Today we decided to troll some deep diving crank baits on some heavier gear (6lb test) and targeted depths of 20-30 feet clipping points. We wound up with 6 bass and 1 striper today. We didn’t take any pictures yesterday but we took a few pictures today. Great day to be on the lake. Here’s a couple pics from today.
Well, my plan was to get some good looking crappie jigs and a few minnows and search the creek for crappie. Lisa and I had bought each other crappie rods for Valentines day and we are determined to catch crappie with our tiny new rods. Lisa and I went from stalking big striped bass on heavy tackle to sizing down to crappie and finesse fishing around docks and structure in a matter of a few weeks. This took some getting use to. I practiced shooting docks with my little rod and I must say that I’ve gotten pretty good at it. It’s kinda like fishing with a slingshot. Our plan was to throw around docks and structure to see if we could locate any schools of crappie and concentrate on those areas while loading the cooler with a bounty of the little speckled beauties.
Off we went at lunchtime for an afternoon of fishing. The back of the creek was completely blown out from recent rains so we decided to fish outside the mud line in the clearer waters. I think we chunked and jigged around docks for an hour or so then I decided to hit some blow downs along the shore. We were using a variety of colored jigs in 2 sizes, 1/6 ounce and a 1/32 ounce with some little Bobby Garland bug looking plastics. I liked the little Key Lime Pie color because Key Lime reminds me of Key West and some of the many memories I made on that little island paradise. I put that little plastic on a 1/16 ounce green colored jig head and started throwing around shoreline and blow down structure. It didn’t take long and I had my first fish on the little crappie rod and the fight was on. I realized very quickly that this was probably not a crappie as the fish stripped drag on the little rod. I played the fish on the 4lb test fluorocarbon line. When the fish finally came to the surface it was a nice respectable spotted bass. He was very lively and I thought maybe he had been hanging out in the warmer water of the shoreline. I returned the fish to the lake and off we went again in search of crappie. Lisa was in the front of the boat trying different colors and was just as determined as I was to catch a fish. I threw my little jig just beyond the end of a pretty big blown down and let the jig drop till the line went slack. As I put pressure on the jig I felt a little tap tap and set the hook on another fish. Just like the first, the fish stripped drag at will and when the little fella surfaced it turned out to be another respectable spotted bass.
At the point of catching the second bass within a few minutes of the first, to me that constitutes a pattern and should be addressed as such. I put the same jig pattern on Lisa’s little crappie rod and we went to fishing shoreline for bass with our tiny crappie rods and Key Lime bass jigs. It didn’t take long till Lisa got in the act with her first bass, a nice little buck bass in less than 10 feet of water. I believe the drag screaming on the little crappie reels is just about as exciting as the drag screaming on our big gear with a big striper doing the pulling. After the third and fourth bass we decided that the fish were hanging in 5-10 feet of water so we concentrated our efforts to that depth. We had a blast catching bass along the sun drenched shoreline of the creek and at last count we had a total of 9 nice spotted bass boated and a few that pulled off. We never caught crappie one during the whole afternoon but it sure was a lot of fun to catch bass on ultra light tackle. To cap off the evening I turned on the dock lights and did a little crappie fishing with crappie minnows under the dock lights. I didn’t expect much because the water was stained to the color of my morning coffee with heavy cream. Not long after putting out 2 lines complete with spanking new bobbers, one of the bobbers submerged and I knew I had my first crappie of 2014. I grabbed the rod and the fish was off to the races as he went under the dock and then under my boat that was inside the slip. I kept pressure on the fish and finally he came to the surface. I got a quick glimpse of what looked to be a 2-3lb crappie from the lighter color of the fish but on second inspection I realized that it was a nice respectable 2-3lb Largemouth bass. I fished for a while longer and didn’t get another bite so I called it a day. Surface temps in the creek varied from 50-53 degrees so there is a definite warm up in water temps. Looks like it’s shaping up to be a great spring.
