I’m still getting some nice fish on the surface popper but fewer and fewer small fish. Most of the fish I’m seeing on the surface in recent days have been larger bass and a few stripers scattered here and there. My strategy has been topwater and trolling crankbaits. Yesterday morning I saw a large school of stripers crashing the surface up lake and thought it won’t be long till they are moving into our creeks in large numbers. For now I’m still picking on the bass but I’ve got an eye out for stripers on the surface. Here are a few pictures from the last couple weeks.
Since my last post it’s been nothing but topwater for me. Still the same popper that I started with almost a month ago. I still haven’t changed it out. I’ve replaced about a foot of line down to the lure a few times, but it’s the same rod and reel combo and the same emerald topwater popper. Some days are better than others and it’s all surface sight fishing. It reminds me of fishing for speckled trout in the fall in the marsh. You cast your bait to where the fish surfaced and hope that he comes back for seconds. It’s worked well for me on points and humps during the days there is a little bit of breeze to put a chop on the water. Here are more pictures and a good video to give you an example of how I’m working the bait back to the boat.
I haven’t posted a report here in a while but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there wetting a line whenever possible. Summer provided us with some great trolling action for stripers and well as a lot of great bass fishing. The stripers came in and out of the creek all summer and we caught plenty of nice fish with larger shad trollers over the underwater forest at the mouth of the creek. Striper always wait in ambush around the deep water trees and picking a few off provided us with some great entertainment. We also had a lot of fun dropping and jigging stripers with heavy jigs vertically under the boat. When we got bored with the striper fishing we would troll deep diving crankbaits for spotted bass near the bottom on the points of the creek.
We’re now approaching Autumn very quickly and autumn for me means topwater, swim baits, wake baits and bucktails for stripers and bass in the creek. One way to tell what works this time of year for me is to go over my archives and YouTube videos for this time of year. Right now we’re having fun with the topwater bite and a new lure I made for the occasion.
The best pattern for this popper has been to find points in the creeks; the longer the better. I’ve been watching for surfacing fish around points and if I see any surface activity I go up wind of the point and cast the popper down wind for the best results. I try and stay off the trolling motor and just drift. On of the things I like about the new popper is that I can cast it a mile and casting down wind just adds to the distance. We you’re popping the lure back to the boat against the wind you get the maximum surface disruption and that’s what the fish are keying on right now. All the surface commotion mimics the spotted bass chasing, popping and feeding on bluebacks the have pushed up to the surface. Here’s some pictures taken during testing the bait.
I had another busy week this week and didn’t get out to fish much. We were able to get out for a while yesterday, Saturday the 21st. We decided to try and troll for a few stripers out towards the mouth of the creek, but I think the stripers are still hanging out deeper in the creek. It won’t be long till the stripers are at the mouth of the creek and out on the main lake. We gave up on the striper trolling after catching 2 dinks scraping the bottom with shad trollers. We switched over to bass and started casting cranks and spinnerbaits. We caught a couple more dink bass and decided to try and find some bigger bass by trolling deep diving crankbaits. We cruised over to the saddle dyke and started trolling along the rip rap in 25 feet of water. We marked several fish and I hooked up with a nice bass right away. We got the bass back in the water and started trolling again. Here’s a couple of videos to cover the rest of our morning. Right after the first video ended I got a treble hook buried in each thumb. I got the first one out right away, but the second hook took a little more work so I thought I’d share it. The second video is a little graphic with a some blood and pain involved so use a little caution if you’re squeamish.
I had a very busy week this past week and only got a chance to fish for 1 day. The bass were definitely getting harder to catch and we wound up trolling up a few nice fish with deep diving crankbaits. I’m just about done with the big striper skiff and it will be going in the water for the summer within the next few days. It’s just about time to start trolling for stripers so stay tuned for some striper and bass reports. Here’s a short video from last weekend and a couple of nice bass.
This week I fished on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and then again Saturday evening. This past week the deep diving crankbait in my Sand Key pattern was the dominate bait all week. The best location was rocky points in a 20 to 25 foot depth. If there was brush out on the point at that depth, there were generally fish in the area. I caught a lot of nice fish with some pushing 3-4lb mark on the deep diving crank and I found that working it slow was generally the key to the bigger fish. Trolling the cranks were successful, but casting, cranking the bait and working it back to the boat slowly was a better pattern. The slower the better with stopping the bait on occasion was the key. When the bigger spots hit the bait it was generally a good strike and some of the fish were hooked with both sets of trebles which would take some of the fight out of them. I caught fish all week on this pattern and figured the same pattern would hold true for a tournament we fished up on the north end of the lake on Sunday. As fate would have it, the crankbait bite was slower up on the north end but I was able to catch a smaller keeper and lost a very nice fish at the side of the boat that was barely hooked with a single treble barb. It was just that kind of day for us as I caught a few dinks but the fish were generally chasing and short striking it. We tried a variety of baits but the other 2 keepers came from the dropshot with my little dropshot worms in a crystal blue pattern. They seemed to really react to that color.
