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TrophyLakerTaker

East TN Lakers and Trout 2018 (part 3)

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My fishing buddy and I just got back from a week long trip to Lake Ontario.  We were plagued with wind, rain, and waves.  In our 5 day trip we only got out for two half days.  While on the lake out of Henderson Harbor we found Browns, Lakers and Kings cooperative.  We took a beauty of a Brown pushing mid 15lbs.  We spoon fed the fish Nantahala Nailers.  The Holo spook took 90% of our fish.    A horrible week of weather but thats the Great Lakes.  

 

On the way back to TN we decided to stop at Watauga  lake.  Fishing was excellent we went 8 for 11 all lakers in about 4 hrs of fishing and our top fish was 28 1/2" 8lbs. (Laker pic with Mnts).  We fished the deep marks 105-125ft down on the riggers is were are fish all came.  Glow spook Nantahala Nailers with the copper belly got it done Most of the Lakers were in the 18-23" range.  

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Edited by inthebox30lbs
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I'm sorry your Great Lakes trip was somewhat canceled out by inclement weather. Still, you got a few great fish! That's a great Brown! I used to see 'em that big and bigger at the Little T before Tellico Lake. I netted a 15 and 18 pounder for my next door neighbor one day back in the early 70's. Your Brown made me think about that day.

 

My brother and I caught Lakers much shallower on our recent trip, 62-74 feet on the downrigger. The commonality is we were using a UV spoon. I don't even know what brand it is. It has that "burnt Christmas tree" pattern on it. One half flashes a pinky-purplish glow and the other half gives off blue-green. I think I'm gonna fish all UV spoons for the rest of this season....of the deep. I may try some deeper and see if I can find bigger fish. Our best fish, 24", came on a Rapala Scatter Rap plug that dives 19 feet, with 8.5 colors of lead line out.

 

Our hits on the UV spoon started out slow and then picked up as the day progressed. I wonder if I should fish deeper in the early morn and maybe some shallower as the day goes on....???  I'm thinking that they come up higher as the day progresses because so many of the baitfish are in the 30-60 foot range. Does that sound likely....???

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I would like to say we force feed those lakers deep.  The active feeding fish are definitely up shallower feeding.     They kicked the water on at 10 and from literally 10:08 am to 11:15 we had 10 hits.  It was chaos on the back of the boat.  Those deep fish fired up when the water got moving.  We kept 3 lakers for the smoker and they had nothing in there stomachs.  There just sitting down in that colder water, we put something in front of them they wanted.

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Kurtomac-

trolling speed is usually 2.0 to 2.4 for trout. faster for smallies and rainbow.  thin flutter spoons start working good mid summer.  suttons spoons or knock off at slower speeds. 

 

Troutgirl-

I jsut bought a review ski mirror with a suction cup for the windshield on ebay.  50-80ft  is pretty std depth mid summer for all species. I always set one or 2 lines deeper or shallower.  I can see the thermocline on my graph and how fish are suspending.  I'm not sure why you are not picking up more rainbows.  Watugua has lots of them.  They like divers and small spoons for sure. Try 2 to 2.5 inch spoons in silver or bright colors at 50.  white diver with a 3.75 inch silver white spoon has been good all spring and summer on rainbows.  including the walleye and lake trout.  Its in the pic uploaded June 18th. 

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My post are coming thru late for some reason.  I put in the above last week and it waited til i logged on again just now to post..

 

 I love the markings on the Ontario Brown trout 30n in the box.  Maybe an Atlactic Salmon? quite bold spots on the big brown.  Quite a contrast in going form Lake Onatrio to Watagua in fishing venues i bet.  Relatively, Watagua is pretty darn good for where its  located in the South and glad its close to where we live. 

I didn't have too much trouble Sat morn.  4 rainbows, 1 brown and 2 lakers that i kept. biggest was 27 inches.  done by 10:30 a.m. 65 ft to 110 ft.  

 

I've been experimenting with best ways to release lake trout when surface temp is in the 80s.  Usually, i just shake the hook out with pliers without touching them in cooler water,  but if they turn upside down in warm surface water, they float and won't go back down.  Now, I have been holding them underwater, taking the hook out with pliers, keep them upright for a bit while troling,  point them down, and give them a push down.  it worked 100% on 10 lake trout sat.  they all took off swimming down  I hate to keep 20 inchers early in the day when looking for bigger ones.     

