Big Fun on the Big Lake

Today proved to be an unexpectedly delightful day out on the lake with Dan Blanton. The usual rhythms of March seemed disrupted as the fish didn’t adhere to their typical pre-spawning behavior. Notably absent were the sizable schools of stripers in the shallower waters, with depths less than 30 feet, where they’d usually gather. The water temperature lingered at a chilly 58 degrees, and there was a conspicuous absence of minnows around the launch area.

Last Saturday’s observations on the Livescope revealed substantial congregations, which I initially mistook for stripers but later confirmed as American Shad. Despite this deviation from the norm, where I’d often find stripers amidst such gatherings, today’s fishing didn’t follow that pattern. Reports of sluggish fishing for fly fishermen the day before had tempered my expectations, leading me to anticipate a slow day with perhaps only a fish or two per hour. However, by noon, we had already landed 16, and by 3:00 pm, we added another 4 to our tally. Encouraged by our success, we decided to explore the rocks near the dam, hoping to encounter more active fish.

The weather conditions couldn’t have been more favorable, with calm winds and warm temperatures. Near the dam, a thick algae mat had formed, and while the fish weren’t uniformly distributed along the shoreline, we eventually encountered clusters of them moving along the edge of the rocks. Our strategy involved revisiting successful stretches after each catch. Dan particularly excelled today, landing the majority of our haul of 20 fish. For nearly two hours, we enjoyed uninterrupted action as we found the fish right off the rocks and about 5 feet deep.

Around 1:00 pm, the schools seemed to disperse, and our catch rate slowed, yielding only 4 more fish between noon and 3:00 pm. Eventually, we were politely escorted from the dam area by the DWR Dam Police, prompting us to call it a day with a satisfying count of 20 fish.

Given the less-than-promising fishing reports from the day before, I had braced myself for a modest haul of about 8 fish. Surpassing this expectation twofold was a pleasant surprise. Upon cleaning 4 of the stripers, we discovered their varied diet, including crayfish, a 4-inch bluegill, and a tiny 1-inch grass shrimp, but notably no minnows, suggesting an alternate feeding behavior along the shoreline.

Despite the absence of minnows, we found the stripers to be quite aggressive, particularly near the rocks, responding well to slow, deep, stop-and-drop retrieves. Dan and I concurred that as the water temperature continues to rise, so will the feeding activity of the stripers, promising even better fishing days ahead.



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