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Marine

Fishing Shallow in Highland Reservoirs

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This will sound like a stupid question to most of y'all but I'm a novice at best when it comes to bass fishing; especially the highland lakes. Is it possible to be successful fishing shallow & power fishing on lakes like Norris & Cherokee year around or is there just certain times in the year that you have to fish deep?

Do the rivers (Clinch, Powell, Holston, etc...) hold bass year around & can be fished like any other river?

I'm moving back home to Harlan County, KY 3 years after retiring from the Marine Corps. I'm in the process of getting my boat lake worthy again but in the meantime I'm doing my research... especially by looking through threads on this site.

I know next to nothing about deep water, ledge fishing, etc...

I'm completely self taught and have soooo much more to learn... please look over my newbie/ignorant questions. Hopefully y'all don't get upset if I post too many questions.

 

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First of all, thank you for your service, Devil Dog.  You are (and always will be) a member of an elite fraternity.  As for your questions:  the only stupid ones are the ones you don't ask.  Many of the doods on here will learn from the responses to your questions above.  Your reports will help reinforce that learning.

Power fishing is a relative term when fishing highland bodies of water.  There will be times when the fish come up shallow (<10').  There will be times when 40' may not be deep enuff.   Crankbaits may not be the power fishing bait of choice.  You may need to consider weighted swimbaits, spoons/blades, underspins, heavy spinnerbaits, and heavy swimjigs to cover water quickly and efficiently.  The Tokyo rig may be another.  I've not used it but have seen it used as a power fishing presentation on some videos.  The key is using something you can get and keep (the important part) in the strike zone.

Ledges are an interesting kind of structure.  Not all ledges are created equal.  You'll want to target ledges that are close to shallower flats and channel swings.  These will be places where fish can move to feed and back quickly, effortlessly.  A little map study will help you ID these kinds of places.  A little time over your electronix will help you dial in the locations that are holding fish.

Couple things to keep in mind as you prepare to make your deep water power fishing trips:  1)  Use the right gear.  Throwing deep diving crankbaits will flat wear you out if don't have the correct rod.  Do some homework on how the pros fish deep cranks.  Ask some of the doods on here how they do it.  Same-same for heavy swimbaits, swim jigs.  2)  Semper Gumbi - remain flexible at all times.  You may have 10 or 12 rods out for these trips.  You'll want to cycle thru them all to get to the best solution for the conditions you're fishing.  BPT tie on lots of different stuff, changing colors, body shape, bill length, etc as you work thru options.  3)  Keep a notebook handy.  Take notes on what does, does not work as you work thru your outings.  As you build up a few pages you'll then have an informed start point.  You'll gradually eliminate the guesswork and get to a place where you have some confidence in finding/catching fish.

Finally, congrats on retirement.  Airborne retired 11 years ago after 32 years on active duty.  I find solace in fishing now.  Many of my trips are with my Bros from my active duty days.  Good luck w/ your move to KY.

B

Edited by 31Airborne
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Wow... so much info!!! Thank you!!! Most importantly, thank you for your service brother! I'm going to have to read through your reply a few times before I fully grasp everything... and then I'll probably come back with a bunch more questions...lol.

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Yes, you can catch fish shallow pretty much all year round, and no you dont have to fish in 800' with nanobaits to have success. Success is a relative term tho. To some that might mean 5 or 6 bites a day, to others that would mean having a competitive tournament bag. If your just looking to get bit and you want to only power fish shallow, I think you can do that on most days. But learning about finesse fishing in deeper water will help you be a better fisherman and more competitive in tournaments. If your just "fun fishing" go do what's fun for you. 

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The beauty of this area is versatility. You can find what you’re looking for on most of our area lakes. If you want to go super shallow and flip or frog you can do that and if you want to go deep and crank or finesse fish you can do that too. Keep asking questions, keeping a log is a great idea as airborne posted above. Some days you just have to chalk up as a learning experience and if you keep good enough notes you’ll learn just as much, if not more on the fishless days as you will the slug fest. 

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On 6/17/2020 at 7:28 PM, GlitterRocket said:

Yes, you can catch fish shallow pretty much all year round, and no you dont have to fish in 800' with nanobaits to have success. Success is a relative term tho. To some that might mean 5 or 6 bites a day, to others that would mean having a competitive tournament bag. If your just looking to get bit and you want to only power fish shallow, I think you can do that on most days. But learning about finesse fishing in deeper water will help you be a better fisherman and more competitive in tournaments. If your just "fun fishing" go do what's fun for you. 

I must have gotten ahold of some bad Short Mtn Tonic. GlitterRocket just posted about finesse fishing? The 2020 weirdness continues.

Marine, all joking aside, sometimes just downsizing the line you are using in deeper water will get you more bites. Do the lakes near where you are moving stay at a certain level year round or do they fluctuate 20'-40' from winter to summer pool like the ones here in East Tennessee?

