Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Fishing below the Chickamauga Dam near Hixon, TN

Arrived back Sunday from a wonderful trip to visit my in-laws in Hixon, TN. Spent a little time after the Thanksgiving Day festivities fishing below the Chickamauga Lake Dam on Friday and Saturday. Chickamauga Lake is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) chain of lakes located on the Tennessee River. The area is nothing less than a sportsman's paradise to me. There can be some pretty good fishing below the dam for a variety of species, most notably large stripers, catfish, and smallmouth bass. Often, there's a sense of "potluck" anticipation as you really don't know what you'll be catching there.

Fished about 2.5 hours on Friday and maybe 4.5 hours total on Saturday.  Both Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were excellent as the river level was up.  Plenty of bait fish were moving around the abutments located at the railroad bridge, just downstream from the dam.  I found some nice eddy water there and proceeded to cast with a curly-tailed grub around the base of the nearest abutment.

I became very surprised when I began catching temperate bass.  As a matter of fact, those were the only fish that I caught during my trip.  I wound up both days catching a total of 20 fish.  Not bad, considering I didn't move from the spot during my time fishing below the dam.  This was my best fish, a white bass, but the photo doesn't do it justice.  It was a large white bass.  At least, one much larger than I usually catch at my nearby reservoir.
Did I mention the lures that I used?  Normally I'd only discuss my jig ties on this blog, but a fisherman's gotta do what he's gotta do... so, I fished the swimbaits that I have extreme confidence in to search for gamefish in areas I seldom fish.  BTW, I caught my largest yellow bass of this year there and should have taken a photo of it.  Come to think of it, I don't know of too many anglers that get excited about yellow bass (my cop out). ;)  I do wish I had a photo of it to show. :(  Here are the jigs I used:
From top to bottom:
  • 1/8-oz. ball head with a 3-in. Galyan's Performance Series grub in pumpkinseed color.
  • 1/8-oz ball head with a 3-in.YUM Mystic Shad  in MS-Shad pattern.
  • Captain Mick's Minnow Swimbait.
  • 5/32-oz. silver-haired ball head jig tied by "moi". :)
I caught the most fish on the Captain Mick's bait.  The YUM shad came in second and my hair jig third.  Though, my largest yellow bass came on the hair jig. ;)  I abandoned the pumpkinseed grub as I witnessed no one else catching any black bass along the shoreline.  I believe that I made the right decision there. ;)

Overall, the fishing was similar to tidal fishing I'd done in years past.  A rising river produced good fishing for the temperate bass.  The slowdown and eventual shutdown of bites came with the river's falling water level during Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Whip Finish Using a Matarelli Tool

Here's an awesome link that shows how to tie a whip finish knot on your jig with a Matarelli whip finishing tool. The whip finish is thought by many to be the most secure knot for fly (and jig) tying.

Whip Finish with Matarelli Tool 

However, some jig tyers do not need a "bridge" tool to assist with tying the knot.  If you've ever played pool, you'll understand what I mean. ;) I mentioned the method of tying the whip finish by hand on the site back in 2009.  It's worth revisiting.
Whip Finish by Hand
Try both methods sometime to see what you think. :)