Anglers at Lake Chatuge in the mountains of Clay County along the Georgia border are enjoying action from a variety of fish species as summer nears its end.
“They’ve been catching lots of spotted bass, hybrids and some largemouths,” said Ann Lee of Lee’s Country Store in Hayesville
Chatuge, a 13-mile-long, 7,000-acre impoundment that’s split between North Carolina and Georgia, has undergone a transition after the introduction of blueback herring.
Lee said that while the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission doesn’t stock the lake, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources does, and they started stocking hybrid bass anew several years ago to try and control the herring.
“But that stocking has been kinda like kudzu,” said Lee (828-389-6465). “The hybrids have done a number on lake’s panfish, especially crappie. Crappie fishing’s a feast or famine deal now, with some good fishing at night below the Anderson Bridge.”
Once a renowned smallmouth bass lake, Chatuge’s bronzeback numbers have been greatly reduced by the presence of spotted bass, which were never officially stocked in the reservoir but once introduced, have outcompeted smallmouth for habitat. And blueback herring have a negative effect on the ability of the lake’s walleye to spawn and thrive, so Georgia stocked the hybrids in hopes of holding the bluebacks in check.
Still, anglers targeting bass have been catching largemouths by throwing topwater lures early in the morning at shoreline structure, and then using Shad Raps, Rapala jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits later in the day. Spotted bass also attack those lures.
Most of the hybrid bass weigh from four to six pounds, Lee said.
“People look for them in open water, schooling on the (herring) pretty much in the early-morning hours or a dusky dark,” said Lee, who doesn’t think finding hybrids or spotted bass is difficult.
“Spots have taken over the lake,” she said. “Sometimes they run the shad right up to the shoreline, then you can have some fun with them. Some of the spots run six, seven or eight pounds.”