Stripers, Muskie, and Catfish at Melton Hill Dam

Discussion in 'TENNESSEE RIVERS TALK' started by festus, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    I got delayed this morning and didn't get to the tailwaters until after 8:30am. No one was there except me, and two generators were running. I threw 2 oz. hair jigs and caught 2 stripers, one 26" long and about 8 lbs and another 27" and just under 10 pounds. Don't know how accurate the scales are because they are the old Zebco De-Liars. I lost another fish of some sort on a 6" Wild Eyed Shad swimbait when it swam into something, either hung in a lost cast net or maybe someone's old fishing line. I could feel it tugging and knew it was still on, but I'm positive it wasn't hung in a rock or log. This went on for quite a while, and I finally just lowered my rod tip, grabbed my spool, and tried to yank it out of whatever and the 17 lb. test snapped.

    In a few minutes I snagged a muskie accidently on its right exterior gill plate and fought it for about 10 or 12 minutes. It was near the bank, I was just reeling in ready to make another cast to avoid getting hung iin the rocks when I snagged it. I had to chase it downstream 20 yards or so in the current. It wasn't a trophy but was at least 40 inches long. I was standing on some very slippery rocks, and if I hadn't been alone or had a gaff or landing net, I would have probably gotten it in. But finally the hook pulled out. I don't know how much it would have weighed, but it was definitely a keeper. I would have released it, anyway. Had it right there in the rocks and let the hook slip out, dern! Most of my friends have gotten too lazy to fish anymore and I have to go alone just about every trip!

    Then I got closer to the dam and caught two channel cats, both were small, 14" and maybe 16", then they cut the generators off at around noon and I never got another bite. Tried throwing a 3/4 Little Cleo silver spoon a few minutes, then decided to cut out.

    At least it was an interesting day. I didn't see another fisherman around until nearly 2:00 pm, and he was on the other side of the river crappie fishing. BTW, he said the small channels had been hitting small jigs on the lock side of the dam, tubes, curly tails, and hair flies earlier in the week. :eek:oooh:
     
  2. SGTREDNECK

    SGTREDNECK New Member

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    1,522
    State:
    Tennessee
    Thanks for the report. Are there alot of muskies there?
     

  3. craddock1

    craddock1 Active Member

    Messages:
    957
    State:
    TENNESSEE
    I WILL HAVE TO LET FESTUS ANSWER THAT ONE. I have never caught a muskie. I have a friend who caught a 52 and a 56 incher out of new river last saturday. He fishes for them there about every week and said that was the first two he has caught this year. He says they are worth waiting for and the 56 was his biggest ever.
     
  4. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    That's only the second one I've seen this year, Sarge. Earlier in the year I saw a fellow about my age hook one while bottom fishing with skipjack for catfish. It came to the top, rolled around on the line, and broke off. I got a good look at it and it was at least 4' long, some bigger than mine. This was on the other side of the river from where I had the tussle with mine today. I talked to another guy crappie fishing today and he said he had caught one about 15" earlier this year. And another fisherman last week showed me a pic on his cell phone of one he caught there earlier this year. I'm pretty sure he said it was a tad under 50 inches.

    There's probably more muskies above Melton Hill Dam than below Melton Hill Dam. The minimum size limit where I was fishing is 36", which is actually considered Watts Bar Reservoir. Above the dam is Melton Hill Reservoir, and it's been heavily stocked, is considered trophy striper water, and the minimum keeper length is 44". I saw several swimming in Melton Hill Reservoir at Bull Run Steam Plant last April and May. Another old gentleman in his 80's told me he caught a 31 incher at Clark Center Park from shore a few weeks ago. One of these days I'll get some live suckers and try it in the reservoir.

     
  5. ut1trey

    ut1trey New Member

    Messages:
    63
    State:
    Knoxville TN
    Thanks for the reports. I fish below Melton Hill Dam myself mainly for striper. Are there some big cats in the Clinch below Melton Hill?
     
  6. TnRivershark

    TnRivershark New Member

    Messages:
    1,254
    State:
    M,boro Tn.
    Festus thanks for great report and the story about the muskie,keep up the good work. An 18 hour fishing trip boy I'm jealous.:006:
     
  7. Catfish_Scooter

    Catfish_Scooter New Member

    Messages:
    2,055
    State:
    Tennessee
    Thanks for another great report Festus. Sounds like their tearin you up at Melton Hill.:eek:oooh:
     
  8. Catfish_Scooter

    Catfish_Scooter New Member

    Messages:
    2,055
    State:
    Tennessee
    Welcome to the BOC Trey. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
     
  9. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    Welcome to the BOC, Trey.

