Gaston tailrace is topwater central in September


Overcast days are best for fishing

Guide Tim Biesecker of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., half-jokingly said that September is a good time to get the oil changed in your 4-stroke outboard engine and to get the bearings on your trailer wheels checked. But topwater fishing ain’t a bad choice either.

“It’s a tough month for fishing, because the water at Roanoke Rapids Lake is typically very clear,” said Biesecker (252-532-1846). “I look for bait, wind and water with some color. If I’m lucky, the day will be overcast with light rain.”

On a gloomy day, Biesecker said largemouth bass and striped bass often bust shad below Lake Gaston Dam on Roanoke Rapids. If the lake’s waters are being pulled and there’s current, so much the better.

He casts 3/4-ounce Zara Spooks and unweighted white Flukes and Senkos to generate explosive strikes from surface feeders. He may also opt for 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Traps in shad patterns. The stripers and bass will run 1 to 4 pounds.

Biesecker said fishing near the dam has one serious drawback. Its waters harbor huge rocks, often barely visible. Navigation is treacherous and best accomplished with a trolling motor.

“The dam area is dangerous. And the entire lake resembles Tuckertown Lake, with lots of shallow, stumpy places,” Biesecker said. “If you stray from the main channel, it may result in some expensive repair bills.”

Roanoke Raipds Lake’s striped bass and largemouths can be caught in the Gaston Dam tailrace this month.

On sunny days when schooling activity ceases, Biesecker targets largemouth bass by fishing the grass, the dominant cover on Roanoke Rapids. He fishes a clear Spook or Sammy along grass edges and in pockets.

Match your lure color to the water

“The clearer the water, the clearer the bait,” said Biesecker, who also fishes belly weighted, shad-colored plastics through the grass mats. He also experiments with swimbaits around grass.

For the thickest mats, he fishes a white or black frog with stout tackle and line, early or late, to drag the bass out of the grass.

“I prefer non-popping frogs because of the clear water,” said Biesecker.

Punching through the grass with a heavy jig can also be effective.

At places with little grass, around channel edges and ledges, he switches to jerkbaits, which he fishes unconventionally.

“Just remember to burn them. Reel fast, with quick jerks,”  he said.

Biesecker’s real love is crankbait fishing, but once Roanoke Rapids became inundated with vegetation, his cranking opportunities became restricted to the few channels, ditches and drops relatively barren of grass. His go-to crankbaits consist of shallow-to medium-running square-bill models in citrus colors.

“Deep divers can be used downlake, but floating grass will worry you to death,” he said.