In the last report, I mentioned that stripers would soon feed on the surface. We now have confirmation! Stripers are slurping lakewide. The recent windy days kept stripers down as the waves crashed against the shore and messed up surface visibility where young shad swim. This morning, it was finally calm and stripers were on top early and baby shad were being consumed by the millions. The 20 stripers I caught this morning averaged about 50 shad per stomach (average length .75 inches). That equates to 1,000 shad. It’s time to go save some shad and catch stripers in the process. Here is the plan.
Stripers hit the surface shortly after dawn and continue to feed randomly throughout the day. Slurps were seen this morning in Warm Creek, Gunsight mouth, Labyrinth Bay, Padre Bay east wall, Gregory Butte bay, West Canyon mouth and Dove Canyon mouth. There was still a breeze blowing in Rock Creek so no striper slurps were seen there. I am sure the same events played out uplake. If it was calm there were stripers slurping.
Surface feeding stripers stayed up longer and were likely to hit my lures better today than last week. Today I could cast Lucky Craft (ghost) Pointers beyond the surface feeding school and work the lure through the closely feeding fish. With a good cast, and if the stripers continued to feed in the same direction, hookups came about half the time. The 4-inch lure is a lot bigger than the forage, so each striper has to give up small shad to feed on something really big like my lure. Later in the day it occurred to me that these fish might be bold enough to hit topwater. I tried an Ima Skimmer (white) and found them just as likely to hit the surface lure as the crankbait. I used topwater the rest of the day.
Schools varied in size from 10 fish to about 50. They fed in a semi-circular pattern more like adults cornering full-grown shad. Lures that landed inside the group caused a few to splash but caused others to hit the lure. The school moved fast enough that only one cast could reach the group. The trolling motor in high gear or the big motor at fast idle was needed to keep up with the rapidly moving school.
Most of the schools were found in the main channel over deep water. Spoons did not work as well over deep water as they do when the escaping school heads to the bottom and stops at 30-40 feet. No fish were caught on spoons today. Stripers continued to slurp until 11 a.m. when wake boat traffic increased. They will blow up any time they find food and calm seas. Expect to see slurps randomly throughout the day but more commonly early morning and late evening.
Adult stripers are still locked down below 20 feet by the warm surface water. Bait works but crayfish are coming out of hiding and adult stripers are searching the flats along the shore for a good meal. Adult stripers can be caught trolling in the 10-30 foot strata. Storm Deep Thundersticks are working quite well.
Bass fishing did not keep pace with stripers. The rapidly rising water levels may be hindering bass catch rate. Bass are staying in their preferred holding structure previously found and have not moved up even though the water level rose another 5 feet higher this week. Water temperature also plummeted from 76 last week to 69 this morning. Bass did not bite as well today as they did last week, but I think they will recover as the water temperature warms up with the weather this week. Look in the same rocky habitat or flooded brush points to find willing smallmouth. Largemouth bass are tucked in tight in shallow weedy water. Expect bluegill and largemouth to be close and sharing the same habitat.
Now is the time to try catfishing as these bottom dwellers are in spawning mode and are super active.
Two more tagged walleye were reported this week with both fish coming from the Cedar to Knowles canyon area of the main channel. Both fish were tagged in Good Hope Bay but moved downstream for some reason.
We will continue to work on walleye movement and report when we have conclusive information.
My next move is to post this report and then go fishing for slurping stripers!