My older grandsons and I had a great time this past weekend catching fish at the Green Valley Lakes. We caught trout, sunfish, crappies and even an occasional bass. I was a happy papa getting out-fished all three days.
This has been an unusual spring for the lakes. They have been low for what seems a couple months. This has had a serious impact on the crappie spawn that takes place along the shoreline in mid April to early May. In years past, the crappies use the reeds and rocks along the shore to spawn, which also provides hiding locations for their young. This year, that prime spawning habitat has been high and dry until this weekend. Some of the best water in lake 3 still remains out of reach of the fish as the water has stopped flowing with much of lake 3 still needing to be filled.
The crappies have not appeared in anywhere near the numbers that I have seen in the past. With the rising water, they have now begun to come in to the shallows. This late arrival has caused the crappies to compete for spawning areas with the bluegills. Normally, the crappies have left by now and the bluegills start to move in to the same areas after the crappies leave for deeper water as May heats up.
My grandsons and I caught an equal number of bluegills and crappies this weekend, plus a handful of trout and a couple small bass too. We caught the fish on the same flies. We each caught about 30 fish on four different trips of about two hours.
We were using bead-head nymphs in green, brown, black, or gray, size #12-16. Ayden had great success with a copper john in size #16. Owen was the trout king this weekend and did best with even large trout on a size #16 zebra midge.
Cast straight out from shore into deeper water about 10 feet past the drop-off and let it sink for a couple feet. Strip in your fly about six inches at a time with a slight pause of three or four seconds after each strip. The fish will often grab the fly on the pause, so your next strip should be quick enough to set the hook.
If you are using an indicator, position your fly about two feet below the indicator and strip your rig in about six inches and pause for a couple seconds. Continue this retrieve and pause routine until you are ready to make another cast or a fish grabs your fly. Any odd moment of the indicator probably means a fish grabbed your fly, so set the hook.
My hook set is only about a six-inch pull with my rod low and parallel to the water. The advantage of this set is that if I miss the fish, the fly is still close enough for the fish to grab it again.
A small plastic jig works well on a spinning rod. Bait fishers should use a mealworm with a small split shot about two to three feet under a small bobber. If you want to release a fish that has swallowed the hook, cut the line as close to the fish’s mouth as possible and release it carefully and quickly. If you see blood coming from the gills, that is a fish you should keep as it will likely not survive when released.
There are crappies and bluegills in all three lakes, but lake 3 has the most. It has plenty of areas with reeds or underwater reed stumps that are close to deeper water. In particular, the west end of the lake along the dam berm has several reed stumps in the water. You need to be a bit more cautious with your retrieve in this area so that you don’t drag your fly or bait through an underwater reed stump and get hooked up.
The retention walls along the north and south shores of this lake are also good places to try. Both docks in lake 3 often have bluegills and crappies. The fish are generally close to shade and are found in deeper water around the docks. The same retrieve works at the docks, just let the fly sink four to eight feet before stripping in your fly.
With fishing heating up at the Green Valley Lakes, this is a great time to get out and give it a try.