Lake Guntersville trip 7-13 through 7-17-2016

This was a 5 day trip to Lake Guntersville and the last 2 days of fishing included our club tournament with the Greater Atlanta Bass Club. I needed 3 days to figure out a game plan for the tournament, this time of year finding fish and catching them can be hot and tough. On Wednesday I fished with a friend who knew a little bit more about ledge fishing than I did. All I was interested in was learning about ledge fishing on Guntersville. We found a few areas of small shell beds on some flats while fishing a long stretch of ledge or the drop off into the main channel. The shell beds on the flats next to the ledge just kept producing 2-5lb fish on every pass. I marked two primary beds that were producing and one bed in particular had chunk rock next to it which made a perfect spot. On every pass we made we picked up at least one nice fish. My first fish of the trip was a 7 pd’er which I lost at the boat and this fish was on the shell bed with the neighboring chunk rock so it was the first mark I made on the gps. We went from one shell bed mark on the graph to another down the stretch of ledge Wednesday through Friday. Tournament day we sat on the shell bed that produced the most fish the entire time. It’s hard to believe the amount of fish that just kept coming, it’s fair to say we caught around 35-40 fish. The fish ranged from dinks to 6lbs with Lisa catching 10-15 fish and my buddies catching a few also. Overall is was a prosperous ledge.

The tournament was a 3 fish limit which made it pretty easy given we were averaging 10-20 fish a day from that stretch of the ledge. The tournament format was a 3 session tournament with the first session being Saturday morning from dawn till noon. The second session was from 4pm till 8:30pm and the third session was Sunday morning from dawn till noon. There was a tournament within a tournament with each session having a total weight pot and a big fish pot. There was also a bigger pot for overall total weight and big fish for combined both days. I like the format because it gives more teams a chance to get in the money.

Basically for the first session we made sure we were sitting just off the shell bed at dawn. We threw a shakey head with a magnum trick worm across the shell bed and dragged it back through the shells to the boat. There were numerous fish on the ledge and you just needed to be able to tell the difference between the shaky head running across the shells and a fish picking up the bait. Once you get the feel of that, then it’s all in setting the hook. You need a good hook set because the fish figure out very quickly to run at the boat if they can’t shake the hook initially. That little tactic is by design to keep you from digging that hook barb into the hard cartilage of their inner mouths. When they get near the boat they surface, jumping and shaking their heads violently as a last ditch effort to shake the hook. Keeping the rod tip low is a must.

In session one, every once in a while the fish would turn on and we would catch a few with one or two nice keepers in the mix. My strategy was to be patient, just sit on them and wait them out…..all weekend. I knew if we could average 4-5lb we would probably do very well, so waiting for the fish instead of running around and missing the bite was my strategy. We just needed patience and trust in the plan.
It was Lisa’s first day of fishing for the week so there was a little learning curve for her to get up to speed. Unfortunately she lost a couple of good fish before she got dialed in with the feel of the bite and good hook set. Once she accomplished that she was good to go and brought several good fish to the boat. On this session I did the damage and put 3 fish at over 13lbs in the boat right away then it was just a matter of working on an upgrade.
We went to the weigh in with 13 and change, all from the same little shell bed. It was good enough for first place in the session and I had a 5+ pounder to take big fish. A lot of teams struggled to find fish and a working pattern but these club guys figure out patterns and strategies very quickly so we were glad we jumped out to an early lead. Here’s a pic of the fish from session #1.IMAG0904

When session 2 started a local club was having their weigh in at the ramp…. it was a cluster so getting out to our spot was a little slow. We finally reached the shell bed and it was wide open… but man was it hot! We could see a big thunderhead building just north of the lake and I was hoping it would give us some cloud cover to cool things down, and it did…. Unfortunately there was an outflow wind from the storm. The stretch of ledge was covered in white capping water, soon came cloud cover and then blowing rain. We stuck it out and every once in a while picked up a 3-4 lber. We ended up heading back to the ramp with three decent 3-4lb fish just as the wind and clouds broke at sunset.

