“We’ve been beating lake trout up something awful,” reported Rich Greenough at Sure Strike Charters. When we called he was just returning from a trip on Lake Champlain where he caught 30 fish in 3 hours. He’s fishing in the main part of the lake, pulling downriggers. “Some days suspended is better at 55 to 70 feet,” he said, “and some days the fish are on the bottom.” Rich has been fooling the lakies with small and medium spoons in a variety of colors. He said that a recent wind change had mixed the thermocline but he expects the water conditions to change in a few days. The key to catching these trout is understanding water temperatures on the lake. “Run a temperature probe,” he said, “on the lee side of the lake you fish higher in the water and the windward side you fish lower.” He said that the bite revolves around the internal and external seiche – or wind generated sloshing wave that moves from one side of the lake to the other. “If you don’t understand seiche you will have a tough time catching fish,” he says.
Travis Kirkley from Hammonds (www.hammondsfishing.net) reported that striper fishing is a piece of cake on Georgia’s Lake Lanier. “Put the boat in 80 to 100 feet of water and put the baits down 40 to 60 feet,” he says. The best method is down lining live baits and slow trolling through the deepest parts of the lake. “Bigger baits are better,” he said, adding that anglers are catching a lot of smaller fish on smaller baits. But crews who have the larger offering are getting striped bass up to 30 pounds. “Ten to twenty fish days are not uncommon,” he said. Largemouth bass fishing has been good, too. Anglers are casting topwater plugs on the points and humps while finesse worms and jigs work when the fish aren’t keyed into the surface. Travis says that the south end has been best for the bucketmouths. “Try Six Mile Creek, Young Deer Creek, and Flat Creek,” he recommends. For shore-based anglers, bream and crappie are all over the public fishing areas taking nigh crawlers or red wigglers under a bobber.
Captain Glenn Satterfield (www.pursuitguidefishing.com) told us that striper fishing is heating up on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas now that the water is warming up. He’s slow trolling Bombers, J-plugs, and umbrellas on down riggers from 120 to 60 feet deep. Glenn finds the the fish holding over dead trees and other structure. “The key to the bite is getting up early and fishing before the sun drives the fish deep,” he says. He adds that finding schools of shad will also lead to finding striper. Before the sun comes up, Glenn has stumbled into striper working schools of shad near the shorelines. That’s when he breaks out the surface poppers such as Zara Spooks or topwater Bombers and has a ball catching nice striper on light tackle.
The smallmouth bite is going off on Lake St. Clair, Michigan. Captain Jon Bondy (www.lakestclairfishing.com) has been blasting 2 to 5 pound smallies and catching 20 to 30 fish on each trip. He’s finding the fish on the offshore reefs in 10 to 15 foot of water by drifting drop shots and 4-inch Berkley handpoured worms. In the morning, Jon goes to jerkbaits and catches the fish in the same area. He says that anglers will find smallmouth where they mark bait balled up in schools. “If you mark bait stretched out in a line, you need to move,” he says, “because they aren’t being pursued.” Instead, he looks for blobs of bait as a sure sign that smallmouth are feeding in the same area.
For freshwater anglers, sturgeon are probably the biggest adversary they can target. Captain Pat Long (www.snakeriverguides.com) has put the bead on these beasts in the Snake River. “Sturgeon fishing has been very good for very big fish,” he says. Each trip he’s averaging a half dozen fish from 4 feet to over 8 feet long. Recently, he’s noticed that the fish favor cut squid and anchovies–baits that aren’t native to the river–over cut trout or herring. It takes heavy tackle to subdue one of these sea monsters, and he’s using 9/0 barbless Gamikatsu hooks with 24 to 30 inches of leader and a fishfinder slide. “I use the slide so that if we break the main line the fish isn’t dragging a weight around with him,” he explains. Pat looks for sturgeon in two places, the deep holes where they hang out and the shallow eddies where they feed. “I’ll spend thirty minutes in 40 to 120 feet of water before moving off to the shallower back eddies or channels where the bait collects.” One place he doesn’t target sturgeon is on the gravel bars where they spawn. “If you stress them while there spawning they may abort the eggs and not spawn again for 7 to 10 years,” he says. With so many big fish available in the deeper holding areas and shallower feeding areas, there is no reason to chase them where they spawn. “It’s really quite easy,” he says.