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Thread: Hartwell Nightstalk Results

  1. #1
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    Default Hartwell Nightstalk Results


    Sorry this post is kind of long. I don't post many reports because 90% of my fishing is for stripers and when I crappie fish there are so many on this forum that are way better than me that I don't feel like I have much to add. But on this trip I felt like I implemented some of my striper techniques on the crappie and some may find it interesting.

    I've been fishing Hartwell a little for hybrids lately and have been seeing a lot of crappie in a couple of creeks. One day I did a little live scoping just to make sure what I was seeing was crappie and got two really nice ones before the entire school got really spooky. Then I picked up a couple big ones on bama rigs as well.

    With yesterday being a predicted rain out (which it wasn't), I decided to fish Friday night (02/09) instead. I was hoping I could draw those hybrids and crappie to the lights and bend a few ultralight rods. I normally like to set up before dark when I night fish because I can see where the bait schools and fish are hanging better in the daytime. I feel like at night a lot of the bait schools tend to break up and are harder to pick up. Luckily I had fished a little that morning and knew exactly where the water was transitioning between muddy and clean. Since the two big flooding rains over the last month, those transition points have been holding a ton of bait and the most active fish for me. I set up right in that zone where it was just starting to get a little cleaner. But as predicted I wasn't marking the massive bait schools or fish I had been seeing in the daytime, I just had to go on faith that I was in the right area. But as soon as I turned on my green under water lights I could see bait moving to me on livescope right away.

    At first I set most of my rods right at the bottom of the baits schools (15 feet) like I typically do for hybrids. But watching live scope I could clearly see fish crashing through the bait out away from the light only 4 to 6 feet down. I set the two rods the furthest away from my lights to 6 feet and started picking up really nice crappie right away. But I kept noticing that the majority of the fish were further out than those rods. So I turned one of my three lights off, and moved the other two lights as far forward as I could. Then it was game on for a while with the two rods furthest away from the lights. I was by myself and it was kind of hard to keep up with for a little while. Then as things slowed a little I noticed that the only rods getting hit had gold hooks. I had 4 rods out with gold #4 hooks and 4 with even smaller black hooks. They wanted no part of the black hook rods till I switched them to gold as well. Eventually, the crappie started hitting a little deeper and closer to the light as well. I would watch live scope and adjust depths based on where I was seeing the majority of the fish that were actively moving through slashing at the bait schools. You would see less active fish down deeper about 20 to 25 feet and I was only able to get two of those to bite. The most active fish were 14 feet or less.

    When things would slow, I tried a few things I do with the stripers/hybrids. I would tap on the floor of the boat or even splash the water. My goal was to disturb the bait and make it panic a little hoping to generate a predator reaction. It worked. After tapping a few times you would start to see more fish coming up into the bait schools and I would pick up a bite or two. What worked really well was turning off every light in the boat for a minute or so. I don't advise this on a crowded night. But it was nice and calm so I could hear any boats from a long ways off, and the lake was pretty much empty. Anyway, right after I would turn my lights back on, I almost always would pick up a fish or two. I started doing this years ago when we would go out at night to catch our herring before bait shops sold them. When we would throw the net we would cover our big sodium vaper light with a board so the herring couldn't see the net coming. We would usually have a few rods out on the other side of the boat and we would catch a bunch of stripers right after throwing that net and covering the light.

    A buddy of mine was out on another creek arm fishing as well and wasn't doing any good so I called him in. He set up about 50 yards from me and never caught a fish while I was there. I was still catching them but it had slowed dramatically form the frantic pace it was. But I also didn't want to kill my lights anymore because I was afraid all the bait and fish would move to him. But the tapping and splashing was still working to some degree. By about 1:30, I had caught and released 38 really nice sized ones, only two were more medium sized and nothing really small. I decided to pack it in to see if me leaving would help my buddy out. He stayed a couple more hours and was able to catch 13 good ones. I told him to try cutting his lights occasionally and he said that triggered a lot of his bites. Oddly neither one of us caught a single hybrid which is very unusual given how many have been in that creek.

    Oh one other thing that was critical. I had small tuffy minnows and medium shiners both segregated in holding pens in my livewell. They absolutely wanted the bigger sized baits. I had very few hits on the traditional small crappie minnows I would normally use. Only reason I brought the bigger baits was for the hybrids. Really glad I did. It made me wish that I had thrown the cast net and gotten some threadfins to try as well.

    In the pics attached all of these were the average size crappie I was catching, definitely not the biggest ones I caught. I just happened to have my phone handy when these hit. That is a size 12 boot beside that one to give you some idea of scale.
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  2. #2
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    Sounds like a great time
    The love for fishing is one of the best gifts you can pass along

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    Quote Originally Posted by DockShootinJack View Post
    Sounds like a great time
    It was for sure. My buddy that was supposed to go with me had to cancel because he has 6 kidney stones. I know I had a better time than him.
    HaHa gabowman haha

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    Good report and sounds like a blast. Thanks for sharing.

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    Very good detailed report. Congrats on the night of catching. Love nightstalking but been years since I have been. Little things done different at night can make the difference of catching or not catching. Rango told me years ago to be sure to throw a couple of lines out past the lights on a lighted cork and on most trips it worked. I would think live scope would be a great tool at night. Enjoyed reading your report.
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    Quote Originally Posted by STUMP HUNTER View Post
    Very good detailed report. Congrats on the night of catching. Love nightstalking but been years since I have been. Little things done different at night can make the difference of catching or not catching. Rango told me years ago to be sure to throw a couple of lines out past the lights on a lighted cork and on most trips it worked. I would think live scope would be a great tool at night. Enjoyed reading your report.
    You bring up a very good point. As I was watching all those shallow fish further out from the light, I kept thinking that I could slay them with a slip cork rig set at about 5 feet. A lighted one would be even better.
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    At times I would catch alot of fish off corks tossed to the edge of the lights. You had a GREAT trip. Those look like quality fish. I also enjoyed the read. Congrats.
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    That’s some great info. Have tried a few of the things you brought out. But the lights off and on is a new one for me. But will try it soon as I get out again.


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    Thanks for posting this for everyone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ofishlbizzness View Post
    That’s some great info. Have tried a few of the things you brought out. But the lights off and on is a new one for me. But will try it soon as I get out again.


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    On that trip I had no shad visible in the lights, but there was only about 2 feet of visibility. When I would tun all the lights off, within about 20 to 30 seconds you could see shad all over the surface making little V wakes everywhere. Within about a minute of turning the lights back on I would start getting hits.

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