by Capt. Paul Rose
The first small cold front that dips water temps a few degrees is the start of some of the best fishing. Fish will begin moving from deeper area into creeks, following the forage. Bait will be balled up and bass are going to be found near the bait. Look for diving birds and monitor your electronics.
Crowds and pressure should be lighter with recreational boaters thinning out, particularly on weekdays, plus many anglers are enjoying the start of the hunting season.
It has been a long hot and humid summer but the winds of change are here and the fish know it is time to eat. Cool fronts, rainfall and light conditions will all affect the bite. Here are a few tips from the guys on the water everyday.
Guide Mike Peters (336-599-3259) prefers the lower end of the lake around Grassy, Cousquilla or Nutbrush Creeks. Access to these areas is easy from the Northbend Ramp allowing for more time fishing and less time running.
Focus on the main structure of wood and rock plus many of the lakes docks. Not all docks are equal so be aware of traits one dock has over another whether depth, wood, old or new. Fish will respond well to irritating, noisy Rattletraps, a staple for fall fishing.
Fish do stage up on bait balls of shad slashing at offerings outside the main group. As the quick reaction bite slows, drop Ringo weightless worms or Senko Rattails in blue pumpkin. You can leave the hook exposed for good hook-up ratios while fishing these lures more jerk bait style. Expect plenty of 3-5 pound fish.
Lynn Harvell at Topwater Guide Service (434-374-8914) has largemouth, in any number of creeks, hitting tandem bladed spinnerbaits. Fish are averaging 3-to-5 pounds.
“The most bites are coming of an erratic retrieve pattern.” The lake borders NC/VA and is one of the truly outstanding lakes in the country. It is over 20,000 acres of “high quality” water, 34 miles long, and approximately one and one half miles wide at the lower end of the lake.
Stripers ranging from 8-to-10 pounds will migrate up river behind the Kerr Dam. Live baits work best using 25-pound line with a 1-ounce slip sinker above a swivel.
Attach 30-inch leaders to hooks in sizes 5/0-7/0 for shad or shiners. White bucktails are a good artificial choice. Twenty inches is a keeper with 4 as a limit.
Guide Joel Richardson (336-803-2195) has family farmland flooded beneath this very deep and clear impoundment. It is only fitting to have won plenty of tournaments on top of granddad’s homestead with weights of 16-to-18 pounds on 5 fish.
“Start with topwaters early using Zara spooks with a walk the dog retrieve. This allows for a little more natural action in the clear water. Cover plenty of water, fishing fast and moving from place to place early to get the most bites.
Later in the day focus on the lakes’ abundant lay downs in coves and pockets using floating worms in bubblegum or white on green 12-pound mono. If it is a bright Indian summer day, fish the deeper ends of the same lay downs in water that is 20-feet with Shakey head worms or Carolina-rigged baits. Finesse worms are an excellent choice.”
Roxboro trading Post at 336-322-4100 has excellent reports coming with specific patterns working well. Start with a searching lure midway in creeks with depths of 12-to-15 feet.
Rattletraps or Rapala DT’s are good examples and seem to work best in mustard or shad colors. As you find fish, slow down using Texas- rigged soft plastics. Try www.Handpouredbassbaits.com 7-inch and 9-inch Ribbontail and the Lunker varieties.
The Post says, “You can rig them weightless and just let them fall into the zone fish are feeding.” With Mayo being very fertile, plenty of big shad and crayfish live here so these bigger baits are effective. Mayo is also a very clear lake so fluorocarbon will keep lines invisible and enable longer casts. Keep in mind plenty of big fish are also here with the tournament record of 35.03 for 6 fish still standing.
Successful anglers need to remember, Hyco has 3 distinct water types: Clear (the big water near the power plant), stained (water under the bridges going south of the plant on North Hyco Creek and South Hyco Creek), and near the ends of these creeks the water is dirty.
Fish points with Texas or Carolina rigs. Early AM and near dark use deep running cranks off of steep banks (20-30 feet of water). Water is clearing so natural looking bait is best.
Stained water, which is found in areas with a lot of coves, should be fished early and later in the day. Darker colored lures are best, especially when Texas rigged. Top water is good too. Mid-day you should fish the docks. Weightless plastics skipped up under the boats work well.
Also deep water points Carolina rigged work well mid-day.
Dirty water is best fished early in the morning as this water is shallow. Large dark colored lures fished close to cover, slow, with rattles and scents are great. “Spike It” on tails helps, too. You want to be Texas rigged.
Top water at these times can be great. Cooling water temps should have fishing moving shallow and staying shallow longer as deep-water summer trends begin reversing.
www.JoelRichardson.com has the bite at Jordan dependent on the movement of shad. If shad move up, fish the back half of shallow creek channels and around points.
Topwaters will work early and on low light or cloudy days. Black buzzbaits and Pop-R’s in smaller 1/4oz sizes are productive. The lake is full of really big rocks so if you’re out on a windy day, pattern this exact structure with spinnerbaits. Be sure to fish any stained water, which is usually from fresh run-off and well oxygenated which is attractive to baitfish.
If the shad decide to stay deep longer this year the bite is still going to very good, as long as you recognize the deep pattern. Remember if the shad stay deep so do the bass. The focus for the deep bite then will be similar to a traditional summer pattern, with deep offshore structure holding the fish. Deeper crankbaits and jigs will get the call. Joel recommends “the Haw River side of the lake” this time of year regardless of which pattern is working.
Guide Rich Szczerbala (919-418-2912) has both great numbers and great big fish hitting at this impoundment, arguably one of the best lakes in the Southeast for huge largemouths.
Fish are moving into creeks, like Whiteoak and Little Whiteoak, concentrating on vegetation edges and points. Start at the front of creeks, working back mid-way using Rattletraps and crankbaits. Focus on the bends of the creeks where baitfish tend to hold. Once the first couple of cold snaps hit, fish will take suspending jerk baits. “Crank it down 2-3 ft and just let it sit.”
Flipping Creature baits, Brushbaits and black and blue jigs at hydrilla mats and weed edges on 20lb fluoro can also be a great pattern, starting around the last two weeks of Sept. Five and six pound fish are not uncommon.
Tarheel Guide Service at firstname.lastname@example.org recommends the upper end of Falls, say from Ledgerock and points north. Early in the day, hit shallow flat points with blue Rattletraps. “Pay close attention to any points that have creeks close by or those with any wood.”
As you move up the lake you will encounter a series of bridges. Hit all the rip-rapped areas, again a Rattle trap is all you will probably need. The I-85 Bridge has a very good creek channel that fishes very well this time of year. “Crank it with a DT-10 Rapala then use Senko bait either Texas rigged or wacky style” Expect plenty of numbers of fish with a few good ones mixed in.