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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, first off I am a very novice fisherman and have little to zero experience with "big" lakes. My bass fishing has almost exclusively been on one stocked farm pond but I'm definitely looking to expand. That said, I had an opportunity to get on Belews yesterday morning with a buddy of mine. He's got a fish/ski set up and was looking for an excuse to get the boat out. Who am I to say no?

Anyway, it sure seemed to me that on a bigger lake like this that my patience was being tested! My friend has plenty of experience but it seemed to me that we'd never really give one spot much of a chance before motoring off. 10 or 15 casts, maybe, and he was saying hold on, lets go over here.... When I'm on my "home" pond, I can work a little spot for 30 minutes or more sometimes, trying different lures or techniques. Is big lake fishing more about covering water than a methodical approach to each hole? Like I said, my friend was maybe more interested in some fellowship and a nice boat ride (which is all good of course) but come ON man!

I guess this is why a man needs his own boat :D
 

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It depends on what is happening at each move. I often cover lots of water when I am fishing, giving each area a few minutes before moving to the next. There are two scenarios that set this up for me...

First, if I am looking for active bass or perefishing for a tournament and I haven't been out for a few days, I am going to target different types of areas. Windy points...sheltered points...laydowns...rip rap...docks...coves...etc. I am going to target areas that are different from the last area I tried so I can try to establish a pattern. This leads to the second scenario...

If I have established a pattern, then I will try a few casts at a spot and if nothing hits within a few minutes, I move to a similar spot. I try there and then if nothing, move to another similar area. If I do start catching, I will work the area quite thoroughly before moving on. But this is all part of fishing my established pattern.

In bigger lakes, bass have so much more water to use so to me, it means I have to be more flexible and mobile to find that pattern.

In ponds, the bass obviously don't have as much water, so at some point, they will move your way. Even when fishing ponds, though, I move around until I establish a pattern. Yes, ponds can have patterns, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Did you /he catch any fish?

Sounds about right to me. I have no patience so I cover a lot of water until I find a pattern, then I zero in on that. Then I skip a lot of water that is useless.
Skunked brother. But it's not the first time. We got there too late really, and only spent about 2 hours fishing.

NEXT TIME I SLAY!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
lewis, I appreciate your comments man. As you know I am still learning and it's great to know what you experienced guys are thinking. Actually, the way you work sounds similar to what we did yesterday with trying different types of areas but moving on pretty soon if nothing was happening. I think we got too late a start to be honest but that couldn't be helped.

Not to say my patience doesn't need work!

Fish On...
 

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In a boat it's real easy to move on over there. Much depends on where and how your fishing. If your looking for the quick bite then you fish like he did. I see people pop in to a spot and look at their sonar, make some casts. Maybe catch a fish. Then move on. 10 minutes.

In the kayak I sneak up on a spot. I don't just hit the top of the hump. I fish my way in. You catch fish staging in and out. Or they are following the bait cloud you see on your sonar near the spot. If you are confident in where your fishing. You will work the area more.

Even in the kayak I spot jump. But my spots are much closer together.

mike
 

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I pretty much only fish big lakes. Bass on a big lake tend to migrate as conditions and seasons change, where as in your pond, they might have a handful of key places they will stay on year around as they dont really have any choice to leave and when they do, they probably dont go far. In a big lake a large number of fish may leave an entire area, possibly travelling miles. Covering water is how you eliminate water, eliminating water is how you make a 30000 acre lake more managible. On one stop, I might cover as much water as your pond if I am trying to find a pattern. Usually based on seasonal patterns I know what I am looking for to fish (rocks, docks, laydowns, stumps or whatever), I will focus on that particular feature or several and skip over less likely places. By doing this I am fishing efficiently spending more of my fishing time in water that is more likely to hold fish. If I know the last 3 places I came across a stump on red clay I caught a fish, their is no need to spend alot of time fishing the 1/2 mile of flat sandy bank between that stump and the next stump.
 

