I’ve been hitting the lake on a regular basis and finding plenty of fish to keep me busy. The bite has been great for me over the past few weeks and I guess you could say that we’ve hit the summer pattern. The lake temps are hovering around the mid to upper 80’s and the thermocline is scattered throughout the creeks and out in the lower lake right now. The stripers and bass are taking up residence in their predicable locations and using a variety of methods for catching these fish can lead to a day of fun fishing…..
For the bass I’ve been starting my mornings very early (dawn) casting a topwater favorite over the same brush piles I’ve been drop shotting later in the day. This time of year the bass are reluctant to hit the surface but early in the morning and sporadically throughout the day they will attack the bluebacks swimming near the surface and they will attack a surface lure as well. Unfortunately this is one of those times of the year that the fish doesn’t stay up on the surface long so if you’re site fishing, making a quick and accurate cast is key to catching the surfacing fish. Basically, a topwater fish is a low percentage endeavor and I’m starting to see more and more bass refusing to come back after a topwater bait just seconds after they initially surface. Just yesterday I was able to catch some nice topwater fish just blind casting wind blown points but the chop across the point had to be perfect before they would surface. Just about every fish I caught on the topwater was a good 3lb+ stout fish and they attacked the topwater baits like they were hungry with the aggressiveness of the stripers. Lately the only topwater bait I have tied on and at the ready is the bone Sexy Dawg. The bass in the picture above was caught yesterday 7-7-2016, mid-morning on a wind blown point using the bone Sexy Dawg.
If the topwater isn’t working there are a couple other options I’ve been using to put fish in the boat. The first is casting a Fish Head Spin or underspin across the top of brush on humps or out on the ends of points. I’ve been targeting the brush in 25-35 feet of water. There are some fish at the shallower depths but I think the bigger fish have been deeper and near deep deep water. For the under spin, I’ve been using a 1/4 ounce with a pearl super fluke, casting across the brush pile and counting it down to 5-10 seconds with a steady retrieve over the brush pile and back to the boat. Another tactic you can try if the underspin isn’t working or the wind kicks up a little and that’s a jig. Take your pick, there are plenty to choose from that will work right now. I’m just casting a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce size type casting jig with a watermelon trailer, letting it sink and slowly crawling it across the bottom. Sometimes you’ll feel a distinct thump and other times they rod will just load up or get heavy. Most of the time the larger fish have been on the under spin and the jig.
Once I’ve had some fun with those three early morning tactics and the sun gets higher, I’m going to the drop shot tactic. For me, the drop shot is like playing a video game, I’m just finding the brush and fish on the electronics and dropping my little drop shot rig right down in front of them. Sometimes they hit it right away and sometimes I just dead stick the bait in a waiting game. There are times when holding the drop shot worm perfectly still will entice a bite and other times I have to make the worm dance to get a reaction. A lot of times I’m very focused on my electronics and I am watching the fish as well as my worm on my sonar screen. I can watch the fish chase the bait down and get hooked in real time. Worm color and size selection is a whole other topic. We’ve been using different sizes and colors, some days it matters and some days it doesn’t. My wife Lisa is the queen of color selections while I’m more of a tried and true kinda guy. We are both competitive and always have a competition on the drop shot. Lisa has that women’s touch which is perfect for that type of finesse fishing and the drop shot is her specialty so it’s always a challenge for me to beat her at the drop shot. Earlier this week she mopped up on me for numbers using a worm color that I never dreamed of using but it worked. Last year Lisa came up with a worm color that was a lock for us in late summer. We had a blast with it and caught some nice big fish just drop shotting our normal brush piles. It was just a color and size that the bigger fish reacted to during that period in time. I caught my biggest drop shot fish on that worm while the corps was generating in the brutal afternoon heat and got it on video. It’s probably my favorite drop shot video from last summer and that fish put up one heck of a fight on light tackle:
You can see the way I’m working the worm in the video. I’m using 6-7lb fluorocarbon line with a 3/8 ounce drop shot weight and a #2 or #4 VMC Spinshot hook about 18 inches up from the weight.
Once I’ve had my fill of drop shotting bass I’m moving on to a bigger target which is our summer striper population. I’m only carrying one item for stripers this time of year but the excitement that lure provides is more than enough for a day of fishing. The lure I’m carrying is the Ben Parker Magnum Spoon and the summer stripers just love this thing. You need to work the spoon kinda like working the drop shot, it’s a matter of seeing the fish on your electronics, dropping the spoon vertically and enticing them to bite. Finding the stripers to drop the spoon to is the hardest part of the equation and it may require some driving and watching your electronics for arches in deep water. Once you find the arches it’s as easy as dropping the spoon and reeling it back up. The stripers will let you know when they hit the spoon, sometimes taking you by surprise and trying to jerk the rod out of your hands.
Here is a video I made last summer that can give you an idea of the way the spoon tactic works for stripers.
A lot of folks have asked what rig I was using. The rig I was using to catch those big stripers was a big Penn Fierce 6000 reel loaded with 25lb Big Game on a 7′ Ugly Stik Heavy Spinning rod. I like the bigger reels because you can gain line very quick with the big spool and gear ratio. We’ve already been catching some nice fish on the spoon, both up lake a ways and down lake as well. It seems that the fish are scattered in groups and finding fish and having a group of fish to yourself is very possible right now. The spoon bite is only going to get better as we progress through the summer and I’m looking forward to a couple months and a solid pattern of hitting the brush for bass and spooning summer stripers for a change of pace. I haven’t really been taking many pictures or videos lately but here’s a few pictures from so recent trips out: