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TrophyLakerTaker

East TN Lakers and Trout 2018 (part 3)

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I was planning to go to Santeetlah Lake yesterday but the wind forecast was less favorable there than Watauga, so I switched. I motored up the Watauga River till I got to a railroad bridge next to a trailer park. I decided that was far enough. What are those PVC thingies that are floating up there? They look like Water Polo goals without the nets. There were 3 or 4 of 'em.

 

I had 4 lines out by 10:30 a.m. I put out a hoochie on the downrigger running at 15 feet, a spoon behind a Mini Dipsey Diver, Mack's Flash Lite attractor with a crawler behind it, and a plug behind a board. The water at the Rat Branch that morning was 50. It was 53.5 where I started fishing up the river. I never got a strike up there. I saw bait on sonar, always deep. That was the rule all day long. I caught my first small Laker at 1:30 p.m. as I was passing under the Butler Bridge on a plug on leadcore.

 

I took the hoochie off the downrigger whilst still in the upper lake. I replaced it with a spoon and set it at 41 feet. When I got no strikes, then I went to 47 feet, and finally I went to 53 feet. I caught 2 small Lakers at that depth. I started catching fish again at 4 p.m. I caught a half-dozen small Lakers, all between 16-18". I kept a pair of 'em that looked badly injured. I lost, probably, my best chance at a big Laker about 6 p.m. A board with a leadcore line with a plug started going back. I got the rod in hand. The fish took a little line. I felt a couple of head shakes, the mark of a sizable Laker. Pop went my 10 pound leader. I'm gonna go to 12 pound test for my leaders for leadcore plugs and set the drag a click or two lighter.

 

At 7 p.m. , just after I caught my last small laker, I was pulling in the lines. I left the two leadcore lines on boards for last. That was the right move! I caught a 24" , 4.74 pound Walleye on a plug. So, my day ended on a good note. Walleye is tonight's dinner. The Walleye had been eating Threadfin Shad.....

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On 4/14/2018 at 9:42 AM, crafterbob said:

Great report! Nice Walleye to finish out the day

 

I've had the same thing happen at Chilhowee Lake a couple of times, right at dusk when I was about to quit, I picked up a Walleye. I've heard that some folks troll for Walleyes after dark. I should learn more about Walleye fishing. They're not so much fun to catch but they make up for that in how they taste!

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I was going to go on Saturday to either Douglas for Crappie or Watugua,  but blew the bearings and actually lost my left boat trailer tire at 6 A.M. headed to the lake.  Luckily i got it pulled off the road.  I carry a spare hub, bearings, and grease and tools, but not the xtra jack i needed and a hammer.  Got a ridge back to my house from a guy i knew to get the tools.  Got it fixed, but H Bolts that hold the axle to the springs were a bit worn, so i had to go back home.  Not fun. 

 

I had to drive down to Shebly, NC this morning to get the trailer parts from the Shorelander Distributor.  No parts stores carries or can order them. 

 

The left side hub has given me fits the last several years.  My boats is just too heavy for a single axle despite what the trailer mfg, axle and tire ratings say.  Tires look overloaded even at 50lbs. 

 

Going to Douglas to fish crappie Fri and Sat.  will hit Watugua and Holston after that.  Water seems stuck on 50F from you report.  Nice walleye.  I'd fish mid lake this time of year.  No need to go way up the river for lakers. They should be spread all over now from the dam to the upper lake.  

 

 

Edited by TrophyLakerTaker

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What boat do you have laker taker? I have a 18’ Lund Fisherman with a 150, 9.9 kicker, and loads of gear. Wish I had a double axle as stories like this make me nervous. We’re headed to Michigan for some Walleye Fishing in a couple weeks. I have new bearings and bearing buddies ready to put on as I want to avoid trouble like this on a 600 mile one way ride.

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18 hours ago, TrophyLakerTaker said:

. .... I'd fish mid lake this time of year.  No need to go way up the river for lakers. They should be spread all over now from the dam to the upper lake.  

 

 

 

I went up the Watauga River because it's the last section of the lake that I had not been to. Also, I needed some run-time on my new outboard's break-in. I thought I might find some Rainbows and Browns up there. I pulled a Dipsy Diver Mini all day long with a small spoon behind it, zero strikes. Later, I put out the next size larger Dipsey on the other side of the boat and it caught a pair of small Lakers. I'm trying to figure out where the Rainbows are in the early season. Maybe they're up the streams spawning? Browns are not spawning. Last spring I caught a Brown in the upper lake. I don't recall seeing a fish on sonar on my stroll down the river, I saw lots of bait in the deep holes.

