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Dhoff024

Strip mine/quarry lake with little to no cover

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Hi, this is my first post. I live in western pa and fish for just about everything and anything but my favorite is bass fishing. I have been fishing forever but the past few years i have barely went out fishing if at all. I have tried to get out as much as I can this year to get back into it. Part of my problem is I'm more of a lake/pond fisherman vs. River fishing but I'm not opposed to anything by any means. My skills with lures isn't the greatest either, I am used to using live bait that is kind of what I grew up using and what I was tought to fish with. I recently gained permission to fish a private lake. It is in an old sand and gravel yard that is no longer used and the owner turned it into a lake. It is a fairly big lake but not overwhelmingly big. The water is crystal clear and it's about 35 ft deep at its deepest point. I was told it holds bass, bluegill, catfish, walleye, and carp. There is very little cover if any, no trees in the water, no logs, or vegetation. Some areas gradually drop off and others go straight down from the shoreline. As far as I can see into the water the bottom is rocky. I'm not used to fishing this type of water. I'm used to fishing water that has alot of cover, weeds, submerged cover like trees and logs. There is a pontoon boat and a few small jon boats that I have access to but kind of just wanted to check it out from shore before i would use a boat. I would rather the property owner take me out on the boat first before i went by myself. I was fishing today with some flathead minnows under a bobber from shore and caught 1 small largemouth probably a pound or less and 1 smallmouth that was at least a pound. I saw a bunch of bluegill and some silver fish pretty good in size cruising the bottom right as the shoreline drops off I have no idea what they were. Is there any advice to fishing a lake like this? Preferably with live bait but I am going to use this lake to hone in some of my skills and techniques and experiment with some lures but this was my first day out there and just wanted some advice on a lake like this. Thanks in advance for any input.

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5 minutes ago, Dhoff024 said:

Hi, this is my first post. I live in western pa and fish for just about everything and anything but my favorite is bass fishing. I have been fishing forever but the past few years i have barely went out fishing if at all. I have tried to get out as much as I can this year to get back into it. Part of my problem is I'm more of a lake/pond fisherman vs. River fishing but I'm not opposed to anything by any means. My skills with lures isn't the greatest either, I am used to using live bait that is kind of what I grew up using and what I was tought to fish with. I recently gained permission to fish a private lake. It is in an old sand and gravel yard that is no longer used and the owner turned it into a lake. It is a fairly big lake but not overwhelmingly big. The water is crystal clear and it's about 35 ft deep at its deepest point. I was told it holds bass, bluegill, catfish, walleye, and carp. There is very little cover if any, no trees in the water, no logs, or vegetation. Some areas gradually drop off and others go straight down from the shoreline. As far as I can see into the water the bottom is rocky. I'm not used to fishing this type of water. I'm used to fishing water that has alot of cover, weeds, submerged cover like trees and logs. There is a pontoon boat and a few small jon boats that I have access to but kind of just wanted to check it out from shore before i would use a boat. I would rather the property owner take me out on the boat first before i went by myself. I was fishing today with some flathead minnows under a bobber from shore and caught 1 small largemouth probably a pound or less and 1 smallmouth that was at least a pound. I saw a bunch of bluegill and some silver fish pretty good in size cruising the bottom right as the shoreline drops off I have no idea what they were. Is there any advice to fishing a lake like this? Preferably with live bait but I am going to use this lake to hone in some of my skills and techniques and experiment with some lures but this was my first day out there and just wanted some advice on a lake like this. Thanks in advance for any input.

I would go with a crank bait of several depths to make sure you can reach them all, cranks are very easy to use and can locate the fish Bc you can cast out and just reel them right back.  Figure out what depth and what colors they like. Either that or a skirted jig.. if it's clear water I would go with green pumpkin / brown ... more natural colors. You can cast those and use them at any depth as well. A good arkie style jig is good for that. 

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First thing you need to do is locate the old ramps used to drive the excavation machinery in and out, they provide a clear and easily fished path for the fish to follow and will always hold fish.  Find them by dragging a jig across the bottom, or if the boats have any kind of depth finders they will speed the process up.  

