By Capt. James McManus
It’s been a long, beautiful spring. There have been 70 degree days and 30 degree days switching back and forth for months, but that’s over and only shorts weather from here on out. Once June kicks in the offshore bite picks up. Everyone is finished spawning at least by the end of the month, early spawners fry has hatched and after a brief hug up on the banks little ones make their way offshore. Get out early before the jet skis, tubers and wakeboarders and you will find fish breaking in the middle of big water openings. I like the area where the Tuck and Little Tennessee come together, but they can congregate anywhere.
Most of the shad and herring will be small, at least the ones that get busted most frequently. I suppose they are easier to catch but I think spotted bass are like cats, they like to chase things as much as actually eat them. On Fontana 95 percent of what you catch is going to be spots so that’s what I target now. Trolling is going to be the best method for reaching them. With deep, we are talking 200’ plus water, throughout most of the productive areas there are very few landmarks or structures to key on. Your best bet is to find actively breaking fish or bait balls on your sonar if nothing shows on the surface.
I run six rods minimum, with two downriggers, two side planers with shallow running plugs or spoons and two flat lines. You can switch out lipped plugs for floating Rapala type plugs if fish are holding a little deeper, just read the room, if lots of surface action, stay shallow, if not, go a little deeper. About the only structure that may help are points, but often they hold way off them, but they are worth checking out if nothing is showing. The other key for me is plug size, there are times when only 2-3 inch baits will produce. If you are in fish but not catching drop down a size or two, you might find the answer.
Enjoy the water, cool off with a swim every now and then, get out early and thank the Lord for our blessing of amazingly beautiful mountain lakes.
Later, Capt. James
Capt. James McManus owns 153 Charters. Give him a call for a great day on the water at (828) 421-8125.