 

 

Edited by Troutgirl

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I just finished putting 14 pound test leaders on two of my lead-core outfits. I hope to not get broken off as easily as my last trip to Watauga. I've never before seen the largest size Church Planar go backwards so very quickly. It was straight back by the time I had the rod in hand. As soon as I picked up the rod, I felt two big head shakes and the line was broken. I'll not go lighter unless I can't get strikes with the heavier line.

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I had a good trip to Douglas last Friday and Sat for Crappie. Weekend catch 33 crappie, 6 catfish and 2 whitebass, plus a 15inch black crappie. About a 5 gal pail to fillet each day. Ifinally figured out how to tell a black from a white crappie. Surprisingly, water temp on douglas was only 48.5 and ended at 52F.  thats pretty cool stil.  I brought by buddy fishing who is luckily and ace mechanic and help cut off the old u bolts and put new ones on. He also helped file and smooth the spindle a bit.

 

My boat is and 18.5 ft Lund Sport Angler with 150 Verado and Kicker.  My buddy taught me a trick when re-installing the bearing and hubs on the spindle.  After putting the putting the washer and crown nut on it, he really tightened it down on the bearings until the wheel was really tight.. He called it seating the bearings.  Then he back the crown nut off like 1/2 a turn til it spun more easy.  That might be the part i was missing...seating the bearing.  It pays to carry all the parts you need with you though.

 

I usually run 10, 12 lb fluorocarbon leaders on lead core and 15 or 20 off divers to the bait.  10 lb if its really clear. and 17 lb  or 20 lb on down riggers rods for trout.  Fish don't seem too line shy on Watagua.

 

Rainbow Trout don't see to show up on Watugua in the main lake areas until water temps hit upper 50s and low 60 for some reason.  I guess their on the banks mostly in the creak arms.  They go out deeper and mid lake after the lake warms up a bit.  Seems that way every year.      

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5 hours ago, TrophyLakerTaker said:

.......I usually run 10, 12 lb fluorocarbon leaders on lead core and 15 or 20 off divers to the bait.  10 lb if its really clear. and 17 lb  or 20 lb on down riggers rods for trout.  Fish don't seem too line shy on Watagua.

 

Rainbow Trout don't see to show up on Watugua in the main lake areas until water temps hit upper 50s and low 60 for some reason.  I guess their on the banks mostly in the creak arms.  They go out deeper and mid lake after the lake warms up a bit.  Seems that way every year.      

 

 

I'm gonna try 14 pound leaders unless I can't get strikes on it. I was stunned how easily that what I suspect was a 15+ pound Laker broke me off with 10 pound flouro. What are 15-20 off divers?

 

If I limited out on Lakers, would I stand a chance on Rainbows and Browns trolling shallow lures near the banks? I'm going to Watauga one day early next week. It sure was dead up the Watauga River last time out.

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It's on Father's Day every year, right...? I wish they had it some less hot time. My dad is deceased, so, I could possibly come but I'm sure I'd need some swim breaks!

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Michigan Stinger has an interesting new plug, it's called the Trip Lip. It's a big plug. The body is 4" and the lip is about 4". When the lip trips out, like a Dipsy Diver does, it's about the 9" length that the product description claimed. It's claimed to dive over 35 feet. I got this thing from Fish USA. I'm gonna put it out on a flat line first time out. If I put this thing out on lead-core, I'd have to be careful not to put out too much line....possibly? The plug is big but it's smaller than the biggest minnow I've found in a Laker's gullet.

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12 hours ago, Troutgirl said:

It's on Father's Day every year, right...? I wish they had it some less hot time. My dad is deceased, so, I could possibly come but I'm sure I'd need some swim breaks!

 

Yes, I believe so.   That's what's good about Watauga, even in the heat of summer a quick dip will cool you off.

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I went yesterday evening, water is a little stained on the lower end, but not enough to deter fishing. Fish were holding a little shallower than usual, we ended up catching several nice lakers and a walleye in the 20-40 foot range.

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I went Saturday early by myself.  started at 7ish and had 2 nice lakers in 20-22 inch range by 8 A.m. .  My 10-30 foot lines were dead.  Downriggers at 50-60 ft were the  best producers.  Water looked quite clear to me and greenish, not brown.  Some trash and branches drifitng in spots to avoid.  Water was way up at Ratbranch and everyone had to wait inline to launch by the pier, not the ramp.  Ended releasing about 9 more lakers by noon and let a small rainbow go that hit as i was letting line out on the surface.   It was high pressure and cool. to start   Odd how someone's experience a day apart is completely different as noted by Holstonangler fish being shallower on Sunday eve.  Its a matter of what the weather and fish are doing when you go.  Surface temp was 52F.

 

That's a big diver plug for sure.  could you put a small spoon behind it to serve double duty?  lure/diver.

