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Striped bass action heats up

By By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
Aug. 9, 2002
Normally hot summer weather slows down the activity level of most game fish. There's one species in our area however, that never really slows up in their quest for something to eat. Probably the most powerful game fish in these parts, the striped bass or striped bass hybrid is a much sought after fish by a select group of experienced anglers hereabouts.
The stripers and hybrids are voracious feeders as they eat during most of the day. We have at least three areas within an hour to an hour and a half drive of Meridian that hold large populations of stripers not counting Okatibbee Reservoir. Although Okatibbee does have a population of stripers, the time to catch them is in the fall once the water and temperatures have cooled down.
Good striper populations reside in the Tombigbee River at Demopolis and Gainesville Lock and Dams. Another old favorite that hasn't received as much pressure this summer is the Ross Barnett Reservoir spillway area. With a new bridge being built below the spillway, anglers have been prevented from fishing during certain stages of construction due to a lack of access roads.
Gainesville and Demopolis
Many bass anglers have reported catching schooling stripers this summer in their quest for largemouth bass on the Tombigbee River. Most of these anglers are targeting deep ledges and creek mouths along the main river course. The prime time to catch these fish is when there is current in the river. Once fishermen come upon a school of stripers, the fish usually will attack most any bass bait with a vengeance. If they connect, anglers would do well to have their drags loosened when preparing to do battle with these veritable torpedoes.
A hybrid or striper in the five to seven pound class or larger, will almost be more than you can handle. If the line isn't stout and the drags aren't set properly, there will surely be broken lines or lost lures. When it comes to tearing up equipment, the stripers have no freshwater peers. Some of the most popular baits used while fishing these pools are crankbaits and jigs.
Spillway action
Whether you're fishing at Gainesville, Demopolis or at Ross Barnett, the hottest action this time of year will occur below the spillways. These areas will have plenty of oxygen, current, and most importantly, plenty of baitfish. Depending upon the weather conditions and water levels, the stripers are subject to biting almost any time during the day.
Anglers will find that stripers can be caught while fishing out of boats or off of the banks. Fishermen will usually need rods in eleven to fifteen foot lengths in order to reach the whitewater areas of the spillway from the banks. The stripers will congregate just below the area where the water spills over the dam, or comes through the gates. It is here that they wait to attack helpless baitfish.
Dawn and dusk best
Sudden thundershowers or rises in the water levels may trigger schooling and feeding action any time of the day. However, barring those occurrences, the action is usually best at dawn and dusk. Perhaps the best bait to use when the fish are feeding directly below the spillway areas are lead spoons and jigs. The lead spoons are usually painted in a variety of colors with white, silver and chartreuse being deadly colors for sure.
When targeting the sub-surface feeders, many anglers prefer using a large weight at the bottom of the line with a buck tail jig or grub attached approximately eighteen to twenty-four inches up the line. White, chartreuse, yellow and green are all good colors for jigs or grubs.
Anglers must cast into or just below the whitewater. Most of the bites will come just as soon as the bait hits the water. In fact, many strikes will occur before you can get the slack out of the line.
Anglers should check with the local laws and limits when fishing in Alabama. In Mississippi, the limit on stripers is three fish per day with a minimum length of 15 inches. If you have never caught a striper, then you owe it to yourself to give it a try. I guarantee that you'll never catch a harder fighting game fish in our area.
Contact Mike Giles at mgiles17@msn.com.

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