 

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10 hours ago, trackertxw175 said:

I must have gotten ahold of some bad Short Mtn Tonic. GlitterRocket just posted about finesse fishing? The 2020 weirdness continues.

Marine, all joking aside, sometimes just downsizing the line you are using in deeper water will get you more bites. Do the lakes near where you are moving stay at a certain level year round or do they fluctuate 20'-40' from winter to summer pool like the ones here in East Tennessee?

 

Ross, I own 6 spinning rods now! One of which is a shaky head set up. Anyone who knows me may have trouble believing what I just typed, but it's TRUE. Now, your probably never gonna hear me say I can't wait to throw a shaky head, drop shot, or drag a little keitech around, but they do have their place and time.

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On 6/17/2020 at 7:28 PM, GlitterRocket said:

Yes, you can catch fish shallow pretty much all year round, and no you dont have to fish in 800' with nanobaits to have success. Success is a relative term tho. To some that might mean 5 or 6 bites a day, to others that would mean having a competitive tournament bag. If your just looking to get bit and you want to only power fish shallow, I think you can do that on most days. But learning about finesse fishing in deeper water will help you be a better fisherman and more competitive in tournaments. If your just "fun fishing" go do what's fun for you. 

I'm 100% going to learn how to fish deeper waters; offshore. I'm at the very beginning of learning/researching about fishing offshore and didn't know if highland lakes like Norris, Cherokee, & Douglas were almost always an offshore, deep water fishery  (with exception of the spawn). 

I'm nowhere near tournament ready. I'm sure there's plenty of folks that fish tournaments that have a lower skill set than my own but I'm not going to compete w/o being confident in myself. The only exception would be entering a tournament just for the heck of it... just solely for fun w/o expectation to win.

I only want to fish for fun with my family & for use in helping me battle my combat related PTSD... however, I want to become a great bass fisherman... regardless if I ever fish a tournament.

Thank you for the info & advice! 

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On 6/18/2020 at 12:12 PM, bronzebackhuntr said:

The beauty of this area is versatility. You can find what you’re looking for on most of our area lakes. If you want to go super shallow and flip or frog you can do that and if you want to go deep and crank or finesse fish you can do that too. Keep asking questions, keeping a log is a great idea as airborne posted above. Some days you just have to chalk up as a learning experience and if you keep good enough notes you’ll learn just as much, if not more on the fishless days as you will the slug fest. 

100% agree... mistakes & failure is one of the greatest learning tools...

Basically you're saying, in regards to versatility, is that each lake has areas that you can fish shallow or fish deep & have opportunities to catch fish at each type (shallow or offshore) somewhat year around... obviously not counting the spawn.

I've already came up with the idea to make trips where fishing is secondary to learning how to find offshore structure, humps, ledges, ditches, etc... using electronics, GPS, sonar, imagining, & good Ol' fashion paper maps.

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21 hours ago, trackertxw175 said:

I must have gotten ahold of some bad Short Mtn Tonic. GlitterRocket just posted about finesse fishing? The 2020 weirdness continues.

Marine, all joking aside, sometimes just downsizing the line you are using in deeper water will get you more bites. Do the lakes near where you are moving stay at a certain level year round or do they fluctuate 20'-40' from winter to summer pool like the ones here in East Tennessee?

 

Not really, I've only fished shallow waters down here... plus I haven't fished from a boat much at all. I was able to fish Douglas several times from a pontoon I owned while I was a recruiter in Knoxville, but that was only a handful of trips. On those trips I only fished shallow because that was all I knew about at the time. 

I'm going to learn how to fish both deep & shallow water... power fishing & finesse.

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@Marine, one word of advise I will give you. Is don’t overwhelm yourself. You can try and take on too much when fishing. Sometimes the K.I.S.S method is the best approach when starting out. 

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10 hours ago, bronzebackhuntr said:

@Marine, one word of advise I will give you. Is don’t overwhelm yourself. You can try and take on too much when fishing. Sometimes the K.I.S.S method is the best approach when starting out. 

I was looking for the word that best describes how I'm feeling about learning new techniques/styles, remembering knowledge I've forgotten, & getting up to date on the fishing industry (rods, reels, baits, new companies, etc...)... you found the word for me "OVERWHELMED."

Like the company "Lews," it seems like they're a huge presence in the bass fishing world now. 2013 was the last time I was active in bass fishing & there's been a lot of changes in those 7 years. When I was active Quantum's EXO & Smoke reels were pretty new. At that time Quantum had a very big selection of reels but now it seems like they've greatly downsized their selection; it's like Lews has taken some wind out of Quantum's sails but I'm just taking a guess. Not long before I stopped fishing I bought several Quantum KVD Tour rods and reels.

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Lews is hard to beat. Very compact & fairly light. The $99 lfs model is a nice little reel for the price. So is the Bass pro shops pro qualifier 2. 

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Deep water finesse fishing took me awhile to learn, and I’m still pretty inept at it. But man, the newer electronics these days make it a much easier task

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