Category Archives: Striped Bass and Hybrid Bass Fishing

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

From Captain Mack Farr

Nice Lanier striper

Winter fishing has been good on Lanier, with typical patterns and the typical weather changes
associated with January. Many of the fish are very deep, and I do not think the big fronts have
had the expected negative effect on the bite as may be expected. So, if your only day to fish
falls behind a front, bundle up and go fishing!

Speaking of fronts, another nice one arriving just
in time for the weekend, right? Oh well, take heart, spring will be here before you know it.

The
water level as of Friday was 1070.20, .80 feet below full pool and down .30 feet from last week.
The surface temp is trending down, but still a couple of degrees above average Friday at 49
degrees.


Striper Fishing


Striper fishing has been good and the patterns have been very consistent over the last few
weeks. The deep bite continues to produce well, although you find that some groups of fish are
getting very picky as opposed to past weeks. The intensity of the bite varies from day to day,
and even from different times of day, so if they seem lock jawed just keep fishing and the fish
will either start biting or you will find a school that is hungry.


The Primary pattern is to set up a bait spread over deep bait, 35 to 60 feet. Live Herring, Shad,
Trout and Shiners are all effective. Down lines are accounting for most of the bites, but there are
some fish responding to shallow baits so a pitch line in the spread is a plus. If you are moving,
say .5 to 1.5 mph with the live bait spread, as opposed to spot locked, keeping a Mini in the
spread is definitely a plus. Fish it like a down line, or behind a planer and it will often keep pace
with, or out fish the live bait.

The biggest question is how deep to fish the Mini? Here is a rough
guide line to address that issue. Drop the Mini to whatever depth you are marking fish. If you are
moving at .75 MPH, you will lose approximately 15 to 20% of the depth of the Mini. So if you
drop the Mini to 25 feet, it will be fishing about 20 to 21 feet down. Keep in mind that line size
will effect the depth. This same general rule will apply if you elect to put the Mini Behind a
planer, which is a very good technique as well. If you are pulling the Mini with the outboard, you
may want to use the lead core. The total weight of the rigged, bladed Mini Mack is just over 2
oz. so treat it like a 2 oz Chipmunk Jig (it runs about 4 feet of depth per color) and you will have
a good idea of how deep the rig is fishing.


Trolling the full size umbrella rigs is also a strong pattern, and can be a real plus if wind makes
bait fishing difficult. The depth is really across the board on the rigs, and you may need to drop
the rigs back as far as 150 to 160 feet, especially if you are trolling around the deep bait
schools. Target the bait concentrations, and flats or points adjacent to the creeks. Contour
trolling, over a 25 to 35 foot bottom will also produce some fish, this is mainly a singles pattern
but it is high saturation and if are diligent this can be a pretty strong pattern, Clip points, pull
over the humps or down a bank in one of the creeks. The buck tail or shad body rigs are both
producing on this technique.

Bass Fishing


This part of the report is really starting to sound like a broken record, but if you are on the fish I
guess that is a good! We still have several patterns that will produce, but the deep water
ditches, bluff banks, and timber lines are offering good numbers and consistency. What is deep
you ask? 35 to 50 seems to be a good place to look for fish, and while they may be adhering to
structure, if the bait is there the bite present the bite will probably be better. Like the Stripers the
Bass can be picky on some days, but overall the bite is good.

Downsizing tackle and bait size
can be a real plus if the fish are stubborn.
If you are fishing ledges/ditches, remember that you may not see fish until you drop the baits, if
they are really tight to the ledge they may be difficult to see. The activity of the baits will get
them up and moving around. Worms and Jigs are probably the primary baits for this pattern, but
Blade baits and Spoons are also very relevant.

The “reel and kill” technique that I have
mentioned in past weeks is still a plus with the spoons and the blade baits and should be worth
a few extra bites.


Fish are still on the rocks, perhaps not as consistently as in past weeks but the pattern is still
viable. Crankbaits, jigs and worms will be good baits to try on the rocks, Sun may help this
pattern making it stronger in the afternoon. The docks are also producing well, target 20 to 30
foot docks with some will type of secondary structure underneath. Worms and jigs will be the
best producers on the docks!


Good Fishing!
Capt. Mack

Captain Mack’s Lake Hartwell Fishing Report

I
Lake Hartwell Fishing Report

Jan 13, 2021

Thanks to Johnny, Derek and the crew at Lake Hartwell Fishing
and Marine for contributing to this report!


Striper fishing has been pretty good, for those who bundled up and braved the elements. The patterns are
basically the same as last week, with live baits, umbrellas and spoons all being good producers. The fish are
scattered out all over the lake, so pick your confidence area and start searching. Finding the deep bait will
probably get you around the fish, and Herring, Shiners, Shad and Trout are all effective baits. On those
medium Shiners, be sure and match the hook size to match the bait, a #6 works will probably be a good choice.


The umbrella bite has been very good, pull the rigs around the deep bait schools, over points adjacent to a
creek or river channel. or over 25-foot humps. Start the rigs out at 2015 to feet deep, adjust if needed based on
what the sonar shows. the full-size Capt. Macks rigs, either with Shad bodies or bucktail have been
effective , with the Shad body rigs being slightly more effective for the Hybrid Bass. Mini Macks are also
producing well, either on the stealth troll on trolled on lead core line at 2.5 mph.


The Bass bite is good, and the ditch bite is possibly the best overall pattern. 25 to 45 foot ditches and offshore
roadbeds are very productive, and finding the ditches with the bait will offer a pretty sure bet to hook up. There
are several baits that will produce on this pattern, heavy football jigs with your favorite twin tail trailer has
been consistently producing, along with the jigs. Shakey heads paired with a Roboworm are also very
effective, any of the morning dawn patterns will get the bite, or if you have a little sunlight to work with the
Chartreuse Magic is a great color choice.

Spoons remain a primary bait, the Berry .60 oz in the GLS pattern
will be the cloudy weather bait, silver flag should be the go when the sun is up.
While the deep ditches are very stable and offer great numbers, there are also some very nice fish being taken
on shallow rocks and depth changes. Crank baits that dive to 6 to 8 feet, Worms on the shakey, and jigs are all
likely choices for this technique. The sun and the wind will probably enhance this pattern, and the afternoon
hours may be the most productive!


Good Fishing!

Capt Mack

Northeast Striped Bass Study

By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
The Fisherman
from The Fishing Wire
Chuck Many nets a good fish for Dave Glassberg during the spring run off the Jersey Shore during the 2020 Northeast Striped Bass Study.

And now there are four!

“If one’s an anomaly, and two’s a coincidence, will three or more show a pattern?”That was the lead sentence in our first published piece of this year (Born To Run: Hudson River To Canyon Striper) on the status of our 2019 Northeast Striped Bass Study from our January edition. 

By now everyone along the Striper Coast is aware of the results; two post-spawn striped bass caught by our research team at The Fisherman, Gray FishTag Research and Navionics in May of 2019, tagged with high-tech MiniPSAT devices to track migration habits during a five-month stretch, ultimately showing returns from the offshore canyons including the Hudson, Block and Veatch.Two $5,000 “pop-off” satellite tags which incorporate light-based geolocation for tracking, time-at-depth histograms for measuring diving behavior, and a profile of depth and temperature, showing two very distinct paths in waters where we typically wouldn’t expect striped bass to swim.

