The Thanksgiving Fishing Forecast

Derek_&_Conrad Northeast
If your trip over the river and through the woods takes you to New York City for the holiday weekend, be thankful that big striped bass have shown up to the beaches of the big city. According to Karl Anderson at Urban Angler urbanangler.com in Manhattan the cows came home this week. Karl had reports of big bass feeding on schools of herring and smaller fish stacked up on the beach chasing silversides and rainbait.  While boaters are targeting the bigger fish by trolling umbrellas, spoons, and plugs surf anglers are scoring smaller bass with Hopkins spoons and bucktails. Karl said that the best way to get a bite is to attach a teaser fly with an 18 inch piece of 15-pound test leader material. He reports that the fish are stacked up from New York Harbor to Fire Island. To reach the fish, take the subway to Flatbush then hop on the Q 35 bus to Fort Tilden. “The bus drops you off right on the beach,” he said.  When we asked Karl if people on the bus look strangely at a guy with waders and a fishing rod, he said, “Not in New York City.” Meanwhile, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut headboats are targetting blackfish and sea bass with reckless abandon. They are, afterall, THE best-eating fish that swim!

Souteast
Thanksgiving is a traditional time of harvest and Virginia anglers are reaping the rewards of a bumper crop of striped bass this week. While most anglers were busy catching school-sized fish around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a few lucky fishermen sneaked off and caught the first big bass of the season. Guys casting Windcheater plugs and Storm shad caught 18 to 30 inch fish on the rockpiles and bridge pilings. However, the biggest bass were taken by crews drifting live eels under bobbers off Cape Charles and Kiptopeke State Park. When the current went slack and the striper stopped biting, savvy anglers turned their attention to catching tog on the islands and pilings with chunks of crab or clam. The boats that ran offshore found the first big bluefin of the season at the Rick’s Wreck while the guys who stuck to the skinny water continued to catch trophy speckled trout in the Elizabeth River. Virginia anglers have a lot to be thankful about this Holiday season. 

South
New Orleans anglers are bringing new meaning to the words “Happy Thanksgiving.” That’s because the first giant yellowfin tuna arrived to Midnight Lump this week. Captain Lee McLean at www.fishvenice.com said that the best of the tuna action is still a month away, so he’s focusing on chasing wahoo at the offshore oilrigs. “The first full moon and the next cold snap should really kick off the wahoo fishing,” he said. To catch wahoo, McLean trolls highspeed plugs like Marauders at the rigs in 250 to 300 feet of water. A recent bout of bad weather has made offshore fishing tough, so McLean has been chasing sea trout around Venice. “Trout fishing is stupid right now,” he said.  He told us that he fishes the cuts along the river channel with a live shrimp on a Carolina rig. “I’m not even a trout guide and I caught 150 of them in three days,” he said. 

Midwest
A good way to burn off some holiday calories is chasing bass and crappies around Kansas City, Missouri.  Gary McDonald at Atomic Bait and Tackle said that fishing for these species has been very good in Lake Constellation, Smithville, and Mozingo.  “If I had to choose one lake,” he said, “I’d go to Mozingo.” Gary said that his customers report steady action on largemouth bass in 10 to 12 feet of water using ¼ ounce jigs. He suggests looking for the fish around brushpiles in coves or on the lake’s points. Crappie fishing has also been good in Mozingo. Gary said that bottom bouncers are catching limits of slabs with live minnows on a jig or a Carolina rig. He says that the crappies seem to be concentrated in 18 to 20 feet of water with some of the best action coming around the dam. 

West
Lake Tahoe is a perfect place to spend a holiday weekend. Crisp air, warm fire, falling snow, good friends, and fishing! While the ski season is only a snow storm away, anglers fishing the lake are catching limits of trout. Captain John Shearer at Tahoe Sportfishing Company told us that the Mackinaws are stacked up on the humps in 100 to 200 feet of water. John is rigging live minnows with treble hooks and trolling them behind down riggers. “We’re finding schools of fish that are 20 to 30 feet thick,” he said. Sounds like Tahoe anglers will be eating trout for Thanksgiving dinner.—Ric Burnley