LAKE PLEASANT — For predators such as schooling striped bass, a recent hatch of shad means the groceries are in the ‘fridge.
Flying through the water column and chasing fry Thursday, May 7 at Lake Pleasant, these stripers cause fleeing fry to intermittently pop and boil on the rippling surface.
A south wind of around 10-15 mph is folding and shoving flaps of water northbound.
That’s where Derrick Franks the “Striper Snatcher” is headed — the windblown, northern coves of this 9,500-acre lake just northwest of Phoenix.
Many stripers had likely fed during a full moon on masses of creeping crawdads. But trolling choppy water that had ideal temperatures of 72-75 degrees, the Striper Snatcher still targeted schooling fish with 3 1/2-inch paddletail swimbaits on 1/4-ounce darterheads with 10-pound fluorocarbon line on ultralight spinning outfits:
Franks, a licensed professional fishing guide, dyes his clear paddle tail baits with these pink/purple/green hues to mimic the purple the shad fry have been glowing. That said, for the next 2-3 months, he recommends throwing 2-inch swimbaits on 1/8-ounce jigheads — the fry we spotted were around that size.
We trolled at about 2 mph.
The schools of stripers cooperated. In this video, Franks lands an average-size striper of about 12 inches — a perfect eating size. The daily bag limit of stripers is unlimited at Lake Pleasant.
“The water temperature is starting to warm up,” Franks said. “This lake has changed so much depth-wise this year. We’re actually 8 feet higher than this time last year and that affects the water temperature significantly. So that delayed the spring-time pattern a bit.”
Anglers also can target the big stripers, largemouth bass and white bass on points, ledges and brush off windblown shorelines.
All told, a party of three caught about 15 stripers — keeping 11 — weighing up to 3 pounds. We fished from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (the full moon had not yet taken a peek at the lake.)
Anglers who need a license can purchase one online and help conserve wildlife for future generations.