There’s been some skepticism of course with some questing whether a big white shark gobbled up these stripers before heading east with a belly full of bass. However, the data stored inside the Wildlife Computers MiniPSAT devices – which amazingly were physically recovered by beachcombers in Massachusetts and New Jersey – shows both tagged fish were alive and swimming along the offshore grounds when the tags detached.We had grand plans in 2020, and with financial support from Navionics, Tsunami Tackle, AFW/HiSeas, Southernmost Apparel and the Recreational Fishing Alliance – on top of the thousands in individual donations from The Fisherman readers, regional advertisers, and local fishing clubs – the Northeast Striped Bass Study was poised to deploy up to a half-dozen MiniPSAT devices this past spring. 

“The plan was to have multiple boats ready to go at one time, with a full Gray FishTag Research team in New York again during the week of May 18,” said Mike Caruso, publisher of The Fisherman and an advisor for Gray FishTag Research, adding “It was going to be even more groundbreaking than in 2019.

”Due to travel restrictions and the shutdown of Wildlife Computers in Washington State where the devices are built, we missed the height of the post-spawn Hudson River bite by roughly two weeks.  But thanks to a determined crew at Gray FishTag Research in Florida and a little improvisation, we hit the Jersey Shore spring run off Sandy Hook with a pair of tags, one deployed Thursday, May 28 and another for the following Wednesday, June 3 while fishing with study supporters David Glassberg and Chuck Many aboard Chuck’s boat, Tyman.  The pandemic-related audible paid off with a pair of 46-inch plus stripers, appropriately named Cora and Rona.Tag Return #1With both a MiniPSAT device and a Gray FishTag Research “streamer” tag, a 46-1/2-inch striped bass called Rona is released back in the waters off Sandy Hook for the start of her tracking adventure.So the $10,000 question we’ve all been waiting to answer with baited breath; where did Cora and Rona eventually get to, and did they follow a similar offshore path to what Freedom and Liberty did during the 2019 study? 

Once again – just as in 2019 – our first two tag returns of 2020 reveal two coastal stripers taking a rather incredible journey into depths that few would’ve ever expected from striped bass.

On August 1, 2020, the Argos satellite first began to receive information from Cora’s tag in roughly 650 feet of water some 30 miles offshore of Gloucester, MA in an area southeast of Jeffreys Ledge along the Murray Basin.  According to the information in the MiniPSAT device since uploaded to the satellites, Cora had spent the previous two weeks heading in an easterly direction toward Stellwagen Bank, traveling approximately 85 miles in 14 days from an offshore area home to the Davis and Rodgers basins in the Gulf of Maine. 

That big striper was along the west side of George’s Bank for the July Fourth weekend, following a bit of meandering above Hydrographer Canyon.As unbelievable as it may be for some us to believe that final month of travel, the route to actually get to George’s Bank was even more shocking. 

Cora, a 45-3/4-inch striper tagged on June 3, 2020 off Sandy Hook during the spring run, seemingly took a southeast route soon after her release, following a similar path to overseas freighters coming in and out of New York Harbor using the Hudson Canyon to Ambrose Channel deepwater lanes. 

By June 10, MiniPSAT data shows Cora down past the Chicken Canyon and not far from the Texas Tower, where she would eventually begin tracking northeast towards Nantucket Shoals over a 14-day period before turning north in between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket by June 25.For about three weeks, Cora was outside of 3 miles and essentially unavailable to fishing pressure, and her return inshore in late June didn’t last very long either. 

During the final days of June Cora had cruised back through Nantucket Shoals before running that final offshore gauntlet in July.  Anglers along the south shore of Long Island never got a shot at this 35-pounder. We don’t know where she was in the days leading up to her tagging on June 3, nor do we know where she is now, but we have a pretty solid idea about where she was for 53 days this summer, and it wasn’t near the 3-mile-line along the south shore of Long Island.While Cora was the second big striper tagged for the 2020 Northeast Striped Bass Study – sister Rona being first on May 28 in the same stretch of water 2-1/2 miles east of Sandy Hook – her tag was the first to prematurely pop off. 

According to Bill Dobbelaer, president of Gray FishTag Research, there are any number of reasons why these highly specialized tags may come free.

“That fish could’ve gone under a piece of wood and it got hung up and tore loose…the answer is there are endless opportunities for that tag to come off,” Dobbelaer said, adding “it’s more of a miracle that it stays on, and the amount of information that we’ve already gotten from these fish is amazing. 

Dobbelaer and the Gray FishTag Research team have been involved in countless deployments around the globe with billfish where tags sometimes pop free within days of the initial capture.“It sucks when it comes off two days after we let them go, which happens,” he said.Tag Return #2And then there was Rona.  The first of three hefty stripers tagged in 2020 – Independence coming over the July Fourth weekend off Montauk – Rona was also tagged aboard Chuck Many’s Tyman on May 28, and her tag would begin relaying information from roughly 2 miles outside Moriches Inlet off Long Island on August 21.

When you look at the chart images of the travels taken by each of these fish, the first thing to understand is that the detailed tracking is not as exact as running on your own onboard GPS.  There are quite literally millions of data points collected inside of these MiniPSAT devices bobbing along the Atlantic Ocean somewhere after coming undone from their host.  As the Argos satellite passes overhead, the tag transmits its data where it is ultimately gathered by researchers at Gray. 

The data is then analyzed and input into charts to provide a general idea of migratory paths.

“We must always remember that fish in the ocean or wild never swim in a straight line,” said Dobbelaer, explaining “graphs created are averages based upon light sensors, temperature, and depth information.”  The graphs are reviewed by the folks at Wildlife Computers in Redmond, WA and the Northeast Striped Bass Study team; at that point, the estimated path of the fish is broken down using the Navionics Boating App with my own Capt. Segull’s charts scattered across the office floor.  Essentially, trying to pinpoint a fish’s precise path is like plotting a navigational course.The first striper deployed with a MiniPSAT device in 2020, Rona shows a rather incredible migratory journey between May 28 and August 15.

“They typically transmit for 10 days until the battery dies,” said Roxanne Willmer from Gray FishTag Research explaining how anywhere from 17,000 to 20,000 transmission attempts from the MiniPSAT devices to the overhead satellites once they’ve detached from the fish and floated to the surface. 

In 2019, both tagging devices were returned after being found on beaches along the Striper Coast, which is what researchers hope happens in 2020 as well. 

“If we do find them on a beach in three months then we can plug them in, which doesn’t require the battery, and get all of the data, maybe a more defined tracking,” Willmer said.

Heading back to the nautical charts with Navionics App in hand, we set to plotting Rona’s course from date of deployment off the Jersey Shore until the tag began to transmit 85 days later.  As difficult as it was for any one of us to process – and as hard as it might be for readers to believe – that big fish also traveled southeast along the Hudson Shelf Valley after being tagged, swimming approximately 100 nautical miles to the tip of the Hudson Canyon over the course of just 4 days.

