Lake Gaston, VA/NC Fishing Report 04/11/18

Part 1 by BayBass writer Dennis Nease

I arrived at Lake Gaston, North Carolina with fishing partner Rob for my annual 4-day trip. We stayed at a very nice lodge called Stonehouse Timber on the NC side of the lake located in Big Stonehouse creek. Stonehouse Timber lodge has everything a bass fisherman needs and the staff provides good tips on where to catch em.

 

The weather in NC has been tricky and putting together a pattern was difficult. The winds and lake levels have fluctuated making conditions tough.   My approach was to cover a lot of water searching for active fish that are on the move and feeding.  I am not interested in fish that I have to convince to bite.  If I must flip them out of cover, then so be it, but I would rather target pre-spawn staging locations such as banks that face the NW with good bottom texture consisting of sand and gravel next to hard transition areas like rock or red clay.  I avoid soft bottoms areas like the plague and I focus on main lake areas, creeks and secondary points inside of creeks. If the conditions have been cold and windy, I will usually target only the 1st or 2nd secondary point from the creek mouth. I will not venture to far back into a creek if I don’t see life in the shallows. I also look for birds feeding on shad to help locate bait at the surface.

 

My lure selection:

  • Colors choice depends on water color but generically, dark water = dark colors, clear water = natural colors
  • Deep Fish
    • 1 oz spinnerbait – must get down to 20 feet and easy to throw in the wind
    • 1 oz spinnerbait
    • Lucky Craft jerk baits – pointer 78 XD, 100 XD, and staysee 90   
    • LC Jerkbait1     LC Jerkbait2
  • Shallow Fish
    • Lucky Craft pointer 78, Rapala JH-10, Mega Bass ITO including jr and silent models
  • Additional Favorites
    • Plastic, Baybass bug
    • ½ oz jig
    • 3/8 oz chatter bait
    • chatterbait
    • ½ oz lipless crankbait
    • Carolina rig with a lizard or French fry – very effective search technique

 

On an unfamiliar body of water, I will use my experience, knowledge and tech to find fish. Pre-spawn fish will be on banks that face west allowing exposure to the warm afternoon sun. These banks must have 10 to 15 feet of water no more than 10 feet away in case a cold front punches through the area.  During a cold front, this short distance allows the fish to move vertically into comfortable water instead of expending energy and calories swimming horizontally. Today’s electronics allow a fisherman to zero in on key details such as bottom consistency, natural structure, and natural/man made cover, water temp and depth.  Being able to understand your electronics is very important. Topo maps, GPS, creating and storing location way points and down/side imaging are game changers and the people who are talented at utilizing these new features will prevail not only in the spring but the entire year. Take the time to learn your electronics, it WILL make you a better fisherman.

 

The conditions when I arrived at lake Gaston were nice.  It was about 60 degrees with bluebird skies, and 15 mph winds out of the NW.  The water temp at the ramp inside of big Stonehouse creek was 59 degrees. Rob and I immediately began where we caught fish last year, on the NC side of the lake across from mile marker 6 at a 1 mile stretch of rock points with very deep water close by. We marked fish and bait at 8 to 12 feet. My partner Rob began throwing a Carolina Rig and I started out with a pointer 78 xd , with 6 lb. p-line cxx on my G. Loomis light rod. I used this light line, jerk bait technique last year with excellent success on spotted bass, which is now almost the predominant species on Gaston. These fish hammer baits and fight like hell. We fished this main lake stretch for about 3 hours but it just was not producing the way it should have.  Rob caught 5 small fish and I had 2.

 

We made a decision to run up river to an area at the mouth of Songbird creek just past Eatons Ferry, we moved in on a main creek point at the mouth called the Kings branch. Rob started throwing a big 1 oz spinnerbait and I threw a 3/8 oz chatterbait in about 10 feet of water.  We had been fishing for about 15 minutes when we saw gulls crashing shad about 100 yards from us in the main creek bay.  We approached the gulls and my chatterbait got hammered by a big fish. I thought it was a largemouth, but it was a 4 lb. 11 oz Hybrid striper. I made another 10 casts and got hammered by another striper at 5 lb. 7 oz.  Rob also caught a largemouth about 13 inches long.  When the action died we left to check 1 more spot. We headed to the very back of Big Stonehouse creek where the water was 61 degrees. We began fishing a bank that has good depth, 14ft, and a good bottom with rock, sand and wood. We both ended a tough day with a couple 15-inch spots in the back of the creek on a little point with rip rap.   Back in 1997, David Ashcraft won a BASS VA Invitational at this location.

Striper1     

Spot     Spot

 

Tight Lines,

 

Dennis Nease / BayBass writer