"Until two weeks ago, we hadn't found stripers on the main lake since spring," said Jerry Hill of Southmont, a High Rock striper expert. "Everybody believes the fish went up the river (for the spawn) and didn't come back down again, for some reason.
"But then we had the first cold-weather bite Nov. 17 in a Tarheel Striper Club a tournament."
After months of inactivity, High Rock's winter striper bite ignited, with fishermen weighing in 22 stripers that totaled 195 pounds, four ounces.
"The club president, Robert Steele, fished the day before the tournament and caught several fish by throwing a crankbait in shallow water at one of the creeks," Hill said. "During the tournament, he went to the mouth of that creek and started trolling Rat-L-Traps and caught more fish."
Steele and partner David Woodward landed three fish that totaled 33 pounds, including the event's lunker at 12 pounds, 8 ounces, to capture first place.
Hill said he moved to the creek mouth and trolled lemon-and-lime colored 3/8-ounce bucktails using leadcore line and down-riggers.
"I had the best day I've had all year," said Hill, who finished third with 27-4. "I hooked 11 fish and put nine in the boat."
The previous week, stripers were scarce at High Rock, Hill said.
"We don't know where they went, but one thing was certain - we sure couldn't find them in the main lake," he said.
Besides trolling bucktails, Hill said some fishermen had success trolling 3-inch-long green-and-metal flake Sassy Shads.
"Some of the live bait anglers are catching stripers now, too," he said.
The favorite live bait is gizzard shad that anglers land by throwing cast nets near local bridge supports, such as the NC 8 bridge at Southmont.