“Likelihood” is a common word used in science; based on the best available science, there’s always a probability or chance of something occurring or not occurring in nature, especially when inserting man into the equation.  And from the data stored in that MiniPSAT device attached by fishermen into Rona at the beginning of the June, the tracking data showed the likelihood that she was finally on her way towards Moriches Inlet later that month after swimming around the edge of the Hudson and Toms. 

It would appear that Rona did swim back and forth across the line off Long Island at some point, but data fed to the Argos satellite shows a lot of ground covered over the span of a few weeks before making her northeastern-most stop along Nantucket Shoals by June 25, at roughly the same time as Cora.While Cora was the second fish “sat” tagged on June 3, hers was the first MiniPSAT to “ping” the Argos satellite on August 1 after coming undone prematurely on July 25.And similar to Cora which traversed darn close to the Texas Tower, data shows Rona making a quick run southwest of the Hudson tip in the area around the Triple Wrecks where yellowfin action was completely off the charts in 2020 with pelagics gorging on sand eels and keeping rods bent through early fall. 

On the move again in a northerly direction, Rona then covers a lot of ground south of Shinnecock at offshore areas during the summer as well, not far from where the Coimbra and Ranger wreck sites were ripe with life in 2020, and at roughly the same time.

“What is surprising is the magnitude of the apparent movements of these fish into offshore waters,” said John A. Tiedemann, Assistant Dean in the School of Science at Monmouth University and a longtime striped bass researcher and surfcaster. 

Tiedemann said he’s gone through 50 years of scientific research without finding any real evidence of such a long range offshore migration; he also noted how there’s never been a satellite tagging effort like this either.“In terms of their range offshore, the striped bass is typically characterized as a nearshore coastal fish and very few life history accounts provide evidence of movements onto the outer continental shelf region,” said Tiedemman, adding “Further analysis of environmental data associated with the movements of these fish may shed light on whether they are moving offshore in response to water temperature, food availability, or simple wanderlust.”

Connect The DotsWhere Cora and perhaps a few of her compatriots continued east/northeast, Rona’s satellite tracking shows her cruising back towards Montauk, maintaining an offshore route and crisscrossing her earlier travels until the tag was released somewhere outside of Moriches.  Whether she’s still swimming today or was brought to market is anyone’s guess. 

But as with all of the striped bass fit with MiniPSAT devices, there’s also a green streamer tag affixed to every fish to hopefully gather data on the final stats of each striper tagged.  That’s all part of an even bigger effort to get more of the public involved on this collaborative work.While a global pandemic impacted scheduling of the 2020 Northeast Striped Bass Study, the first batch of tagging gear arrived just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.“It is our team’s mission in our tagging work to always keep the data collected as open access to all,” Dobbelaer said of the team’s research, adding

“We will only conclude on the tagged specimen that we are studying, assume nothing of other fish movements or patterns, and continue to look for ways to evolve our own model.”One of those ways is through the use of the green spaghetti tags that have been distributed this season to handful of local charter captains, and which hopefully can be integrated into even more widespread use by anglers in the future science of striped bass. 

Dobbelaer said that the Gray FishTag Research goal is to expand on their tagging model to gather data from thousands of tagged stripers from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and hopefully using telemetry tagging with a robust spaghetti tag effort to not only track mortality and migration, but to better understand this offshore anomaly.“It is shocking in a short period of time the speed and distance in which these fish traveled.  This information is so contrary to what we all have been told,” Dobbelaer said throwing in yet another $10,000 question. 

“So, what do we do with this astounding information and where do we go from here?”Tiedemman said that although individual striped bass exhibit variable rates of transit, it’s been well established they can move considerable distances in short periods of time. 

“For example, a fish we acoustically tagged on June 7, 2019 in Sandy Hook Bay was detected off Montauk less than a month later on July 3,” he said, adding “a study published in 2014 documented a striper moving from Delaware Bay to coastal waters off Massachusetts in just 9 days.”

Although the number of fish tagged in Northeast Striped Bass Study is still small and thus far only conducted with spring deployments, Tiedemman said it appears to be providing new information on spring and summer movements of larger bass in the region, adding “As the number of satellite tags deployed increases the data yielded by this effort will become more complete and robust.”

Again, are we seeing a pattern?  Probably too soon to tell, which is why the Northeast Striped Bass Study will continue with support from the fishing community.  And on July 3, our team deployed a third MiniPSAT device for 2020 in a 46-inch striper named Independence somewhere between the Porgy Hump and Pollock Rip off Montauk.Furthermore, our team is hoping to be back in action in October for yet another expedition somewhere off Gloucester, MA with Wicked Tuna skipper Dave Marciano in hopes of finding another jumbo to perhaps connect a few more of the striper dots. 

As of this writing, we again wait with baited breath.

READ MORE LIKE THIS AT www.thefisherman.com.

West Point Lake Striper and Hybrid Fishing

A little over a week ago I went to West Point to learn how guide Andy Binegar catches stripers and hybrids during the spring. The information will be in the March Georgia Outdoor News magazine. 

We trolled all day in very muddy water and caught a few of both species on a cold, rainy day.

The fish were still stacked up in the mouths of big creeks on the main lake. Maple Creek and Wedhadkee Creek both had clouds of baitfish and bigger fish around them out in 30 plus feet of water.  With the muddy water, the fish would not chase our trolled baits.

Captain Mack Farr, Andy’s mentor, joined us. He has been a guide for stripers on Lake Lanier for many years.  In the post trip discussion, we agreed we probably would have had better luck sitting right on top of the fish and dangling live bait in their faces, giving them time to eat it.

We tried the Chattahoochee River out from the pumping stations, too. Andy says he checks that area often and when he starts seeing fish on his electronics and catches some.  That tells him the fish have started their “false” spawning run up the river. Once he finds them there, he follows them up the river to catch big stripers.

Andy contacted me Monday and said the water was clearing in the river and Maple Creek and the fish were biting much better. Then all the rain Thursday muddied it up again!!

On Facebook some folks are posting picture of big crappie they are catching at West Point and other lakes. They are biting good for people trolling jigs and live bait 15 to 20 feet deep out over creek and river channels.  This is a good time to fill your freezer.

Track of Striped Bass

Track of Striped bass
Born to Run: Hudson River to Canyon Striper
Check out the exciting reveal of the track taken by the second tagged striper in the ongoing Northeast Striped Bass Tag Study.

By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
from The Fishing Wire

Mention Asbury Park to just about anyone and Bruce Springsteen is typically the response. However, for local surfcasters – perhaps even the late Clarence Clemons, who as legend has it, could often be found livelining eels along the Monmouth County rockpiles in the wee hours after a Stone Pony gig – this rock and roll Jersey Shore town may best be known for the celebrated runs of herring at Deal Lake on the northern border with Allenhurst, and the trophy bass it would attract.

The lake was open naturally to the sea until the early 1890s when a man-made channel (flume) was built to allow the ocean to continue its connection. Significant work has been done by state and federal agencies to keep the flume operational over the years; but for Peter Dello of nearby Ocean, NJ, keeping the flume clear of debris is more of a labor of love.

