April 7, 2009
By Wayne Gustaveson
Lake Elevation: 3610
Water Temp: 51-58 F

Another week and warming is poised to happen. Fish are poised. Anglers are poised. We are all waiting. In between storm fronts warmth springs forward only to be blown away by the next wind. Warming will happen in a big rush. Previous mixing has added warm water to the cold lake base. Put 3 days of warm weather together and surface temperature will quickly hit 60. Then fishing will break loose.

But not this week with more wind and snow scheduled. Look for more of the same. Relying on last weeks reports will allow future success.

The hotspot/technique without a doubt is striper fishing from Good Hope to Hite. Fish are schooled and willing to hit lures fished in the comfort zone of 20-30 feet. Since school location is random, the best way to find fish is trolling over lots of water where bottom depth is near 25 feet. Fortunately when a striper hits it is likely that retracing the path once more will bring another fish, sometimes many more from the same location. Do not mindlessly troll in deep water, make sure bottom contour is followed to find schools parked on the edge of breaks.

The best baits for flat line trolling are deep diving Thundersticks, Husky Jerks, Mega Baits, Manns Heavy Duty Stretch +, Norman Deep Little N, and many other lures that dive deeper than 15 feet. The same results come with shallower running lures fished on leaded line or with down riggers.

Sometimes a school of fish follows the hooked one to the boat. It is always a good idea to toss a deep-diving crankbait or spoon near the boat while the first fish is in the net. Check the graph for followers to supplement the catch. The school dwells under the boat briefly then moves away and more trolling is required to relocate fish. They often return to the spot where the first fish was hooked.

This pattern works lake wide but numbers of fish caught are greater from Good Hope to Hite. Fewer, but larger fish are caught in the more southern lake extremes.

Robert Bennett with cold weather smallmouth bass.

Bass are thinking about spawning. All the triggers, except temperature, are in place. As soon as warming occurs nest construction begins, activity levels increase and fishing success sky rockets.

Bass are catchable now. Largemouth are in thick, shallow brush thickets basking in afternoon sun. Smallmouth are on rocky structure waiting for a few more degrees of warmth. A good strategy is to work a rattletrap or suspending jerk bait around brush in slots and cuts, and in shallow rock structure. That may work fine. If not, then go deep with soft plastic tubes, bulky grubs, and slow sinking Senkos that can be fished slowly on or near bottom. Let the bait rest with occasional twitches rather than using a steady retrieve. The key to catching fish with this method is to keep the line tight so the light touch of a bass tongue can be detected.