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Thanks for the replies. I am going to have to go stock up on some new tackle. I have a few different lures but most of my tackle is for live bait. I have a few different poles and will probably take all of them with me the next time I go out so that I can use a few different setups to see what works so i don't constantly have to keep changing things up. I also feel like the time of day was working against me today. I had to go when the owner could let me in and didn't get there until 11am and stayed until about 3. Now that I know how to access the lake I would like to get out early and also hit it at dusk I feel like I will have some better luck with fish being closer to the shoreline. I am assuming since it was in the 80's today and being around midday most of the bigger fish were in deeper water. I am guessing this lake is going to be alot of trial and error to figure it out. I appreciate the input and any other advice is appreciated.

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Welcome to the forums.

I fished similar pits here in Illinois for years. Crystal clear water that drops off quickly into 30+ft.  There were a few areas where the drop was a slower taper and a couple of islands. Indiana was right on about finding a ramp if one exists.  Two things I found out early were; After the spawn, the fish (not just bass) tend to suspend and once you find that depth, catching can be very good. The other thing is to parallel the shoreline with your presentations as much as possible.  One thing to keep in mind and that is SHADE. Those steep drop offs are like bluff walls and offer plenty of shade but for a couple of hours mid-day.  The fish will hold shallower in the shaded areas and tend to hold close to that edge it provides. 

Smaller baits (I bagged a lot of fish on crappie sized cranks and split shot 6in. worms) and light line, fluorocarbon if you prefer, will get you more bites.  You didn't mention if you'll be fishing from shore, or a boat.  Pits are great bodies of water to fish from shore if there isn't a lot of brush and such to deal with.

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28 minutes ago, papajoe222 said:

Welcome to the forums.

I fished similar pits here in Illinois for years. Crystal clear water that drops off quickly into 30+ft.  There were a few areas where the drop was a slower taper and a couple of islands. Indiana was right on about finding a ramp if one exists.  Two things I found out early were; After the spawn, the fish (not just bass) tend to suspend and once you find that depth, catching can be very good. The other thing is to parallel the shoreline with your presentations as much as possible.  One thing to keep in mind and that is SHADE. Those steep drop offs are like bluff walls and offer plenty of shade but for a couple of hours mid-day.  The fish will hold shallower in the shaded areas and tend to hold close to that edge it provides. 

Smaller baits (I bagged a lot of fish on crappie sized cranks and split shot 6in. worms) and light line, fluorocarbon if you prefer, will get you more bites.  You didn't mention if you'll be fishing from shore, or a boat.  Pits are great bodies of water to fish from shore if there isn't a lot of brush and such to deal with.

Papajoe thanks for the input. I will probably be fishing from shore most of the time but do have access to use a boat on the lake. One side of the lakes shoreline is pretty accessible the other side is pretty treacherous and would be better fished by boat. One thing I noticed about the shorline that is fishable is that most of the shoreline has like a little rocky ridge/mound of dirt and rock built up, so you have to climb up the small mound and fish from up top. Most of the shoreline that is mounded up like that has a steep drop off in the water. There are a few cut outs in these mounds one is fairly large where the boats are tied to the shore and the others are smaller and spread out but in all these cutouts the drop off in the water is more gradual. At the far end of the lake as I was leaving today I did notice some shore access where the lake empties into a stream/creek I may try to see if I can get anything there when I go back. The gentleman that owns the property said that this past Saturday he caught some nice crappie from shore around dusk right where the boats are with a minnow and big. He said he had it stocked with walleye and used to troll for them but he said most were real skinny he doesn't know how well or if they have done real well in the lake. He also said the bass seem to be real finicky but he always had good luck with creek chubs so maybe I will try to get some lures with that coloration. He said you can catch bluegill with nightcrawlers but to me bluegill get old fast I'd rather catch anything else but bluegill most of the time. He takes his kids there and kids always have fun catching bluegill. Also I like the advice of fishing parallel to the shoreline that is how I caught both my fish today and even though I wasn't using a lure I still used that method and it worked for both fish I caught today.