“I’ve got my own little Maxwell House coffee can, with a long stick so I don’t have to bend down to pick up the trash,” Dello told me by phone during a Thanksgiving stay in the hospital following emergency bypass surgery. Dello has been a fixture on the local beaches where he has surfed for the past 40 years, and just recently began surfcasting.

Last October 22 while doing his regular cleanup, Dello became the second northeast beachcomber to stumble upon a veritable needle in the haystack when he found the Wildlife Computers’ MiniPSAT device from the Northeast Striped Bass Study.

“I was cleaning the beach and picked up this thing. I knew it looked weird,” Dello told me while lying in his hospital bed where local surfers and surfcasters alike have been sending well wishes following his holiday scare and noticeably absent from those beaches where he’d rather be.

“I grew up there, we used to play around in the flume,” he said.The $5,000 satellite tag that washed up along that legendary striper hotspot at the Jersey Shore began its transmission on October 19 after popping free of the striper named Freedom; three days later, it was clanging around inside Dello’s coffee can. In early November, that tag was in the hands of researchers who’ve been diligently working to analyze millions of data points stored inside, telling the tale of a 42-inch striped bass caught and released from a Fin Chasers charter on May 21 in the lower Hudson River. Where she traveled in those 152 days, and how far she went, may surprise every striper fisherman and scientist along the entire Striper Coast, north, south, and east of Asbury Park.Suffice to say, this striper was born to run.

GREETINGS FROM THE HUDSON

The Northeast Striped Bass Study kicked off on May 21, 2019 when a team comprised of staff from The FishermanNavionics and Gray FishTag Research set upon New York Harbor to deploy a pair of satellite tags in post-spawn striped bass for a five-month study. The first large striper to get fixed with a satellite tag, aptly named Liberty, was caught aboard Rocket Charters out of New York City on the East River with Capt. Paul Risi. It was considered finding a “needle in a haystack” when the first tag washed up along the beach in Massachusetts back in the summer and was picked up by a woman walking the beach; check out the amazing results of that tag right here!

The second tagged fish, Freedom, was caught a little west of the first fish on May 21, not far from the Statue of Liberty aboard the charter boat Fin Chasers with captains Frank Wagenhoffer and Dave Rooney. The timing and location of the catch, tag and release project was planned around the end of the Hudson River spawning in hopes of capturing a pair of post-spawn bass; at 42 inches in length, Freedom was precisely the fish we were looking for!On December 5 at a conference at Gray FishTag Research in Florida, we learned the surprising truth behind Freedom. After being tagged in the lower Hudson River on May 21, data show Freedom heading in a southeast direction above the Hudson Shelf Valley, making it to the westernmost tip of the Hudson Canyon just inside the Babylon Valley – a distance of roughly 100 miles – for the Memorial Day weekend.

The information collected inside that Wildlife Computers MiniPAT tag reveals that Freedom spent the next month moving out and about within 20 or so nautical miles of that point, eventually zigzagging her way through Block Canyon out towards Veatch Canyon before heading north towards Nantucket Shoals in early July.

The beauty of these high-tech tags is that they incorporate light-based geolocation for tracking, time-at-depth histograms for measuring diving behavior, and a profile of depth and temperature. Some had questioned whether a larger predator like a white shark consumed the fish before making a beeline offshore; the data stored inside however show that both tagged fish were alive and swimming the entire time at sea.

NEW ENGLAND BOUND

Freedom spent the better part of July and all of August covering ground on the shoals outside of Massachusetts state waters, before heading northwest into Rhode Island Sound in what appears from the data points to be a somewhat circular pattern before cruising past Block Island to pay a visit to Montauk in early October.

For inshore fishermen and surfcasters in particular, Freedom didn’t make herself too available for capture for very long, ultimately sticking to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for travel purposes, finally intersecting with her original May track out of the Hudson River in early October, before the tag disengaged pretty much on schedule east of Sandy Hook, NJ on Friday, October 18, just as the crew from The Fisherman was compiling our fishing reports for the November edition.

According to the tag data, a striped bass named “Freedom” spent much of her summer in the deep waters off Southern New England.

“Our predictions of a big bass attack this past week were right on the money,” reported North Jersey field editor JB Kasper that weekend. Sifting through our weekly reports at the time, it shows we had a pretty good nor’easter around that time, with a mid-week storm pushing wind and waves along the coast until that weekend. “When boats got back on the water on Saturday the 19th the stripers were still there and a flotilla of boats found mixed results,” Kasper noted in his New Jersey edition reports for the weekend, adding “Some of the best fishing was just inside the three mile line on Saturday.

”There’s no telling if Freedom made it past the “flotilla” of New York and New Jersey anglers on the grounds that week, but she did also have one of Gray’s green spaghetti tags affixed around her dorsal – as did Liberty – so there’s still a chance to learn more about both of these fish again in the future. One could roughly assume that Freedom enjoyed a bit of heavy feeding on bunker schools in the region before turning south along the three mile line with the rest of those big fish that anglers were finding off the Virginia coast as of early December. But as we’ve learned from the first two tags, our historic presumptions on striped bass migration might be off by as much as a few hundred miles.

According to the MiniPSAT data, Freedom spent much of the summer at depths of 50 to 75 feet, occasionally traveling to depths of between 150 and 200 feet.

“The science doesn’t always bear out the assumptions,” noted Dave Bulthuis, president of Pure Fishing’s North America division while sitting at the December 5 conference held by Gray FishTag in Lighthouse Point, FL. As one of the Advisory Board Members at Gray, Bulthuis and others spoke at length during the session about the need to provide better, more improved data for researchers managing coastal fisheries.

Dobbelaer stressed the ongoing goal “to get the data we desperately need,” while outlining for the group of advisors the urgency for better, more technologically advanced information. “This striped bass study reflects the movement of two fish caught and released in the Hudson River mouth and draws no conclusion of all striped bass behavior,” Dobbelaer said, adding “however, this groundbreaking movement lets us know that further work is a necessity from the team at Gray FishTag Research. There is so much more research that needs to be done to study the current patters and movements of striped bass.”In other words, if one is an anomaly, and two is a coincidence, it could take three or more high-tech satellite tags to help determine actual patterns.

CRITICAL BUY-IN

Another exciting bit of news learned at the Gray FishTag Research Advisory Board meeting in Florida on December 6 was that NOAA Fisheries is already actively engaged in the satellite tagging efforts. Eric Orbesen, Research Fishery Biologist with the fisheries agency and a specialist in highly migratory species and spatial movement is has worked with Gray FishTag Research professionals in ongoing swordfish research. Orbesen works out of NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami, but his ongoing participation in Gray tagging programs could be a good intro to other NOAA efforts with striped bass out of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, which manages marine resources from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras.“Our goal is to continue to satellite tag many more striped bass in the Hudson River mouth during the same time of year in an effort to control the data collected on these great fish,” Dobbelaer told the folks assembled at the Florida conference. In fact, based on the early success of this groundbreaking work with striped bass, a new “spaghetti tag” project has also been launched with bull redfish in Northeast Florida where proceeds from the Full of Bull Tournament out of Jacksonville have been used to purchase 100 tag sticks and 1,000 streamer tags along with promotional materials as part of an education program there.

