May is big-fish time for Lake Rhodhiss stripers

Lake Rhodhiss produces some of North Carolina’s biggest stripers, and May is a prime month for action.
Lake Rhodhiss produces some of North Carolina’s biggest stripers, and May is a prime month for action.

Big changes at lake don’t spell end to big fish

Joe Jobin, recently retired as a fishing guide, said he’s noticed a big change related to striper fishing at Lake Rhodhiss near Morganton, N.C.

Lakeside development.

“While striper fishing remains excellent at the lake, it no longer takes place in a serene setting,” Jobin said. “In the past few years, the number of lakeside homes has about tripled. The intense development has resulted in more boating traffic and increased fishing pressure.”

Jobin said the best fishing takes place in May before the summer recreational traffic breaks loose. He fishes the river section from the Johns River Access Area all the way to the US 18 bridge.

The river narrows near the bridge. This forces him to pull only one planer board close to the shoreline near the ends of tree laps where stripers hold. At the same time, he’ll run two free lines out of the back of his boat. After he makes one pass through the area, Jobin will switch sides to fish the opposite bank with the same setup.

“The river is so narrow, I can’t put out two planer boards. If another boat comes my way,  I’ll risk losing one of the planer boards to the passing boat,” he said.

Find the deep holes, and you’ll find stripers

Another hot spot is about a half-mile from the bridge. Sand-dredging has created potholes about 20 feet deep in the river bottom, which is typically only 4 to 6 feet deep.

“Stripers covet those deep holes,” Jobin said. “Good numbers of big fish are caught there.”

Jobin said Duke Power (www.duke-energy.com/lakes) has water discharge information that’s of use to fishermen.

“If one generator is open, the current is perfect for trolling for stripers,” he said. “If two generators are open, the current is too swift for trolling. So fishermen have to anchor to fish.”

A live-bait specialist, Jobin usually has live gizzard shad at the business end of his rigs, which feature a No. 6 treble hook through one nostril of the shad to keep the bait fresh and lively. His baitcasting gear employs 20-pound line that enables him to move a big striper away from snags and tree laps.

In May, Jobin said most stripers at Rhodhiss run 8 to 12 pounds, but 20-pound stripers are not uncommon.