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On my next trip I'm gonna fish some deeper, particularly early when I'm not seeing as much bait high in the water. I'll start out with 1 or 2 lines at around 100 feet. Maybe I'll pick up a bigger fish down there. Last time out the Lakers were all over my downrigger spoon at a tad over 70 feet come afternoon, when the bait was moving.

 

If I think I have a small Laker, I pull it up slow. Going slow allows their air bladder to adjust and minimizes decompression syndrome. I'm gonna try holding the ones that look badly and giving 'em a push. I only had one release last week where it certainly went badly, but it was a very small one that probably got dragged on a leadcore plug for some distance.

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My brother Rex and I trolled Watauga Monday.  We got to Rat Branch Ramp at daybreak. The water was high but not colored. We didn't run the Fish Hawk TD. We figured the water temps were about the same as last week. We motored over to the dam and started trolling out of the dam cove. I set the downrigger at 93 feet. We put out six lines to cover a variety of depths. It took only about 20 minutes for a hit. The first strike was on a leadcore plug with 8 plus colors out. Rex pulled in a 21" Laker we kept. Soon thereafter the downrigger spoon was hit and I caught a small Laker that got a quick release. We caught 3 more small Lakers by the time we passed the big island, all released and helped a couple more fall off near the boat.

 

Then we hit a long dry spell. We went all the way upstream to where the rivers meet Roan Creek. As we went up the narrows between the upper and lower lake, we were amazed at how many bait pods and fish that we saw. Yet, we never got a strike up there. We had lines out at levels where fish looked active but no dice. Soon after we got past the Butler Bridge, Rex got a plump 21" Laker on a spoon. Then I got a 21" Laker on a leadcore plug. For most of the day I pulled a size Zero Dipsy for shallow hitters. It never got struck. I switched that line to a size One Dipsy and kept the Michigan Stinger Scorpion (2.5") spoon on it. This was a line that I hoped would produce a Rainbow, but no-oooo! I caught a 24" Laker on it within 10 minutes. We never caught any Rainbows. We caught about a dozen Trout, no Browns either.

 

They were hitting as we were quitting about 2 p.m. Rain was coming. Whilst we were pulling in lines, Rex had to stop and catch and release a 20" Laker on the Magnum Dipsy line. It started to sprinkle rain on us just as we got the boat on the trailer. We had a good time but the Rainbow drought continues. We caught Lakers on lines we were running at 50-60 feet aimed at Rainbows. Most of the Lakers came at 90-100 feet but a couple of 'em came up to the 50-60 foot range to strike.

 

I still have not figured out how to load pictures from my new camera. The icon says my files are too big.....

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Nice job troutgirl. I remember back when you always fished chilhowee and calderwood for Lakers and only got rainbows. Now you're always on watauga fishing for rainbows and catching Lakers! My how the tables have turned!! 

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:wink:

11 minutes ago, rusty50576 said:

:wink:

Nice job troutgirl. I remember back when you always fished chilhowee and calderwood for Lakers and only got rainbows. Now you're always on watauga fishing for rainbows and catching Lakers! My how the tables have turned!! 

 

Ironic....yeah. There wasn't beaucoups of Lakers in Chilhowee. Rainbows and Smallmouths dominated the lake. Lakers sure wouldn't hit Laker Spoons very well in shallow, clear Chilhowee! I think I had better chances at the Lakers once I quit trying anything specifically for Lakers. I think that I almost caught a huge Laker back in the summer of '15. I was fishing a 1.5" Berkley Pro Rap plug behind a Church Walleye Planner Board. I got a massive hit. I had a huge fish on for 10 minutes. It dove to the bottom. It held the Walleye Board under as if it was a bobber for nearly the whole ten minutes. The board made one brief surface appearance in that ten minutes. It must of been a 10+ pound fish, almost certainly it was a Laker...??? It wiped the plug out in a weed bank. It could of been a big Rainbow that skipped school the day that they taught jumping....?.....but it was probably a big Laker.  When I used to see the Lakers underneath the Abrams Creek Bridge, they looked like most of 'em were 20-35 inches long.