Closer to home for striper fishermen, funding efforts for new Wildlife Computers MiniPSAT devices for the ongoing Northeast Striped Bass Study have kicked into high gear. The 2019 study was funded by the charting professionals at Navionics, which has already signed on again for 2020. The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) through its Fisheries Conservation Trust is also sponsoring a tag in 2020 utilizing monies raised through the annual Manhattan Cup catch and release striped bass tournament. Also kicking off during the holiday season was a new fundraising effort here at The Fisherman Magazine that seeks to find a core group of 1,000 individual investors to participate in the program.

For every $10 donation online, each “investor” will receive an exclusive Release, Reduce & Rebuild sticker to boast their participation in the tagging effort with their names added to an online list at TheFisherman.com. In just the first week of the fundraising, the effort raised $1,200 towards the purchase of additional Wildlife Computers MiniPSAT tags, which are valued at roughly $5,000 apiece. The initial promotional boost has also led to new pledges from within the recreational fishing community; looking ahead to the next round of tag deployments sometime this spring, it’s entirely possible that we have six or seven post-spawn stripers swimming around with pricey MiniPSAT devices next summer.

Lake Cumberland Striped Bass

Lake Cumberland Striped Bass Heating Up
By Lee McClellan, Kentucky FWR
from The Fishing Wire

Big Striper

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The higher angle of the sun during the day brings warm breezes as we come into the end of April. The glorious sunny days of late and air temperatures in the 70s make people joyous.

This weather makes the striped bass in Lake Cumberland hungry.

“We caught five keepers over 22 inches and about eight short stripers on our last trip,” said Jeff Bardroff, owner of JBs Guide Service on Lake Cumberland. “The fish had me so busy I couldn’t eat breakfast. By the time I got done with one fish, another rod would go down.”

Bardroff said they also caught some smallmouth and spotted bass, known as Kentucky bass along with the striped bass. His largest fish of the day was a 29-incher. Striped bass of that length usually weigh between 11 and 13 pounds. A friend of his fished Lake Cumberland last Sunday and caught an 18-pound and a 22-pound striped bass.

“Every fish we have been catching is plumb fat, full of shad and alewives,” Bardroff said. “There have been many nice, heavy fish caught in the last few weeks.”

This is good news considering how the year started. Lake Cumberland reached record pool level of elevation 756.2 feet on Feb. 26. Normal winter pool for Lake Cumberland is 705 feet while summer pool is 725 feet. Lake Cumberland’s level is currently about 722 feet.

“When they started pulling less water through Wolf Creek Dam about two weeks ago, the stripers started gorging,” Bardroff said. He’s been catching fish in the major creek arms from the Wolf Creek arm of the lake to the dam.

“About mid to three-quarters of the way back the creeks, where water temperatures get a little warmer, is where I’ve found fish,” Bardroff said. “Surface water temperatures have climbed to 64 to 68 degrees during the day.”

Bardroff, who also is an administrative specialist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, trolls shad or alewives under planer boards. He catches bait from the lake using a cast net, but commercially-bought large shiners also work for these fish.

“The stripers are shallow right now, from 15 feet deep up to the surface,” he said. He prefers to stagger the depth of his lines until he finds the depth the stripers prefer. “I put out five planer boards on each side of the boat at this time of year,” Bardroff said. “I use a light weight of 3/8- to 1/2-ounce on the planer boards, but right now I have no weight on the most outside lines.”

He also puts out two downlines off the front of the boat using 12-foot rods with 3-or 4-ounces of weight. “The longer rods help keep them from tangling with lines in the back,” Bardroff said. “It is a lot of fun catching stripers on those long rods.”

Bardroff also puts out two lines off the back suspending bait under large, striper-sized bobbers. He uses 20-pound test monofilament for the main line with 15-pound fluorocarbon for the leader. He ties a 2/0 circle hook on the business end.

This set up works well for bottom fishing for those who don’t have the equipment to troll. Start at the midway point of a major creek arm and beach the boat near a point. Put out a few lines rigged with shad, alewives or shiners at different depths. Give the spot one-half hour and move. Eventually you’ll find stripers.

April through late May is also the time of year for anglers who want thrilling sport, as stripers rip through spawning schools of threadfin shad and alewives at night.

“They are catching them at night right now on Rapala Slivers,” Bardroff said. The Sliver runs from 9- to 11-feet deep and anglers slice points in the major creek arms and the main lake at night with these lures. The best colors are the venerable red and white or silver.

As the water warms a touch, lures such as a Redfin or Jointed Thunderstick draw vicious strikes. These are floating/diving style lures, but gently rock back and forth on the lake’s surface when retrieved slowly. Hold on tightly to your rod and keep your mind on business when night fishing for striped bass. They hit these lures with a savagery rarely found in nature and can pull the rod from your hands.

“I fish main lake points and the points in the major creek arms for stripers at night,” said Major Shane Carrier, assistant director for law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “I hop point to point and fish the 100 yards before the point and the 100 yards after.”

Carrier’s favorite lure is the Jointed Thunderstick in chrome with a blue back and a green tiger color they no longer make. “I’ve caught so many stripers at night on that lure that it no longer has much paint on it,” he said.

Medium-heavy to heavy baitcasting gear and lines of at least 17-pound test are recommended for Slivers, Redfins and Thundersticks. Light inshore saltwater medium-heavy spinning gear also works for night stripers, but throwing large lures on spinning tackle is taxing to the hands and wrists after a few hours.

Avoid setting the hook until you feel the weight of the fish. These lures attract huge walleye at night as well and they must take the lure a bit before you can land them.

“I caught my biggest walleye, a 7 ½-pounder that was 31 inches long, at night striper fishing,” Carrier said. “You catch more walleye in May at night. May is my favorite time to night fish because you can catch stripers and walleye.”

Spring has sprung, and it is time to fish for striped bass at Lake Cumberland.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

White Bass Time Across Arkansas

White Bass Time Across Arkansas
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
from the Fishing Wire

LITTLE ROCK — Each spring, anglers across The Natural State start getting the fever for some fishing action. Sure, die-hard anglers and veteran bass fishermen have been on the water fishing for big fish for the last month or so, and many crappie anglers never put the boat away in winter, but by and large, the best angling action of the year is just around the corner. If there’s a kickoff to “fishing season,” it’s the fast and furious angling action brought on by the annual migration of white bass from large lakes and rivers upstream to their spawning areas each spring.

“The white bass spawn is fishing’s equivalent of the opening day of dove season,” said Chris Racey, deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “You’ll start hearing people ask, ‘Are the white bass running yet?’ beginning in late February and early March every year.”

White bass typically start concentrating near the mouths of streams feeding lakes and rivers each year as the surface water temperature begins to reach 50 degrees. When the water warms to the mid-50s, the fish will move upstream as far as they are able and spawn on sand or gravel surfaces with flowing water that will aerate their eggs.