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The seasoned "pros" have laid it out pretty well already. Every lake has its similarities to others in some ways, and in the end bass are bass and they have certain tendencies that are pretty universal to the species. That being said, every lake also has its own set of variables to which the fish have learned to adapt and thus every lake can have its own "personality." Once you get to know a lake's personality, it becomes easier to put the variables together to anticipate what the fish might be doing, and then you test different spots and patterns to determine what they want that day, as described above. As it sounds, all of this takes time to bring together by trial and error, faster if you get the chance to fish with someone who knows a lake or is experienced in breaking down new water.

That all being said... you should know that you were also on a challenging lake on which to "cut your teeth" so to speak. Belews Creek is not what I would call a "novice-friendly" bass lake; it has a few characteristics that fall into a fairly unique combination for a reservoir, including a) heated water, b) constant current not related to wind or a river system, c) very clear water for a piedmont lake, and d) availability of lots of deep areas and major contour changes (drop-offs, rocky ledges, banks that fall into 50+ feet of water over a distance of only a few feet, etc).

The steam plant pulls water in down on the end sort of towards the dam, uses it to cool the turbines and machinery (heating the water), and then ejects it back into the lake through a discharge that re-enters the lake back "upstream." This heats the lake and creates the current. In some areas the current is quite striking but in others it's more subtle but present.

Short version is, Belews is a strange animal and the fishing can be excellent but also can be fickle and difficult to "learn" the lake. This time of year, if you weren't fishing at dawn or dusk, odds are good you may have been fishing too shallow. Most lakes, this time of year you can do well to target 10 to 15ft depth and do well. At Belews 10ft is pretty shallow (except during low light when the fish will often be found charging shad on the surface, but still out in 35 to 80 feet of water, not typically near the bank). If you were casting at the bank, other than in specific spots, there is a good chance the fish were behind you. :D You can run a search on Belews on this forum and there will be quite a few posts (mine and others) on it.

Don't be too let down if you fished Belews for a couple hours and didn't catch anything. I have learned quite a bit about that lake in the last few years and I still struggle to crack the code on any given day, and it often takes longer than a few hours to do it. So yes, it's a test of patience in addition to a test of determination and willingness to keep at it despite not catching fish, especially in the beginning of your learning process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Appreciate everyone's comments, advice and encouragement. I think I knew that Belews is a different kind of environment and my buddy also told me there are multiple things about this particular lake that can be challenging to any fisherman, especially a newbie. It's all good as long as I get to keep trying new water and learning as I go. I'm hoping to give Oak Hollow and HPCL a try soon, and next week I'm fishing with Gary Ribet on a small lake near me. Every day on the water is a good day, whether I catch or not. But I admit, catching is more fun than fishing.

Sincerely,

Captain Obvious
 

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If you're feeling froggy (sorry Gary, couldn't help it) this winter, let me know if you're up to brave the cold sometime, I'll show you around Belews a little. I'm certainly no expert but I can pass along a few things I've scraped together over the last few years. I typically start fishing there around late October till around February. Might not get to go as often this year as years past but I plan to try.

You'll be in good hands with Gary. I hope you guys catch 'em up!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you're feeling froggy (sorry Gary, couldn't help it) this winter, let me know if you're up to brave the cold sometime, I'll show you around Belews a little. I'm certainly no expert but I can pass along a few things I've scraped together over the last few years. I typically start fishing there around late October till around February. Might not get to go as often this year as years past but I plan to try.

You'll be in good hands with Gary. I hope you guys catch 'em up!
I don't mind cold surfrider! Hopefully I'll have my kayak situation resolved by October and I can take you up on your offer. I'm really looking forward to my time with Gary and getting a handle on what style of boat I prefer. It has been a little overwhelming with all the choices, but I'll get it figured out.

I assume the heated water at Belews keeps bass active during the cold weather? The small pond I have been learning on pretty much shuts down once the water gets cold. Maybe on bigger lakes that isn't as much of an issue. Still have to think the bite slows down in winter though?

Anyway, thanks again and I hope we catch 'em up too.
 

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Belews does stay warmer overall in the winter. There are areas that will still get cool, but for the most part, it is warmer than most.

That said, my favorite time to fish is in the winter. The fish are more predictable and group together more than during the warmer months. As long as you dress for it, you can have some great days in the winter, especially here in the south.
 
