Cooling water has turned on striped bass on Lake Hickory and Lake Rhodhiss. For numbers of fish, anglers should head to Hickory; if they want to try for a magnum-sized fish, Rhodhiss is the place to be, according to guide Joe Jobin of Xtreme Striper Fishing.
“Hickory’s been a little better recently than Rhodhiss,” said Jobin (704-240-0165). “The water temperature is 47 degrees at Hickory. I’ve been pulling four planer boards and two downrigger lines.”
Jobin, who hails from Vale, has been picking up plenty of fish from eight to 10 pounds – but 20-pound fish aren’t rare. He is concentrating along the edges of flats and ends of points near deep water from the NC 127 Bridge to the Rink Dam area.
“That’s where the bait (gizzard shad) is balled up,” said Jobin, who slow-trolls one bait behind on a planer board with no weight, then puts ¼- and ½-ounce weights in front of his other planer boards. “I run the down-riggers from 15 to 27 feet. The magic depth seems to be 21 feet off the edges of the points.
“You can try for bigger fish at Rhodhiss,” he said, “but the fishing is a lot tougher because there’s just so much bait in that lake. All a striper has to do is hang out near a point and wait for some shad to come by, grab three or four, and he’s done for the day. He doesn’t have to chase them, so they don’t chase lures that well at Rhodhiss.
“But if you want to put in the time, you have a chance of catching a really big striper, up to 30 pounds. A client caught a 44-pounder out of Rhodhiss with me three Decembers ago.”
Jobin said he believes fishing at Hickory may be the best bet this winter, because high, muddy water this past summer kept fishermen from taking as many stripers out of Hickory as they usually would have.
“So they are out there. You just have to go after them,” he said.