Fishing has been pretty decent out here lately. With the colder temperatures and much needed rain, the fish have been in some tricky transitions; however, we have been catching some great fish shallow to deep in the water columns. The key is to locate where the bait is, then work those areas.
Currently, Lake Chatuge is 8 feet below full pool. Water clarity is clear in the main lake and the creeks, and rivers are stained due to the recent rains. Water temperatures are in the mid-50’s.
Spotted and largemouth bass have been very active, and we are catching some nice-sized fish. You can still find these bass schooled up all over the lake from shallow to deep. Focus on shallow humps and points around the lake that hold a lot of bait, then work your way out to deeper water. Most of the creek mouths and rivers have been holding some nice fish. Pulling planer boards and free lines with live bluebacks will work great for covering good ground and catching quality fish. Watch for an early morning top-water bite. Casting jerkbaits, spoons and spooks will also produce quality results. This bite should get even better in the up-coming months.
The hybrid bite has also been pretty good. These hard-fighting Western North Carolina hybrids have been on the move and headed for the mouths and backs of creeks in search of warmer water. Pulling planer boards and free lines with live blueback herring should land you some nice fish. Vary your lines behind your boards. Set your bait about 20 feet behind your outside boards along the banks and 30 to 40 feet on your inside boards. Keep your free lines around 80 to 100 feet behind the boat and maintain your trolling speed at .5 mph. It’s also a great idea to set out a few down lines as you troll.
January fishing on Lake Chatuge is always exciting. The bigger fish start feeding more aggressively, and for us, it’s a great time of year for some great top-water action. Remember, live bait on this lake can be the difference between a successful day of fishing and a horrid one. Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA carries a wide range of bait and tackle–it’s the best place around for quality live blueback herring. We also carry ethanol-free gas and have some of the best hot, made-from-scratch biscuits in North GA. For guided fishing trips on Lake Chatuge, Hiwassee and Lake Nottely, or questions about the bait shop, call Darren Hughes at Hughes General Store. And whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, give Chatuge a shot for some of the best spotted bass and hybrids in the area. Good luck, and get hooked!
Darren Hughes is the owner of Hughes General Store & Bait Shop & a member of The Angler Magazine Fishing Team. He is also a guide with Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service. Contact him at (706) 745-6569 or www.bigolfish.com