Lake Gaston is located in both Virginia and North Carolina. It is a large lake of 20,300 acres. Many professional and amateur tournaments are held here each year, so it receives a good deal of fishing pressure. This is where we competed in the Regional Finals for the Red Man Tournament Trail in 2000…
Lake Gaston is located in both Virginia and North Carolina. It is a large lake of 20,300 acres. Many professional and amateur tournaments are held here each year, so it receives a good deal of fishing pressure. This is where we competed in the Regional Finals for the Red Man Tournament Trail in 2000. The main species of fish in the lake are largemouth bass, striped bass, and black crappie. Other species include some walleye, chain pickerel, white perch, bluegill, and catfish. The main forage base is composed of alewife, gizzard shad, threadfin shad, and herring.
Lake Gaston has relatively stable water levels, and high quality water. There is a good population of largemouth bass, with many large fish available. Most of the bass we catch at Gaston run around 15 inches and about 1 1/2 pounds. We have caught numerous 5 and 6 pounders and some larger fish were caught in the finals. In fact, some of these fish were 8 or 9 pounds. The lake record is 14 pounds 2 ounces, so there are plenty of big bass left in Lake Gaston. Gaston’s striped bass fishery depends mainly on stocking. Many striped bass are caught each year that weigh 3 to 8 pounds, but plenty of 20 pounders are taken each year. The walleyes are doing good at Gaston also and many trophy fish of 8, 9 , & 10 pounds are caught. We caught a few of the stripers while fishing for bass on the Lucky Craft crankbait shown below.
The striped bass make a spawning run each year up to the Roanoke river in April and May. Lake Gaston has a variety of structure also, such as submerged bridges, stumps, submerged roads, and lots of grass in the summer. Most of the water flowing into Lake Gaston comes from the Roanoke River. The visibility in the lake usually ranges from 4-8 feet, although heavy rains can make it muddy. There is a thermocline in Gaston in the summer at about 20-25 feet. In the summer, oxygen levels are low are far down as Great Creek. The bottom is sand and gravel with some flats covered in silt, and clay hillsides. The shoreline is mostly wooded, with some high slopes. North Carolina Power and Virginia Power owns the entire 350 mile shoreline. There are lots of docks, rip rapped banks, and brush piles. There are really a lot weeds, including elodea, milfoil, and hydrilla. This is especially true in the creek arms and coves, with the deep weedline at about 10 feet. They do treat the grass and also have added some grass carps.
The best locations for largemouth bass in the spring (March & April), are the north side creeks, especially Pea Hill and Lizard. They normally turn on first as soon as the water temperature reaches about 50 degrees. The next places that turn on is the south side arms, especially Lees and Poe. We like to fish these areas around the boathouses, rip rap, and laydowns with a chrome / blue Ambush Stealth Diver and a Terminator Colorado spinnerbait. We stick to the structure that is in the 5-10 foot deep water. Bass here start to spawn around April 15th, and last till around June. The other areas that can be real productive are Pea Hill and Six-Pound Creeks. Sometimes we use floating worms, and wacky-rig them for some hot action. Another method that works good in these areas is soft plastic jerkbaits. During the tournament, and at other times also, we really caught most of the better fish on these baits. “Sizmic” Flu-Go’s” were our top producers. Lake Gaston is known for a good topwater bite. You can really get into some decent bass in these areas on buzzbaits and poppers also. Even Lucky Craft “Sammy’s” produce well at times.
Later in the year, about June, the largemouths like to relate to classic bottom structure like humps, points, and stream channels, or even large beds of hydrilla. These hydrilla beds produce large bass as well as numbers until about September. We usually probe the deep weedline with a Texas-rigged worm or Yamamoto grub. The ‘SENKO’s’ also produce well here. Usually in the mornings and at dark, we twitch jerkbaits over the top of the hydrilla, or even throw Terminator buzzbaits.
If you like to fish structure, then the main lake points at creek mouths like Pretty Creek are good. Another good spot that has bass on humps and drop offs is Hubquarter and Lyons Creeks. The 15-20 foot deep areas are best, as that is where most of the baitfish are. Carolina rigged lizards are a good choice, as are for worms, ‘SENKO’s’ and grubs. At times, we catch good fish here on deeper crankbaits as well. The water starts to cool off a lot in October and November, and the bass start moving back to the 5-10 foot deep water. The best areas at this time are Jimmie’s, Lizard, and Six-Pound Creeks. We use a 3/8 to 1/2 ounce jig at this time, with a black/blue or brown/orange ‘Uncle Josh Pork trailer’.
We like to carry several spinning rods for the lighter lures, in different lengths, from 6-6 1/2 feet, with a medium action, in a good graphite rod such as a G Loomis and Falcon. We like Shimano and Tica reels, spooled with a 8-10 pound Trilene. For baitcasters, we carry a variety of rods, in 6 1/2 to 7 foot lengths, in a medium/hvy action, and a crankbait rod, in 7 foot. We use Falcon’s and G Loomis rods, and Shimano reels on most outfits, with 17-20 pound test.
1998 Big Bass World Champ
NAFC Hall Of Fame