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I fished strip mine ponds a lot years ago, the ones around here are also deep and very clear. One of the big keys for me was to fish them late in the evening because the fish were a lot tougher to catch mid-day. In that last half hour or so before sunset they would really turn on, and a buzzbait was often a great way to catch them.

 

Good luck and welcome to the forum!

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We use to fish swimming worms - now I would use wacky rigged senkos - and topwaters were always a good chance for big fish - with the topwaters we had to be persistent.

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Every yinzer knows that we don't have crystal clear water 'round here...

 

Sounds like a sweet little honey hole. Spend some time on the water, experiment with lures and presentations, and I'm sure you'll eventually figure them out. 

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I fish in an old gravel pit, the water has good clarity, if it hasn't came a flash floods and put a lot of runoff in it the visibility is around 4-5 feet but after long rainy periods it will get to about a foot. I fish from the bank so I'm not sure how deep it is, but even a few feet off the bank I can fish a crankbait that dives to 6' and it doesn't hit bottom until about 3-4 ft from the bank. I've heard one guy say it was only 5' at the deepest but several others have said that it's over 30'. It really doesn't have much cover, the bottom is real sandy too. It has a little bit of grass in spots but it's not thick, looks more like snot when it comes out on my bait. There's several places where there's trees laid over in the water, the landowner had cut down some small trees and threw them in mainly along the bank in about 5 or 6 spots. But I usually catch the bass on a Berkely Powerbait red eye shad 3 inch. Last week I caught them on an orange rooster tail and a Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbait in Red Ant. I'm not sure why the reds and oranges are working this time of the year but you have to get out there right around sunrise because around 9:30-10 it's already 90°F with heat index of 100. That's the bad thing about living in Southeast Louisiana, it's way to hot in the summer but at least the fishing is still good in December and January. 

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I fish clear water strip pits 99.9% of the time.  I've been trying to crack the code into consistently catching large bass but I've had no luck in the answer.  I always catch one very large bass a year (five to six pound), if I'm lucky I will catch two a year.  Yeah, clear water strip pit fishing it tough.  I have some bass fishing books, a few mention strip pits.  And if you read between the lines, the all agree strip pit fishing is the toughest.  In fact, the book 'Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers' even says 'don't' fish strip pits because they are so tough.  

 

 All of my large bass have come on spinning reels, one or two using ten pound mono, the rest using eight and six pound.  I've never caught a large bass on any line over ten pounds.  Hard baits are nearly worthless in the strip pits I fish.  Plastic worms and soft stick baits rule.  

 

 

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10 hours ago, fishballer06 said:

Every yinzer knows that we don't have crystal clear water 'round here...

 

Sounds like a sweet little honey hole. Spend some time on the water, experiment with lures and presentations, and I'm sure you'll eventually figure them out. 

Fishballer you are correct in our neck of the woods there isn't clear water that's why I don't exactly how to fish this water haha but I can assure you it's the clearest water I have ever fished especially in our area.

 

Thanks to everyone else for the responses I'm probably going to buy an assortment of crankbaits that swim at different depths as well as some other softbaits and just try things out. I'm going to upgrade my tackle box so I have a few options to see what works im also going to bring a pole to fish on the bottom with some live bait see what I get if anything. Just going to try a bunch of different stuff out and see what I find works. I'm also going to hit the lake in the evening and then in the morning just to see what happens. I also may get a top water lure like a buzzbait and see if I can get anything stirred up. I appreciate all the input I'll let everyone know what happens the next time I get out there.

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A private strip pit?  Sounds like fun.  You might need to acquire some gear to make it more fun.  You said jon boats are available.

USE THEM.  If you feel weird going out in them by yourself - get over it.  The owner wouldn't have given you permission if he/she

felt wrong about you using the available gear.  

 

Get your own trolling motor.   I'd recommend the largest one you can afford - Minn Kota makes a 55 lb thrust one 12 volt and variable speed.  (Variable speed is handy and worth the extra coin over the one with 4 or 5 fixed speeds.)