“White bass don’t tend and fan a nest like crappie, bream or largemouth bass,” Racey, who was a fisheries biologist for the AGFC for many years, said. “Instead, their eggs settle to the bottom and stick to rocks and gravel where the current keeps them aerated until they hatch.”

The fish actually don’t bite much when they are actively spawning, but feed heavily just before and afterward.

“It’s more a matter of fish being concentrated in an area and being easier to locate that makes the white bass run such a big deal for many anglers,” Racey said. “And this is one of the few times of the year that these fish, which normally spend their time in deep water, will be available for bank anglers.”

Keeping things light is a must for walk-in angling, and Racey has narrowed down his arsenal to some specific lures for people to carry in their pack.

“I have three baits in my white bass tackle box,” Racey said. “My go-to is a white 2-inch curly shad Bass Assassin grub on a 1/16-oz. jighead. Then I’ll bring a ?- or ¼-oz. White spinner with a silver blade and a small, blue over orange belly Rapala suspending jerk bait. You can throw all of them on light spinning tackle.”

Here’s a list of some of the most popular places to try your hand at fishing for white bass this spring, according to the biologists who work and fish on these waters. There’s even one location in this list that has no limit on white bass, so anglers looking to have a family fish fry can load the boat.

Magical Millwood
Typically one of the first locations in the state to start receiving reports about the annual white bass run is Millwood Lake in Little River County. This southwestern Arkansas reservoir is known as one of the best places in the state to chase memorable-sized largemouth bass because of an intense Florida-strain largemouth stocking program that has been in place for decades and its shallow-water habitat that is the key to the strain’s success. The river that feeds this giant reservoir also is home to some incredible action during the white bass spawn if anglers know where to look. According to AGFC Regional Fisheries Biologist Supervisor Eric Brinkman, many anglers enjoy fishing the river section of the lake by boat for fiesty white bass.

“Little River anywhere upstream of Yarborough Landing on Millwood is a good place to fish,” Brinkman said.

According to the AGFC Weekly Fishing Report, Millwood Lake Guide Service points out McGuire Oxbow and the entrance to Cemetery Slough as likely staging areas, but when the fish move upstream of the U.S. Highway 71 bridge, the spawn is in full force.

Other areas on Brinkman’s short list for the white bass spawn include Star of the West Recreation Area and Self Creek on Lake Greeson in Pike County and the Saline River upstream of Dierks Lake in Sevier County, although a boat is required for Self Creek and Dierks.

Bust ‘em at Beaver Lake
In the far northwestern corner of the state, Beaver Lake offers one of the best white bass runs for Arkansans. It also has the distinction of being one of the few places in the state where you may find a trophy-class striper working its way up the same tributaries as the white bass. Fisheries Supervisor Jon Stein says this year has already gotten off to an excellent start, with many anglers reporting 100-fish days. And keeping those white bass is no issue because Beaver Lake and its tributaries have no daily limit for white bass. The prolific nature of the species and relatively light pressure on the resource have made limits on the fish unnecessary in this corner of the state.

“The fish move into the river arms to spawn,” Stein said. “The best locations are out of the Highway 45 Access, called Twin Bridges, on the White River and War Eagle Creek below War Eagle Mill. You don’t have to get too technical with it, either. A Mister Twister Sassy Shad on a jighead works just fine for me to catch whites on the run.”

Find the flow at Lake Conway
White bass also make a spawning run around Lake Conway, but the hot bite may be in different locations depending on water flow. AGFC Regional Fisheries Supervisor Tom Bly and Fisheries Biologist Matt Schroeder both agree that the upstream end of Gold Creek beyond Wilhelmena Cove, a popular crappie-fishing location, in the northwest portion of the lake has a good run of white bass. Another place where anglers can look for some action is below the dam where the lake flows into Palarm Creek.

“We will get reports of white bass and some stripers from the Arkansas River running up to as far as the Conway Dam, but there won’t be much action unless the gates of the dam are open to maintain water levels during rain events,” Bly said. But you can catch them on white or shad-colored curly tailed grubs on jigheads, smaller crankbaits or shad imitations on a fly rod.”

Bly notes the weir on Palarm Creek at Cadron Settlement Park on the Arkansas River sees a similar migration of white bass where the fish moving from the river are concentrated into a small area.

Greers Ferry a good bet
Another good white bass run occurs in the river arms on the northern section of Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs. The lake is known as the site of the former world-record walleye, and that species also is known to make spawning runs within the Devil’s Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork of the Little Red River. Chasing white bass on this lake usually means having a boat, but one of the most popular destinations can be found at the Johnson Hole Access of the South Fork arm north of Clinton. Boaters can access the area from the lake or can launch at this access, but the creek has many shallow areas between the main lake and where the whites run, making it a better prospect for small boats, kayaks and walk-in access. According to Bly, many anglers will catch their limits in this section of the river during the annual spawning run.

Maumelle mainstay
It seems like every year, one location sees more attention than the rest in the state from white bass anglers. Perhaps it is because of its close proximity to Little Rock, or perhaps it is because the white bass run here is just that good. Either way, the upstream end of Lake Maumelle is so popular with white bass anglers and creek fishermen that the AGFC and Central Arkansas Water worked together to enhance access at the west end of the lake. Sleepy Hollow Access was enhanced with a campground, two boat ramps for boats with motors 25 horsepower and less and a courtesy dock. A parking area also was constructed for a special walk-in only area called Bringle Creek Access. Both of these access points can be found with a few miles of where Arkansas Highway 10 crosses the lake’s upstream end. You’d be hard pressed to find either of the parking lots of these areas empty from March through May each year as anglers tote their favorite spinning rod and curly-tailed grubs to fool the fish as they feed along the shoals before spawning. The stream is part of Lake Maumelle, so no wading is allowed, but there is plenty of shoreline to walk and fish.

Spring White Bass Runs

Decoding Spring White Bass Runs
from The Fishing Wire

FRANKFORT, Ky. – With all of the rain we received early this year, many anglers are wondering when the white bass run will begin this spring.

“We are about there, 60 degrees is the magic number for water temperature,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The redbud blooms are as good an indicator as anything.”

Redbud trees began displaying buds in parts of central Kentucky over the past 10 days and will pop out across the South soon. “We haven’t missed anything yet and the run may arrive on time this year,” Hardin said. “Last year was spotty, starts and stops with the fish as confused as the anglers. We had up and down weather and water levels.”

Reports surfaced last week of a few white bass making a headwater run in the Salt River above Taylorsville Lake, but nighttime temperatures in the 20s this week blunted that movement a bit.

“This week, the night temperatures are increasing, so you won’t get those big cool downs as much now,” Hardin said. “It will be warmer compared to what it was.”

Lakes are dropping dramatically, allaying concerns expressed by anglers about the impact on the white bass runs from the record or near record water levels in some of our major reservoirs in February. Nolin River Lake is now just below summer pool, while Taylorsville Lake is still just above summer pool, but dropping rapidly.

“Knowing when to fish is always a mystery, especially for white bass,” Hardin said. “It’s temperature, light and flow with temperature being the main thing. All you need is that trigger. If you have everything right and you get that flow, it is time to go. If you have the correct water temperature, but no flow, you still should go. You can’t catch them at home.”

