Mike Marsh Outdoors
Mike Marsh’s book, Fishing North Carolina, shares his best-kept secrets for fishing 100 lakes, rivers, ponds, sounds and piers.
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CAPT. GUS GUSTAFSON
Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report: June-July 2020
What to expect when you head out to fish the lakes of the Piedmont over the next few weeks. Get a clue from noted outdoor writer Mike Marsh.
Shannon Lyndon, (Lyndon’s Riverview Sports, 828-632-7889) said the striper bite heats up with the water.
“Stripers will hit topwater lures near the Lake Rhodhiss Dam,” he said. If you don’t see them there, they should be downstream at the Lake Hickory Dam.”
Good topwater lures include Zara Spooks, Rapala Skitter Walks and Skitter Vs, and Zoom Flukes. Another tactic is fishing a Redfin, Rapala or Rebel minnow slow enough to produce a V-wake.
If the fish are showing on the depthfinder, casting or trolling a bucktail jig is a good bet. Drifting and trolling live shad works well and shad should be easy to find and catch near the dams.
Largemouth bass anglers should cast jigs or big plastic worms to deep brush piles on the main lake points. A Ned Rig with a Yoga Pants color worm is a good bet.
Casting a deep diving lures such as Norman DD-22 is another good tactic.
Shellcrackers and bluegills will bed in the backs of the coves during the full moon in June. Redworms and crickets fished on float rigs will catch them.
Catfish will bite cut baits and Magic Bait Marshmallow Cheese prepared bait fished on bottom rigs in the mouths of coves. Flatheads will suck down live shad or bream
Capt. Gus Gustafson (Fishing with Gus, 704-617-6812) said bass will be busting out all over.
“Spinnerbaits and soft plastics cast around the laydowns will get some strikes,” he said. “Bass will also hit anything you want to use around lighted docks. Swimbaits and topwater lures are good for starters.”
Big largemouth will bite upstream and smaller spotted bass will bite downstream. Spotted bass will eat purple or pumpkinseed color Zoom Trick Worms and other soft plastics around the outside poles of docks. In the shallower river areas and creeks, largemouth bass will hit Whopper Ploppers, Chatterbaits and Rat-L-Traps. On the drop-offs the best bet is a Ned Rig or drop-shot rig.
Blue catfish will head upstream to spawn in June. The warmer the water, the more active the fish become. Trolling at ½ to 1 mile per hour with garlic-scented chicken breast, butterflied gizzard shad, cut bream or white perch is the best way to catch them. The hotter the water, the deeper the fish will swim. By late July they will suspend along the thermocline about 25 feet down, where float rigs, drift rigs and planer boards rigs baited with live and cut baits will hook them.
White perch will school at 20 to 40 feet in deeper coves off channel points and on the humps. Anglers can spot them with electronics and catch them on Sabiki rigs, jigging spoons and live minnows. Other fish that will be feeding white perch schools include hybrids, largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie. Dropping a perch on a bottom rig with an 8/0 circle hook beneath a perch school should draw strikes from flathead catfish.
Hybrids will be scattered, with the best fishing at night at lighted docks. They will also suspend at 15' the creeks and channel edges. To catch the deeper hybrids, anglers should locate fish with a depthfinder and troll or cast an Alabama rig.
Bream will be bedding on sandy or rocky banks and near boat ramps. Casting a worm on a float rig will hook them up.
Jerry Neeley (Carolina’s Fishing Guide Service, 704-678-1043) said topwater action should be buzzing.
“Early in the morning the bass are shallow and the topwater action is great,” he said. “I fish buzzbaits and Whopper Ploppers back in the creeks. In Crowders and Mill creeks they will be chasing shad early before they move to the main lake points and secondary points. Later in the morning when the fish are deeper, a Senko or Zoom Lizard works well at the docks. A medium-running KVD crankbait is a good lure when the fish move out to 10 feet.
Catfish anglers should catch blue and channel catfish by trolling the lower third segments of creeks or the main lake flats. Cut bream and perch are the best baits. To catch white perch, the best bet is a Sabiki rig dropped at a creek mouth.
Crappie anglers should find fish on brush piles and docks in 12 to 15 feet of water. The best way to catch them is by shooting jigs under the docks or by trolling minnows on tight lines and down lines.
The best jigs are a 1/16- or 1/32-ounce jig. Best colors are red head/white body, green head/white body and all-black. Tipping a jig with a silver Crappie Nibble will seal the deal.
Bream will bed in shallow water near small creeks at the backs of coves. They look like honeycombs on a side-imaging depthfinder. The best way to catch them is with a split-shot rig or float rig baited with wax worms, crickets or night crawlers.
Bryan Rice (Bryanricefishing.com), a professional angler on the BASS Nation tour and charity-event angler, said Wateree’s bass go back into normal mode after the spawn.
“When the shad spawn on top, I throw a Pop R, spinnerbait or a crankbait right off the bank. I like the Bay Rat Splash Rat jerkbait and the Bay Rat 1.5 square bill crankbait.”
Later in the morning, flipping a fluke, pitching a worm or slipping a Senko under the boat docks is a good tactic. When the sun gets higher, skipping a jig under the deep docks or running a Bay Rat medium runner along the riprap banks is a better bet.
In the evenings when the water cools off, bass will turn on again in the backs of the creeks. A Rat-L-Trap is a go-to crankbait. A Zoom Fluke or Zoom Trick Worm on a weightless Texas rig will also entice strikes. The best way to rig a rod for flipping flukes is with 20-pound Bass Braid and a White Peacock fluorocarbon 12-pound test leader tied to the line with an FG Knot.
Bait & Techniques:
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