The summer heat is here! With daytime temps in the upper 90’s, the water surface temperature on our southeastern lakes and reservoirs has also risen dramatically. The stripers and hybrids have settled into their typical summer pattern, meaning they have gone deep. Although you might find them feeding throughout the water column during the heat of the day, the best time to catch linesides now is going to be early morning or just as the sun touches the treetops in the evening.
By the way, if you choose to fish into the evening, be sure to drop a HydroGlow underwater light over the side to attract baitfish…and it won’t be long until the stripers show up.
Start your search in the morning around creek mouths and mid-lake or mid-river humps that rise to 25 feet, which also have a main creek arm nearby. This would be a good place to drop a live herring on a #1 or #2 Gamakatsu octopus hook with a 3 to 4 foot fluorocarbon leader. I typically spool reels with 17 to 20 pound Stren mono and use 10 to 12 pound fluoro leader. That way, if a fish gets hung up in the standing timber, the leader will break below the egg sinker and the fish can swim away. Also be sure to have a MirroLure Top Dog rigged for topwater just in case a school of hybirds comes up to munch on a wad of baitfish.
If you want to fish mid-day, pull out your leadcore rods. Run 8 colors of leadcore with 30 feet of 15 pound mono as a leader. Tie on a 2 ounce WhoopAss Bucktail jig that is tipped with an expired herring, and pull the rig along the edges of the river channel and deep creek channels. If your lake has standing timber and you get hung up in the trees occasionally, then you know you are fishing in the right spots. Project-X X-Rigs rigged with 1/4 oz WhoopAss Bucktails and Capt. Mack’s ProBrellas are also catching fish in the river channels. Be sure you have an Umbrella Retriever, because you will definitely catch a tree, and you don’t want to leave your U-rig to the murky depths.
SideScan is a huge help when trolling, to let you see the schools that may be just beyond your trolling spread. Make a wide turn to move laterally toward the schools and you should have rods bending in a few minutes. Set the drags on your reels a little past the point where no line leaves the reel at your trolling speed. With too much drag, you may get a bite but the speed/power of the boat pulls the hook from the fish’s mouth. And a screaming drag also sounds cool!
The Power-Reeling bite is starting to fire up as well. You’ll be fishing in 60 to 90 feet of water that’s close to standing timber. Again, a 2 ounce WhoopAss Bucktail with a Project-X pearl saucertail will trigger the reaction strike. Free-spool the jig to the bottom and then wind up at a reasonably fast retrieve rate. The key to catching here is you need to see fish on your sonar. This is a great way to put some extra fish in the box once the trolling or live bait bite has slowed down.
Stay safe on the water. Use your SiriusXM Marine weather app to keep you informed on the afternoon pop-up storms so you don’t get caught in them. And be sure to stay hydrated.
Capt. Cefus and Buck, The Wonder Dog