 

Next time out at Watauga, I'm gonna put out a Rainbow line out with one of the tiniest spoons I have. Then maybe those pesky Lakers will leave it alone! 

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I did not go last weekend.  I'm beat up from putting my main deer food plots in on Friday and turf toe from tossing a bunch of boulders. Bristol race this weekend.  heavy traffic.  I will probably go to Watugua this Sat and see how its fishing and give a report.

.

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1 hour ago, Kurtomac said:

I fished Chilhowee this morning. Boated 3 rainbows and 4 perch...lost 2 rainbows near the boat and a couple missed strikes 

 

Are the Rainbows starting to break the foot-long barrier yet? Is the amount of bait in the lake remotely close to before the draw-down? I've been thinking that the bait fish might recover rather quickly since there's not yet all that many big, bad predators in the lake.

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2 hours ago, TrophyLakerTaker said:

I did not go last weekend.  I'm beat up from putting my main deer food plots in on Friday and turf toe from tossing a bunch of boulders. Bristol race this weekend.  heavy traffic.  I will probably go to Watugua this Sat and see how its fishing and give a report.

.

 

I'll be anxious to hear your report. I'd like to have a go one day next week.

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2 hours ago, Troutgirl said:

 

Are the Rainbows starting to break the foot-long barrier yet? Is the amount of bait in the lake remotely close to before the draw-down? I've been thinking that the bait fish might recover rather quickly since there's not yet all that many big, bad predators in the lake.

 

They were 14-15”

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Could not get out of bed very early sat the 18th.  Got my son, out of bed and got to Watugua about 9:30. It was pouring, so we went for a swim first to loosen up my stiff joints.  Rain doesn't annoy you when you are ready wet!. Launched and went skiing first.  I can still slalom good, just not for very long.  Very light boat traffic with thunderstorm all day in the forecast.  Decided to troll to see if we could catch a few or at least one for grill.  

 

Dropped lines about 11:30 ish, not a very good time to start.  Fishing was actually really good.  Lost a big one at 105' feet next to the damn first thing as i was still setting lines. Trolled up the lake, got a rainbow on a diver, then a 18 inch laker.  release 2 small ones.  The next 3 we caught and kept between 12:30 a 2ish were 24", 26" and 27.5".  Weather fronts kept passing by with lots of wind and dark clouds but no lighting.  90 to 100 was the best.  Seems like they just wanted to bite.  Light traffic and overcast with wind and fronts passign through. had one gill hooked we had to toss back with 4 our max and released another one.  And then went home.  We didn't everything in reverse. usually, fish, ski and swim. Water is really high again, but really clear also. rain water is cooler than lake surface water, so i thinking this is helping to keep the lake cooler and fish more active.  When it warms up alot, its hard to catch anything decent in the middle of they day.

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I'm going either tomorrow or Friday. I have not decided yet. On my last several trips, the fish have bitten better in the middle of the day. My experience has been that in late summer, once the fish start feeding, they don't want to stop. This is the time of year when there's minnows everywhere. The Solunar Tables say there's a major feeding period in the middle of the day for the next couple of days. I expect the bite to start earlier than the chart and extend well beyond the cut-off.

 

The streams running into Watauga seem to have stayed at above-average flow most of the summer. I'm sure that helps fishing. It keeps the water fresher and more oxogenated. There's not been so much water coming into the lake that TVA had to generate heavily to get rid of it, as was the case earlier in the summer. That drove the fish somewhat deeper as they discharged so much of the lake's coldest water through the generators. I watch TVA's flow site very closely. It's a habit I picked up long ago fishing the lakes downstream from Fontana where flow affects fishing more than most places. I'd say that the flow this week is optimal.

 

Next week ushers in September. TVA should start dropping the lake gradually. That extra generating ought to drive the fish a bit deeper. Has anybody ever trolled Watauga deeper than 120 feet ? Is that about as deep as anybody would ever troll...???

