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FISHING ARTICLES

 

What To Do During Drawdowns

  by Steve vonBrandt

One of the biggest obstacles an angler can face is finding and then catching, fish in big lakes or reservoirs where the water levels fluctuate dramatically, such as in Spruce Run, in New Jersey, in the recent past. Many lakes or reservoirs can rise or fall as much as 10 feet. This happened to us at a tournament in Bull Schoals, MO, a few years ago.

There are many factors that cause these fluctuations. Bodies of water that are dammed by hydroelectric plants, have upsurges of power in the extremely hot or cold periods of weather, that cause them to run more turbines and the level of the water drops. Sometimes it is a drought, and even the smaller bodies of water here in the Northeast get drastically low at times. On some lakes, in the East, they lower the water levels for irrigation, to build new launching ramps, to try to

 
control weed growth, and to keep the ice from cracking their docks in the winter. Changing water levels can put even the best angler to the test.

Some other reasons they lower the water levels are due to an effort to try to restore the Sportfishing to some lakes or reservoirs that have suffered a decline, due to poor water quality. This happens a lot when the bottom of the lake, which is usually rock or mud, accumulate to the point of oversaturation along the shoreline, and the vegetation gets too dense. This can be from excess phosphorus, nitrogen, and other things from chemical sewage treatment plants. These drawdowns kill off the excess vegetation. I fished lakes in Florida, Missouri, and right here in Delaware, such as Diamond in Milford, Hearns in Seaford, and Beck's Pond in Newark, which are all drawn down sometimes, for various reasons, as are many other waters here in Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland.

What To Do

If the drawdown happens quickly, the bass, and the minnows they feed on, will head to deeper water. Look for the deepwater points, any offshore humps, creekbeds, stump fields, submerged islands, and docks that go out into deeper water. Since small baitfish and Crawfish are the main diet of bass almost anywhere, the lure and color choices you make should reflect that. Whether it's lipped or lipless crankbaits, blade baits, jigs, flukes, or jerkbaits, they should match the forage in the body of water you are fishing. I like to use G. Loomis rods, and Shimano reels, in spinning, and baitcast models, in 6-1/2 to 7 foot lengths, with 10-14 pound line.

Develop A Pattern

The bass are going to be on the move in these low water periods, so you have to be versatile.

 
Vary your retrieves, working the edges of points and humps from shallow to deep. If the banks are gravely, or sloping type banks, then we generally use a jig, and other crawfish type baits. I like to cast to the banks, and stairstep the lure down. This has worked well for me in many New Jersey, and Missouri reservoirs and lakes. Keep your eyes open for old duckblinds,and docks that border deep water. They will block the sunlight, and provide good ambush points. After a big drawdown, we take our cameras to the lake and take plenty of pictures. This can really help later, and teach you what certain features look like on the fish locator, since you will have seen it first hand. During the drawdown at Diamond and in Red Mill Pond, we took plenty of photos to compare later.

We found offshore humps in many places, which were a bonanza at many times after the water was raised. Drop shot rigs, with a spider grub, Senko, or small worm, worked well on the drop-offs in these areas. Keep your eyes open for any moving water by points when a fast drawdown occurs. Cast downcurrent and work the deeper running crankbaits from top to bottom. I like to use a Carolina rigged bait during these times, in these areas. Marking the humps, points, and other visible structures on a GPS is a great idea. Combined with first hand knowledge, photos, a map, and GPS points, you can win a tournament or just increase your weekend fun.

 

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