 

If the jon boats have oar locks - get a decent set of oars.  Get a portable depth finder - I'd recommend the Hummingbird Fishing Buddy.  That will greatly increase the learning curve of understanding the various depths.   The previous advice of finding the ramp where they moved equipment in and out is spot on - key place on the whole lake really.  Good luck.

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16 hours ago, Fishes in trees said:

A private strip pit?  Sounds like fun.  You might need to acquire some gear to make it more fun.  You said jon boats are available.

USE THEM.  If you feel weird going out in them by yourself - get over it.  The owner wouldn't have given you permission if he/she

felt wrong about you using the available gear.  

 

Get your own trolling motor.   I'd recommend the largest one you can afford - Minn Kota makes a 55 lb thrust one 12 volt and variable speed.  (Variable speed is handy and worth the extra coin over the one with 4 or 5 fixed speeds.)

 

If the jon boats have oar locks - get a decent set of oars.  Get a portable depth finder - I'd recommend the Hummingbird Fishing Buddy.  That will greatly increase the learning curve of understanding the various depths.   The previous advice of finding the ramp where they moved equipment in and out is spot on - key place on the whole lake really.  Good luck.

The 2 Jon boats that are there have no oars or motor of any kind so I couldn't use them the first day I fished on the property. The only boat I could have used was the pontoon boat that was there and didn't feel like taking that unless the property owner was there. I for sure planned on getting a trolling motor and some oars for the Jon boat. I am more comfortable with that anyways because that's all we used to use when I was younger. I ordered some crank baits in different colors and swimming depths also some buzz and spinner baits. I have some soft plastics that i can use. I am going to try to get back out there thus weekend and I'm going to ask the owner if he can tell me where the ramp for getting the machinery in and out was located and see what I get into there.

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I will be going back out to the lake Friday after work to do some evening/night fishing. Hopefully I can have some success. I will update with how I do and what I find works. I appreciate all the advice, I definitely feel more prepared than the first time I went out. Hopefully going in the evening will help as well.

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Have you tried a drop shot ? I belong to strip mine club and the drop shot is my main weapon of choice. I routinely catch between 10 -25 bass on an outing.Some of favorite baits this year have been the  z- man finesse shadz,fatty z worm and the z- man finesse worms .

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9 hours ago, aceman387 said:

Have you tried a drop shot ? I belong to strip mine club and the drop shot is my main weapon of choice. I routinely catch between 10 -25 bass on an outing.Some of favorite baits this year have been the  z- man finesse shadz,fatty z worm and the z- man finesse worms .

I just ran across a video of people fishing a strip mine that looked very similar to the one im fishing. They were fishing soft bait like wacky rig worm and similar setups. I am going to get some stuff to set up that way as well and just try everything out and see what works. I appreciate the input I'm probably going to take 3 poles with me so I can try out multiple setups.

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I was able to get out to the lake last evening for the first time in a while. I was able to get out for a few hours and was able to land 1. I took sometime to explore the lake a little to see if I could find anymore access points to fish from shore. I was able to find a nice spot (photos Shown) on the opposite side of the lake that I normally fish from, close to the access road coming in and out of the property. This lake is only fished by myself and the person who owns the property and his family so there isn't much pressure at all. Most of the lake has a high mound of dirt and rock around the perimeter which makes it hard to fish from since you are a lot higher than the water plus the footing isn't real good so it can get kind of sketchy. The spots I have found that are good to fish from shore are the "boat launch" and then there are a few other cutouts in that mounded type wall around the lake that are good. The access road has some decent shore access but there are a lot of areas that are fenced or gated so it makes it a little more difficult to get there. I was throwing a couple different size spinner baits and cranks and go nothing. I caught this one on a wacky rigged yum dinger.  I noticed all over the lake there was surface activity (jumping, fish  hitting the surface, etc.) so I think that I will go and get some top water lures and try those next time. I need to get out in a boat that would make things easier but I need to get a trolling motor and some oars for the Jon boat. I would rather take that out than a pontoon boat. The other end of the lake has literally no plants on the shore or shoreline its all rock, sand, and gravel. That side the bank is also pretty steep, the boat launch is on that side and that is where I usually fish but I had some time to walk around and I found a little cut in on this side of the lake and it just seemed like a more productive area or at least from shore. Just figured I would update and get some photos up to kind of give people an idea of the lake.