    Yes, I know they are plenty of big cats there, but I've never fished there at night. And I haven't specifically targeted cats down there until the past month or so. Biggest for me was a 27" channel cat about two weeks ago, didn't weigh it, and I caught it on a crawdad on a floater when the water wasn't moving much. Have caught several from about 1-1/2 lbs. up to about 7 lbs. But I usually get there about daylight and they stop hitting or really slow down when the sun gets bright. I was standing right under the dam one day and talked to some engineer who was standing up above me. He says he's seen cats in there stacked on top of each other, HUGE, and there's no way that place will ever be fished out. He said the same for stripers. My first day fishing MH this year was St. Patrick's Day, and for about a month it was hard to catch anything else but those pesky yellow bass. Probably caught at least a thousand of those, sometimes 3 at a time. Was targeting crappie and sauger. I quit going down there in late May and didn't start back until about September. I haven't fished for stripers that much, and the biggest for the year at MH for me was about 18 pounds.

     
  10. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    I'm sure glad there's fish in New River again. When I was a kid, there was nothing in there but a few carp. Now ya got smallmouth, muskie, and walleye. Frank, I know if you've ever been around Nemo, you've probably seen those muskies swimming around in there. I can't think of Ray Tucker's son's name, but he knows how to catch them. He uses live suckers and big horneyheads and creek chubs.

     
  11. Catfish_Scooter

    Catfish_Scooter New Member

    Messages:
    2,055
    State:
    Tennessee

    Yep those yellow stripe are fun on the end of the line but are the most peskiest animal alongside a turtle in the water that likes to steal bait. And yeah thats the same story I hear about from different fishermen about below the boils at old hickory dam that cats are big enough to eat a man.. I wanna believe that.. but I take it with a grain of salt.:eek:oooh:
     
  12. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    Them yellowbellies are great eating, too. I learned how to fillet fish on yellow bass. Three of us had caught a good mess of crappie, along with some of the yellowbellies many many years ago. I told the other two boys to keep the yellows so I could learn how to fillet without messing up the crappie. After 2 or 3 tries, I got the hang of it.

    This TVA engineer standing on MH Dam says most of the big cats are between 3' to 4' long, but he has seen them much bigger. I have a friend who used to scuba dive, and he says he's seen catfish above Norris Dam as big as I am, and I'm about 208 lbs. He's a fisherman, too, he could have overestimated that, but IMHO if there's any around big enough to swallow a man, it would have to be a dwarf or midget. :wink:



     
  13. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    ...I talked to this fisherman a week or two ago, he caught a 69-1/2" shovelbill below Melton Hill Dam. He probably had the state record, which is about 75 lbs, I think, but he wanted the fish to live. Besides, I don't think they were in season. It bit a striper jig, and it wasn't snagged.
     
  14. TennesseeJugger

    TennesseeJugger New Member

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    2,029
    State:
    Watertown, Tenn

    Great report, Thanks.
     
  15. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    I fished there from daylight until about noon Tues/Dec 1. Had a striper on at daylight hooked on a 1-1/2 oz nylon jig and he got off. There were only 2 other folks fishing for stripers, one fellow finally got a 12 pounder and released it. Got one more bite on the jig and gave it up.

    So I moved on to my catfish spot. I tried nightcrawlers, large tuffie minnows, and live shad minnows about 3" to 4" long. Only got a couple of bites and no fish after trying for about 2 hours.

    So I moved over to the other side of the river and tried up against the lock wall with shad and nightcrawlers--nothing. Finally out of boredom, I tied on a slip floater rig and and large tuffie minnows and fished right off the bottom. I'd sling it out as far as I could and let the current take the floater downstream as far as I could see it. I had the bail flipped open feeding line all the while. Finally I got a crappie right under the 10" size limit and a baby sauger about 11". I had to get out of there by noon on other matters, and as my luck goes sometime, as soon as the fish start biting, I have to leave. :embarassed: That makes 2 sauger for me this fall, and I've released them both. I'd sure like to get a mess of 'em.
     
  16. SCcatfishing

    SCcatfishing New Member

    Messages:
    889
    State:
    SC
    Hey try 2 jigs with small stinger hooks hooked to the jig hook... Keep it to the bottom... I use to sauger fish when I lived in wv and I had an ol timer show me that.... He said always keep it on the bottom... But back home (TN) the dang yella bass won't stay away from it...:wink:
     
  17. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    Same problem I had this spring, David. Couldn't keep the yellow bass away. I will try the jig/stinger soon. You're right about keeping the bait on the bottom. The first one I caught this year I had just cast a 2" grub into the river and for some reason I had to lay the rod down. Something started pulling it, and I hooked a sauger while the grub was lying motionless on the bottom. Is it best to use hair jigs and tip with a minnow?

     
  18. SCcatfishing

    SCcatfishing New Member

    Messages:
    889
    State:
    SC
    We used a 1 oz sinker at the bottom of the 2 jigs with 1/4 oz with a muti color small grub plastic sometime tiped with minnows but not alot tho... use slow action with a 1 or 2 sec pause so if they are trailing they will hit it on the pause.... Or just fish with minnows on the bottom aslo works but not as well..
     
  19. SCcatfishing

    SCcatfishing New Member

    Messages:
    889
    State:
    SC
    Thats why we used stinger hooks three prong stinger from bass pro smallest you can find:wink:
     
  20. festus

    festus New Member

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    7,660
    When you use minnows, what size is the best? Are large tuffies alright? They average about 3" long. I've also heard you can use small cut strip baits and it will be ok sometimes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009