Several years ago when I first started making planer boards, I made a few sets with a mirrored finish. We called them flash boards because they created a flash while pulling them in the sunlight. On a trip up the Tugaloo River over on lake Hartwell in April we were using the Flash Boards pulling live bait during a club tournament. We got into a school of stripers and we started noticing that our flash boards had stripers swimming with them as we pulled them along. We knew that the boards were flashing in the early morning sunlight and the stripers were very curious as to what was flashing in the water. We caught several stripers on the boards that morning and we won the tournament. Those boards were a definite help to us that morning and I believe the flash created by the boards was a great attractant for those river stripers. We decided to bring back the Flash Board design this year for our 5th anniversary at a great price.
I spent a little time in the studio talking with Brad Myers on Saturday morning the 28th of December on Georgia Outdoors Radio, 92.5 FM “The Bear”. We talked about striper fishing and tackle for over an hour. There is a lot of good striper fishing info in the show so if you missed the live version and you want to listen to the edited version including a report from Arnie Davis live from Lake West Point and my segment live from the studio you can Click Here.
If you would like to listen to the full show including a saltwater report from Captain Judy Helmey from “Miss Judy Charters” and a Lake Lanier fly fishing report from Captian Henry Cowen from “Henry Cowen Quality Flies and Guide Service” you can Click Here.
*Be patient, it will take a minute for the upload!
I fished yesterday afternoon, Thursday the 19th and zero’ed for the day. Just before dark I found some stripers back in the creek but they were feeding on small threadfins so the trout I pulled behind the planer boards didn’t work well. I figured they may hit a trout early in the morning if they stayed in the general area so my plan was to hit the same area at first light. I left my dock just before 7am and motored up the creek at first light. After getting a spread out I started marking a few big arches in less than 20 feet of water and I knew the stripers were still there. It didn’t take long till the trout on a freelined balloon started getting very nervous. I was pulling the trout on a balloon about 150-200 feet behind the boat at the time. I picked up the rod out of the rod holder and pulled the bail lever back to free spool. The striper chased the trout around the balloon and soon my thumb and rod tip felt the striper nail the trout and at the same time the balloon took off skimming across the water. I threw the bail lever forward and set the hook on my first striper of the morning, a healthy 15 pounder. It was a nice way to start the morning. I decided to pull boards to the back of the creek so I got as far back as 49 degree water temps and 7 feet of water when I turned around. The back of the creek was like the land that time forgot. Plenty of run down docks and summer homes and it seemed every tree had a few turkey buzzards hanging around. It was like a scene out of “Apocalypse Now”. I kept thinking spears and arrows were going to start flying out of the tree line so I turned around. I went through a dry spell for several hours but I checked another area we had been catching some nice fish further out in the creek and found the big arches on the graph again. Another striper started chasing the balloon bait again in shallow water and after a game of cat and mouse with the striper, I set the hook on him and the fight was on. Just as quick, the fight was off and the striper was gone. I had turned the video camera on early in the cat and mouse game and I had some great footage of a big striper chasing and slapping the trout before he inhaled it. I was holding the rod and talking to the camera as I set the hook on him. It would have made a great video along with the first striper footage I had from my early dawn striper. The camera ran out of memory and I had to dump the videos I had so I could video the next fish.
I made a big circle back to the same area I had marked the arches. I gotta tell you, I can really tell the difference between a big striper directly under the boat in 20 feet of water, and your run of the mill spotted bass swimming to and fro. The big arches looked like they were just dripping with electronic static because of the high sensitivity on my graph in shallow water. It looked like 3 bigger fish just off the bottom in 20 feet of water so I figured I still had a shot at the other two. This pass I aimed the right planer board at the same area and just as the trout passed over the big stripers I saw a big boil where the trout should have been and the planer board rocketed across the water. That’s when I grabbed the rod and reached back to turn on the camera. Here’s what happened next:
I got out for a couple hours before lunch and then hit it again for a couple hours before dark. I picked off a good teenage striper right after getting a spread out around 10 am. The fish hit my biggest trout which was on a freeline with a balloon tied just above the swivel for the leader. The striper was in the same area that we had caught fish a few days earlier. It was my only fish before lunch. After lunch I decided to look around a bit and see if I could find more stripers in a different location but on the same pattern. I found some stripers in a choke down area suspended over the deeper part of the channel and I caught 3 more nice stripers over the course of the afternoon. I gave it up around 5 pm and left them biting.