Hardin explained white bass runs can occur anywhere from 54 to 68 degrees. Water temperatures in major reservoirs now hover just below 50 degrees. The sunny days and huge warm up expected over the coming weekend and into next week should push water temperatures into the 50s.

“It can happen over the course of one day,” Hardin said. “Someone is going to discover they are running soon.”

The headwaters of Taylorsville Lake and up into the Salt River make one of the best bank fishing spots for white bass in central Kentucky. The best access is via a parking lot on Palmer Road.

It is a matter of walking, casting and then walking a bit more until you find fish. A 1/16-ounce in-line spinner in combinations of silver, white, chartreuse or pink are hard to beat for the Salt River. A pink or chartuese 1/32-ounce feather jig suspended under a bobber and allowed to gently float in the current also scores white bass.

The Nolin River above Bacon Creek boat ramp and upstream to Wheeler’s Mill Road (KY 694) is arguably the best white bass run in the state. The white bass in the Nolin River Lake earned an “excellent” rating in the Fishery Division’s 2019 Kentucky Fishing Forecast.

A white 2 1/2-inch boot-tailed grub or 3-inch swimbait is a deadly lure for Nolin River white bass. Rig them on a 1/8-ounce head for good casting distance. Broad Ford offers good bank access at the bridge over the Nolin River on KY 1214. Boaters using Bacon Creek Ramp to travel upstream must watch the rocky shoals to prevent motor damage.

The headwaters of Green River Lake produce good numbers of white bass up to 14 inches long as does the headwaters of Herrington Lake. Bank anglers may access the Dix River just above the lake at Dix River Voluntary Public Access Area, off Rankin Road via KY 52 between Danville and Lancaster. This area drips with fishing history as Herrington Lake was a white bass mecca in the era after World War II. These waters still produce trophy white bass 14 inches and longer.

Small shad-colored topwater propeller baits make great choices for fishing both Green River Lake headwaters and Dix River.

The Kentucky River below locks and dams produces surprising white bass action. A 3-inch white curly tailed grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead makes a great lure choice for the Kentucky River. Keep probing the water column until you find fish. Lock and Dam 2 at Lockport in Henry County grants excellent bank fishing access for white bass.

All of the ingredients are now here for the white bass runs to commence. Running white bass, once located, provide as much action as any form of fishing.

Remember to buy your fishing license if you have not already. The new license year began March 1.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas
Places To Go
from the Fishing Wire

Some of the best white bass fishing in the spring can be done from the bank and while wading in the upper reaches of tributaries. County road maps available from the Texas Department of Transportation, or “The Roads of Texas” (Shearer Publishing, Fredericksburg, Texas (800)458-3808) are invaluable for locating some of the access points described. Always get permission from the landowner if you cross private land to enter a river or stream. Topographical reservoir maps are often available from controlling authorities or at retail fishing stores. White bass in Texas are currently managed with a statewide 10-inch minimum length and 25-fish daily bag limit.

Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake, an 8,308-acre reservoir located just north of San Antonio, has a strong spring white bass run in the Guadalupe River above the reservoir. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is located in the river, and anglers with small boats can easily access the area without crossing open water. Off State Highway (SH) 306 (past the lake) turn south on Eagle Rock Drive which becomes Tanglewood Trail. Go 2.3 miles, and take the first road on the right past “Chapel in the Cove”. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is at the end of this road. Most anglers head upstream to an area called “the rapids” but other areas can be good and less crowded. Look for high spots in the river channel that concentrate fish as they move upstream. The area around Cranes Mill Park is legendary in the winter and early spring as white bass school up, staged for the spawning run up the river. In late spring check the mouth of major creeks. Main lake fishing can also be quite good. The island near Comal Park and humps near the dam are good during the summer. There are many good boat ramps available. For those without a boat, a fishing pier at Crane’s Mill Park is a good option. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (830)964-3341 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Georgetown
Lake Georgetown is a 1,297-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just west of Georgetown. White bass fishing in the spring can be excellent if water conditions are right at Tejas Camp, which is located on County Road (CR) 258 between Farm to Market (FM) 305 and SH 183. In addition, anglers can access the entire southern and most of the northern shoreline of Lake Georgetown from Tejas Camp via marked trails. Three public boat ramps are available on the main lake as well. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)863-3016 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Granger Lake
Granger Lake is a 4,009-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just east of Granger. A good place to access the upper river for spawning white bass in the spring is Parking Lot 7. From SH 95, go east about 1.5 miles on county road 347 until it T’s, then turn right. No ramp is provided, but small portable boats can be launched. Shore anglers can also access the river at a pull-off on county road 347 about ¾ mile east of SH 95. Be careful, because the bank is steep. Willis Creek is another option for anglers and can be accessed at two locations. Head east on FM 971 from SH 95 at the town of Granger. Take CR 348 south, to Parking Lot 4, which is by the bridge over Willis Creek. The second location is Willis Creek Park, which provides full-service camping, shore angling, and a boat ramp year-round. Take CR 346 east from SH 95 at the sign for the park and follow the signs. Four other public boat ramps are available on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)859-2668 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Limestone
Lake Limestone, located 50 miles east of Waco between SH 164 and SH 7, is a 13,860-acre impoundment of the Navasota River. It provides cooling water for the Houston Power and Light generating plant. In addition to opportunities for schooling white bass throughout most of the year, white bass migrating up the Navasota River to spawn are especially vulnerable in the spring. There are four public boat ramps on the main lake. For more information, contact the Brazos River Authority at (903)529-2141 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Lyndon B. Johnson
Lake LBJ, located near the town of Granite Shoals, is a 6,449-acre impoundment of the Llano and Colorado Rivers. Both rivers can be accessed from two fee boat ramps in the city of Kingsland. Riverbend Marine and Storage ramp is accessed via Harris Loop, directly across from the Llanorado Lodge just west of the CR 1431 bridge crossing. The Kingsland Lions Club also maintains a ramp. Take Euel Moore Drive off of CR 1431 (there is a sign advertising the ramp at the turn-off). Go about ½ mile and take a left on Williams street. This road ends at the ramp. The Llano River directly above Kingsland is popular with fly anglers targeting white bass. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Somerville
Lake Somerville is an 11,456-acre impoundment of Yegua Creek located about 25 miles southwest of Bryan/College Station. It provides outstanding white and hybrid striped bass action, particularly in the spring. Beginning in early to mid-February, both species migrate up reservoir tributaries, primarily Yegua Creek. The lower reaches of Yegua Creek can be accessed by boat from the main lake, but two public areas provide access for the shore angler. Newman Bottom is reached from SH 21 at Dime Box by taking FM 141 south. Turn left on FM 1697, then left on CR 125 to CR 140. Follow the signs on CR 140 to a self-pay, day use only, parking area. Irvin Bridge can be accessed by following the same directions to get on FM 1697, and then turn left on CR 124 to a primitive parking area on Yegua Creek. During the summer months, numerous “humps” and main-lake structure provide hot-spots for white and hybrid striped bass anglers. For those limited to fishing from shore, Welch Park on the main lake provides good opportunities for bank and wade fishing. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (979)596-1622 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (979)822-5067.

