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Dale Hollow trip

Dave Hull

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   Wife and I have been going to DH or lake Erie every year since 2007, mostly DH. I like DH because we always get quality smallies. It's the one place other than Headwaters FL where I just know we're going to catch bass. This year Okeechobee, Rodman and Chickamauga let us down. Usually disappointed with lake Erie trips. We get bigger size there and our PB's but low numbers then there's the weather.
   At DH for 5 weeks from last of April to first week of June this year. Fishing got progressely better each week until we left. Water was mid 60's when we arrived and mid 70's at end of trip.
   The scum that accumulates on your line that must literally be plucked off became worse than ever! I've seen the water quality decline over the years. Have pictures from when we first went where the water is so clear the boat looks like it's floating in the air! Erie is probably clearer now.
    I don't keep count of fish but we probably averaged 5 fish per outing, once we caught ten. Just about every smallie was a slot fish and averaged 18.5". Some were larger and even fewer smaller. Wife caught 2 best ones at 22.5" and were just under 5lb. I never got one over 20" but man the aerial leaps from these skinny post spawn fish were incredible! One fish came straight up at the boat probably 5'. I had to step back as I thought I was going to get hit in the chin! Another went 3' in the air and 10' horizontally! "That's what is all about son."
   Caught more largemouth this year than any in the past. Also caught a few Rainbow trout, some large Channel cats and a big nasty Drum. I hate em. They are a scourge at Erie too. If there's one around I catch them. They love a hair jig.
   Morning bite is the best the earlier the better. Fished few evenings and no weekends! Fish were caught on main lake flats in 20 to 35 fow. Problem is there aren't that many of them and the obvious ones are heavily fished.
   It's a big lake mostly straight up and down. But I have the advantage of having a vintage map marked by the man himself Billy Westmoreland. It shows the spots he liked the best for a given time of year along with tips. He has alot of bluff areas marked but I don't like fishing them.
   Fish were mostly caught on spy baits. Blade baits, swim baits, swim jigs, hair jigs, live bait and Ned also worked. Last year Ned rigs ruled but caught few this year. Only use 6lb test line except on the blade baits. It's a must!
   My favorite times were throwing the spybait at schoolies busting shad at dawn. Incredible rate of hookup, probably 90%. Other lures I've tried are probably 10%! Amazing...




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Heading to Headwaters this weekend. Really nice fish you got there. Can't wait to check it out myself. Never been there. Were you guys shiner fishing?

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I fish shiners at Rodman but like a giant TRD at Headwaters. It of course has gotten tougher over the several years it's been open. It's getting harder to fool them so feeding them is more appropriate now. Plan to use them shiners next year myself.


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