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Hit Lake Gaston for Winter Stripers
Topic Started: Feb 11 2018, 09:36 PM (3 Views)
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Hit Lake Gaston for Winter Stripers
by Mike Marsh

Posted ImageLake Gaston is the next lake downstream of Kerr Lake. The lake is over 20,000 acres and is 34 miles long and approximately 1.5 miles wide at the lower end. It has over 350 miles of shoreline. The Gaston Dam was completed in 1963, and Lake Gaston borders the counties of Mecklenburg and Brunswick in Virginia and Warren, Halifax and Northampton in North Carolina. Normal height of the lake’s surface water is 200 feet above sea level and by regulation the water depth may vary only one foot plus or minus from the normal level except in case of emergency, while Kerr Lake’s elevation varies a great deal for flood control. As at Kerr Lake, a valid license for either Virginia or North Carolina permits fishing from a boat in either state.

“At Gaston, the way I fish is about the same as at Kerr,” Hall said. “But there are not quite as many stripers, although there are some larger fish. I know there have been some 35- to 40-pound fish caught there. I think the reason is that when they pull water from Kerr Lake, the water is always colder because it comes off the bottom of the lake. At Kerr, there is a thermocline and when the fish are trapped in that zone when the water gets hot in summer, the first ones to die are the bigger fish. The difference in the maximum size of the fish is due to the colder water at Gaston.”

Hall launches at the ramp located at the dam and at Poplar Creek access area. He said intimate knowledge of the lake is mandatory before running around the lake with the throttle wide open.

“You have to know what you’re doing,” he said. “I have a GPS with a lake map showing the bottom contours so I don’t hit the shallow places. You are pursuing the fish into the shallows, but all of a sudden there’s a rock under the boat and that can be dangerous, putting dents in your prop or damaging the fiberglass.”

Hall said once he was fishing at Gaston in December and caught 21 stripers by sight-casting. It was snowing and the birds showed him where the fish were feeding. As at Kerr, the seagulls and other water birds can be the eyes in the sky that tell anglers where to fish.

“I was fishing at the middle of the lake that day,” he said. “When I fish Gaston, I use a bucktail like I cast at Kerr, but sometimes I will go to a 1-ounce Rat-L-Trap. The lure looks like a gizzard shad and works well for blind-casting to the points or drop-offs or for sight-casting when the fish are showing.”

Hall catches baitfish upstream of the Gaston Dam or below the Kerr Dam. But near the Kerr Dam outfall, the current flow can ball up the net before it sinks deep enough to catch the baitfish. Therefore, he is sometimes forced to back away from the outfall current to catch bait.

Hall also fishes Gaston creeks the same way he fishes Kerr creeks. A logical angler would believe the best plan would be fishing the creeks if the wind is blowing. But Hall doesn’t find success that way.

“Fish don’t have as many places to go in Gaston,” he said. “But it’s still a big lake. Wind kills the kind of fishing I do. I hate a windy day. I can’t control the boat like I want. If the wind moves the boat around with all the lines out, it’s a mess. Most of the time, when you hide from the wind using the shoreline, there are no fish there. Don’t ask me why. That’s just the way it is. When it’s too windy to fish with the trolling motor, the best thing to do is stay home.”

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