WHITES BUSTIN’ THE TOP !

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    "WHITES BUSTIN’ THE TOP!" by Luke Clayton

    [​IMG]
    Luke Clayton


    As guide Bob Holmes idled his boat under the Highway 287 bridge at Richland Chambers Reservoir, he eased back on the throttle, uncased the binoculars and glassed the open water ahead. “Look at those loons setting on the surface about a half-mile down lake.” says Holmes. “I have learned to put a great deal of stock in these birds from the north. Gulls, terns and, in recent years, egrets have become dependable fish locators on freshwater lakes but loons simply won’t exert the energy to dive unless they know baitfish are in the vicinity.” I picked up the binoculars and watched the loons popping up and then disappearing. As Holmes dropped the trolling motor, a good 100 yards from the feeding loons, gulls and a few terns began circling overhead, occasionally dipping low to the water’s surface to pick up one of the many hapless shad the school of hybrid stripers and white bass had driven to the surface. My guide was right: loons know their business when it comes to locating baitfish.

    [​IMG]
    Photo by Luke Clayton


    Catching spawning white bass in creeks and rivers above reservoirs is a big deal but fishing these spawning runs is hit or miss and from past experiences, miss more than hit! Granted, it’s loads of fun finding a little hole on the inside bend of a creek chock full of aggressively feeding spawning white bass but I much prefer the period, RIGHT NOW, on many reservoirs, when huge schools of post spawn bass return to the mid to lower sections of their home waters and chow down on every shad they can catch. Such was the case earlier this week at Richland Chambers. According to Holmes, March was a tough month for catching whites and hybrid bass here. Whether all the fish were up in the creeks procreating or simply had lockjaw is conjecture but Mother Nature got word to the big schools of post spawners that now is the time to feed and regain their strength from the rigors of the spawn and on our recent morning on the water, they definitely were following orders.

    Holmes, like many fishermen, had rather catch one fish on a top water plug than five on sub surface baits. His rod was rigged with a clear Tiny Torpedo; I had a Sassy Shad rigged on a quarter ounce jig head; I was looking for the makings of an afternoon fish fry!

    Being heavier, my bait make it to the periphery of the feeding fish a bit before Bob’s lighter top water plug could hit the mark. As soon as the bait dimpled the surface, I held the rod high, took up the slack in the line and began a fast, jerking retrieve, keeping the bait in the top of the water column. After a few cranks of the reel’s handle I felt a sudden jolt of energy telegraph up the line and into the rod. This was no white bass, the hard strike and reel’s singing drag spoke of something bigger and much tougher in the trenches: this had to be a hybrid striper! Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Bob’s topwater getting pounded then, with a big swirl, it disappeared! We were both engaged in mortal battle with nice size hybrid stripers, and the fishing trip was just getting underway!

    The mixed school of white bass and hybrids continued to push shad to the surface for a good ten minutes and the melee created by dive bombing birds, shad jumping clear of the water and baits hurled at the bigger swirls is the stuff great fishing memories are made of. Then, as suddenly as it began, the surface calmed, the birds left and I was thinking Bob would be cranking the big engine and head off to find more surface feeders. “See that hump on the graph that tops out at eight feet and falls quickly into deep water? The windward side of it is chock full of fish. Let’s see if we can pick a few more up on slabs.” I doubt if there is a lure anywhere that has accounted for more white bass and hybrid stripers than the plain old lead slab. These old standards aren’t pretty or complicated in design, but they sure do catch fish. Painted in white or chartreuse, these elongated pieces of lead are absolutely lethal on fish holding on structure and, in the right hands, can account for some good action on fish holding near the surface. The funny thing about fishing with lead slabs is that fish usually prefer a certain presentation, and that presentation is subject to change on a day to day basis. Sometimes, the baits are most effective when allowed to hit bottom, then ripped up through the column. Other times, these old standards work best on the fall, when allowed to flutter back down to bottom. Bob began working his slab within inches of bottom, hoping to catch fish holding tight to structure. I began the ‘crank and drop’ presentation, cranking several times on the reel handle, then allowing the lure to flutter back down. On my first presentation, I felt multiple strikes on the falling bait and managed, with a quick snap of the rod, to set the hook on a feisty white bass. Bob’s rod was bowed in an arc that indicated his bottom bouncing presentation was also producing fish. In truth, about the only thing we could do to prevent catching fish was not getting our baits into the water!

    So the next couple hours went, fishing ten or fifteen minutes with topwaters and soft plastics on jig heads for surface feeding fish, then prospecting near bottom with slabs when the fish moved to the nearest structure. We kept plenty of fish for my upcoming fish fry and, back at Bob’s fish cleaning table at Oak Cove Marina, transformed them into boneless fillets that would fry up crispy after an hour or so of marinating in buttermilk and Louisiana Hot Sauce. The summer schooling action is definitely underway at Richland Chambers and my guide buddies on other lakes tell me the same story: school is in session, the whites are out of the creeks and back in the main lake!

    Guide Bob Holmes headquarters at Oak Cove Marina and can be reached at 214-728-3310.

    LISTEN TO OUTDOORS WITH LUKE CLAYTON AT www.catfishradio.com
     
  2. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    Great column this week Luke. They're just about to get going here too. Thanks
     

  3. Catpaw

    Catpaw Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,926
    State:
    Central Cail
    Name:
    James
    Thank's for another great write up Luke...The striper's are starting to show up here in central cali too, Wont be long before there in full swing and the fun really start's:wink:
     
  4. mariofish

    mariofish New Member

    Messages:
    914
    State:
    wv
    what do you think about paylakes
     
  5. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    Messages:
    831
    State:
    Texas
    I think someimes they are the only option for urban folks to get kids out fishing. Look at it this way, some folks don't have the money to invest in a boat and everything necessary for lake or river fishing. They can spend a few dollars on some basic tackle, pay a few more for fishing rights and, often for fish caught, and get their kids out fishing. I am all for them.
     
  6. catfisherman_eky3

    catfisherman_eky3 New Member

    Messages:
    2,296
    State:
    Kentucky
    thanks for the right up and pic