Guide Jerry Hill said striper fishing on North Carolina’s High Rock Lake really breaks loose around Oct. 20, with fish in the 10-pound class and above beginning to show up.
On back-to-back trips last October, Hill had a four-four limits that weighed a total of 45 and 49 pounds, the second day’s catch anchored by a 15-pound fish.
“The fish you catch this time of year really are quality fish,” said Hill (336-247-1265), who likes to troll with downriggers or leadcore line, criss-crossing the main river channel or trolling around the mouth of creeks around the mid-lake area. He uses double-bucktail rigs with 3/4- or 1/2-ounce bucktails on 21/2- and 8-foot leaders tipped with plastic worms; chartreuse/chartreuse and white/white are his favorite combos.
“But when they’re really feeding, they’ll bite just about any color,” Hill said.
When he’s fishing the main-river channel, Hill likes to troll in around 20 feet of water. He drops his bucktails down on downriggers or leadcore line, putting three colors in the water or dropping his downrigger balls to 10 to 12 feet deep, with 50 feet of line behind the balls that will put his baits in 15 or 16 feet of water.
He likes to troll not only along the edges of the channel, but he catches more fish when he runs back and forth across the channel, hitting the slopes on either side.
“You need to criss-cross the channel,” he said. “I used to try to run parallel to the channel and stay on the edge, but I found if you’ll pull across the channel one way, then turn and pull back across it the other way, you’ll catch more fish.”
If Hill finds fish, say, in the mouths of Crane or Swearing creeks, he’ll pull all around the mouth of the creeks, running up into the creeks a ways and pulling back out, pulling slightly shallower water. If baitfish stay in the creek channel, it can be a productive way to fish; if the bait pulls up on the flats, stripers back in the creeks will move up shallow where trolling is difficult.