When we got to the ramp to trailer to the weigh-in a big catamaran looking center console was launching. I didn’t pay much attention as we parked along side a couple of cool looking high dollar Phoenix boats, Lisa held my boat at the dock as I went to get the truck. When I pulled down to the ramp area I noticed the big center console was still at the ramp and the guy couldn’t get the boat off the trailer, he hadn’t backed down far enough. He quickly jumped out of the running boat and ran back up to his truck to back it down further. When he did, the boat jumped off the trailer and started heading out into the bay …. with the boat in reverse. The guy in the truck just drove away as his boat headed out into the bay, motor running, in reverse. It took me a few seconds to figure out what was going on but I quickly realized this boat was making an arc and if my trajectory calculations were correct it was heading right for our Ranger and the 2 unmanned Phoenix’s. I looked at Lisa and she was bracing for impact as the big boat was bearing down for her and our boat. She was standing at the back of our boat with our little dog Chigger in her arms. She quickly thought to take her foot and push the big center console. I knew that wasn’t going to work so I jumped out of the truck screaming as I ran for somebody closer than me to stop that boat. I was at a sprint trying to get there before the collision. Thank goodness there was one lone guy who came flying from nowhere and jumped in the center console just as it collided with Lisa’s foot and our boat. Our boat collided with the Phoenix and that Phoenix hit the next Phoenix but luckily the guy that jumped in the big center console slammed it into drive and minimized the damage. The boat owner came running down just after it was all over and I quickly said a few choice words about him driving away full knowing his boat was in reverse putting everyone in danger. There were only a few minor scratches and we needed to get to the weigh-in. We made it with time to spare but our weight was off so we ended up with 10.5 for the second segment. There were a few teams that were getting things figured out and we finished the session in 3rd or 4th but we were still leading the overall weight by a good 6lbs. We just needed to stick some good ones in session 3 to seal the deal.
It was getting late and Lisa and I swung into Burger King for a burger and onion rings. By morning we were both sick. I don’t think the whopper and the onion rings was a good idea for us…..

At 5am Lisa got sick on the way to the ramp which made me even more sick just watching her so. We were both a mess but we knew we needed to fish and finish well. We got to our spot and by some miracle it was wide open again. We had a lot of company in our spot for the first 2 sessions but the shell bed was so small nobody could get a good angle on it but us. Not long after we got into position Lisa got a nice one on, unfortunately I was a little slow getting the net and it shook the hook boat side. Lisa and I both got a little discouraged but it wasn’t long till Lisa tied into another good fish and we boated a 5+. I just held the boat in one position and Lisa cast to the same spot over and over and before long we had another 13-14 pound sack. Lisa steadily caught fish off the back of the boat on the shell bed and I made a great net man for her. It was getting hot and we still had an hour till weigh-in so we just rode around in the breeze keeping the fish cool with o2 and ice. Our little dog Chigger likes to ride in the boat so we just let him enjoy the ride. At the end of the day we finished in first place for total weight at 36+ pounds, second place was a little over 28. Here’s a picture of the fish Lisa caught in the 3rd session to win the tournament for overall weight.IMAG1034 (1)We won total weight and big fish for session one as well as total weight for the tournament. Here’s a few pictures and a video of Lisa’s final day weigh-in with the winning fish!!

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Lanier Summer Report 7-8-2016

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I’ve been hitting the lake on a regular basis and finding plenty of fish to keep me busy. The bite has been great for me over the past few weeks and I guess you could say that we’ve hit the summer pattern. The lake temps are hovering around the mid to upper 80’s and the thermocline is scattered throughout the creeks and out in the lower lake right now. The stripers and bass are taking up residence in their predicable locations and using a variety of methods for catching these fish can lead to a day of fun fishing…..

For the bass I’ve been starting my mornings very early (dawn) casting a topwater favorite over the same brush piles I’ve been drop shotting later in the day. This time of year the bass are reluctant to hit the surface but early in the morning and sporadically throughout the day they will attack the bluebacks swimming near the surface and they will attack a surface lure as well. Unfortunately this is one of those times of the year that the fish doesn’t stay up on the surface long so if you’re site fishing, making a quick and accurate cast is key to catching the surfacing fish. Basically, a topwater fish is a low percentage endeavor and I’m starting to see more and more bass refusing to come back after a topwater bait just seconds after they initially surface. Just yesterday I was able to catch some nice topwater fish just blind casting wind blown points but the chop across the point had to be perfect before they would surface. Just about every fish I caught on the topwater was a good 3lb+ stout fish and they attacked the topwater baits like they were hungry with the aggressiveness of the stripers. Lately the only topwater bait I have tied on and at the ready is the bone Sexy Dawg. The bass in the picture above was caught yesterday 7-7-2016, mid-morning on a wind blown point using the bone Sexy Dawg.

