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TrophyLakerTaker

East TN Lakers and Trout 2018 (part 3)

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East TN Trout fishers!

 

Time to start a new thread for 2018.  Took advantage of the warm temps yesterday and made it out to Watagua for the afternoon and early eve despite being in California and jet lagged from th flight back Sunday.

 

Decided to mix it up and went up the lake searching for better size trout in dirtier warmer water.  got smaller ones than normal in the lower reservoir the 2 times i went this Winter.

 

Not many bites in the upper lake, but size was good and shallower.  2.5 inche spoons at 40' got to fat ones.   Fish have quite deep this winter in lower lake.  went down lake and got 3 more and a bass.  all really deep.  like 65 to 75 in the clear colder water.

 

Fishing should be decent from here on out. surface temps in the high 40 now and even hit 50.5 mid day.  

Feb 19th chunky laker.jpg

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It's too wet to get my boat out of my sister's backyard.....otherwise I'd of been out already. Even worse, I have a new outboard, 90 HP Yamaha, due in any day that won't get installed in a timely manner. The new motor will have the push button controls for trolling speed adjustments, 100 RPM up or down. I'm anxious to hit Watauga and Chilhowee to try it out.

 

That's a nice fish Mr. 'Taker!

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Here's some hoochies I've bought or made for this season. These things really fish well in Chilhowee, Calderwood, but not as well in Watauga. I wonder if I went up either of Watauga's rivers and trolled out if they'd work better in the shallow parts, where fish are feeding off the bottom? Out on the main lake all I've caught on 'em is a couple of small Lakers and some scrawny Smallmouths. I only fish hoochies with a wiggle lip. The big red one I hope will fish well for Smallmouths in Chilhowee. It's a big Salmon sized hoochie skirt, about 5". I cut about 2" of the tail off . I hope it looks like an orange Crawfish to 'em.  The other ones are aimed at Trout but I regularly pick up Smallmouths and Yellow Perch on 'em at Chilhowee.

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Edited by Troutgirl
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Before i scaled up m fishing boat to a lund, ihad the Yamaha 4 stroke 50 hp with rpm control on the tiller.  I really liked the Yahama.  RPM control is a big plus.  The 9,9 merc kicker motor that came with the Lund and carbeurator design is crap.    New 15 hp merc kicker is supposed to better.  I might upgrade to the 15 hp, but i actually don't even use that much between rpm control on the 150 verado and using the trolling motor for crappie trolling.  

 

Those hoochies would be great for Coho if we had any around here.   

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4 minutes ago, TrophyLakerTaker said:

.....Those hoochies would be great for Coho if we had any around here.   

 

The little Kokanee Hoochies with wiggle lips really fish well in Chilhowee. I've caught lots of 3-5 pound Rainbows on 'em. As a bonus, I also catch the bigger Yellow Perch that sit out in the channel. They're tasty! I don't know why Watauga doesn't have Yellow Perch. All the other mountain lakes I fish have 'em.

 

I have high hopes for that pink and purple hoochie. I've had great results with a similar color combo from Crystal Basin called Purple Splatter that has clear-y mixed with the purple. The pink and purple one is a Mack's hoochie that I modified. I added a wiggle lip to it. I bet hoochies would fish well in Wilbur Lake...??? It's shallow like Chilhowee. I may give it a try at Chilhowee this weekend or early next week....???

 

It was just dry enough for me to get my boat out last Thursday. It's in the shop getting the 90 installed presently. They're gonna take my Troll-A-Matic prop flap off my old Yamaha 150. The trolling controls should make it so much easier to get on the speeds I desire. The Troll-A-Matic made it possible to go as slow as I wanted but hitting higher trolling speeds was problematic. I'd gently tap the throttle handle and I'd speed up a tiny bit but, usually, within 5-10 seconds the motor would surge up beyond what I wanted. My 150 is moving to a Lund boat similar to your's. Another forum member gave me what Louisville Marine offered me. So, I sold it to him.

 

On my first trip to Watauga this year I may troll a hoochie up the the Watauga River arm. I figure there's trout up there in the spring. I went all the way up the Elk River arm about 5 years ago in the spring and trolled out. I didn't catch any trout on the plugs I was trolling but I caught Smallmouths. The biggest one had a 6" Lakers tail sticking out it's throat when I went to remove my plug from it's lip. So, there's trout up there that time of year.

 

Here's a picture of the Crystal Basin Purple Splatter Hoochie that's fished well in Chilhowee. Similar Green and Blue Splatter colors have done well too. That's a Father Murphy Dodger that's done very well in front of the hoochies. It's caught trout without a bait on it. I put about an inch of crawler on the front hook to give it scent and that gets me a chance at some jumbo Perch.

Hoochie with lip 003.JPG

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4 hours ago, TrophyLakerTaker said:

I'd like to catch a jumbo perch over 15".  I had a 3 lber on one time and it broke me before i could get the net n Green bay wisconsion. Haven't seen nothing close to it since.  

 

I've caught two that went 16". Both were close to 1.75 pounds. I saw a picture of an 18" Perch from Chilhowee. I've caught lots of 12-14" Perch that weighed over a pound. To hit weights above 2 pounds, I suspect that you need to catch females full of eggs. I saw a picture of the new state record Perch from some small lake near Crossville. It was caught in winter and looks like a blob Perch. It's stomach was absurdly distended from eggs. One picture I saw said it was 12 or 12.5". It actually looked a bit longer to me. Without eggs, I bet it would of been at best 1.5 pounds...? I forget the weight of the new record but it's well over 2 pounds. The previous record, just barely over 2 pounds, was from Parksville Lake (Ocoee #1).

