"LAKE WHITNEY: MECCA FOR STRIPED BASS FISHING" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Lake Whitney guide Clay Yadon eased the throttle back on his big center console Skeeter and buried his face in the graph. I ran a morning trip and we limited out on stripers right here in less than two hours, the biggest weighed 14 pounds, down to around six. Dont know how they will be biting during mid day but lets give it a try. says Yadon. This was Phil Zimmermans first trip to Whitney to fish for stripers and we were both excited about the steady bite and size of fish that Clay and his clients had been catching. I looked into the bait tank and noticed it was full of very frisky, very large shad that averaged six to eight inches in length. During the fall and winter months, I use a lot of soft plastics for stripers but when the water is warm, its tough to beat the real thing. As a general rule, the bigger the bait, the bigger the striper. he added. By the look at these baits, we would be obviously be targeting big fish today! Photo by Luke Clayton As the big Skeeter eased upon a long submerged point in water around 30 feet deep, I watched the windward side of the structure plot on the graph and, sure enough, there were those inverted Vs, most within a few feet of bottom. Stripers! The ball of suspended shad hanging over the stripers was a good indication they were still in the feeding mode. We were all a bit concerned about the mid day bite but things were looking good, VERY good. Technique is extremely important when fishing live bait, just as when using artificial. Were rigging these baits on circle hooks. When the fish takes the big baits, it eats them head first. There is a short period after the rod tip begins to bow to the surface when its important to leave it in the rod holder. These graphite rods are very sensitive, they allow the fisherman to feel the slightest bite but, they also allow the striper to feel any unnatural movement such as the rod being removed from the holder before the hook is threaded into the stripers lip. When a striper takes the bait, it needs time to position the shad in its mouth, especially these bigger baits were using. Once the circle hook is in the fishes mouth and the striper begins to swim away, the point to the hook corkscrews into the side of the stripers mouth. A lot of big stripers are lost by overanxious fishermen that jerk the rods out of the holders and try to set the hook. These hooks will set themselves. These stripers will weight at least 6 pounds, if they are big enough to take these big baits, they are big enough to pull drag. Wait until you hear the reels drag screaming before you grab the rod to fight the fish. Yadon instructed. Stripers are schooling fish and very curious by nature; they have to be in order to stay attuned to their environment and consistently keep up with their favored prey, threadfin and gizzard shad. Yadon mentioned that he once had the opportunity to actually watch stripers feeding. I was setting on a rock ledge above some very clear water. I had some dead shad left over from the morning trip and tossed them into the water, one at a time. There was a big school of stripers hanging on the deep side of a shelf a few yards out from shore. Occasionally a striper would dash out into the shallow water and swim right up to the shad I tossed in the water. It would put on the brakes within easy striking distance of the baitfish and either eat it immediately or look it over and swim quickly away. They were obviously attracted by the sound of the fish hitting the waters surface. Yadon used the same principal in efforts to put the stripers under our boat in a feeding mode. He took a rod and began churning the waters surface. I glued my eyes to on the graph and immediately saw several of those Vs moving toward the surface; the sound of the water frothing on the surface obviously telegraphed to the stripers that it was time to feed! In short order, we used the frisky shad to put a couple limits of stripers in the boat. Our trip didnt produce any of those 10-15 pounders but we were all happy to find the fish active during the middle of the day. As we headed back to dock at Harbor Master Marina with the making of a tasty blackened striped bass dinner, my mind backtracked 20 years to a striper trip I enjoyed with my older son and the late guide Jim Snodgrass. I remember catching plenty of chunky stripers with Mr. Snodgrass on that warm day in May a couple of decades ago. Lake Whitney certainly has a proven track record of producing stripers. Its good to know some things never seem to change. Watch the video taken with Clay Yadon at www.catfishradio.com Contact guide Clay Yadon at 817-219-3707 ****************************************************************************** GROUP BENEFITING OUR MILITARY Ever wish there was something you, as a sportsman or sportswoman, could do for our men and women in the service, to let them know just how much you appreciate their efforts? There is, go online to www.warriorsoutdoors.com . Donald Keezel and Mark Stachan have worked diligently to get this project up and running. The goal is to connect our military men and women with sportsmen in the area where they are currently stationed. Volunteers will invite them out on fishing and hunting trips, ATV riding, etc. The web site hosts a forum where our military personnel can communicate with volunteers willing to share their time in the outdoors. ****************************************************************************** OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK Many fishermen these days use circle hooks. These hooks actually corkscrew into the fish's lip as they take the bait and swim away. The use of these hooks greatly reduces the number of live baits that are actually ingested by fish such as stripers and larger catfish. There is a trick, though, to using circle hooks. They work best when the rod is placed in a rod holder. For bigger fish such as stripers and larger catfish, wait until the rod is heavily bowed toward the water, then before lifting the rod from its holder, begin cranking the reel handle quickly, THEN pull the rod from the holder and fight the fish. When a fish hits a bait, its tough to resist jerking back on the rod to set the hook but when using circle hooks, this is a no-no. The hooks are designed to twist themselves into the corner of the fishs mouth. Circle hooks are a great fish catching tool when using live bait or cut bait but only when allowed to function as they were designed to do. Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!