Fontana Lake

By Capt. James McManus

Generally, I try and get out as often as the weather and my schedule allow. This year has been tough on both fronts. It’s not that I am afraid of the cold, or not prepared, but sometimes it is just to the point that, it ain’t no fun! Here’s to hoping we get a little warm-up in the coming weeks. On days where it has been bearable, the fish are really active and, the best thing about this time of year, is that they are schooled up around bait so when you find one, the other is usually not far behind. We have been doing more spoon fishing than trolling lately but my buds that are trolling have been getting into them pretty good also. Eighty feet can still be a good depth to search, with bunches showing at 30 to 40 feet at times. Several trips to other lakes have shown the same tendencies with large concentrations of bait- sometimes mid-channel and sometimes scattered on large flats. I have seen the milder days leaning towards the flats where really cold blustery days seem to concentrate fish in deeper channels. It also slows the bite when it has been really brutally cold.

Good news is that, now that February is here, we can start looking back to the banks as the smallies, in particular, will start to orient towards the banks getting ready for the spawn. I know the moon plays a big part in when fish spawn but if we get a few nice days and good sun and the water warms a couple of degrees, they start at least thinking about procreation and the urge hits to seek out bedding areas.

We have always found good smallmouth on the Tuck side between Noland and Goldmine on the park side. Throw small jigs or crankbaits to the bank and fat smallies may interrupt your retrieve. Anywhere around Greasy Branch or up in Alarka, can also be good. With spots around everywhere, please release any smallmouth you catch, the spots are better eating anyway, so give our bronze backs a fighting chance of holding on. You will also find the whites and even walleye are moving shallower, along with crappie, if there happens to be any brush on the banks. Keep an eye on the weather, still be prepared for cold conditions and get off the couch when possible. Let me know if you need help finding a few, later Capt. James

Capt. James McManus is the Owner of 153 Charters. Give him a call for a great day of boat fishing!