 

Yellow Perch should be stocked in Watauga. Everything, including Lakers, love to eat small Perch. I've caught Perch in Fontana, Calderwood, Santeetlah, Natahala, Fort Loudoun, and Apalachia. They seem to be all about, except Watauga.

 

I went to Chilhowee today to break-in my new outboard. The breaking-in went really well. I never got a strike in nearly six hours of running. There was tons of junk in the lake. I had to pull in and get crap off my lines repeatedly. That probably contributed to my lack of strikes. I thought I'd be eating Trout or Perch tonight but no!

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3 hours ago, DangerDeep said:

Nice trout. Are those lake trout?

 

Nice walleye and perch

 

That's a nice Watauga Laker. Notice the white spots and white on the leading edges of the bottom fins. Their tails are forked, unlike most other salmon, trout, and char. I bet it weighed 6-8 pounds....?

 

The Perch and pair of Walleyes I caught along with a bunch of Rainbows at Chilhowee several years back. The Perch in Chilhowee hit the Kokanee Hoochies, the smaller ones, in the pictures I posted above. I put an inch of crawler on the front hook and that's enough to interest a Perch. Walleyes will hit hoochies with bigger amounts of worm. They'll also hit nightcrawlers behind cowbells or flashers, same as the trout. That was a heavy Perch. It went about a pound and a half. In Chilhowee the Perch family hits trout lures rather well. I also pick up Smallmouths on hoochies regularly. Fish that like crawdads and nymphs like hoochies. In the spring, before the year's crop of baitfish is fully baked, hoochies fish especially well.

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Nowadays, I catch yellow perch  in Melton Hill & a few years ago, in Tellico. Next to crappie, they are fun eating. When I fished Lake Michigan around Chicago 30 years ago, they were plentiful. Then the coho salmon ate most of the ailwives & rhen turned to eating  the yellow perch until there was a shortage of perch. I wonder if they ever returned?   dada 3-8-18   9:50 PM

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9 hours ago, dada said:

Nowadays, I catch yellow perch  in Melton Hill & a few years ago, in Tellico. Next to crappie, they are fun eating. When I fished Lake Michigan around Chicago 30 years ago, they were plentiful. Then the coho salmon ate most of the ailwives & rhen turned to eating  the yellow perch until there was a shortage of perch. I wonder if they ever returned?   dada 3-8-18   9:50 PM

According to YouTube, downtown Chicago is currently loaded with mega schools of yellow perch 

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When Chilhowee Lake was filled up back in 1957, it was poisoned to remove the "rough fish" so it could be groomed into a trout lake. Sometimes good fortune smiles upon the misguided. Perch were among the many native fish that managed to survive this holocaust. Does anybody know if this foolishness was applied to Watauga when it was being filled? Was Watauga "groomed" to be a trout lake? Perch is many a fish's favorite meal until they get big enough to have stout, sharp fins that cause indigestion or death. Lakers love small Perch. I caught a Laker with a 3" Redeye in it last year. So,they do like that sort of thing. Perch are an organic, natural food for Lakers and humans.

 

Watauga needs Perch.....

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I went to Chilhowee this past Tuesday to fish and run my new outboard some towards my break-in. The fishing was slow. I managed 2 very small Rainbows on a pink & purple hoochie and a Smallmouth on a plug. I saw very few fish on sonar. I saw lots of baitfish on sonar in the mid lake area. One of the little Rainbows coughed up a minnow when I got it in the boat. I'm wondering if some of the bait I saw was schools of small Rainbows...?

 

I think that fishing has been extra slow because most of the adult fish have been trying to spawn but had a hard time doing so because of so much high water....??? I suspect most of the fish have been up either Abrams Creek or above the Calderwood Powerhouse looking for love...???

 

The surface water was 48 when I arrived in the morn and went up to 49 by late afternoon on this very cloudy day.

 

I may head to Watauga next time out. Chilhowee is gonna need a few seasons to get back in it's groove, it would seem....

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The water temps are low for this time of year. I think that a lot of fish have been delayed in spawning because of all the high water the past 6 weeks. Now, Fontana has cut it's releases the last few days to fill up the lake. The temps will go up. Fontana is a refrigeration machine. It's releases very seldom go above 50 degrees even in the summer.

 

I was really encouraged by how many baitfish I saw. You can see one in the picture of the Rainbow with the hoochie. It coughed up a minnow when I got it in the boat. It's right below the fish's stomach in the picture. I saw very few blips that represented large fish feeding on the bait. There were hundreds of small pods of bait in the mid lake area.

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Hope to go Sunday in the evening after A.M. church.  Turkey openers the next 2 saturday's for youth and adult.  gotta figure out a way to squeeze some watugua lake time.  My head hurts when I dont get enough time on the water.

  

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I hope to fish come the late part of next week. I'm debating between Watauga and Santeetlah. My two chilly trips to Chilhowee were disappointing.

 

TrophyLakerTaker, would a good spring strategy for Watauga be to motor up the Watauga River arm and troll out? That's the only arm of the lake I have not been to. I need some more 3500 RPM, or less, time on my outboard break-in anyway.

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To elaborate on what I was on about yesterday, I'm thinking about trolling a hoochie down the river to the lake about 10-15 feet deep, whatever seems safe. I'll put some plugs out on the sides. I wanna see if the Rainbows are up there this time of year. I know the Smallmouths are up there. They'll hit hoochies too. About 5 years ago, in the early spring, I went up the Elk River and caught 3 Smallmouths trolling out. I didn't have hoochies then and I was only trolling one line. One of the Smallmouths had a small Laker's tail sticking out of it's throat. Trout like eggs and I know the Smallmouths spawn up there and maybe some Rainbows do too....?

 

On all my trips the past few years, I go to Rat Branch and troll out of it. I'm thinking this is the time of year to try the headwaters and troll back....

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