Guide Colt Bass of Colt Bass Fishing said Lake Hickory’s stripers get “cranked up” in October as they devour forage to pack on weight for the winter.
“The fish have been laying low and have been stressed out during the hot weather through September,” said Bass. “With October’s cooling patterns, the fish will be in full-out feeding mode until the bitter cold comes.”
Bass (coltbassfishing.com) looks for stripers in their deep, summer holes because the fish are going to start moving out of these holes to shallow flats nearby. By mid-October, fish will no longer be confined to deep holes but spread out in 10 to 30 feet of water; the depth changes daily.
Consequently, Bass pulls his baits from deep to shallow waters, backtracking as need be, until the fish are found.
His spread consists of 7-foot Ugly Stik rods and Avet SXJ reels spooled with 17-pound line. He uses Carolina rigs for downlines that hold 4- to 9-inch live shad on 2/0 to 5/0 circle hooks. He runs four to six of these lines to cover depths from 14 to 30 feet. The downline rigs are mounted off the gunwales of his boat.
Bass also runs two to three planer boards further off the sides of his boat, all baited with live shad and herring and covering depths from the surface to 10 feet.
By using this combination, Bass covers depths from the surface to 30 feet: the strike zone for October stripers.
He said water temperature is a significant factor this month.
“A water-temperature range from 60 to 72 degrees is awesome, but anywhere 75 degrees and below is good until it drops to about 55 degrees,” said Bass.
Bass hopes for more stable water levels this fall. He contends fluctuating water levels hurt the striper fishing.
Bass said Hickory yields plenty of stripers ranging from 6 to 8 pounds this time of year, but the chance for bigger fish is always there.
“I catch a lot of fish in the teens this month,” he said.