Guide Maynard Edwards of Lexington, N.C., targets stripers that follow baitfish into Abbotts, Flat Swamp and Second creeks at High Rock Lake during February’s cold weather.
“The stripers are in the major parts of the creeks,” said Edwards (336-249-6782). “They favor points and humps and can be found in 5 to 20 feet of water. Sometimes it’s amazing how shallow they’ll be.”
The stripers can be located with side-scan units or by observing birds diving into forage. The birds are thickest in Abbotts and Flat Swamp cranks.
When the water is clear and the stripers are shallow, Edwards said nothing beats an Alabama rig; just lob the A-rig towards the bank and hang on.
When fish are deep or scattered throughout the water column, Edwards slow-trolls at 11/2 mph with six 7-foot, medium/heavy rods, setting four rods out at the back of the boat with reels spooled with lead-core line. Two other rods, one on each side of the boat, carry planer boards for fishing shallow water.
“Each color of the lead-core line puts the baits — usually shallow- to medium-running crankbaits, Sassy Shad plastics or bucktails — about 7 feet deep,” said Edwards. “I usually let out about two colors or slightly more.”
When Edwards uses bucktails, he employs a double rig with a 3-way swivel.
He likes to run the planer boards close to steep banks using 15- to 20-pound monofilament with shallow-running crankbaits at the business end. He said the best fishing takes place when the water temperature ranges from the lower 40s to the 50s.
“If the water temperature drops below 40 degrees, stay home,” he said. “The fish won’t bite.”
Edwards has caught stripers under both sunny and cloudy skies and adjusts his approach accordingly.
“When it’s cloudy, fish the deep bank along the creek,” he said. “When it’s sunny, fish the shallow bank. For example, upon entering Flat Swamp, fish the deeper, right-hand side of the creek on cloudy days; fish the opposite side on sunny days.”
Edwards said the winter months are excellent for catching big stripers, which run from 10 to 15 pounds.
“For some strange reason, you don’t catch many small stripers in the 2- to 3-pound class at High Rock, whatever the time of year,” said Edwards. “Most of the stripers weigh more than 7 pounds. I’ve talked to biologists about the size of stripers at the lake, and they can’t explain why more small stripers aren’t caught.”