Early Fall Fishing on Murphy Area Lakes

By Aaron Kephart

As I write this, the outside temperatures are hovering in the mid-90s and the humidity is almost visible, but the one benefit to this current August misery is that cooler weather is just around the corner. With that in mind, I would like to take just a moment to look at what traditionally occurs in September on our area lakes.

The TVA annually starts to drop the bottom out of Hiwassee in September, and that positively affects the fishing on both Hiwassee and Apalachia. The fish on Hiwassee are suddenly met with less real estate to roam in, and they tend to congregate in the face of that new reality. Lower water levels mean that fish tend to get in traditional staging areas. The baitfish also start their early fall migration into the cuts and creeks, and you will often find schooling fish at the mouths of these places. Some of the best topwater of the year for bass can be had at this time.

The stripers also tend to be in the same areas, and while they don’t break the surface as much simply because of the still warm water temperatures, they can often be found in deeper water immediately adjacent to the surface activity. Simply put, September is one of my favorite months to be on Hiwassee for stripers and bass. This drawdown also affects Apalachia because of the somewhat constant and more reliable water flows being released from Hiwassee, which in turns leads to an increase in fish activity there. Smallmouth, largemouth, and brown trout can be had in abundance on that lake this time of year.

Chatuge is very similar to Hiwassee in terms of fish behavior and migration patterns right now. September is traditionally the best month for big walking topwaters on this lake, and it isn’t just an early morning affair. Keep one handy all day long; a wolfpack of big, hungry spots could push a school of bait up at literally any time. The spots and hybrids tend to pin the herring on the surface closer to the main channel. Sunken roadbeds, underwater brushpiles, and long points are great places to begin your search. Other productive baits are large flutter spoons, jerkbaits, soft plastic Fluke style offerings, and the always reliable drop shot. If slinging an artificial all day isn’t your style, a live herring run on the surface or dropped deep will definitely get a lot of attention.

I would like to close with a note on fish care. Even though the fish are more aggressive now than they were just a few weeks ago, the water is still very warm, and dissolved oxygen levels are still very low. Fish, especially the bigger ones, will certainly suffer high mortality rates if they aren’t handled quickly and properly this time of year. I try to land and release fish as quickly as possible right now to ensure that they are there to catch the next time. Please try to never drop them in the bait or otherwise damage their slime coat, as this is an almost certain death sentence, even if the fish seemingly swims off fine. If you would like to get out on one of our area lakes with me please give me a call at 865-466-1345. Have a great day!

Aaron Kephart is the Owner of Mountain Lakes Guide Service. To book a guided trip on one of the Murphy area mountain lakes, contact him by phone or by email at [email protected] Check out his website at http://www.mtnlakesguideservice.com and catch him on [email protected].

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