Several of you have asked recently how to catch the cutthroat of a lifetime on Strawberry Reservoir. Today’s column is dedicated to that very quest, though the way to accomplish the feat may require more than you may want to “spend.”
You may remember when I wrote about the “$80-dollar lure” a few years back. At the time, I was fishing a major tournament on Shasta Lake, near Redding, California, and caught a 7.7-pound spotted bass on a “glide bait” that looked like a rainbow trout. That one fish took me from 68th to fourth place in the tournament.
Since that time, I have made a habit of throwing the same lure to huge cutthroats on Strawberry Reservoir in the fall, with similar results.
In the past three years, I have caught at least a dozen cutthroats between seven and 12 pounds, most of them coming between October and December on Strawberry Reservoir.
There is no doubt that between now and ice over sometime in late December, the largest cutthroats in Strawberry want to eat minnows, including but not limited to chubs, red-sided shiners, sterile rainbows, and even smaller cutthroats. The colder the weather gets, the shallower the fish go.
Let’s take a look at “gliding” your way a cutthroat of a lifetime.
I love to throw Lucky Craft Pointer minnows. They have been my go-to fall lures on Strawberry for over 20 years. However, if I truly want to catch huge cutthroats, I switch to a glide bait just like the one I used on Shasta Lake for huge spotted bass.
The first thing to do is find the right glide bait.
Go to Tacklewarehouse.com and search for River2Sea S-Waver. They come in several sizes and colors. Purchase a 120 size in a Lite Trout color. They should cost around $16. The next size up is a 168S. They sell for $19 and Tackle Warehouse will pay for shipping if you spend $50 so if you really want to catch the big ones, you have to pay to play.
As you will see on their website, Tackle Warehouse stocks glide and swimbaits that range from $15 to several hundred dollars (yes, for one lure). The lure I used on Lake Shasta was an ABT Suicide Glide in Green Hatchery Trout color, and still sells for $78 in the seven-inch version.
Next, you must commit to spending a lot of time on the water.
COVID-19 helped me break the code on jigging for kokanee on Flaming Gorge. Self-isolating for six weeks from the middle of March through April, 2020 allowed me to target kokanee salmon five to six days a week. Eventually, I figured out how to catch them almost at will.
The more time you spend casting and retrieving glide baits on the shallow flats as well as the hundreds of long extended shallow points surrounded by deep water on at least one side, the more likely it will be that it will eventually put you in front of the fish of a lifetime.
Finally, you must go prepared with the right tackle.
The rod should be a medium/heavy bass fishing rod (available online from Gary Dobyns Rods) or Lamiglas, or St. Croix, or other manufacturers, a good spinning or baitcasting reel such as Quantum, Shimano, Lews, or Abu Garcia, and at least 12-pound-test fluorocarbon line.
When I mentioned in the opening paragraph that to catch the cutthroat of a lifetime may cost more than you are willing to spend, I didn’t mean just dollars.
To glide your way to huge cutthroats you must learn to cast and retrieve your lure, learn to twitch it with your rod tip, learn a painstakingly slow steady reel, and learn to watch the lure from the cast all the way back to the boat or the shore (through polarized sunglasses).
Spend the time, learn your presentation and be patient.
Then — and only then — will you be able to “glide” your way to success.