Float n Fly Report: Belews Creek and Philpott
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Thread: Float n Fly Report: Belews Creek and Philpott

  1. #1
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    Default Float n Fly Report: Belews Creek and Philpott

    Got out both days this weekend to do my absolute favorite kind of winter fishing. It was a mix of good and bad.

    Saturday- Belews Creek. Water was surprising dirty (or turning over) but found some cleaner water and they were biting the FnF pretty well. Caught 6 bass (up to 15"), one catfish, hooked two more, and had several pull-downs that never had the hook. I think they might have been bluegill. Overall it was a very fun afternoon. Water temp 55 degrees. Clarity was about 4.5 feet which is low for the lake.

    Sunday- Philpott (near Martinsville, VA). I fished this lake once last year and I wanted to try it again. Made the trip with my wife and while a beautiful lake and a nice day the fishing was awful. It was totally dead out there. No birds, squirrels, deer, or any other kind of wildlife out. Was eerie quiet. Bait was generally pegged on the bottom. Never had a bite in 5 hours. I think it may be turning over an that generally puts all the fish deep but I still feel like I should have gotten a few bites. I haven't given up on the lake but I wish I had gone back to Belews creek again. Water was 55-56 degrees. Didn't check clarity but it was well over 6 feet. Water had some haze to it which made me think it might be turning over. One final tidbit, they normally charge a launch fee but they had covered the drop box so it was free.

    Tight lines,
    Andrew

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  3. #2
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    I use to live by Philpott Lake. The usually super clear water makes it a tough place to fish for many anglers, including me. Go back in the spring when the water temps hit 50 degrees & above for better odds. There are some nice fish in that lake for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sped66 View Post
    I use to live by Philpott Lake. The usually super clear water makes it a tough place to fish for many anglers, including me. Go back in the spring when the water temps hit 50 degrees & above for better odds. There are some nice fish in that lake for sure.
    Glad to hear there are fish in the lake, I was wondering after the other day. I actually like the deep clear water. It is the kind of conditions that the float and fly should be perfect for cause the fish will tend to suspend in that kind of water and the technique floats that little jig right in their face.
    Tight lines,
    Andrew

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  6. #4
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    Thanks for the reports, Andrew. I like seeing reports from some of my old stomping grounds that I miss so much, so I appreciate the posts!

    We've seen Belews get more stained at times depending mainly on rainfall (that day we caught all those bass in the back of that pocket with the modified swim jigs was a good example), but I don't think I've ever seen the lake turn over like some lakes do during seasonal changes. I had always attributed that to the fact that a significant portion of the central part of the lake sees a certain degree of 'current' from the circular flow created by the discharge on one side and the intake on the other side. I think it keeps the lake too 'stirred' to really stratify and then turn over.

    But God knows Belews can act squirrelly at times, that's for certain.
    - Sam
    "Things are only impossible until they're not!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by SurfRider View Post
    Thanks for the reports, Andrew. I like seeing reports from some of my old stomping grounds that I miss so much, so I appreciate the posts!

    We've seen Belews get more stained at times depending mainly on rainfall (that day we caught all those bass in the back of that pocket with the modified swim jigs was a good example), but I don't think I've ever seen the lake turn over like some lakes do during seasonal changes. I had always attributed that to the fact that a significant portion of the central part of the lake sees a certain degree of 'current' from the circular flow created by the discharge on one side and the intake on the other side. I think it keeps the lake too 'stirred' to really stratify and then turn over.

    But God knows Belews can act squirrelly at times, that's for certain.
    You might be right. It could be that it is just stained from mud coming in. The lake isn't nearly as warm as it used to be since the power plant switched to natural gas. It is well down in the 50's and that cold muddy water probably doesn't sink as quickly as it used to when the lake was 60 degrees. If it gets stained it might completely change the way if fishes.

    I went again on 12/22. Caught 6 again (5 spots and a LM) with the biggest about 14". Hooked 2 more. I fished longer and the action was slower. Water was down to 52-53 and it was only 56-57 at the hot hole. Clarity about the same as last time 4.5-5 feet. I did see a couple fish bust on top but it wasn't much.

    For any of you that do fish the FnF I got about every kind of bite this trip. Got pull downs, lift bites, lift then pull down, and the look away then look back and the bobber is gone.
    sped66, and SurfRider like this.

    Tight lines,
    Andrew

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    I keep saying I'm going to try the Float n Fly for speckled trout in the winter here, when they suspend in the holes and bends in the river mouth creeks, but I haven't followed through on it yet.
    - Sam
    "Things are only impossible until they're not!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by SurfRider View Post
    I keep saying I'm going to try the Float n Fly for speckled trout in the winter here, when they suspend in the holes and bends in the river mouth creeks, but I haven't followed through on it yet.
    You should, I'd just rig a slip bobber and not try and fool with the big fairy wand. Tip a jig with some gulp and I bet you can catch them pretty good. Watching that bobber drop is addictive. The FnF is my winter spinnerbait. If I can get them to bite it I won't put it down.
    Tight lines,
    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bleedingblue View Post
    You should, I'd just rig a slip bobber and not try and fool with the big fairy wand. Tip a jig with some gulp and I bet you can catch them pretty good. Watching that bobber drop is addictive. The FnF is my winter spinnerbait. If I can get them to bite it I won't put it down.
    Yes, this I know... and every time we've fished together during winter, I start to lose faith and pick up a shakey head or jerkbait, you catch one and make me wish I'd stuck with it.

