MID-OCTOBER FRESHWATER FISHING REPORT: Southeast Stripers & Hybrids
By Capt. Cefus McRae
Fall fishing is in full swing! Hartwell, and other lakes like Lanier, Murray, Clarks Hill, are all delivering nice stringers of hybrids and stripers. The water temperature is in the mid-70’s, and slowly dropping toward that magical 68 to 70 degree range. October can be one of the most productive, and fun, times to be on any of our regional lakes. So get out there and go catching!
Linesides are feeling the temperature drop, and the reduction in daylight hours. And they are ready to eat. There is plenty of bait for them to gorge on, and it is becoming more and more common to see explosions of bait wads throughout the entire lake. Spotted bass are joining in the feeding frenzy too.
Locating gamefish should be pretty easy right now. Find the bait, and gamefish won’t be too far away. And the bait can be holding over the deepest channels, as well as up on shallow humps. So this can make searching a little more time consuming, but once you find bait schools, it’s time to stop and fish. Use your Simrad SideScan to explore more of the water column out to 100 or more feet on either side of the boat. The bait schools (and the stripers) will show up clearly; and you can pinpoint their location.
Stripers, hybrids and white bass will eat from the same menu…and so will spots and largemouth, and even the gar and catfish we have in our lakes will readily slam a tasty blueback herring, shiner, or salty. When you locate the bait school, or see the ‘spaghetti’ on your screen to indicate active gamefish, drop your baits on a Carolina-style rig using a 1 to 2 ounce egg sinker above 4 feet of fluorocarbon leader with a #1 or #2 Gamakatsu octopus hook. Handle your baits with care, hooking the herring sideways through the nostrils. The water is still warm, compared to the water your baits came from, so check them frequently, and replace them when they appear sluggish. Keep those ‘expired’ baits in a separate bucket with a little water and a handful of salt in it. When the bite slows down, chop those baits and use them as chum to fire up the bite again.
While you are downlining, pitch out a freelined live bait on a very light rig (10 lb test) behind the boat. Keep this bait far away from your downlines to prevent tangling with your other baits. If you are slow trolling, you can put these freelines out on Perfect Planer boards as well.
This is also the time of year when you can experience some exciting topwater action. Have a MirroLure Top Dog in a Silver-Blue or Mullet color pattern rigged on a spinning rod to cast to surfacing schools. Project-X X-Rigs and the Mini-Mack can be extremely effective right now. Cast beyond the surfacing fish, and retrieve the rig through the school. If you can cast to the outer edge of the school, let it sink for a 5-count, you will probably pick up some bigger fish that are hanging away from the larger school of smaller fish. Chug Bugs and Zara Spooks will also bring some major topwater explosions. When the school sounds deep, throw a WhoopAss 1 ounce bucktail, tipped with a 3” Project-X Saucertail in the same vicinity. Let it sink 10 to 15 feet, and retrieve erratically, but slowly…and hang on!
You can get all your striper gear, lures and rigs at www.NutsAndBoltsFishing.com. We’ll get you hooked up! And watch our TV episodes on catching stripers and hybrids on CarbonTV.com.
Stay safe on the water and catch ‘em up.
Capt. Cefus McRae and Buck The Wonder Dog.