When it comes to Allatoona striper fishing in June, Russell Dobbs, of Dallas, has acquired a good knowledge on how to catch them in the summertime heat.
Russell has landed his fair share of June stripers in his 20 years of fishing Allatoona. When Russell first started learning how to catch stripers, it was all trial and error for him. He basically taught himself throughout his years on the water.
When I planned a fishing trip with Russell for April 24, I was very excited to see how he got out there to catch these fish. Russell also invited his good friend Arnie Davis on this trip. We put in at the Clarks Creek boat ramp, and we fished locations on this trip that Russell would fish in June to catch stripers.
Right at daylight, we picked up a spotted bass, and later on we picked up a small striper and a hybrid bass. When we went, everything was almost in place for the summer pattern. All the baitfish were where they were suppose to be, and the water temperature was almost just right, but the stripers were just not staged yet in these locations like they would be in June. Either way, Russell, Arnie and I had a blast out on the water and killed some time as we talked strategy for summertime stripers on Allatoona.
Russell uses spinning reels and baitcasting reels. For spinning reels, he prefers Mitchells with 7-foot Mitchell rods, soft action. For baitcaster reels, Russell likes Abu Garcia Ambassadeurs with 7-foot Okuma and Pinnacle rods, medium action.
On Russell’s baitcasting reels, he has 10- to 20-lb. Berkley fishing line with a 4- to 6-foot leader of 8-lb. line and a barrel swivel connecting them together. The clearer the water, the longer the leader needs to be. For spinning reels, he uses 8-lb. Seagaur fluorocarbon fishing line.
A 1-oz. sinker will be attached for downlines while fishing.
Russell has rodholders on his boat for all of the fishing rods.
Figuring out what kind of hook to use can be a very confusing subject, and most people would think for stripers you would use a big hook. Russell take the complete opposite approach.
“I typically use a No. 1 or No. 2 circle hook for smaller bait and a 1/0 or 2/0 hook for bigger bait,” said Russell. “The reasoning behind the size of this hook is I like to stay stealthy. You want the hook to match the bait you are using. The smaller the hook, the more fish you will catch. A small hook will let your live bait swim natural.”
Allatoona is a heavily pressured lake, and Russell likes to use precaution and stealth on these stripers, which has paid off over the years.
Live or artificial bait? During June, Russell likes to use live bait. He always catches his own bait to use. Before daylight, Russell gets out with a green Hydro Glow light around bridge pilings to catch threadfin shad and gizzard shad, which stripers tend to feed on during these warm months.
“Bait is the most important key to catching stripers,” said Russell. “Threadfin shad are the easiest to find during June. Gizzard shad become a little harder to find in June, but you can usually find them in the backs of coves or in flat muddy bottoms. If you put in at the Block House boat ramp and go to the 75 interstate bridge, that is a true honey hole for bait. I always want my bait fresh, so catching my bait before daylight the same day I am going to fish is a good way to have fresh bait instead of catching them a few days before.”
Russell uses an 8-foot Joy Fish cast net with 3/8-inch square mesh to catch his bait. If the bait is bunched up, you could catch up to 100 shad in one cast. A technique Russell uses is when he throws the cast net, he cuts off the Hydro Glow light before the net hits the water, which disorients the baitfish, and they can’t see the cast net coming. If you would not cut the light off, the baitfish would see it coming and have time to scatter. Once Russell catches his bait to fish with, he puts them in a 40-gallon bait tank.
“I always fill my bait tank with the water hose at the house,” said Russell. “Using this water is much more clear and cooler for the baitfish. Filling the bait tank up with lake water right off the top will be too hot for the bait. Putting Sure-Life Shad-Keeper and rock salt in the tank will keep the shad healthy.”
When you use water from your house, it may contain chlorine and fluoride, which will kill shad. The Shad-Keeper is a dechlorinator and clears it up. There are other dechlorinators on the market, like the ones people use in house fish tanks. So make plans to use Shad-Keeper or a different dechlorinator and rock salt. Russell fills his bait tank the night before, but he says you can add Shad-Keeper the morning you plan to fish.
“I will use artificial baits occasionally, but I mostly use artificials in river streams. Sometimes I will fish bucktail jigs, umbrella rigs or a white Rooster Tail if they are busting the surface, but catching the bait I use is something I truly enjoy, so I always prefer live bait.”
If you do not want to catch your own bait or use artificials, you can purchase large bass shiners at local gas stations and bait shops, like the Dugout.
The only place Russell knows that sells threadfins and gizzard shad is the Striper Soup Bait & Tackle at 4705 S. Main Street in Acworth.
Time To Fish
Block House, Red Top Mountain, Clarks Creek, Tanyard Creek boat ramps are prime locations to launch during June and troll baits around for stripers. Water clarity is something Russell always looks at before he heads out. Clearer the water, the better off you will be.
For Russell, the morning bite is always the best. Right off the bat, he trolls around looking for bait on his Lowrance fish finder mainly because stripers follow around baitfish, like threadfin and gizzard shad. Main-lake humps, marinas, points, mouths of creeks and where channels meet together are good locations for finding stripers and also where baitfish will be funneling through. The main-lake points near Tanyard Creek and Clarks Creek are good locations to start.
“Sometimes I will fish an area where there will be no fish on the fish finder, but I know the fish will funnel through the area soon,” said Russell.
The bite will generally be in 30 feet of water, but later in the summer it will depend on the depth of the thermocline. The thermocline is a significant water temperature change that occurs when you go deeper in the lake. The surface temperature in the summer is warm but turns very cool the deeper you go in the lake. Also, there is a lack of oxygen near and below the thermocline. Stripers usually like to be right above the thermocline. If you were to drop a baitfish below the thermocline, it would not survive very long. Baitfish like warmer water, so they stay right above the thermocline, also. Allatoona’s summertime thermocline ranges between 25 and 35 feet deep. Once Russell finds some fish on the fish finder, it’s time to wet some hooks.
“I usually run four to six freelines out the back of the boat and four downlines,” said Russell. “Typically I run freelines out 30 to 100 feet, and downlines are at different depths but usually hang around 25 feet until I find out exactly what depth the fish are at.”
Whether freelining or downlining, Russell prefers to hook his threadfins and gizzards through the nose to give them the ability of swim around.
“The nighttime bite for stripers on Allatoona can be very good, I even think you can catch better fish at night,” said Russell. “Most people swap over to nighttime fishing mainly because of the June heat during the daytime. During the night, stripers usually move to flat, shallow areas to eat. You can use the same baitfish during the night that you use in the day.”
Moon phases could possibly slow down the striper bite during June, but Russell still catches fish regardless of what moon phase it is. Last year, Russell caught a 35-lb. striper in Allatoona on a 3-inch gizzard shad, so no doubt Allatoona holds some big stripers.
“I love it when people call Allatoona the Dead Sea, because I have gone very few times fishless on this lake,” said Russell. “It mostly got this wrap because fisherman are using too big of equipment now. What has always helped me is to be stealthy. Smaller line, smaller hooks. Many times I have turned my fish finder off because the fish will hear the tinging of the fish finder. It is just the small things like that will help you put many more fish in the boat.”