By Ric Burnley
When we called Gary Mauz at Delaware River Fly Fishing he was waiting for the shad to arrive. “We’ve been catching one and two here and there,” he said, “but we haven’t hit the major run.” As soon as the water clears, Gary expects the fish to show up at Washington’s Crossing. “Once the water temp hits 50 degrees the fish should arrive,” he says. Then Gary will grab his 9 foot 7 or 8 weight fly rod with sinking or sink tip line and tie on a wooly worm or flutter spoons. “Anything bright will work,” he says listing his favorite colors as chartreuse, yellow, or orange. Gary said that local anglers are fortunate that the water isn’t too high and they can wade the whole river. “We’re looking for channels and points of land, or gravel bars where the fish spawn,” he said explaining that the shad are staging in the eddies behind structure. By May, Gary will look for striper to join the shad. “The fly guys will switch to Clouser minnows while the bait guys will fish with live herring, chicken livers, and bloodworms to catch striper up to 50 pounds,” he says.
Bob Borgwat at Reel Angling Adventures is strategically located to fish three states for two completely different species of fish. From his location in the southern Appalachian Mountains, Gary can fish Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee for trout or bass. He told us that Lake Blueridge in Fammin County, Georgia has been producing plenty of smallmouth bass and the fishing should only get better. He’s been targeting smallmouth on the spawning flats with hard and soft baits. “The smallmouth will be on fire until they spawn, then we’ll be in the post-spawn funk,” he says. Lake Chatuge in Hiawasse County is chocked full of smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass. “We’re primarily catching spotted bass with big spinner baits and hard jerk baits,” he said. Gary told us that the fish are also in pre-spawn mode hanging off the beds in 12 to 15 feet of water. Not only has bass fishing been good, but Bob says that trout fishing has been excellent. “In early spring we’re typically fishing tailwaters of the Toccoa River below Blueridge and the Hiwasse River head. He says that the rivers are fishing well and the black cadis are just starting to show up while bluewing olive hatches are still occurring. “We’re mostly catching rainbow trout,” he said, “but we’ve seen some browns, too.” Of course the best place to fish is along a private stretch of river that only Bob can access. While the average trout on the public river is 12 inches long, Bob’s finding fish to 3 even 8 pounds on his little stretch of water. For anglers who don’t have their own river to fish, Bob suggests wading the tailwaters below Lake Blueridge. “The trout are prolific and the water temperatures are stable,” he says. He points to the public access areas at Toccoa City Park, the dam side, and Mid Point that give anglers 12 miles of great fishing. “You can just drive in, walk up, and start fishing,” he says.
“Water, water everywhere,” reported Stan Parker at River Run Outfitters in Branson Missouri. He said that five flood gates were open on the dam and the White River is up 14 to 18 feet. But he’s not flooded out. “We’re still fishing,” he said, “the only way you can fish is from a drift boat.” So, he’s launching his boat below Table Rock Dam and drifting down the river. The key to catching trout in these conditions is getting the bait deep, Stan is drifting with an indicator 5 to 6 feet above a No. 1 split shot and a chrome/tungsten midge. He looks for the fish on the “soft” side, or down current side, of the current seams. “With the water high the fish will be along the edges of the river and behind rocks and downed trees,” he says. With more rain forecast for the week ahead, Dan doesn’t expect the water to recede before mid April. “You can go out in a boat and still catch some nice fish,” he said.
Speckled Trout/Red Drum
“The water is warming up and the fish are turning on,” reported Captain Scott Simpson at Impulsive Guide Service in Long Beach Mississippi. He said that speckled trout are taking top water plugs, like MirrOlure She Dogs at Cat Island and Ship Island. He’s also finding trout over the oyster beds south of Pass Christian with DOA shrimp rigged under a popping cork. “Speckled trout fishing is getting better each day,” he said. Fishing for bull red drum is also getting better. Scott’s been catching big reds in the same area with live or cut mullet or white trout. “It’s nice that the fish are close to home,” he says, “I can be on them 25 minutes after leaving the dock.” Scott’s also happy with this year’s trout regulations – anglers can keep 15 fish over 13 inches each day. “We’re catching limits of trout on every trip,” he says.
“If you want to catch fish,” says Rick Castell at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, “You could hardly go wrong by travelling up to Navaho Reservoir.” Rick’s the NW Area Manager for the NMDoF and his beat includes the reservoir and the San Juan River. “I’m lucky to be in charge of such a great place,” he says. Anglers traveling to the area can fish the reservoir for crappies, bass, and pike, or fly fish the headwaters of the San Juan for trout. Since the river is suffering from high water, Rick suggests angler focus their attention on the lake. “You can use the ugliest jig in the world and catch crappies right now,” he said. While the pan fish are spawning, any combination of 1/8 ounce lead head and 1-inch curly tail will fool them. Rick suggests heading towards the Colorado border and fishing the coves where the crappies are spawning. Smallmouth are reliable targets for anglers throwing jigs and skirts or crappie jigs while largemouth are taking tubes, worms, or Senkos. Pike are available, but to target them Rick suggests hiring a professional guide. “We’ll catch some smaller ones while fishing for bass,” he says, “but the big pike are hard to find with out any help.” Rick says that the San Juan River is raging, with water running at 4000 cubic feet per second and forecast to go to 5000 f2/second. “You can still fish it,” he says, “but it is difficult.” Rick suggests anglers spend a couple days fishing the Reservoir. “You can’t do this place in one day,” he says.