Lake Travis
Lake Travis is an 18,622-acre impoundment of the Colorado and Pedernales Rivers located just west of Austin. Traditionally, strong white bass runs have occurred on the Pedernales River. Travis County Milton Reimer’s Park provides bank, boat, and wade fishing opportunities to the public. The park is located on Hamilton Pool Road (CR 3238), about 11.5 miles west of the intersection of Hamilton Pool road and SH 71 and 1.3 miles east of the low-water bridge over the Pedernales River. Anglers should contact Travis County Parks for more information on this park (512-854-7275). The area near Pace Bend Park, where the Pedernales River enters the lake, is always a good bet for early season deep water jigging spoon fishing. The area upstream from The Narrows boat ramp, located on the upper reaches of the reservoir, as well as the area directly below the Lake Marble Falls dam can be very good during the spring, if there is adequate water. This area should be boated with caution especially if the reservoir is below normal pool. The Narrows boat ramp is located west of Austin, near the town of Spicewood on County Road 411. Some of the bigger creeks in the lake also have good white bass fishing. These include Sandy, Cypress and Cow creeks. The main body of Lake Travis is good during the winter for fishing lighted boat docks. At least nine public boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Waco
Lake Waco is a 7,173-acre impoundment of the Bosque River located in the city of Waco. White bass migrate up the North, South, and Middle Bosque Rivers in the spring, resulting in dense concentrations and excellent opportunities for anglers. Six boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)756-5359, or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Whitney
Lake Whitney is a 22,180-acre impoundment of the Brazos River located approximately midway between the cities of Fort Worth and Waco. White bass run up the Brazos and Nolan rivers, with best angler catches below sand and gravel bars and along sandy shorelines. Sixteen public ramps provide access on the main lake. A popular spot for white bass anglers is Kimbell Bend Park, which has a 2-lane boat ramp and is located just off of SH 174. For more information, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)694-3189 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254) 666-5190.

Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is a 22,211 acre reservoir located in Burnet and Llano Counties near the town of Burnet. It is the uppermost reservoir in the Highland Lakes Chain and has excellent white bass and striped bass populations. The Colorado River above the lake has one of the strongest white bass runs in Central Texas. For wade or bank fishing Colorado Bend State Park, near the town of Bend, is a great place to try your luck when water conditions are right. This portion of the Colorado River is popular with fly anglers. Bend is located about 20 miles out of Lampasas on SH 580. Call the park (325-628-3240) to check on conditions before going. Several private fishing camps in the Bend area also have bank access. Signs in the town of Bend will direct you to the camps. The area from Silver Creek (also called Beaver Creek) to the town of Tow is an excellent choice from winter to late spring. Buchanan has lots of main lake structure to try during the summer months. Public and private boat ramps are located on the lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

The authors wish to thank Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries employees Floyd Teat and Mark Webb for contributing to this report.

Striped Bass

The Scoop on Striped Bass

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn, U.S.C.G.
from the Fishing Wire

Fishing a bridge

Fishing a bridge

John Miller of Farmville, Va., tries his luck at striped bass fishing in the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Va., under the Hampton Boulevard Bridge. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn)

A cluster of small boats gather toward the end of an ebb tide on a dreary November evening in Norfolk, Virginia. Fishermen, clad in rain slickers, cast their lines toward pilings and retrieve them in silence. There’s no chatter among them – an entire day spent on the water exhausted their conversations. They’re focused on one thing – their target species, the Atlantic striped bass, though nobody’s landed one today. Suddenly, the song of a reel zings out over the rushing water as a striper is hooked and begins what might be the fight for its life. “Hooked up!” exclaims an angler, finally breaking the silence with words they all yearn to shout. The fish peels just enough line to make a beeline for a piling, wrapping the monofilament against the barnacles plastered to it like living razor blades. The line snaps, leaving the fisherman to grieve in the gloomy dusk.

For anglers across the U.S., the challenge of locating and landing stripers is what keeps them coming back for more.

“Striped bass are an elusive fish,” said Dwight Ocheltree, a striper fishing enthusiast and employee at Greg’s Bait Shack in Portsmouth, Virginia. His statement applies in more ways than one.

Striper fishermen know finding these fish isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s a patience game of waiting for them to show up or to start feeding. Then there’s the challenge of landing one after it’s been hooked.

“Stripers love structure,” said Ocheltree. “Bridges, pilings – places they can stay out of sight and ambush their prey. Fishing around structure takes skill that comes with experience. The first thing a hooked striper will do is try to retreat behind structure, and that means breaking the line if you aren’t prepared.”

Talking about fishing

Talking about fishing

According to Ocheltree, once a fisherman lands a striper for the first time, it’s then he or she who will be hooked.

“Once you land one, you’ll be back for more,” he said. “If you’ve been trying but aren’t catching any, keep at it. Keep plugging. You’re one cast away from the best day of your life!” Anglers hoping to catch “the big one” are drawn to waters off the Mid-Atlantic coast, where laws aimed at protecting the species are different that those close to shore.

Coast Guardsmen, charged with protecting living marine resources, enforce an important federal law designed to protect the Atlantic striped bass population.

“The Atlantic striped bass is managed through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, an interstate organization designed to ensure states along the eastern seaboard manage their shared fishery resources through cooperative stewardship,” said Patricia Bennett, deputy enforcement chief for the 5th Coast Guard District in Portsmouth. “It is illegal to possess or target the Atlantic striped bass in federal waters, which begin three miles from shore. In state waters – waters less than three miles from the coast – each state has its own laws designed to protect stripers. Even though the Coast Guard does not enforce those state laws, if we find a violation at the state level, we may notify state authorities.”

“The three-mile line is clearly marked on nautical charts,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Stephen Atchley, captain aboard Coast Guard Cutter Cochito out of Portsmouth. “With all the modern navigation equipment, it is every mariners responsibility to know where they are when they are on the water. That means knowing if you’re fishing in state or federal waters.”

“I’m a fisherman myself,” said Atchley. “I’ve fished my entire life. I want there to be fish for my family and for future generations.”

While striped bass fishermen are responsible for understanding and following both state and federal regulations, the majority of these anglers will never venture near the three mile mark, fishing closer to shore in rivers and bays.

“Some people think you need a boat to catch stripers,” said Ocheltree. “You don’t. You can catch striped bass from shore. In fact, that’s how many people prefer to fish them.”

One particular characteristic of the species helps make it the preferred target for so many. Stripers are anadromous – they’re born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to spawn. This means anglers can catch them in rivers that run through cities – they’re a popular urban game fish. Their ability to acclimate and survive in entirely freshwater ecosystems led humans to introduce the species to completely landlocked lakes and ponds. Striped bass can be found throughout the country and are among the most targeted of all game fish.

November usually means striper season arrived here in the Mid-Atlantic. As water temperatures begin to decline, the action should increase. “If you want to catch a striper, you just have to go out and do it,” said Ocheltree. “Put in your time. Talk to other fishermen. Listen to the people at bait shops and at the boat ramps. Every year I learn something new from someone different.”