If the topwater isn’t working there are a couple other options I’ve been using to put fish in the boat. The first is casting a Fish Head Spin or underspin across the top of brush on humps or out on the ends of points. I’ve been targeting the brush in 25-35 feet of water. There are some fish at the shallower depths but I think the bigger fish have been deeper and near deep deep water. For the under spin, I’ve been using a 1/4 ounce with a pearl super fluke, casting across the brush pile and counting it down to 5-10 seconds with a steady retrieve over the brush pile and back to the boat. Another tactic you can try if the underspin isn’t working or the wind kicks up a little and that’s a jig. Take your pick, there are plenty to choose from that will work right now. I’m just casting a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce size type casting jig with a watermelon trailer, letting it sink and slowly crawling it across the bottom. Sometimes you’ll feel a distinct thump and other times they rod will just load up or get heavy. Most of the time the larger fish have been on the under spin and the jig.

Once I’ve had some fun with those three early morning tactics and the sun gets higher, I’m going to the drop shot tactic. For me, the drop shot is like playing a video game, I’m just finding the brush and fish on the electronics and dropping my little drop shot rig right down in front of them. Sometimes they hit it right away and sometimes I just dead stick the bait in a waiting game. There are times when holding the drop shot worm perfectly still will entice a bite and other times I have to make the worm dance to get a reaction. A lot of times I’m very focused on my electronics and I am watching the fish as well as my worm on my sonar screen. I can watch the fish chase the bait down and get hooked in real time. Worm color and size selection is a whole other topic. We’ve been using different  sizes and colors, some days it matters and some days it doesn’t. My wife Lisa is the queen of color selections while I’m more of a tried and true kinda guy. We are both competitive and always have a competition on the drop shot. Lisa has that women’s touch which is perfect for that type of finesse fishing and the drop shot is her specialty so it’s always a challenge for me to beat her at the drop shot. Earlier this week she mopped up on me for numbers using a worm color that I never dreamed of using but it worked. Last year Lisa came up with a worm color that was a lock for us in late summer. We had a blast with it and caught some nice big fish just drop shotting our normal brush piles. It was just a color and size that the bigger fish reacted to during that period in time. I caught my biggest drop shot fish on that worm while the corps was generating in the brutal afternoon heat and got it on video. It’s probably my favorite drop shot video from last summer and that fish put up one heck of a fight on light tackle:
You can see the way I’m working the worm in the video. I’m using 6-7lb fluorocarbon line with a 3/8 ounce drop shot weight and a #2 or #4 VMC Spinshot hook about 18 inches up from the weight.

Once I’ve had my fill of drop shotting bass I’m moving on to a bigger target which is our summer striper population. I’m only carrying one item for stripers this time of year but the excitement that lure provides is more than enough for a day of fishing. The lure I’m carrying is the Ben Parker Magnum Spoon and the summer stripers just love this thing. You need to work the spoon kinda like working the drop shot, it’s a matter of seeing the fish on your electronics, dropping the spoon vertically and enticing them to bite. Finding the stripers to drop the spoon to is the hardest part of the equation and it may require some driving and watching your electronics for arches in deep water. Once you find the arches it’s as easy as dropping the spoon and reeling it back up. The stripers will let you know when they hit the spoon, sometimes taking you by surprise and trying to jerk the rod out of your hands.
Here is a video I made last summer that can give you an idea of the way the spoon tactic works for stripers.
A lot of folks have asked what rig I was using. The rig I was using to catch those big stripers was a big Penn Fierce 6000 reel loaded with 25lb Big Game on a 7′ Ugly Stik Heavy Spinning rod. I like the bigger reels because you can gain line very quick with the big spool and gear ratio. We’ve already been catching some nice fish on the spoon, both up lake a ways and down lake as well. It seems that the fish are scattered in groups and finding fish and having a group of fish to yourself is very possible right now. The spoon bite is only going to get better as we progress through the summer and I’m looking forward to a couple months and a solid pattern of hitting the brush for bass and spooning summer stripers for a change of pace. I haven’t really been taking many pictures or videos lately but here’s a few pictures from so recent trips out:

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On the Radio this morning

 

