Blueback herring, those high-strung gypsies known for their notoriously unpredictable ways, can be the boon or the bane of Lake Murray fishing. No doubt, their schooling activity can produce periods of incredible opportunity; but chasing these super-charged baitfish can also become a lesson in frustration.
Experienced anglers like Casey Ashley of Donalds won’t discount the potential of a blueback bite, but they won’t bank a tournament on such pursuits.
“Those bluebacks are too unpredictable,” Ashley said. “I’ll fish them if they come up, but I won’t plan my tournament around them.”
Most agree that it’s best to fish the bluebacks with something you can cast and retrieve in rapid fashion. Topwaters — both walking and popping baits — are a good bet. Fluke-style baits also serve well this pursuit, as you can fish them with a high rod posture for a topside skittering look or use a weighted shank hook for a subsurface presentation.
Double-Fluke rigs obviously increase the appeal to bass chasing bluebacks, but Prosperity’s Anthony Gagliardi points out a possible liability.
“I like the single because I like to make precise, accurate casts,” he said. “The double-rig is good sometimes, but it’s cumbersome, and if they come up busting and you get tangled, you’ll miss them.
If you mark bluebacks hanging low in the water column, try an underspin like the Sworming Hornet Fish Head Spin with a small swimbait or curlytail grub.
Other options include flutter spoons, Alabama rig with swimbaits that mimic bluebacks and a darter head with a swimbait trailer. Cast past the school and bring the bait past the bluebacks on a pendulum swing.