Friday, July 8, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler 7/8/2016

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In an effort to get qualified for the upcoming Classic, I had to fish a few more Thursday night tournaments. No problem. Ditto is just up the road from work. Of course, I had to consider just how tough the fishing had been and would most likely continue to be. The combination of heat, lack of current and drought has really teamed up to make fishing the upper end of Wheeler not worth dealing with.

As it stands, water temps hover in the mid-80s, the water level is down around two feet, and I haven't seen current above 18,000 is some time. You need a minimum of 30,000 to expect any sort of bite. 

If it were just me that had been struggling, I would tell you to take your own chances. I'm not a very good fisherman, after all. I just like pretending that I am by writing about my adventures. 

Though I have gone almost four trips without catching a decent sack of measuring fish, I have been able to consistently catch a limit of 12 inchers. Well, the last few weeks have taken just that to win. In fact, last week a six pound limit won and a 2 pound fishing managed to cash a third place check. So, there's that. Take a gander at some of the other fishing trips I have made.

After much convincing, Brad decided that he would brave the hot weather and tough bite and fish with me. The game plan was simple: hunt for the big bite. We would be fishing for one fish that should be enough to win big fish and maybe second or third. After we caught it, we would worry about the rest. With the rain on the 4th and the ran expected on the 6th(though it didn't rain), I was hoping that TVA would kick the generators on. But, as yesterday wore on, it was obvious that there would, once again, be no current.  

I decided to run to the dam and fish a couple of spots that I have had luck fishing in the past. Among those is a spot that consistently holds good smallmouth. Could we get them to bite without current? I wasn't sure. 

So, we made the run along with two other boats. I decided to fish the far most wing wall of the lock. Josh and I have caught some very nice sacks of largemouth down the rip rap bank. Bait was extremely plentiful in the area and I was marking fish on below bait balls, which were suspended in the very middle of the slough created by the wing wall and the bank. Yet, we pounded the bank without luck.

Down the bank we went. I concentrated on the slight swings of the channel which create current breaks. Again, with the boat in 16 feet of water, we were marking tons of bait and fish. 

As the sun went down, we began catching fish, but all of them were 11-inchers, though we did have a smallmouth that wouldn't meet the 15 inch limit. All of our fish came on shallow running cranks. 

We returned to the ramp empty handed, but we were not the only ones. In fact, only three boats weighed fish. The winner was one of the boats that also fished the dam with us and they had a seven pound hog to go along with some squeakers. But, it was more than enough to win. Winning weights were 10.05 (with seven pounder), then a nice sack of fish that went nine. I don't know what third was, but it really didn't matter.

In retrospect, I don't feel bad about my gameplan. Could I go down the bluffs as I had been doing and catch a limit? Yes. But, I didn't want to have my heartbroken by weighing in five fish for four pounds only to be beat by five fish for 4.5 pounds. 

What I do regret is that I didn't push out and fish deeper. In hindsight, I believe the fish were in deeper water on the first drop of the ledge. I was marking them under bait. While many were white bass (I did make a few casts, which resulted in catching whites), there were undoubtedly some bass mixed in. 

If I could do it again, I would fish a 6XD and a worm all afternoon and work that 16 foot depth around the bait. Speaking of the bait, it didn't help that there was a ton of it and it was so small that there was nothing we could throw to mimic it. 

Oh well, one down and two more to go until the Classic. Just keep in mind that the stretch of river between 565 and the dam is extremely tough, so fish at your own risk.