I spent a little time with my buddy Brad Myers and his radio show, Georgia Outdoors Radio 92.5 “The Bear” FM. We talked about Lake Lanier stripers and bass this morning and some of the tactics we’re using right now. We talked about spooning up a couple of stripers for the grill and a good striper recipe we use for a little summer holiday stripers on the half shell. I also talked about the drop shot tactic and the fun we’ve been having with that. Just click on the link below. My portion of the show starts at the 91:45 mark.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/georgiaoutdoorsradio/gor-07-02-16?fb_action_ids=963130547119547&fb_action_types=spreaker_radio%3Abroadcast&fb_ref=image_bigbutton

The Marching Party

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It would take me a lifetime to write about my Navy career but here’s a little peek at a small moment in my career that helped shape me into what I am today.  I wanted to put this in words before my withering memory wipes it away

Before you can understand the story I need to get you up to speed on what San Diego Navy boot camp was like in 1982. When I joined the Navy I had rarely been out of the Midwest except for a few family vacations as a kid so flying into San Diego, Ca. at 10:30 in the evening to report to boot camp was a big deal. I don’t care who you are, you’re going to be a little freaked out for the first 48 hours or so. You go through a series of fun events within the first few days but one of the first things that happens after a good haircut is you go through uniform issue. This is a time when you are issued all of your Navy uniforms and undergarments and you stencil your name just above the pocket on all of your “dungaree” shirts and trousers or working uniform as well as your “skivvies”, hat or “lid”, socks and personal belongings. By this time you have formed a “Company” which is a group of about 50-75 guys that you’ll be spending the next few months with, living in cramped quarters in a barrack without heat or air conditioning. Each person is referred to as a “recruit” for the duration of boot camp and we marched in formation everywhere we went.

While we stenciled our clothing our prospective “Company Commanders” were walking around watching us work on stenciling our gear. Company Commanders were more senior members in the Navy and could be recognized by a chest full of medals and ribbons, a lot of stripes on their uniform and these red ropes dangling in a loop from their shoulders. We referred to them as “red ropes” behind their back and “Sir” to their face. There would usually be 2 Company Commanders assigned to a Company and they were the boss, your mom, you dad, you’re best friend, your worst enemy and just like Sgt Hulka, they were our big toe. While stenciling my uniforms I could tell the Company Commanders were watching us to see who was paying attention to detail and doing a thorough job in a timely manner so I made sure I did everything to perfection when they walked behind me and looked over my shoulder. It paid off to perfection and a week later I was dubbed our new “Company Yeoman”. Our Company Commander, First Class Petty Officer Marlor took a liking to me and trusted me the responsibilities of a Yeoman which was taking care of the daily logistics of head counts and mail call. I was the liaison between the company and our Company Commander. I liked my job but our Company Commander was mean, I mean real mean. He was covered in tattoos from neck to toes and could out run, do more push-ups, set-ups or any number of exercises we did on a daily basis. This guy was covered in tattoos before that sort of thing was cool. He was intimidating to say the least but in the back of my mind a little part of me knew this was all part of the act. The act of shaping us all into young sailors before setting us out to start our real Navy careers.

I don’t think words can properly describe the feelings I went through in Boot Camp. Besides the obvious things like missing home, a girlfriend, mom and dad and all of those creature comforts, you learn very quickly to do without. There were challenges on an hourly basis and there was so much to learn in a short period of time. There were great things that got accomplished in boot camp and there were failures and consequences to be paid. A few weeks after the start of Boot Camp we were all settling into a routine and starting to feel a little cocky. Feeling a little cocky was something that was not advised during boot camp. Us recruits feeling a little cocky made the Company Commander feel a little cocky too. Their idea of feeling a little cocky was singling out any one person who thought he was better than the rest or maybe someone who made a mistake? This person would become the target of Company Commanders enjoyment. Sometimes the Company Commander would take matters into his own hands and sometimes he would send a hard case to a “Marching Party”. A marching party was something that took place after dark once a week, usually on Thursday and there was usually someone going from our unit every week. The ones that went never came back the same. They didn’t chat much about it, only saying it was 2 hours of hell and involved Navy SEALs. At the time about all I knew about the SEALs was that they were elite and mean. I only knew what I had read in our “Bluejacket” manual which is the sailors bible and has everything about everything in the Navy. In the manual they gave a brief job description of a Navy SEAL and I knew they had to be tough.

