Dead as a doornail

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

About all I can say this week is that I hope you’re catching more fish than I am. This has been as tough as I can ever remember. I went out the other night and blanked — not even a nibble. I’m not saying I’m the best angler around, but I’ve fished this lake for a lot of years. I can’t remember when that’s ever happened before. It was bad — dead as a doornail.

For sure, the biggest part of the problem is the drought and the lack of oxygen. A couple of weeks ago I told you there were dead fish floating around down here and that the state fisheries office sent a couple off to a lab somewhere to be analyzed. The results came back the other day and, sure enough, they died from a lack of oxygen.

It has to be the drought. They said they were pulling cold water from deep in the lake, and that was part of the problem, but I’m not convinced. It hasn’t been that hot lately, so why would the electric demand be the cause of this or even be a big part of it?

That’s the bad news. There is some good stuff going on, though. The fish seem to be moving shallow a little earlier this year. From what I’ve heard, that’s happening all around the country. I’m guessing it’s because of the rains we’ve had lately. The creeks and cuts are definitely cooler. The rainwater should have more oxygen in it, too.

That might get better with the hurricane that’s headed our way. If it misses most of Florida and follows the west side of the state, the weatherman says we might get some rain from it. Actually, it might reach almost all the way to the Great Lakes. That’ll help the drought and fill some of the reservoirs with oxygen-rich water.

I’m not saying that the hurricane is a good thing. It’s terrible for the people who suffer through it. But the rain will help other parts of the country. Life is a tradeoff.

If I were to offer an opinion about catching a few right now it would be to fish the inflows early and late in the day. Around here, the early morning has been better, but that might be different where you live. Topwater baits have been the best producers.

We’ve been walking frogs right off the bank over the first drop. They seem to take the bait right on the break. I’d suggest you pause a natural colored one for a few seconds right on that spot. You also might want to try buzzbaits. I have several reports of guys really tearing them up on chartreuse and white, black and white.

The early and late bite is a really good sign. It means that even though the fish aren’t all that active right now, they’re starting to think about wanting to feed. If they’re moving early and late right now, it won’t be long before they’re moving and feeding all day.

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