 

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I use to troll alot on lake michigan and I use to troll a certain crankbait that would double up really well on multiple species. Its called a Team Daiwa Hypercrank. Its not your normal crankbait by any means. The lip is made of titanium. Metal. And boy does it dive and deep. Some of the models have two points in which you can tie from, this dictates how deep it will dive. The bigger versions dive 25 feet on a retrieve and when you troll and use braid, even deeper. Whats really cool about this bait, is the titanium lip. It reflects sunlight and gives the bait an insane side to side tight wiggle. It really has an action that no other crankbait has. I buy mine off ebay. Look for deals. I have quite a few of them and they work incredibly well. My biggest brown trout, just over 21lbs was on one and I have caught numbers of big steelhead and lakers on them too. If you buy one, replace the stock split rings and the hooks and put some heavier owners or gamakastu's on them, trust me.

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I was on Watauga this past Monday with my friend Alex. It was too cold to go in the early morning. We got there in the latter morning. We trolled from the ramp all the way to the upper lake without getting a strike. On the way back we finally got a few strikes but without solid hook-ups.We didn't actually boat a Laker till 3:15 p.m. All we caught was Lakers. It was generally slow except when at about 5 o'clock when we both caught and kept 2.5 pound Lakers in short order. All the Lakers we caught except one that we caught we about the same size, 17-18", 2,5 pounds. We were taking turns on strikes, about 7 p.m. it was my turn and I caught a 22", 4.9 pound Laker on a Dipsey spoon. We had been releasing fish after the pair we kept. Around 7:30 p.m., we were pulling in lines. Alex was slowly pulling in a Dipsey line and caught yet another 2.5 pound Laker. So, we took home 4 Lakers.

 

We had 6 lines out all day. All our strikes were between 40-60 feet. The minnows in our Lakers' gullets were 2" Bluback Herring. We had the big Michigan Stinger plug out on a flat line for several hours. We pulled it in and parked it after a hooked but lost fish on a Dipsey crossed the two lines. I fished plugs on the downrigger all day long. We hooked 3 and landed 2 this way. We had two lead-core lines out all day with plugs. They never got a strike. I put 14 pound test leaders on them after breaking off a big one on 10 pound test last time out. For most of the day one of the lead lines had the same plug on as the one on the downrigger that got strikes. I'm gonna go back to a 10 pound test leader on one of the lead lines and see if it gets more strikes than the heavier one going forward.

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18 hours ago, TrophyLakerTaker said:

......That's a big diver plug for sure.  could you put a small spoon behind it to serve double duty?  lure/diver.

 

 

How would you do that? ....hook the line to the the back eyelet that holds the treble? I'd be worried that it might some how get tangled on a turn or speed up or slow down. I'm gonna try that plug again on lead line and not put out as much line as usual. Of the plugs I've been using on lead line, none dive deeper than 20 feet.

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Muskyman, I have 2 or 3 plugs that look like copycats of those plugs. They have metal lips and the same shape. I think that they're Storm brand...? I have not tried one yet.

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On 4/30/2018 at 10:00 AM, holstonangler said:

I went yesterday evening, water is a little stained on the lower end, but not enough to deter fishing. Fish were holding a little shallower than usual, we ended up catching several nice lakers and a walleye in the 20-40 foot range.

 

I've been thinking about what you said and I recalled that two springs ago, there were very similar water conditions, Rat Branch Dock awash, well over 1000 CFPS coming into the lake . Wataugua's in-flow went below 1000 today finally, 900. Well, in similar conditions to what you saw, I also caught fish shallow. The water was just a bit tinted, maybe just right...? I've had some big days on Chilhowee when the water was tinted but that's quite uncommon for Chilhowee. It's protected by silt-grabbing dams upstream. Abrams Creek has to go loco along with the smaller creeks, and maybe some upstream help....Anyway, I caught fish shallower than usual on my trip. I recall that I caught a Laker at about 12 feet on a plug. I think that might be my shallowest Laker ever.....I even caught a Drum which disappointed me. It didn't fight hard and I was so sure it was 6.5 pound Walleye, not Drum! As best as I recall, I caught more fish than usual and a couple of good ones....

 

Clear Lakes like Chilhowee and Watauga can fish a bit better as long as the water isn't really colored. I think that a little extra current stirs up the bait fish and displaces them from their deep, comfort zone. Some of 'em come up shallow because there's less current there.... Anyway, that's my theory. By the time I got to Watauga last Monday, maybe the bait had started back down...? The bait was deeper on my previous trip, by far.

 

Anyway, I had a trip similar to what ya'all had. I always check TVA for how much water is coming into Watauga before my trips. If it's 1500 or more, the lake is stirred up. TVA was sluicing water recently and Watauga was only running 1 generator, the other turrbine must be down for work...? I recall the inflow being over 2400 a few days before my last trip. I think it was down to 1200 the day I fished...

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