 

I'm gonna start the downrigger at 105 feet this time out. I'll probably pull it up some as the day progresses. I think that they come up higher later in the day. They come up to about 60 feet to hit my shallower running plugs on leadcore line. The deeper running plugs get at least 20 feet deeper, I believe....

Edited by Troutgirl

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Last October we were taking lakers with 155ft of cable out.  10lb ball with blowback put the bait about 125 ish feet deep.   Ran the wire divers 325 ft back that easily was getting 120ft down. The big temp break on my subtroll was at 110ft.  We killed almost all the fish trying to get them back down, one of the main reasons I hate it this time of year

Edited by inthebox30lbs
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I went to Chilhowee today. Picked up 3 rainbows and 2 perch. Lots of surface activity and more bait balls than I’ve seen since they refilled it. Super nice morning 

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On 8/23/2018 at 7:56 PM, Kurtomac said:

I went to Chilhowee today. Picked up 3 rainbows and 2 perch. Lots of surface activity and more bait balls than I’ve seen since they refilled it. Super nice morning 

Sweeeet. I’m need to get up there and fish for bass

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On 8/22/2018 at 5:12 PM, inthebox30lbs said:

Last October we were taking lakers with 155ft of cable out.  10lb ball with blowback put the bait about 125 ish feet deep.   Ran the wire divers 325 ft back that easily was getting 120ft down. The big temp break on my subtroll was at 110ft.  We killed almost all the fish trying to get them back down, one of the main reasons I hate it this time of year

 

I'd be a bit nervous to put out that much cable! I'd be worried about deep timber and humps...maybe old silos...? I sure wouldn't leave the lower lake if I tried to go that deep. I was as deep as 103 feet this past Friday.....

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My brother and I hit Watauga this past Friday. We hit the water at 7 a.m. We each caught a Laker in the first hour. We caught 'em deep, around 100 feet. Then we had a long dry spell. We trolled all the way to the upper lake without another strike despite seeing lots of fish on sonar. On the way back down the lake we started catching fish again not long after 11 a.m. We caught 10 Lakers, 2 Rainbows, a Largemouth, and a Smallmouth. I caught the biggest Laker that was 22" and very girthful for that length. I caught it on the smallest spoon out on a size 1 Dipsy line that was intended for Rainbows. We kept 3 Lakers and the Rainbows. Our releases seemed to do well except for one. My brother had a bigger, I presume, Laker on that must have been 5-10 pounds. He neglected to check the drag when he put the line out. When he got it 20 feet from the boat, it snapped the line off the Dipsy leader. What a drag....so it goes in fishing.

 

We had a good time but the Lakers mostly ran small....most of the Laker bites were deep, 80-100 feet.....

Edited by Troutgirl

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On 8/23/2018 at 7:56 PM, Kurtomac said:

I went to Chilhowee today. Picked up 3 rainbows and 2 perch. Lots of surface activity and more bait balls than I’ve seen since they refilled it. Super nice morning 

 

Rex and I have been considering hitting Chilhowee again in the coming weeks. We could use an easier drive after all these Watauga trips. We're even considering a night fishing gig. If it stays hot in the coming weeks, we might do night.

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Thanks for the report Trout girl.  I did not go this weekend as we still have the fillets form previous trip to gril.  Sat or Labor day early i hope.  i run at least 12# on my small divers and usually 20# on bigger set ups.  doesn't see to matter on diver leaders that much and they are prone to snapping.    

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On 8/29/2018 at 1:58 PM, TrophyLakerTaker said:

Thanks for the report Trout girl.  I did not go this weekend as we still have the fillets form previous trip to gril.  Sat or Labor day early i hope.  i run at least 12# on my small divers and usually 20# on bigger set ups.  doesn't see to matter on diver leaders that much and they are prone to snapping.    

 

I've been using 12 pound test on all my Dipsy Divers I use at Watauga. I also use 4" snubbers. I think that my brother tightened up the drag, maybe accidentally or maybe when pulling it in for a check. The drag was way too tight. I always Check the drag when I complete putting out a line. I told him that was today's lesson on how not to lose big fish, always check the drag. He took notice, he's gotten the fishing flu. The only other time I've had a big fish get off a Dipsy line was when I used a too small snap. I had a fish rip it open as the drag sang.

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