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Fall is a good time for striper fishing

With the arrival of fall comes thought of days spent wandering afield and daydreams of hunting exploits past and future. About that same time some outdoor types stow their fishing rods and replace them with shotguns and hunting rifles, but don’t be too quick to turn in your fishing gear.

Toby Chandler is the tournament director for the Nevada Striper Club. He said anglers should not to be too quick to turn all of their attention to hunting because they could miss some prime fishing at Lake Mead. The Striper Club held its September fishing tournament over the weekend, and Chandler and his partner caught 45 fish.

First place went to Chris Madden who weighed in a four-fish bag that totaled 15.65 pounds and included one fish that tipped the scales at 4.55 pounds. Second place went to Roger Batson and his 13.90-pound bag that included a 4.6-pound fish. The big fish for the tournament weighed 5.55 pounds and was part of a 12.8-pound bag caught by third place winner George Matei. While the fish weighed in at this tournament are not huge by striped bass standards they aren’t too bad either. Before winter hits there are sure to be some double-digit fish put on ice at Lake Mead.

They key to catching stripers right now is live gizzard shad, said Chandler. “The past three to four months we have only been fishing gizzards” However, those who are following the threadfin shad into open water are finding decent action for stripers along the beaches, in the middle of Government Wash and just outside of Vegas Wash.

Chandler said he and his companions are finding gizzard shad in most coves in the Vegas Wash area, especially those along the north shoreline. The larger shad are in the areas with vegetation. Others are finding gizzards in Government Wash.

At one time anglers found success fishing shad on a Carolina Rig with a sliding egg weight, but Chandler said that rig no longer works like it used to. “It works, but not so great,” he said. “Everything is changing. They evolve, we evolve.”

Now Chandler uses a 1-ounce trolling weight followed by a 12-pound fluorocarbon leader tied to match the length of the fishing rod. To the end of his leader he ties a light-wire 1/0 hook or 2/0 hook, depending on the size of bait he his using. “You want to match that hook to your bait, not to the size of the fish you think you are going to catch,” he added.

Chandler likes to fish this rig on a 7-foot, medium to medium-heavy bait-casting rod matched with a line-counter reel so he can present his bait at the precise depth where he has marked fish with his fish finder. He nose hooks the shad and then drift fishes them across the area where he has marked fish. Chandler can easily adjust the depth of his bait presentation by reeling line in or letting out it out until his bait reaches the correct depth.

If the drift is really slow, or if an angler is still-fishing, Chandler recommends using an additional hook near the vent or the dorsal fin. If your live shad gets bit and you miss the fish, reel it in and get another bait. They are not going to come back and eat the dead shad, said Chandler. Cut bait is catching a lot of catfish right now, but it is not catching many stripers. Still-fishermen aren’t catching as many fish as those who are drift fishing, but they are catching bigger fish.

When fishing a striper boil, Chandler likes to use a Kastmaster because he can cast it over the boil and then reel it back through the boiling stripers. He doesn’t generally scare the fish that way.

The Striper Club’s next event is an open tournament scheduled for Oct. 10-12 at Lake Mead. That means you don’t have to be a club member to join them. Guaranteed prizes are $100, $150, $250 and $500 for fourth place through first respectively. Those amounts could increase based on the number of tournament entries. There also will be a juniors tournament for anglers 15 years of age and younger. For information visit www.nevadastriperclub.org.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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