Chatuge: Level: 0.9 feet below full pool Temp: Mid to high 80s. Clarity: Clear.
Bass: Tournament angler Houston McClurkan reports, “July can be a great month to catch some big bass on Lake Chatuge. I start fishing early—really early. Since the water is so warm, I typically don’t go very far into the creeks. Instead I focus on points, bluff banks and laydowns on the main lake. In the morning, usually before first light, I will start shallow on points and work my way out to deeper water with either a Heddon Super Spook or a Sebile Ghost Walker. A steady walk-the-dog retrieve on both of these baits has been working well. If these baits don’t produce, I switch to a drop shot with a 2-foot leader and a pink Roboworm and begin working fish that appear on the electronics. Some mornings I will start by fishing laydowns in hopes of catching a nice largemouth. My usual approach for fishing laydowns lately has been a Zoom Super Fluke in blue glimmer or a Donkey rig (a double-fluke rig). Go to https://youtu.be/p-kZosu_6UM to view a video made by Houston McClurkan showing how to rig and fish a Donkey rig. The bass will bite them in the morning and all through the afternoon. Give the fluke a nice long cast way up in the brush, and let it sink for at least 5 seconds before using a ‘pop, pop, pause’ retrieve. Many of the bass caught have either been while the bait was on the fall or within the first two pops of the bait. As day breaks and the sun starts beating down, it’s usually a Texas rig, shaky head or a drop shot. The go-to bait has always been the watermelon-red Zoom Trick Worm on all three rigs. Some days they prefer a Texas rig over a drop shot, and some days a shaky head over a Texas rig, but most days they will all be equally as effective. Work these baits slowly by bumping them on the bottom, yes, even the drop shot. I have been having a lot of success casting a drop shot lately. Last but not least, a medium-deep-diving crankbait such as a Bomber Fat Free Shad or a SPRO Little John DD have been working well around rocky, shaded points. These patterns should somewhat follow through into August. Some conditions such as rain will cause changes in the fishing. If rain comes, the bass tend to relate to cover more. Hitting laydowns with flukes and a Texas-rigged worm should work well most of the day in those conditions.” Guide Eric Welch reports, “The bite is good. The spotted bass have been chasing bait the first couple hours in the morning. I’m targeting these fish back in flats and pockets, throwing a Zara Spook, Strike King Sexy Dawg and Zoom Fluke. Once the sun gets up, the bass will move out to the mouths of the creeks and pockets and are suspending, waiting on baitfish. When they’re like this, I’m using a Fish Head Spin and a Strike King 5 1/2 Sexy Spoon. They’re really liking the flash the spoons give off. By midday I’m starting to fish deep points and laydowns with jigs, drop shots and Texas rigs. I will also fish any docks that the creeks turn in front of or that have a drop out in front. I have also been catching a few largemouths back in creeks.”
Linesides: Guide Jeremy Seabolt reports, “There is a good hybrid bite going on at Lake Chatuge. Look on long points that run 40 to 80 feet deep. We been catching 15 to 30 fish a morning. The hybrids are making a comeback on the lake. The dam area and Point 3 have been holding big schools fish. Downline your herring 40 feet deep, and watch your fishfinder and figure out what depth they’re holding. As we go in to August, the Chatuge hybrids will be moving more down to the dam. Target deeper water.”