Lake 1.jpg

Lake 2.jpg

Fish.jpg

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Yep, that's the type of strip pit we have around here. Top-water is a good choice as these fish, when they're active, will come up +20ft. to take one, especially walking baits.  A wacky rig is a good choice if they're up shallow (less than 10ft.). If they're deeper, try a split shot (Mojo) rig with something like a french fry worm or a 4in. Stick-O and don't forget about shade. The steeper the drop, the more shade it offers.

Another thing I remember about pits is that on some, there was a stair step on one shore before a second sharp drop. The water would drop to 10ft. or so and then about 4ft. or so out from that it'd drop down to 35-40ft. Those are the shores I'd parallel up tight with a small crank.  If they're in the upper water column, that's where they'll be.

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3 hours ago, papajoe222 said:

Yep, that's the type of strip pit we have around here. Top-water is a good choice as these fish, when they're active, will come up +20ft. to take one, especially walking baits.  A wacky rig is a good choice if they're up shallow (less than 10ft.). If they're deeper, try a split shot (Mojo) rig with something like a french fry worm or a 4in. Stick-O and don't forget about shade. The steeper the drop, the more shade it offers.

Another thing I remember about pits is that on some, there was a stair step on one shore before a second sharp drop. The water would drop to 10ft. or so and then about 4ft. or so out from that it'd drop down to 35-40ft. Those are the shores I'd parallel up tight with a small crank.  If they're in the upper water column, that's where they'll be.

I am going to invest in some top water lures, right now I literally have none. Slowly but surely I am going to get my tackle box to the point where I have enough lures for any occasion its not there right at this moment. I think the reason the I was able to get one on the wacky rig is because I did notice more fish closer to the shore as it got closer to nightfall, so they were definitely coming in more shallow. The last time I was out it was the middle of the day and you could not see fish anywhere except for the schools of large silver fish that combed the bottom usually were 3-4 together at one time. I don't know what they were but I could tell that most fish had to be in deeper water at that time of the day. I think for me the reason this lake kind of throws me for a loop is because I am not used to fishing deep or fishing different depths to find fish. I am so used to fishing ponds and lakes where you can hit the cover along the edges like, weed beds, Lilly pads, downed trees, stumps, etc. This is the first time I have ever fished any water like this. It has a turquoise color to it and water visibility is great. Some places have a gradual drop off and other places are straight down. The lake floor is sandy and rocky with very little if any vegetation. I have noticed a green slimy sort of vegetation in some areas but no real cover. No downed trees, weeds, Lilly pads, nothing like that at all. It seems you really have to rely on the structure of the lake like most people have stated in this thread, for me that is all new and I really actually enjoy the challenge of trying to learn new techniques as well as learning how to fish this kind of water. Even if I don't catch anything I enjoy being out and away from everything, every time I am out I learn something new fishing this lake. I am in the process of trying to get a trolling motor to take the Jon boat out and hopefully I can spend a whole day learning the lake and what works. Hopefully I catch some fish but if not I will enjoy my time out on the water.

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12 hours ago, Largemouth21 said:

would he allow you to put a brush pile in? Bass love brush piles...

I would love to put some cover in. I would have to ask and see if that is something he would allow. I still feel there are ways to consistently get fish out of this lake I just need some time on the water to figure it out.

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Just bought a couple strike king buzzbaits tonight 1 in white and 1 in chartreuse. I probably will need some other variety of top water lures but I will start here and see what I get in thinking the white buzzbait will produce some nice fish, as much action as I see at the top of the water on this lake i just feel like top water lures may be the ticket. I will let everyone know how it goes next time I get out there.

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