The stripers I found today were out in the wind over deep water. Most were suspended and the only thing that worked was trout on a balloon about 150 feet behind the boat. Here’s a video from today.
I walked out on the deck facing the lake and saw the wind was picking up and blowing out of the northwest. The forecast was calling for gusts up to 25 mph with a good steady north wind. I saw my neighbor on his dock and I couldn’t resist inviting him for a quick run up the creek and a little striper fishing with the left over trout from 2 days earlier. He agreed and we layered up for a cold ride up the creek. As we rode out of the cove I noticed the water temps had dropped more than a degree from my last trip out in the creek 2 days earlier and was sitting right at 52 degrees. We idled up the creek channel and saw pod after pod of threadfin shad on the graph, and sometimes we would see long clouds of bait hugging the bottom that would continue on and on across the graph. I had scoured the back of the creek earlier for signs of stripers but I saw none. We had gotten several inches of rain over the past month and the back of the creek was still a bit muddy from the run off. We saw some birds working an area out in the wind and we watched for any surface activity beneath the birds. The birds didn’t seem to be diving on the water but it was apparent that they were concentrating on an area close to a wind blown point. We settled on pulling medium sized trout behind planer boards and a few downlines with our smaller trout. I had a few rather large medium sized trout and we put one out on a balloon straight out the back 100 feet. Our plan was to pull 2 points in the general area where the birds were circling. They seemed to be circling one point and then slowing circling another, occasionally diving at the water. The first point was a wash so we decided to run the baits across the second point and around to the leeward side where the wind was very calm and the water was glassed over. Just as we pulled the planer boards into the wind break I looked at the graph and saw that we were directly over some nice sized fish, judging from the fat arches just off the bottom of the 20ft flat on the calm side of the point. We had an audience as a younger fella was loading up his bass boat that was tied to the dock, preparing to launch. I watched the graph as the number of arches grew and I knew we had just jumped a school of stripers sitting on the leeward side of the point ambushing bait as it made its way into the calmer area behind the point. Some of the fish were moving on the graph and some were just stacked in wait. The downlined trout were going nuts just above the bottom and I told my neighbor it was just a matter of time now before something good happens. Sure enough, the right side planer board hit the speed brake and started skimming the water backwards at a high rate of speed. Gene was on the rod in a nanosecond and he set the hook on the running striper. When Gene set the hook I looked at the rod tip and the bow in the tip told me it was a good striper. I could tell the planer board was doing its job by keeping the striper near the surface and swimming parallel to the boat. The downlined trout had been picked up and dropped several times by the stripers beneath, but there were no hook ups as Gene fought his fish to the boat. Gene’s fish was a respectable teenage fish and it put up a great battle to the boat. After releasing Gene’s fish we continued on towards the back of a small cut and we marked sporadic fish as we went. We re-baited the downlines and replaced the trout on Gene’s planer board as we approached the end of the cut and the turn around point. I looked down at the graph and in 13ft of water and directly below the boat was 2 large arches and I knew from experience that we were just above two big stripers in the back of the cove. I looked at my downline and the rod tip loaded up like I had just picked up a brick just below the boat. I grabbed the rod as one of the two stripers hammered the trout on my downline. The striper was determined to get to deeper water and I was determined to get him to my side of the boat for a landing. After I won the battle the stripers left the area and we decided to head back to the house for lunch and to get warmed up. Here’s a short video of the trip to help with the visual effect from the trip.