The fishing is good on Lake Fontana, and one of the best reasons to fish there now is that everything in the lake is biting. Even if you’re going there targeting one specific species, you’re all but guaranteed to catch that species and more.
Capt. Dwight Pigman of Root Hog Fishing Guide Service said a mixed bag is definitely what he’s been catching lately on Fontana, and he doesn’t mind that at all. He said that’s just the nature of fishing in a lake like this.
“This lake is fed by a number of rivers, so what’s in those rivers ends up in the lake. We’ve got smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, walleye, and trout. They’re all biting right now,” he said.
Pigman (828-862-7958) is having a lot of luck trolling for walleye, and is catching them in water between 40- and 90-feet deep. He’s catching them on spoons he makes himself out of willow leaf blades, and he’s having the most luck with spoons anywhere between 1-inch and 3-inches long.
“That’s the size I have the most confidence in, but I imagine if I was pulling 5-inch long spoons, I’d be catching them on that just about as well,” he said. "The fish aren't really that particular right now."
While you don’t need to troll very fast, Pigman said there’s really no ideal speed to pull them.
“I honestly don’t pay that much attention to my trolling speed this time of year. I think I’m probably staying somewhere between 1 1/2- to 2-mph, but that’s mainly for my own comfort. Any faster than that this time of year, and it’s tough to take with the cold. I’m catching them fine at those speeds,” he said.
Pigman said he’s catching some trout when trolling for walleye, and that if he wants to target trout, he gets his lures down deeper than where he’s catching the walleye.
“When I start catching a trout or two, I know I’m close to their depth, so I’ll let out a little more line, or troll a little slower to get the spoons down deeper. I’ll also use down riggers when targeting trout sometimes,” he said.
It’s also not uncommon for Pigman to catch some bass while trolling, but he said if he wants to specifically target them, he is having the most luck casting lures in the shallows near the shorelines.
“It’s a mixture there too. Smallmouth, spotted, and largemouth bass are all biting. Some anglers are having success with live bait along the shorelines too, but you’ll catch plenty of them on artificial lures. Anything that looks like a threadfin or gizzard shad will do well,” he said.
While the numbers are there, Pigman said this is also a great time to catch big fish.
“For all these species, this is the time of year to catch the biggest ones. We’re in the pre-spawn right now, and you’ve got a good chance to catch your largest fish of all these species,” he said.