Extreme Striper Fishing in Western North Carolina on Lake Hiwassee

By Shane Goebel

In like a lion, out like a lamb.” This ole folklore is so true for the Western North Carolina mountains. As early spring approaches and brings with it its hard to predict weather patterns, one thing is sure to be consistent, and that is that the fishing keeps getting better on Lake Hiwassee. For me, March has always been the kickoff to an awesome fishing season. With its warmer weather and longer days, it’s my favorite month for fishing.

Currently, Lake Hiwassee is 38 feet below full pool. Water temperatures have been in the high 40’s to low 50’s. Water clarity is clear in the main lake and just slightly stained in the backs of creeks.

Striper fishing has been super out here lately. We’ve had a very successful January and February. Most of the stripers we are catching have been in the 15 to 35 pound range, and we’re averaging about 10 stripers a trip. This pattern should continue into the month of March and increase as the stripers start their pre-spawn. Continue the same techniques as the previous months, pulling planer boards with live herring in the backs of creeks and around shallow, sloping banks. Make sure you keep your bait close to the surface and work close to the banks. I usually run my shad and bluebacks 15-25 feet behind my planer boards. As you pull boards, it’s always a good idea to work the banks by casting a Zara Spook or a Red Fin. As the sun comes up, turn your focus to fishing the mouths of creeks, as the stripers will follow bait to deeper water. With pre-spawn in mind, more and more stripers will start to stage in the mouths of creeks in March. Keep an eye on your electronics for schooling stripers, and pay attention to where the bait balls are. I guarantee you, if you find the bait, the stripers will be close by.

The smallmouth and spotted bass bite has been extremely good. We are catching some very nice smallmouth and spots in the 4-5 lb. range and in large quantities. We are at least averaging 20 to 30 smallmouth and spotted bass, per trip. Several largemouth in the 8 to 10 pound range have been caught as well. These spotted bass and smallmouth, have been schooling up on points and shallow areas around the lake. Down-lining live bluebacks has been the best technique for catching a slew of these great bass in 15-25 feet of water. For the shallow water, early morning bite, keep a jerk bait, a Flex-It spoon, or a fluke on hand to work the banks and points.

March is a fantastic month for catching a lot of stripers and smallmouth on this Western North Carolina lake. Give Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service a call and let the area’s #1-rated guide service put you on some of Lake Hiwassee’s best trophy stripers during the fishing trip of a lifetime. We are Murphy, NC’s premier full-time guide service, specializing in striped and hybrid bass. We also serve Lakes Nottely and Chatuge (in North Carolina), and Lake Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge, GA. And for all your live bait and tackle needs, check out Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA. They carry everything you need for a successful day of fishing and have the best live herring around. So, come fish with the pros for the opportunity to be featured in Angler Magazine, and let us help you get your fish on!

Shane Goebel is the Owner of Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service and a member of The Angler Fishing Team. Contact him at www.bigolfish.com or
(828) 361-2021 / 1-(844)-4-ANGLER.

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