard in 360 degrees looking for surfacing fish. If I see one off in the distance, that’s where we are going. I may have to be a bit covert about getting us there but generally, as a fisherman, I can concoct some kind of story to maneuver the boat into position for a cast. With bucktails it’s a timing thing for surfacing activity. You have to understand what the fish is doing when he is surfacing to get the bait. Getting that bucktail in the area when the fish is still up is imperative for success. You gotta get it there quickly while the fish is still in attack mode. That’s your best chance for a bite. If I’m not seeing stripers I’m right along with the wife beating the banks with that little bucktail and every once in a while we’ll actually nail a striper of two just blind casting in pockets and coves along the shore on the main lake.
Going up river on the warmer days in April can produce a nice big striper or two with big frisky gizzards or big trout on planer boards and freelines, but don’t rule out the other end of the lake. Taking a small white or light colored bucktail with some good medium spinning tackle and 10-12lb fluorocarbon line or leader material can net a nice fat spring bass or a shallow or surfacing striper in April. Good luck and enjoy these beautiful spring days!