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Troutgirl

East Tennessee Lakers & Trout Part 2, 2017

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15 hours ago, inthebox30lbs said:

WTG!!!! what were the water temps and how deep were they coming.  Want to try that lake in the near future

 

 

The surface water was 60. If it was less than that at the top end I didn't notice. It didn't look like they were generating hard at the Calderwood Powerhouse when I was at the old ferry dock taking a break. The ferry is within a mile of the powerhouse. It probably was colder there. This time of year it will be in the mid 50's just a few feet down. Even in the summer, the cold water is just 5-8 feet down in the lower lake. You don't have to fish spoons and plugs deep in Chilhowee any time of year. The only things I fish deeper are Hoochies, Walleye crawler rigs, and Cowbells with crawlers or minnows behind them. I put plugs on planar boards on the sides and a pair of lines behind the boat. Most of the plugs I fish run 4-8 feet. That's the strike zone for baitfish in Chilhowee. Most of the bait stays just above the cold zone.

 

I don't always use my downrigger at Chilhowee. I used it Thursday most of the day. I never set it deeper than 18 feet. I had a spoon on it for a couple of hours and got only one strike on it that was little....maybe a Perch or little Bass...? That was about 12 feet down. I ran hoochies and cowbells at 15-18 feet. Wiggle hoochies are a great lure for Chilhowee. I put about an inch of crawler on 'em for scent. The only thing I caught on a hoochie this trip was a little Smallmouth.

 

Chilhowee is shallow. Light bounces off the botton for extra illumination. The fish are very boat shy. I like my lines long. I put 80-100 feet of leader on my leadcore lines. I want the lure 200-220 feet behind the boat and 20-25 feet down at most. Chilhowee has gotten even shallower in places thanks to the draw-down. The river seems to have shifted the silt. It's now shallower at the dam by an average of 5 feet by my estimation. Right out from the main ramp, the river channel is on the far side. The near side seems to be at least 5 feet shallower now. It looks to me as if most of the silt shift is from Abrams Creek down to the dam.

Edited by Troutgirl

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Has anybody been fishing? I winterized my boat. I was darn tempted to de-winterize it last week! Has anybody been to Watauga or South Holston? I'm thinking that the lakes are cooling and even if the Lakers are still deep, surely the Rainbows have come up....??? I have a friend I might go with in the coming month....on a warmer than average day.

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You are out of my area cause I normally fish for crappie, but it is nice to see a pretty face on the lake when the fish are nor biting. ( I "bombed out" on 12-4 on Douglas) So, Troutgirl,  warm up that boat & keep a smile on all these old fishermen!  dada 12-6-17  2:44 PM

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Last week's mild weather gave me the itch to fish. This week, not so much....! I'd like to know something about how Watauga fishes in winter, Anybody out there?

 

Dada, keep at it. You won't see me on Douglas but Chilhowee or Watauga, maybe....???

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I don't troll but in winter I jig  a spoon for lakers on bottom (gravel banks and points).  I caught them last year   shallow 20 to 35 ft. in January.  I may go Saturday at Watauga (rat branch)and try.  Water should be about 50 or below by now.

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15 hours ago, NETangler said:

I don't troll but in winter I jig  a spoon for lakers on bottom (gravel banks and points).  I caught them last year   shallow 20 to 35 ft. in January.  I may go Saturday at Watauga (rat branch)and try.  Water should be about 50 or below by now.

 

Do other species hit the jigged spoons? ....or is it mostly just Lakers? Do Walleyes or Rainbows hit jigged spoons? I tried jigging for Lakers at Chilhowee several times about 5 years ago and the only strike I ever got was a Redeye. I figured I was too close to the fish to get strikes. Chilhowee is about as clear as Watauga but with one big difference. It's shallow, about 65 feet at the dam, and light reflects back up off the bottom. All the places I tried jigging on Chilhowee were 30-65 feet. Back then, when the light angle was right, you could see the Lakers underneath the Abrams Creek Bridge. It's about 35 feet deep there. I couldn't buy a strike. At shallow depths, Lakers have the best eyes in their lakes, I believe. The only for sure it was a Laker that I ever hooked in Chilhowee was on 6 pound test. It hit a crawler I put out for Rainbows, right after dark. I'd say it was about a 6 pounder....that had one last head-shake left in it as I reached for the net. Gone....after about 20 minutes of singing drag whilst I dragged the fish to the surface several times. That fish fought harder than any Laker I've caught in Watauga. I bet Watauga Lakers fight better in the winter....???

 

 

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No lakers today at watauga water was 50 degrees.  I mostly jig for walleyes up there and usually find some big lakers on sonar just off the bottom. I've never caught a brown or rainbow jigging a spoon.  Those lakers relate to bottom in winter up there, i believe i read that they spawn at night thats why they are shallower. They feed on  little stockers up there too.  I posted a report in the watauga forum for today.  Last year i was catching them off the dam side  of the bouy past the little island in front of rat branch.  i checked it today and did see  one big sonar return there in 38 feet.  I am pretty sure it was a laker.  Jig a spoon around it but nothing took hold.  If you had some creek minnows you could probably catch them better.  The  next full moon should be good.

Edited by NETangler

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Tennessee Anglers!,

 

Went like 2 weeks ago and caught 2 decent lakers and a bunch of small ones, plus a few smallies and 2 real nice spotted bass which are great eating to.  Nice to a fresh fish fry in the winter.   I'll be going on New years day and weekends in jan and Feb and holidays.

