How to catch Lake Hickory’s post-spawn stripers

Fishing guide Colt Bass shows off a post-spawn striper caught at Lake Hickory.

Lake Hickory’s stripers feed heavily during the post-spawn

May marks the post-spawn period when Lake Hickory’s stripers move from shallow to deep water triggering action for the fishermen who find them.

“A lot of fish this month are going to be coming off the spawn and moving from shallow to deep water. So I’ll be looking for places with shallow water with quick access to deep water,” said guide Colt Bass ( www.coltbassfishing.com). “If my electronics reveal pods of baitfish at these places, so much the better.”

Bass searches for stripers at these places by trolling bucktail jigs on downriggers and lead-core lines mounted off the sides and back of his boat.

His trolling gear consists of 7 1/2-foot medium-heavy Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods holding Abu Garcia 7000 reels.

“I’ll troll down-lines and planer boards at different depths rigged with live bait,” said Bass. “I’ll make passes through shallow water and then through deep water. If I don’t get any bites, I’ll try similar places and repeat the process.”

His live-bait tackle features 7-foot medium Ugly Stik rods teamed with Abu Garcia 6500 reels spooled with 20-pound Big Game line. His spread features four to six down-lines fished off the sides of his boat at various depths.

Circle hooks are key weapons

The down-lines hold Carolina rigs with 1/2- to 2-ounce weights dictated by wind strength and current and 3-  to 4-foot leaders of 17-pound fluorocarbon line connected to No. 1 to 4/0 circle hooks based upon bait size.

“I’m a firm believer that a circle hook causes less damage to fish. Plus all my clients have to do is reel the rig in to set the hook,” said Bass.

For bait, the veteran guide employs 4- to 7-inch gizzard and threadfin shad and herring, constantly experimenting with sizes, cuts and shapes to cater to the whims of stripers.

“I’ll also have Original Clear planer boards off each side of the boat pulling live baits,” said Bass.

If Bass has previously found the fish, he fishes down-lines and planer boards from the get-go.

Having a pre-rigged rod to cast to breaking stripers isn’t a bad idea, either. Bass once caught a 16-pound striper with a Red Fin crankbait.

Typically, Bass said May stripers at Hickory average 7 to 9 pounds, though trophy fish up to 20 pounds are a possibility.

Ideal fishing conditions for striper fishing this month are water temperatures from 60 to 75 degrees and clear water.

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