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I don't mind cold surfrider! Hopefully I'll have my kayak situation resolved by October and I can take you up on your offer. I'm really looking forward to my time with Gary and getting a handle on what style of boat I prefer. It has been a little overwhelming with all the choices, but I'll get it figured out.

I assume the heated water at Belews keeps bass active during the cold weather? The small pond I have been learning on pretty much shuts down once the water gets cold. Maybe on bigger lakes that isn't as much of an issue. Still have to think the bite slows down in winter though?

Anyway, thanks again and I hope we catch 'em up too.
I fish out of an 18 ft center console when I go to Belews, plenty of room for two, so you wouldn't need a kayak if you're going with me. Yes, the water stays warmer (bottoms out around upper 50's to around 60 degrees surface temp in the central portion of the lake, colder the further you go from the hot hole) and the fish do stay more active ... sort of. They still follow winter patterns and a lot of days the bite will be good for a few hours and then go cold again, but they are more lively than typical non-heated lakes for sure. The spotted bass bite is pretty good during winter, also; they seem to tolerate the cold a little better than the largemouth.

Classic addage for winter is "deep and slow with bigger baits" for the sluggish big-fish bite, but Neilslure will tell you the winter bite doesn't have to be slow. He catches them on cranks all winter, and he has stated many times it's often in some of the same places he catches them during warmer months. My winter bass fishing experience is mainly at Belews so I don't have a good feel for the winter pulse on other lakes yet. I hope to focus on City Lake a bit more this year, but I said that last year and it never materialized, the days I had available to fish I just kept going to Belews. :rolleyes: There is a certain draw that lakes has for me during winter, I can't quite put my finger on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
surfirider I sort of missed the details on your various watercraft noted in your "signature". if I can help with fuel costs, I am definitely on board (pun intended) for some winter fishing with you. I'm a novice, but eager to learn and have really enjoyed every minute I've been on any sort of water over the last year or so.

"Deep and Slow" I understand, but what constitutes a "bigger bait"? I'm thinking big soft plastics or heavy jigs with chunky trailers maybe? Maybe a spinner bait? To be honest, I am still working on the fishing vocabulary and it's still a mystery to me sometimes. Combine that with my initial exposure to fly fishing and the even more convoluted jargon, it's enough to make my head spin sometimes. All part of the fun and challenge of leaning something new I guess.

Also, is HPCL a good lake to take a kayak out on as a new paddler? Sure seems to hold some nice fish from what I read hear and I NEED to catch some of them.!

Fish On....
 

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Classic addage for winter is "deep and slow with bigger baits" for the sluggish big-fish bite, but Neilslure will tell you the winter bite doesn't have to be slow. He catches them on cranks all winter, and he has stated many times it's often in some of the same places he catches them during warmer months.
Thats a fact Jack. A bass stuffed to the gills with shad that knocks slack in the line and engulfs a fast moving crankbait is by no means sluggish.:D
 

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"Deep and Slow" I understand, but what constitutes a "bigger bait"? I'm thinking big soft plastics or heavy jigs with chunky trailers maybe? Maybe a spinner bait?

Also, is HPCL a good lake to take a kayak out on as a new paddler?
Yes, HPCL is a good lake for kayaking, due to its size. It's open year round, 7 days a week, with specific hours dictated by length of the day. They occasionally rent the park out for private events and on those days it's closed to the public. Typically they post the dates on their website but it's always best to call out there before you go, just in case. Marina: 336-883-3498

Jigs are popular in winter, as are creature baits or "beaver baits" thrown Texas rigged or on a shakey head jig. Spinner baits slow rolled can be effective from what I have read. As Neil stated, don't ignore crankbaits. I did ok the day after Christmas last year on Badin with a suspending jerkbait, "twitch-twitch-paauuuuse" and also on slopes from deep water to humps near the channel using a creature bait on a Carolina rig. The bigger fish still have to eat sometime. Winter requires a bit more patience in my opinion, and the typical expectation for the bites is "fewer bites but better odds for bigger fish."
 
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Crankbaits are hard to beat in winter. Got to have a jig handy just in case. Deep and slow.........well, 8-10 feet is deep:).
Jerkbaits are hot when the shad start dying, if you can stand to fish slow enough to make it look dead.
 
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