We interviewed Tim White last year about his West Virginia fishing. We get more focused in this interview about Plum Orchard Lake bass fishing. Tim is an excellent angler with a lot of great advice for anyone else considering fishing Plum Orchard Lake for largemouth bass.
How long have you been fishing Plum Orchard Lake bass fishing?
I’ve been fishing Plum Orchard for about 6 years. I struggled the first few times I fished it. Almost decided I’d never go back. But that day, it came a thunderstorm. And after that storm hit, something clicked. Caught fish there ever since. My favorite thing about the lake is: #1 It’s a fishing lake. No jet skis or swimming allowed. It has a big area of no wake zones. Which all people don’t tend to follow. But most are good about it. And the cover in this lake is my favorite cover to fish. LILY PADS!!
Where does Plum Orchard Lake bass fishing rank for you when compared to other West Virginia lakes?
For me personally, it’s my #1. Just because that’s how I like to fish. In all honesty, it’s probably hovering around a top 10 spot. It’s size really hurts it. If it was 1,000 acres, it would be at the top of the list. It’s small, but fishes a lot bigger. The pads make the majority of the lake fishable water.
Plum Orchard Lake is not big at about 200 acres. How much pressure does it receive throughout the year?
I used to be able to go out there and not see a person. The last couple years, it has gotten tons of pressure. Kayak fishing is really taking off in the state. And there is always kayaks out there. Plus with other bodies of water getting flooded this spring/early summer, everyone was hanging out there. The fishing was down there this year due to the pressure and people keeping fish. Don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with people keeping their legal limit of fish. I personally don’t keep any. But there’s so many other species that can be eaten that reproduce better. Plus, the size of the lake isn’t conducive to big harvests of Bass. I really wish the DNR would consider adjusting creep limits or making some of our small lakes catch and release only. I know a lot of fish have been coming out of Plum Orchard. And you can see the difference on a lake this size.
Do you consider Plum Orchard Lake a trophy or numbers fishery?
I would consider it a numbers lake. But, most you catch out there are solid fish for West Virginia. I’d say the average bass I catch out there is 1.5 pounds. Seems to be a lot of fish that run that size out there. Usually, if you can catch over 10 lbs there, you’re sitting in the drivers seat at any tournaments. My best day fishing there was a 17 lb bag. There are a lot of big fish in there, they are just hard to get to sometimes with the thick pads. My biggest bass I’ve caught there was 5.8 pound. But I know there are bigger ones in there!
Watching one of your YouTube videos, I saw a lot of amazing looking lily pads. What are your favorite methods for bass fishing the pads on Plum Orchard Lake?
My favorite bait out there is a hollow body frog. Once the water hits mid to high 50’s and before it drops back down to mid 50’s, that’s basically all I throw. I’ll have a Craw rigged to flip after fish that miss my frog, but rarely throw it. But it will work. And when the water is colder, I like a jig and a jerkbait out there.
The keys to being successful with the frog out there is, throw it everywhere. Throw it where you don’t even think there is water. You can’t fish too shallow on this lake once the pads come in you have to throw it on heavy braid. Better get good at skipping too. You put that frog in places most people can’t get to, and I guarantee there’ll be one with an open mouth waiting on it.
Also, if you cast over a tree limb, don’t reel it back in. Bounce that sucker off the water 4 or 5 times. It drives them crazy out there. I’ve got a couple videos of them hitting a frog like this. I’ve got them stuck in tree limbs in mid air. It’s crazy.
What setup are you using in the pads?
My reel choice is an Ardent Grand 7.3:1. This reel casts a country mile. Which is important out at Plum. If you have to stay digging through the pads all day, your trolling motor batteries won’t make it long. So, you have to be able to make long casts to the bank.
Some spots the lily pads come out over 50 yards from the bank. Then you want the high speed to haul them out of the pads quickly. Once you set the hook, you want to get their heads above the pads and water ski them to the boat…lol. You also want to be able to get your frog in for another cast quickly in case one blows up on it and you miss it.
The rods I use are Big Bear Fishing Rods. A guy named Robert Wimberly makes these rods down in Charleston, South Carolina. They are my favorite rods ever to fish. My two favorites out there are the 7’9” 3/4H & 7’6” H casting rods.
These rods are super sensitive. I know they don’t need to be very sensitive when frog fishing because you see the strikes. But sometimes with the pads being so thick, you don’t know if they got your frog or missed it. But you can feel if they got it pretty quickly. The tips make these excellent rods for launching long casts and skipping. And they have gnarly backbones that let you muscle the fish out of the pads if they do get buried up or wrapped around them. Also, the special designed grip on these rods, really reduce fatigue. They are very comfortable in your hand and light weight. You can throw them all day and never tire.
