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Catch Spring and Summer Stripers with these Tactics

 

Catch Spring and Summer Stripers with these Tactics

By Craig Lamb

Fishing between seasons is a time of transition, and especially between spring and summer. Game fish species migrate from shallow spawning grounds out into the comfort zone of cooler, deeper water.

Dialing into where those fish might be, can be tricky and especially so for the nomadic striped bass. Stripers like a cooler thermocline where they follow and feed upon schools of baitfish.

Many southern reservoirs offer great opportunities to catch stripers. Best of all, stripers are a landlocked version of their saltwater kin. Without taking a long road trip to the coast, you can land a big catch.

Shane Watson has spent decades on Lake Lanier, the Georgia impoundment located outside Atlanta that is known for it’s incredible striped bass fishery. As spring turns to summer, you can count on these tips from this expert.

For any Southern manmade impoundment with stripers, he suggests beginning the day shallow and working deeper.

“In the early morning the stripers congregate around main lake points, humps and high spots,” says Watson. “Why they do that is to herd baitfish up in the shallow water to feed.”

Watson guides his clients to success by free-lining live blueback herring on a split shot rig. Cast the rig into the shallow water and allow the bait to drift across the strike zone. As a general rule, he suggests keeping baits in the 5- to 10-foot depth range on the points and humps. Reef poles are specific targets when fishing Lake Lanier.

Another option, and a heart pounding choice at that, is to cast topwater lures in the same areas. Top choices for Watson and his guides are the Heddon Zara Spook or Cotton Cordell Redfin. Use a slow, waking to retrieve to mimic the live action of the baitfish.

“Always have a topwater ready for schooling stripers early in the morning,” he suggests. “You never know when or where they will come up to feed.”

Move deeper after the sun gets higher and the topwater and shallow feeding bites subside.

“After the sun gets up the stripers move out into deeper water,” continues Watson.

To reach the fish use a simple down line rig. Make it by tying a live bait hook to the end of a 3- to 6-foot leader. To the opposite end of the leader line tie a barrel swivel. Insert a 1- to 3-ounce egg sinker through the main line and then complete the rig by tying it to the leader. Use live blueback herring or whatever commercially available live bait is best suited for your area.

Watson suggests setting up a trolling path between 20 and 30 feet over points and humps in 30 to 60 feet of water. Use your depth finder to find schools of baitfish and stripers for best success.

As the weather continues to moderate and water temperatures warm the stripers move into creek channel mouths intersecting the main river channel.

The reason is most manmade reservoirs in the South are used for hydroelectric power generation. The resulting current stimulates baitfish and game fish activity. So checking power generation schedules is a wise idea when fishing for summertime stripers.

Watson operates Shane Watson Guide Service (phone: 770-235-9829, lakelanierstripers.com). His fleet of Carolina Skiff and Sea Chaser boats operates with six full-time guides averaging 300 days of fishing on Lake Lanier and elsewhere around Atlanta. Watson is also an inductee of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.

For decades, Watson has fished from Sea Chaser and Carolina Skiff, having owned up to 20 of the boats over the years.

“Carolina Skiff builds a quality boat with all the features an angler needs,” he says. “They are great people, have a fine dealer network and will help you find an affordable boat with the most value.”

Watson’s personal boat is the Sea Chaser 26 LX. At 25’ and 11” in length the boat has an extremely wide beam of 103”. That offers plenty of deck space for guide clients to move around the deck while trolling lines are out, or for casting to surface-feeding fish. His fleet also includes a full line of Carolina Skiff models, including the roomy 238 DLV, at 22’ 8” and the 218 DLV, at 22’ 10”.

See the full line of Carolina Skiff and Sea Chaser boats at carolinaskiff.com. With 60 different options and models, you can use the Build A Boat feature. On the website, you can find a dealer, request a catalog and more. Check out the loyal following of Carolina Skiff fans and owners on Facebook.

Original Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle.com

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