Piedmont Lakes Fishing Report: December 2017 - January 2018
Mike Marsh’s book, Fishing North Carolina, shares his best-kept secrets for fishing 100 lakes, rivers, ponds, sounds and piers.
Fishing North Carolina ($26.60),
Inshore Angler – Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide ($26.20),
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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.
Yadkin/Pee Dee Reservoirs
High Rock Lake
Maynard Edwards (Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, Extreme Fishing Concepts, 336-249-6782) said stripers bite well in cold weather.
"I hug the banks, trolling bucktail jigs or naked jig heads with curly tail trailers and Pet Spoons. I use a double rig and work my trolling motor to move along at 1½ miles per hour. I troll along the bank in about 30 feet of water and use a planer board to carry the lures up to into six feet of water while I navigate along the contours of the steeper banks."
Winter is a great time for catching largemouth bass using shallow running crankbaits and suspending jerk baits. The best places to fish are the steep banks with rock outcrops.
Crappie anglers should find fish at 12 to 20 feet in the shallower coves. If the fish are shallow, trolling with long lines is the way to go. If they are deep, tight lines are the ticket. The best lures are Roadrunners, jigs and simple gold hooks with two-inch curly tail trailers.
Maynard Edwards (Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, Extreme Fishing Concepts, 336-249-6782) said Tuckertown is a great place to bust some bass.
"I fish the steep rocky banks and riprap banks with shallow running crankbaits," he said. "A Lucky Craft Rick Clunn series lure, No. 8 Shad Rap Craw Color or a gold-and-red Heddon Rattlin' Rogue suspending series lure will catch them."
Crappie will bite at Riles Creek and in the Newsome area where there is lots of different cover types. Long line and tight line techniques work well.
Maynard Edwards (Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, Extreme Fishing Concepts, 336-249-6782) Badin is an excellent place to catch stripers.
"Striper fishermen should look for birds on the main lake," he said. "I troll through the fish at whatever depth I see them on my depthfinder and use bucktails, swimbaits and spoons. My best luck comes when I use E-rigs (Edwards' version of the Alabama rig) fished on my planer boards."
While largemouth bass will school below the surface, seabirds can see still them. A ¾-ounce Hopkins Shorty spoon jigged under the birds will catch the bass. Another good technique is casting a crankbait parallel to the rocky banks.
Crappie will school in the deeper coves at 15 to 40 feet, with Gladys Fork Creek a good place. Anglers should locate the fish with a depthfinder and troll with jigs on light lines to catch them. The fish are bigger than in other Yadkin lakes, so anglers may catch fish weighing more than three pounds..
Rodney Crisco (Joe’s Bait & Tackle, 704-982-8716) said anglers should troll to catch the lake's superior-sized stripers.
"The best striper fishing will be within a mile or so of the bridge," he said. "The best jigs for striper trolling are Roadrunners, Preacher Jigs and Double R or Sea Striker jigs. The best jig colors to use have a white head and a white bucktail dressing or a chartreuse head and a chartreuse bucktail dressing. Sometimes adding a chartreuse or white soft plastic trailer increases the jig's effectiveness. A good hard plastic lure for striper trolling is a Redfin, with black-and-chrome or blue-and-chrome the best colors."
Largemouth bass will hit hard plastic jerk baits, especially the Lucky Craft Rick Clunn Signature series. Another good one is the Rapala Shadow Rap Shad in Tropic Ice color. The best places for crankbait fishing are rocky areas and riprap along the primary and secondary points.
Crappie anglers will have excellent luck trolling jigs on long lines and down lines. They should also find fish piled up on the brush piles in deeper water. Kalin Jigs work well, with black-blue-chartreuse working best in clear water and Acid Rain working the best colors in muddy water.
White perch will head deep, sounding on down to the 20- to 25-foot range. The best bets for catching them are cut baits and minnows fished on jigs or split-shot rigs. Another good tactic is baiting the hooks of a Joe's Waccamaw Rig with tiny pieces of fish.
Blue catfish will be in the deeper holes. Cut gizzard shad and cut white perch are the best baits. The fish school tightly in winter, so anglers should be aware that they may fish out a good spot if they take too many fish home.
Bryan Rice (Bryanricefishing.com), a pro angler on the FLW T&H Marine BFL circuit, said largemouth bass will bite along the ledges.
As water temperatures are dropping the fish are moving along the ledges," he said. "Deep cranking with square-billed crankbaits works well. But the fish are lethargic so you should also try to slow your presentation down by using drop-shot rigs and flutter spoons"
On sunny days, the shallow water areas warm up quickly so anglers should also try fishing in the backs of the coves. Places with water temperatures from the mid-40s up should hold some fish. The good thing is that the bigger fish bite better than the smaller fish because they can withstand barometric pressure changes without shutting down. Periods of stabile weather are the best times to fish.