Lake Jocassee is known for large lake trout, great smallmouth and largemouth fishing, but anyone in the Upstate will tell you the lake does not have stripers.
But Evans and Brent Lalas found out last week there was at least one. They found the 25.14-pound striper on January 28, while trolling for lake trout on Jocassee during a trout fishing tournament.
The father and son fishing team, who hail from Charlotte and Four Oaks, N.C., were fishing a “Dog Fight” tournament along with twenty-six other anglers. It was a bright and sunny day, and the Lalas team already had one good trout in the boat. They had just pulled out of the Three Rivers area and were trolling around the Jumping Off Rock area when the striper hit around 11:30 am.
The team was fast trolling at about 3 miles per hour when the striper hit a two-inch custom made spoon. They were fishing two colors of 27-pound lead core line with an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader and a ball bearing swivel. The lure was running approximately 8 to 10 feet deep when the striper hit.
“We were running a light drag and when it hit, it screamed out about 200 yards of line,” Evans Lalas said. “We knew that is was a 20 plus pound trout.”
Evans Lalas handed the rod off to his son, Brent. Since they were running 14 lines, which consisted of in-line planer boards, downriggers, and divers, Evans Lalas started clearing lines for the fight. Luckily, the fish hit the shallowest running line.
After cranking the fish close to the boat, the big fish made another big run. After a thirty minute fight, Evans Lalas was getting ready to net the fish when he noticed that it was not a big brown trout, but a striper.
Evans had lost his old landing net on an earlier fishing trip, and he had just bought a new, big salmon net. Before the tournament the other anglers were making fun of the huge net, but the big net came in handy while landing the large striper.
The Lalas team did not win the trout tournament, but they did catch the biggest fish. The Lalas team said that this was the first big striper that they had ever caught, and they certainly did not intend to catch one on Lake Jocassee. The other tournament anglers stated that, “the guys from the Great Lakes know how to catch fish on Lake Jocassee.”
There was some speculation as to where the big striper came from. Did it swim down from one of the feeder rivers or did someone illegally release the fish? Either way, when Evans gutted the fish, he said that he found three big trout in the striper’s belly. Stripers are definitely not good for the Lake Jocassee trout population.
Even though they didn't know it was there, Upstate trout anglers are happy to have one fewer striper in Lake Jocassee and they hope that was the only one.