Earlier this summer tournament angler Andy Wicker of Pomaria reported a strong bassbite on Lake Monticello, but as he says happens every year at this time that action has slowed down – significantly. In the last Thursday night tournament Andy says that his team took second place with two fish for a little over 3 pounds, and their bigger fish that weighed nearly 2 ½ pounds was the tournament big fish! First place had two fish for 4 pounds. They did lose 3- and 4-pound fish on successive casts, but these bites came out of a single school and bites were very few and far between.
Overall May, all of June and part of July are good on Monticello, but the late summer is usually just tough. Andy speculates that the lack of a riverine section of Monticello where you can look for current is part of the problem. He wonders if fishing in the middle of the night through dawn would be productive, but hasn’t tried this himself.
The few fish that have been caught have come fishing deep off humps and points with spoons and crankbaits, but since that bite has slowed Andy is going to explore a mid-depth bite. Finesse baits such as drop shots and shakey heads may also work, but for now the bottom line is that nobody seems to have anything hot going on Lake Monticello.
Fortunately bass aren’t the only species in Monticello, and in catfish news Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the free-line drifting bite is still hot – refer to the last report for rigging and set-up details. They are still filling coolers with eating-sized catfish, and happening on the occasional bigger fish. The only real change is that the action has started to be consistently best over 70-100 plus feet of water.
While summer is rarely the best time for a big bite, Chris reports that recently it has been fairly good. The best pattern for big fish remains to anchor on humps, points and ledges and fish large cut bait offerings. Chris says the better fish are still in the 20-45 foot range on the bottom.
Water temperatures are in the mid-80s and clarity is normal.
Tournament bassangler Andy Wicker of Pomaria has been spending a lot of time on Lake Monticello fishing the local Thursday night summer tournament trail. He and his tournament partner have pretty consistently been catching about 17 pounds, which he says has been representative of what is biting this summer. They are catching a lot of solid 3 – 3 ¾ pound tournament fish, but the big ones just haven’t been biting. Normally there are more big fish caught this time of year, but perhaps they are coming as the summer progresses.
By now the fish have moved out to deep water and grouped up pretty well off humps and points, and Andy says he is catching the most fish in depths in the mid-20s. They are also catching some fish as deep as 35 feet. There are also some fish being caught around shallower brush in 10-15 feet of water.
Spoons and crankbaits are working for the deeper fish, while the bass on mid-depth brush are taking big worms. There is a short-lived topwater bite in the morning but he has not found a comparable bite in the evening.
The catfish bite on Lake Monticello is pretty similar to the bass bite right now, which is to say that the biggest fish don’t seem to be feeding great but numbers are good. In fact, according to Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) numbers of smaller fish have been excellent and they have been routinely filling coolers while free-line drifting. His boat caught 56 fish out on the water today, and while most of the fish are in the ½ to 3-pound range there is certainly the chance for a big fish. On the last few trips they have caught several fish over 10 pounds including a couple of 11- or 12-pound fish and a nice 16-pounder, and last summer they caught a bunch of teenage-sized fish, a couple more 20-pounders, and a big 30-pounder free-line drifting. While it’s not a consistent way to target big fish there is certainly the chance to catch a big one free-line drifting.
The basic pattern Chris employs is to put out 8 rods – he does 6 out the back and four on planer boards, while some people do 4 and 4. A swivel provides a little bit of weight on all the lines and prevents line twists, and he also uses split shot to get a couple of the lines down. Chris still uses the same 7/0 or 8/0 hooks that he uses for big catfish and finds that these very aggressive but smaller fish are still able to take a big hook, but he suggests 2/0 or 3/0 hooks for anglers who are only fishing this way. Small pieces of cut herring, white perch, bream, shrimp and more will all catch fish.
The last couple of days Chris has found the best action drifting over very deep water in the 70-100 foot range, although fish can certainly caught over shallower water. Even though the water is very deep fish are obviously still feeding in the top of the water column.
The summer is probably not the peak time to get a big bite, but for anglers who are looking to catch big fish it is certainly possible. The best bet is to anchor on humps, points and ledges and fish large cut bait offerings. Right now the better fish are in the 20-45 foot range on the bottom.