Water temps were moving up through 80 degrees and above. The wind was out of the north and the west later in the week and the barometric pressure was lower due to a front that moved over our area and stalled. The bass seemed very active, especially early in the morning. Here’s a few pictures from the week.
A few years back I ordered some deep diving crankbait blanks and painted them in a few of my favorite colors. I figured out that spotted bass pull off the bank in early summer and spend their days out in 20-30+ feet of water and usually there is structure near by. Sometimes the bass stay tight to the structure and other times they range out foraging for bait. When the fish are tight to the brush, I like to dropshot them with spottails or jig them up with small spoons. When the bass range out in search of food, that when I like to troll for them. It’s not as easy as just putting a crankbait in the water and taking off trolling it. There are certain things you need to check before you even start trolling. The most important is your line. I use 6lb test XPS fluorocarbon and dragging it over rocks and through structure can really scuff it up. You need to constantly check it for cuts and abrasions. Anytime fluorocarbon gets scuffed up it loses it’s transparency and the affected area needs to be removed. I check mine very frequently because the 6lb test isn’t very strong and the slightest flaw can lead to a break off when you’ve got a nice fish on and that can ruin your day. Another thing that is just about as important is how the bait runs in the water. A lot of times and bait is out of tune and needs to be super tuned to run at higher trolling speeds. A bait that is out of tune will run in large circles when being pulled at 2-3 mph. You want your baits to run straight in a successful presentation or you’re just wasting you time. A good way to check you baits is to start moving at trolling speed and drop your crankbait over the side, let out about 6-8 feet of line and watch how the bait runs through the water. If it doesn’t run straight , it needs to be super tuned. To super tune your bait, if it’s pulling to the left, you need to adjust the little ring attach point to the right and then check it again. Sometimes this can take some time, but the rewards can be great when you get it running straight.
I don’t know of too many points and humps on Lanier that doesn’t hold fish this time of year. We have a very healthy population of spotted bass on Lake Lanier, and you can just about find the fish on any point of hump in June and July. With this being said, the most important thing to look for is structure. Structure can be a buzz kill while trolling crankbaits so you want to avoid it at all costs. If I’m trolling and cross over a brush pile that I think the crankbaits will get snagged in, I turn the boat to try and avoid the structure with my baits. If I think that’s not going to work, I just put the boat in neutral and let the cranks slow down and float up towards the surface to avoid the structure all together. All of this takes practice and you’re probably going to hang a few baits from time to time. I really recommend having a plug retriever handy, and know how to use it. I’ve lost a few nice crankbaits over the years and it still stings every time I loose one. The key is to find the structure in advance and if it doesn’t look like an area that you can successfully troll, it’s time to move on. There are a lot of long flat points that hold fish but have very little structure and if your just learning to troll crankbaits, those flats would be a good place to practice.
There are a lot of islands out on the main lake and a lot of these islands have areas that are void of structure and these areas area a good place to look this time of the summer. Spotted bass will cruise around the islands looking for bait and I like to trolling these areas, especially at the end of points where the spots tend to gather. If I see the fish and feel like I can troll them up, I’ll circle around and drop my crankbait out the back about 150 feet behind the boat and point the boat right at the area I marked the fish. I troll my baits at the slowest speed possible with the big motor which is around 2 mph. A lot of time the crankbaits I use will start scrubbing bottom at around 22 feet and generally that’s where I get my bites. The little crankbaits have rattles and dig into the bottom which mimics a bait fish foraging along the bottom. Spotted bass can’t resist the sound and the sight of mud kicking up off the bottom and will attack the bait. Sometimes these strikes can be very aggressive and I like to hold my rod in my hand so I can feel the strikes. As soon as I hook up a fish, I put the boat in neutral and slowly bring the fish to the boat. If the boat is still moving, it adds to the pressure on the light fluorocarbon line, so you want the boat to slow down so you can handle the fish.
There are two colors that I like when I’m trolling crankbaits, my favorite is chartreuse and my second favorite is a blueback pattern. The spotted bass will generally react to either color.
Trolling deep diving crankbaits is a fun way to cover a lot of ground and it’s a lot of fun for the whole family once you learn how to do it successfully.