Tailrace Tales: Fantastic fishing at the outlet of Lake Talquin.

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The angler standing within the misty spray put a deep bend within the lengthy rod. It uncoiled, hurling the heavy jig in a excessive LJ arc towards the panicked baitfish that have been sandwiched between the diving terns from above and the striped bass from beneath. The fog hadn’t totally burned off when the rod took one other deep bend, put there by a twenty pound striped bass fooled by the white jig swimming within the robust present.

This scene might be in coastal New England or someplace alongside the Northeast shore. As a substitute, it was in North Florida, on a small river beneath a dam on a freshwater lake.

The Jackson Bluff Dam was constructed on the Ochlockonee River in 1928 to generate electrical energy for Tallahassee and the encompassing rural space. It additionally created Lake Talquin, an 8,850-acre lake that has its personal striper inhabitants. Whereas damming rivers often produces detrimental environmental outcomes, this dam created an important fishing lake, in addition to a outstanding tailrace fishery. The tailrace beneath the dam is an incredible place to fish as a result of it concentrates quite a lot of fish species. Along with stripers, sunshine bass, white bass, largemouth bass, speckled perch, bluegills, warmouth, shell-crackers, stumpknockers, carp and mullet can all be caught in an space smaller than a Walmart parking zone.

Within the spring, a number of shad species collect in giant numbers to spawn beneath the dam. This focus of baitfish additionally attracts stripers, largemouth bass and quite a few different predators. The stripers are drawn to the shad, in addition to by the elevated present stream brought on by elevated rainfall. Stripers and white bass each want a robust present to maintain their eggs suspended within the river till they mature.

One of many principal causes for the thriving inhabitants of stripers, hybrids and white bass is the fish stocking by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee (FWC). It has stocked the river and particularly Lake Talquin, for many years. Lake Talquin has served as a supply of brood inventory for each stripers and white bass. FWC makes use of them to supply hybrid or sunshine bass which are stocked in lots of Florida lakes and rivers. The sunshine bass was developed as a result of they’re extra temperature-tolerant and fewer delicate to water high quality than stripers. In addition they can’t reproduce.

When the flood gates on the dam are opened to manage water ranges, quite a few stripers, white bass, sunshine bass and shad are washed by means of the gates from the lake into the river. This can be a boon for the anglers fishing the tailrace. A number of the greatest fishing is when the flood gates are open and the stream is robust. This may also be harmful for careless boaters. At occasions, again currents can pull boats towards the dam, the place this previous 12 months, three boats sank.

Anchoring within the river may also be dangerous as a result of the underside could be very rocky and anchors incessantly get hung up. A breakaway anchor or one designed to be simply retrieved are good selections. Anchoring from the stem isn’t a good suggestion particularly in swift present.

Most anglers who goal stripers find yourself fishing with jigs. These are sometimes white with deer hair or rubber tails. Relying on the depth of the river and the present stream, the jigs can weigh from Vs to 1 ounce. They’re labored proper in or alongside the perimeters of the swift white water, the place the most important stripers feed. Typically stripers feed on the floor, particularly early and late within the day or when its overcast. When stripers push colleges of shad to the floor, the birds are often the primary to identify this exercise. A topwater plug shortly forged into this motion will incessantly produce a fish.

Fishing for stripers beneath the dam does have a down aspect. The rocky backside that snags anchors additionally eats lures. Striper fishermen count on to lose just a few jigs for each fish taken. The fish generally lie close to present breaks, reminiscent of rocks and ledges, which are near the underside the place the snags are. To be within the strike zone, lures have to be retrieved simply above the underside. The upside of fishing right here is that largemouth bass are additionally caught in the identical spots on the identical jigs. Within the early spring, each species fatten up on the quite a few shad drawn to the dam.

Throughout the spring, different fish species are additionally drawn to the dam apart from these within the striper household. Speckled perch and different panfish collect within the stretch of river from the dam to beneath the SR 20 bridge. There are such a lot of species and methods to catch them it is like a Chinese language buffet of selections. Speckled perch will be caught throughout the cooler months on small brightly coloured jigs, inline spinners and dwell crappie minnows. Gentle deal with with 4 to six-pound line appears to catch extra fish and it makes casting 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jigs a lot simpler. The minimal measurement restrict of 10 inches was enacted to extend the scale of those fish and it has actually labored.

Bluegills, redbreasts, stumpknockers and shellcrackers additionally just like the tailrace and will be taken within the shallows within the spring. Because the water warms up in the summertime months they transfer to deeper w

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