and Summer Tennessee River Stripes
(How to Locate them and Lure them)
Tennessee is famous for a lot of things: Rocky top, Davey Crockett, Big Orange Country, and of course the mighty Tennessee River. Whether you're a mountain climber, a history buff, or a Vol fan, one activity you need to participate in at least once is doing battle with one of our monster Tennessee River striped bass.
Since their introduction in the 1970's, there has been a growing population of fishermen and women calling themselves "Striper Fishermen." The numbers in this group are skyrocketing as communication advances such as the internet have enabled the average weekend angler the ability to easily acquire information crucial to the pursuit of these highly migratory fish.
There are certain key aspects to the striper's existence in the Tennessee River which allow us to locate and catch it. We must learn and understand some of these basic needs in order to become successful. Needs which are absolutely critical to striper in the Tennessee River in spring and summer are: 1) Food source, 2) Water conditions including temperature, current, and depth.
Now because the Tennessee River has such a rich ecosystem, there is practically food for the striper anywhere there is water. Knowing this, you need to focus on areas where food is concentrated. Food for striper is shad. Shad give off a smell in the water that often times invades our above water world as well. Chances are if you are smelling fish in an area, there is an abundant shad supply. Fishing that area would be a great idea.
Since food is practically everywhere, why aren't the stripers? Water temperature. Tennessee is approaching the southernmost range for this cool water species. This factor alone may be the most important factor to catching fish. When water temps reach 75 F, big fish become stressed out. As temperatures climb higher, summer surface temps here can peak at 90, the fish will swim up and down in the water column through the thermocline (an area of rapid temperature change usually occurring between 25 and 40 feet) in an unnatural attempt to regulate their body temperature while still obtaining enough oxygen to survive. The key to remember here is to try and keep your cool.
Well, you've found plenty of shad, you're in cool water, now what? Hopefully you've already invested the time and money to acquire such things as a boat, a quality bait tank (and some lively bait to go in it), a good depthfinder, some decent rods and reels (they will be tested when you hook up), hooks, planer boards, pliers, camera, scale, and the list goes on. Lively bait is probably your next most important step to catching fish. It's hard to beat a frisky 8" gizzard shad. However you prefer to fish, place your baits in the water, begin drifting or trolling, and cover lots of water.
Most stripes aren't shy and will at least show you where they are if not chomp down on your bait in a frenzied display of raw fishpower. Whether it's a 5 pounder or a 50 pounder, it's thrilling every time. So the next time you stop into town to see the football game or drive through the Smoky Mountains, bring your boat, and if you did your homework, you will be SEEIN' STRIPES.
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