 

Winter trolling is slower than spring and summer, but still worthwhile and trout gight better and a lot less line out which makes it funnier and easier.  If you believe you can catch them you probably will.  No jet skis and party boats which is great. Rainbows are no shows usually in mid-winter, but mixed bag and small mouth bite great in winter.    I like afternoons as early morns are usually below freezing which makes getting started a bit tough, but mornings are good as well if you bundle up and don't mind numb hands at first til the sun comes out.  I also have a zip up enclosures if I need it but I usualy don't.  high Wind is an issue in winter.  makes it a lot tougher and colder. 

 

They bite most of the same stuff in winter as summer.  medium and small spoons and crainbaits all work.  Bigger baits in rainbow color can catch a trophy trout or bass since it mimics all the planted trout. i don't rely on downringgers as much then.  Other methods shine in winter when fish are shallower.  10 to 60 ft is usually the ticket and staying near the points, banks, channels, flats is good.  They may be near the bottom in 50 ft and the next pass you catch them up high. 

 

Ive tried jigging but I mostly catch bass.  Trolling is still the best tactic for consistently finding and catching them since you can cover lots of water. I have a few secret winter trolling areas that are very productive in winter some years which are flat areas in 30 to 40 ft that hold a lot of fish some years, but usually there  scattered-out like in the summer.

 

You can never go wrong with a downrigger at 50 ft any time of year either.  Lakers just like the 40 to 60 range for some reason.

 

 

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Thanks for the report Mr. 'Taker! I have a theory about Lakers tending not to sit too shallow. I think that they have the sharpest eyes in the lake. They can see well enough in low-light conditions down in the depths. The light might be too bright for 'em when sitting shallow...??? They can't wear sunglasses, so, they stay at a depth where their eyes are comfortable. I'm not surprised by your opinion about Rainbows. My guess is that from about February till April, they're thinking spawn baby spawn. They may all go to North Carolina in the rivers or up the creeks....??? Are there any other larger creeks outside of Roan and Doe for them to congregate around? 

 

I wish my boat wasn't winterized. I would of liked to have gone fishing today in this warm air mass. If it's balmy come February, I'll get my boat out early.

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6 hours ago, TrophyLakerTaker said:

To cold to fish so far in 2018.  Its gonna have to warm up above 32 so i can put the boat in the water without danger of water freezing in the impeller and lower unit.  

Mine froze up twice the week between Christmas and new year. Had a crap load of water in the lube. Changed it out seems to be doing better, I knew the seals were bad but I usually just change it once every couple weeks. Apparently I had forgotten to change it for about 4 months hahaha

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It has to be 50 degrees for me to wanna fish! I fished in below freezing temps on the Little T the winter before they turned it into Tellico Lake. I had to dip my rod into the water regularly to get the ice off the guides. I wouldn't of done that if my beloved fishing hole wasn't going away. This is the south, 50 or more  in the winter happens quite a bit. I'll get my chances. It was over 70 when I fished Calderwood last February. I really like fishing in February. It gives me this feeling of getting the most out of my permit.

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I decided it was warm enough to fish Monday (MLK) since i was off from work.  went to watagua.

 

got to rat branch at 11:30 a.m.and i was the only brave sole at the launch and on the lake.  air was 28 F.  water was 46 F. water pump was frozen on merc verado so i puttered around til it thawed out with the trolling motor and threw a blade bait by the islsnd.

 

decided to troll shallow to start and got into some bass right away.  a couple hours and 7 bass later i decided to use down riggers. missed 2 and got one avg size laker at 65 ft. before i quit.  didnt expect them to be that deep.  

20180115_142438_resized_1.jpg

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It even looks C-O-L-D in the picture. I bet that Smallie is saying to itself, put me back in the hot water!  :wink:

 

Maybe the bait was around 65 feet? It looks sunny, maybe that's a comfortable depth on blue bird days...? ....or. some combination of both? Lakers must be somewhat light sensitive...?

 

I bet there was surface ice had you visited Doe & Roan Creeks in those shallow areas....???

 

I think I recognize the plug. It looks like some Berkley plugs I have. I lost a really big Smallie on that color last spring but it was the longer size. I've had more strikes on the blue and purple back ones than the green.

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I went a couple weeks ago, no luck on the lakers, lost a nice one pulling up past a point, then caught a few smallies off some steeper rock banks.    Its tough sometime this time of year because a lot of lakers pull up the lake into the river arms and really scatter out. Bait was thick in certain parts and was down in the 60 foot range. 

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To celebrate the new year I'm going to do lure give away for 6 Nantahala Nailer spoons. All you have to do is go to our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nantahalanailer/ ) Like the page, share the page with your friends and message me on the company facebook page with your name and contact info be sure to mention Tennessee anglers forum  in the private message as I'm doing this on multiple forums. I'll draw a winner on Super bowl sunday and post the video of the drawing. I'll mail you 6 of the top selling colors and sizes for anglers who fish western NC and Eastern TN lakes thank you and Good Luck

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They played that video on the local TV news tonight. Will there be a crowd there now trying to catch them? I've seen  just that at Rat Branch Ramp at Watauga Lake several times over the past 5 years. The last time I saw it 2 years ago, it was little Browns.

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