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Column | Here are some tips on how to make your Lake Mead fishing trip successful

Golden Valley residents Colin Crowder and Laura Borden show a pair of stripers they caught on a recent trip to Lake Mead. (Photo by Don Martin)

Golden Valley residents Colin Crowder and Laura Borden show a pair of stripers they caught on a recent trip to Lake Mead. (Photo by Don Martin)

The next two weeks are going to be important to a number of local striper fishermen.

I will be at Lewis Kingman Park, 2201 E. Andy Devine Ave., at 5 p.m. Friday, June 14, 2019 to conduct the draw for launch positions for the Stripe-R-Rama 28 fishing tournament, which will take place at South Cove on June 22.

Teams that are entered into the tournament will find out what position they will leave the dock. Those that aren’t registered will be added at the end of the launch positions.

This overnight team-fishing event is always a lot of fun for the folks who participate.

Rules are pretty simple. Teams of two anglers – you pick your partner – and when you leave South Cove you can fish anywhere between Sandy Point and Temple Bar.

While this is a striper tournament, there is always a prize given to the team that brings in the largest catfish or carp.

Anglers can bring up to 40 stripers to the scales. Remember there is no limit on stripers under 20 inches, and a limit of 20 stripers per person on fish over 20 inches.

Catching stripers can be easy and hard. I once saw a T-shirt that read, “The secret to catching fish is to fish where they are!”

This is a true statement.

Some anglers have spots they know from prior trips that have produced good sized stripers.

Other anglers – especially those in the Nevada Striper Club who fish in this tournament, make up a chum bucket that contains cut up anchovies, corn and cutup or ground-up gizzard shad.

I haven’t seen it personally, but I am told that one of the NSC’s top anglers will use up to 100 pounds of this smelly chum on the tournament.

Probably the best advice I would offer to anglers is to invest in a pair of submersible lights. These lights range in size from 1 foot to 4 feet in length and utilize small individual green LED bulbs.

I personally use HydroGlow lights and have a lot of luck with them. I use the lights that are 4 feet long. But there are other brands of submersible lights out there.

Here is the “secret” of why the green submersible lights are so effective.

I call it setting up the food chain.

In Lake Mead there are two kinds of plankton that inhabit these waters. There are phytoplankton and zooplankton. These single cell organisms thrive in the warm lake waters and are definitely at the bottom of the food chain.

Plankton is the main source of food for the threadfin and gizzard shad that are in the lake. Small minnows also feed on the plankton.

At night, when the sun goes down, these organisms drop to the bottom of the lake. There they will remain until light appears.

But if light sources such as the green LED lights are turned on, they will attract plankton and soon there may be thousands of these creatures around the light.

I have personally seen what appear to be clouds or swarms of plankton around my lights. At nighttime, you’ll see tiny minnows appear and soon the stripers show up.

Remember stripers are by design night hunters. They have more rods and cones in their eyes than any other fish in Lake Mead. They also have a developed sense of smell. Only catfish, whose entire skin is an olfactory organ, can smell better than these fish. And stripers are a true bass.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass on the other hand, aren’t really members of the bass family. They are actually panfish!

So while the fishing lights are attractants to the plankton, when there is a lot of moonlight the plankton aren’t attracted as much to these lights. Shad and minnows roam all over the lake at night feeding on the plankton. That is why on a full moon night you can hear a lot of splashing as predatory fish like stripers are actively hunting baitfish.

Another thing. When you are using fishing lights and are fishing out of a boat, you need to be anchored. If your boat is constantly moving the plankton will have a hard time staying close to your lights.

Personally, I anchor on the front and back, but with the wind that seems to blow all the time at Lake Mead, it can be difficult to stay in one spot.

One last piece of advice. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Sometimes you will do better if you throw your bait (I prefer 1 to 2 inch pieces of frozen anchovies) to the edge of the light and let it pendulum back towards the boat. Other times just open the bail on your reel – assuming you’re using a spinning reel – and let it drop through the light. I recommend counting to 30 then stopping the bait when fishing for stripers, but I know other anglers that will drop the bait 70, 80, or even 90 feet!

Striper fishing is a lot of fun for the entire family. Try these tips and you’ll most likely catch all the fish you want. But please, only keep what you are going to consume. Besides being illegal to waste a game fish, these tasty fish are great table fare.

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