Lake Hiwassee Stripers in December

By Shane Goebel

December is finally here and the majority of us have Christmas and the holiday season on our minds. But when the horrid shopping mall lines and the stress of gift buying get to be too much, why not catch some relief by hitting the lake for some early winter fishing. In Western North Carolina, no other lake is better to do that on than Lake Hiwassee, and some of our best fish can be caught during the month of December. Also, check out this month’s issue of our cover photo and story for Lake Blue Ridge.

Lake Hiwassee water temps are still in the lower 60’s, and water clarity is mostly clear to stained in the creek and rivers, especially in the Nottely River and Hiwassee River areas. Fishing out here remains excellent, and we are still catching some large quantities of fish. This should be the case through the month of December.

Striper fishing has been excellent lately. The bigger fish are really starting to come up in the water column and are headed towards shallow humps and into the creeks. We’ve been catching some great fish and still averaging 15-20 stripers a trip. This is a great time of year to start using bigger bait. Start off by pulling planer boards and free-lines early in the morning. Live bluebacks and gizzard shad are working best. Top water bite has been wicked good and should be getting even better as the water continues to cool, so as you’re pulling baits, keep a Red Fin or a spook tied on and work those banks and points. As the sun comes up and the day gets warmer, the fish will move a little deeper. Switch to down lines and weighted free lines. Remember, this is the time of year to keep an eye out for seagulls. Where there are birds, there is bait, and where there is bait, there are fish.

The smallmouth and spotted bass bite has been off the hook—we’ve been absolutely slaying these fish. It seems our top-water bite has been lasting all day. Working shallow humps, brush piles and rocky points with spooks, jerk baits, and buzz baits have produced some great fish. The majority of our larger smallmouths have been coming off our down line bite 40 to 50 feet deep in the mid-day hours. Jigging flutter spoons will also work for these deeper bass.

We want to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for an awesome year of fishing, and we hope to see you in 2018. Remember, December is a fantastic month for catching a lot of stripers and bass 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 North Carolina’s only premier full-time guide service, specializing in striped and hybrid bass. We also serve Lake Chatuge, Lake Nottely and Lake Blue Ridge. 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 blueback 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 or (828) 361-2021 / 1-(844)-4-ANGLER.