    So far it hasn't stayed cold enough consistently enough to get those specks stacked up in the creeks yet, but I suspect January might deliver. I have my eye on offshore flounder if the north wind ever lets me get out there, but maybe I'll get a chance to try it. Part of my problem is I get distracted by everything else... February rolls in and I'm already eyeing sheepshead, then March comes and I am chasing triggerfish (possibly my 2nd favorite eating fish after tripletail), and so on and on.

    Still miss my reservoir bass fishing, though!
    - Sam
    "Things are only impossible until they're not!"

  11. #9
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    SurfRider you sound like you're living my life about 5-10 years ahead of me

    All my life my objective has been "live on the water".

    In Georgia we had a small pond
    In Minnesota we lived directly on the upper Mississippi River
    Then we made it down to NC and got a place on Belews.....and you've helped me tremendously with advice on this forum about Belews...

    And I always said my next step is to live on saltwater where I could be catching speckled trout and stripers .....so like I said, you're ahead of me



    Anyways - BleedingBlue, I know you've done this before but can you explain the float & fly again?

  12. #10
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    He can give you a better description, but it's basically a small jig (the ones I have seen used are tied with duck feathers), typically pretty lightweight - 1/16 or 1/8 ounce. You put it on a long leader for the depth you want to fish, 10 to 15 feet depending where you think the fish are suspended. The leader is under a bobber or float - typically you want a weighted float so that if the jig is 'lifted' (referred to as a 'lift-bite' where the fish just picks up the jig and rises a little in the water column) you will see the float flop over and lay on its side.

    Because the leader is so long it works best on a long spinning rod - I most recently picked up a crappie rod and a light spinning reel - you have to cast it almost like a fly rod, with the leader out behind you, you sort of flick it while you cast to bring the leader out and the float carries the rig on the cast since the jig is so light.

    Then you just jiggle the float to make it dunk under, up and down, so that it's basically making the jig dance up and down in front of the fish. If there is some ripple on the water, it kinda gives the jig action without much movement from you. Sometimes the float will go under, other times it will just lay over when there is a fish on. The lift bite is the reason a slip-float rig isn't as good because you might not see the lift bite if the line can slide through the float.

    Hopefully that makes sense. I have seen Andrew catch a lot of fish during winter at Belews just working that rig along the steeper banks especially in a channel swing.
    - Sam
    "Things are only impossible until they're not!"

  13. #11
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    Sam pretty much nailed it. I use an 8.5 or 9.5 foot rod. I use 10 lb Nanofil (any small diameter braid will work) for the main line tied to a small 3-way swivel. The the leader and bobber are on the other two connections. I make my bobbers special to be unstable to catch the lift bites but a pear shaped bobber will do OK. At Belews I use a 7-8 foot leader (8 lb fluorocarbon) to a 1/16 oz craft hair and duck feather jig.

    The advantage of the 3-way swivel fixed bobber system is that you can easily put action into the jig. I gently bounce the tip of the long rod while reeling slowly a turn or two then pause. This makes the jig jiggle under water as it rises a bit. When you stop it sinks slowly back down like a struggling minnow. As mentioned, it also shows the lift bites which are 10-15% of the bites you get and as the colder the water gets they get more common. The downside is you really need the long rod to cast it and get the action. It is very hard to manage with less than a 7.5 foot rod. The other part I love about the long rod is fighting the fish. It can make catching a 12" spot very enjoyable and big fish are a blast.

    It is a very finesse technique and as long as you have good clarity, water temps below 60, and suspended bait and/or fish it will produce.
    Tight lines,
    Andrew

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    I went out to Belews again yesterday. It was a beautiful day (at least I thought) with the overcast skies. I struggled to find any concentrations of bait but did manage to find a few fish. I ended up with 5 fish, 4 spots and 1 LM. No size to the spots but near the end of the day the LM bit and it was a very nice fish (for Belews anyway). It was 3 lbs or more and I had it up to the boat 4-5 times. It was basically done then shook its head one more time and got off. It was disappointing but I got all the fun out of it before the quick release. All fish on FnF.
    Tight lines,
    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bleedingblue View Post
    I went out to Belews again yesterday. It was a beautiful day (at least I thought) with the overcast skies. I struggled to find any concentrations of bait but did manage to find a few fish. I ended up with 5 fish, 4 spots and 1 LM. No size to the spots but near the end of the day the LM bit and it was a very nice fish (for Belews anyway). It was 3 lbs or more and I had it up to the boat 4-5 times. It was basically done then shook its head one more time and got off. It was disappointing but I got all the fun out of it before the quick release. All fish on FnF.

    Thanks so much again for the explanation above (you too SurfRider). I've always been confused about the leader part because I've heard of guys using bobber stops but also the 3 way swivel you mention. I didn't understand if the leader was "reeled up" to the bobber using a bobber stop (and hence the way it sinks away from the bobber) or if you just casted it with really long piece of leader. Probably takes some getting used to to throw it accurately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PontoonMike View Post
    Thanks so much again for the explanation above (you too SurfRider). I've always been confused about the leader part because I've heard of guys using bobber stops but also the 3 way swivel you mention. I didn't understand if the leader was "reeled up" to the bobber using a bobber stop (and hence the way it sinks away from the bobber) or if you just casted it with really long piece of leader. Probably takes some getting used to to throw it accurately.
    The slip bobber will work and many use it. It just has the disadvantage of not catching lift bites and harder to put action in the jig without moving it vertically.

    The fixed bobber is a hard rig to throw with accuracy, especially around overhanging trees. The good part is you don't need to be ultra precise because the fish can see the jig in the clear water and they will move to eat it as it looks like such an easy meal.
    Tight lines,
    Andrew

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