What other structure or vegetation are important on Plum Orchard Lake?
To be honest, there isn’t probably 40 yards of shoreline on the lake that doesn’t have pads. It’s really unbelievable if you’ve never been out there to see it. And I’m not a huge offshore fisherman. But there are some humps you can find to fish. You can catch them on soft plastic swimbaits out in open water sometimes. Other than that, there’s a few brush piles and beaver huts you hit with jigs and can do alright. But that’s mostly before the pads come in for the year
What are 5 pieces of advice do you have for anyone trying to fish Plum Orchard Lake for the first time?
#1: Go during the week if possible. With it being a small lake, it doesn’t take much to make it crowded.
#2: Learn how to fish a frog. And more importantly, when to set the hook! You’ll get 5 to 1 the bites on a frog there vs any other bait.
#3: Fish everywhere. The whole lake is fishable. If there’s pads there, there could be a fish there. And don’t be afraid to go revisit places you’ve already fished. And you can’t fish too shallow.
#4: Use braided line. If you don’t use braided line in those pads, you’re in for a bad day. You want to be able to slice through the pads. And you want that zero stretch for hook sets on long casts and in the heavy cover.
#5: Be patient. You may go a couple hours without a bite. But when they decide to turn on, they turn on quickly. And you can boat 10-15 fish real quick. It’s by no means an easy lake to fish. Like I stated before, I fished the lake 7 times and only caught 1 fish before I got it kind of figured out.
Who are your current sponsors and how do they play a roll in your success on Plum Orchard Lake?
My current sponsors are the following companies:
Big Bear Rods – I’ve discussed their rods in an earlier question.
Ardent Reels – Also discussed their reels in an earlier question.
Line Cutterz – The LC ring is an important tool on Plum. Your line will get frayed quiet a bit throwing through pads and cutting through branches and such. The LC ring, cuts 65# braid like butter. Don’t have to dig for a knife or scissors. So it saves me time retying my frogs. Just slide the line through the ring, tie it back on, cut the tag line while the ring never leaves your finger.
Liquid Mayhem Attractant – Now I know you really don’t need a scent on frogs. But I did a little experiment on my own one day out there. I’d throw my frog and when they blew up on it, see how long they’d hold it till they spit it out. I did this with and without Liquid Mayhem applied. They hung on about 4-5 seconds longer with Laregemouth. That’s a good deal to me. Gives more time to make sure they’ve got it good if needed.
Trapper Tackle – On the occasion I need to flip in the pads, my hook choice is a 4/0 or 5/0 XXXHeavy Trapper EWG hook. These hooks have a innovative design that holds your bait in place better and isn’t as hard on your plastic. So you use less Baits and spend less time rerigging you’re bait. Which leads to more casts. Also, it’s got a box behind the hook point, that the fish get “locked” in. I’m telling you, once a fish gets on this hook, they aren’t getting off. It’s hard to get them out of the fish yourself.
Wicked Weights Tungsten – When I’m flipping the pads. I need a good heavy compact weight. Wicked Weights makes 97% Tungsten Weights at great prices. The paint jobs are durable they make all different weights to fit my needs based on how much the pads are up.
Amphibia Eyegear – You want to have a good pair of glasses anywhere you fish. These are not only great polarized glasses, but they are ANSI rated too. Any time there’s potential for a heavy weight to come flying back at your eye, you want that protection. These glasses don’t fog up and they FLOAT!! These let me see what the little pockets up under the bushes have to offer. There places between the bank and where the pads start that have little openings. If you can see a piece of wood in there, you can bet there’s a fish laying there.
Trevacy Outdoors – Anything I need more can get from Trever & Tracy at their online shop. They care all outdoor products. So if I need some of my favorite frogs or plastics, I can just jump in there and get them coming to me ASAP!
I so want to go, but it definitely sounds like I need to upgrade my northern smallmouth finesse tackle for catching these Plum Orchard Lake largemouth bass in the pads. Thanks Tim for this great information. Tim also has some fantastic YouTube Plum Orchard Lake videos which you can check out on his channel. Also check out his Twitter page @timwhite13 to find out about all of his fishing.
Read Another Dock Talk 365 Interview with a West Virginia Angler: Interview with West Virginia’s Dylan Fitzgerald