Two days of great fishing ---- and one day of great catching.
Hartwell Hawk and I went fishing on Lake Hartwell Saturday morning. We drug bait all over the lake. Marked lots of fish, but no one wanted to bite. Started at lower end, then moved up the Seneca to a couple my 'secret spots'. Bear, you know where that's at. Then moved to another sure-thing spot down toward the dam. NADA. We were knocking stripers in the heads with lead, and they just wouldn't take the bait. Heard a lot of chatter on the VHF with folks having the same problems. That's the way it goes some days.
Sunday was a totally different day. Got a little bit of a late start -- about 8am. Went straight to a spot that usually holds striper schools at the mouth to a cove near our house. A charter boat was heading to the same place with 4 folks on board, so I slowed down and let them have first shot at it. They put out downrods with BB herring and immediately started catching small schoolies, about 3 to 4 pounds. The small boys on his boat were having a blast. I did some power reeling about 75 yds away over single fish that I marked on the sonar. No takers though. The charter stayed there for about 45 minutes and I enjoyed watching them catch a few. They left and I got my trolling gear out and put 2 - 1oz WhoopAss Shad color jigs down deep.
Down deep means about 25 feet. There was the occasional top water bust with stripers blowing up on bait fish, but unless the action happened within casting distance, by the time you could motor over to where the fish were at, they had already sounded again.
So, the two rigs were 6 to 8 colors of leadcore with the 1 oz jigs and white trailers pulled at 2.5 mph. I found fish anywhere from a 30 foot bottom to over 100 feet of depth. And they were all hanging out in the 20 to 30 foot deep zone.
6 colors of leadcore got my jig down to about 18 to 20 feet... 8 colors got it down to over 20 feet. I know this because I hung two trees on two separate occasions that were topping out at 25 feet below the surface. The fish in the deepest water were not necessarily orienting to anything in particular -- no obvious bait schools in the immediate vicinity. I think they were moving out of the cove where the bait was everywhere and on their way to another feeding area.
The first bite came after about 3 minutes of trolling. I set up over clean bottom in about 100 feet and then headed for the tree line in about 60 feet. There was another boat slow trolling bluebacks a couple hundred feet away, and I hooked up the first fish. It was pulling drag on a 320 GTI that was locked down. Nice fish that came up top and busted the surface for me (and the other boat) to get a good look at. Then it sounded. I neutraled the engine, and of course that meant the other leadcore rig went straight to the bottom. Fought the fish for a couple minutes and got a nice fish about 15 pounds to the boat. Right as I getting ready to lip him and bring him aboard, he took his left pectoral fin and reached up and grabbed the jig and took it out of his mouth. I had never seen anything like that before.
Or some might say I let some slack in the line and the hook came out. I prefer the first excuse myself.
Either way, it was a great fight with a respectable Hartwell striper... and I had an audience.
Now, I had to retrieve the other leadcore rig which was carefully wrapped around about 50 trees sixty feet below. I gained as much line back as I could, and then had to finally cut about 50 or so feet of line. Fortunately, I use about 50 feet of mono leader off the end of my leadcore rigs so I didn't have to sacrifice too much of the leadcore. If you lose over 3 colors of leadcore, you might as well re-spool.
So, I took the time to re-rig the other rod and set up to troll again. After about 10 minutes of trolling in the same area, another knockdown. Good fish. This one was about 8 pounds. Not a monster, but it was dang sure frisky. Felt much bigger. Got it to the boat, but my cell phone would not take a picture for some reason.
Trolled the same area for another 30 minutes or so, and the bite had turned off....or they had moved on.
So, I decided to make a slow run back toward my cove and had a nice bass come up and slam the jig rig. About 2 to 3 pounds. Again, no monster, but sure lots of fun.
I found the trees again while trolling the mouth of my cove and gave another WhoopAss jig to the tree kingdom below.
Made a move about 200 yds into the cove and did a quick pass. Came up to the same tree line, and decided to increase the speed to bring the lines up in the water column and be able to make it through the subsurface jungle without getting hung. Rev'ed up to about 5mph, and slam! Another mondo spotted bass came to play. This one did all the fun stuff bass do. Jumped several times, and went left, then went right, then came straight toward the boat. I thought it was a freshwater kingfish.
Got it to the boat and this one was a sure nuff keeper, at least 5 pounds. Beautiful green fish!
Of course, the other leadcore line found some trees again, and I had to spend a few minutes retrieving line and ultimately had to give up another jig to the tree monster. I looked in my box and believe it or not, I was OUT OF JIGS !!! Yep, sounds crazy, but it's true. I guess I had never re-stocked my jig box. All I had were some 1/4 oz sizes and I didn't feel they would get deep enough to be effective. So, back to the McTrailer with a great morning of memories.
The moral to the story?
Usually, leadcore trolling comes a little later in the summer. But Lake Hartwell has been a hard lake for me to figure out. So, I tried some unorthodox tactics (compared to what I had traditionally used on Lake Lanier), and they proved fruitful. And that's a good lesson to share. When traditional methods don't seem to be working ---- and that's what I did all day on Saturday --- maybe you should try something different. In this case, it was exactly the ticket. So get the lead out ---- the leadcore that is -- and maybe that will be just the remedy for you.