After about a 4 week period of being our company Yeoman I had things down to a science. I knew my job inside and out and I got complacent. One of my jobs was to do a head count of every recruit in our company prior to sitting down for a meal. For every meal I would report the number of recruits to our Company Commander and we would file into the chow hall for our meal. Sometimes a recruit would be sent to sick call or some other demand so the number of recruits going to a meal may vary from meal to meal. After 4 weeks on the job as the head counter before meals I just started winging it and throwing out a number thinking no one was checking my numbers. We went days with me reporting a headcount that went unchecked so I thought it was just a formality. Yea, I was dead wrong. One day our Company Commander call me into his office out of the blue. Up until this point I had been his “Go To” guy in the company and could do no wrong. On prior meetings with him in his office it was generally a pleasant experience but on this occasion it was all business. He informed me that from his best estimation somehow over night perhaps, a big rock had came in contact with my head and made me a dumbass. He had been watching me operate at the chow hall head counts and had been checking my numbers for the last week. Needless to say I was busted and for punishment I would be fired from my position and sent to the marching party on Thursday evening. He looked me in the eyes and in a stern  voice he said “You know Farmer, in the Navy complacency can get you killed, or even worse, you’ll get the people around you killed. I want you to remember that“. It was like my whole world just tanked. I was fired from my position and banished to the marching party. I wasn’t going alone as I soon found out that another recruit from our company had done something wrong and would be accompanying me to the party. His name was Powell and we were both trying to find out all we could about what went on at a marching party but the guys from our company who had went didn’t was to talk about it much siting a sworn secrecy.

Thursday night finally came after a long day of marching and classroom events. Everyone else was finishing their duties for the evening as Powell and I were donning our gear to go to the marching party at 10pm. Our gear included our working uniform with a watch cap or black stocking cap. We were told to march to a empty parking lot or “grinder” directly in front of the little store where we got our supplies. We would be greeted by our hosts for the night and they would give us our instructions for 2 hours off hell. Powell and I really didn’t know what we were in for so the mood was light as we marched to the grinder. When we got there the party was in full swing and we were immediately told to join ranks for a little chat before we got started. We were all in formation standing at attention while these big face painted gorillas walked through our ranks explaining to us how we had fucked up really bad and we were about to pay for it. They asked if anyone wanted to go home to momma before we got started but no one had the balls to go that route so without further ado we started doing different physical exercises while being yelled at by about 6-8 Navy SEALs. They got in your face, they got in your ear and tried in every way to make us break and cry. I won’t go into detail but some of the exercises were very extreme with names like “Hello Dollies” and “Eight count body builders” and one of my personal favorites, “The Superman”. We would do push-ups but you would have to stay in the down position with your nose and body 2 inches from the deck. It didn’t take long till the sweat started mixing with the dirt on the ground and everyone’s faces were black and dripping mud. My working uniform was covered in sweat and dripping, making a puddle of mud beneath me. They tested ever muscle in my body and I was in outstanding shape at the time. After the first hour my body trembled from exertion and my muscles were fading fast. If you were caught screwing up an exercise the SEAL’s were on you like a pack of wild dogs with 2 or 3 of these gorillas in you face screaming obscenities and just try to get you to break. I finally decided that these SEAL’s were probably betting big money and taking a head count on how many of us they could break before it was over so I made up my mind that wasn’t going to happen to me. They could break my body but they couldn’t break my spirit. Names were a form of enjoyment for these guys and they would make light of our names. When they saw my name was Farmer they had a little fun with me and my name designed to see if mocking my family name would break me. They never put a hand on us but it was degrading to say the least. Just before we were done, Powell, who was directly to my left finally broke and the tears started flowing. They showed no mercy and crying only gathered a crowd of these antagonizers.  That was the point in the evolution that I realized the reason that no one who had been there before me talked about it much. They didn’t break me and when it was over Powell and I marched back to the barracks with muscles either locked, cramping or in some kind of spasm.

When we got back to the barracks, everyone was asleep except for the 2 night watchmen. We were covered in dirt and told by the night watchmen in the barracks to get a quick show and hit the rack for the night. One of the night watchmen asked us how it was and neither myself or Powell wanted to discuss it much. I promised Powell on the way back that I wouldn’t say anything about what went down. I showered and hit the rack for the night. It seemed like I had just closed my eyes when the lights came on and it was morning. I had slept a total of 4 hours but it seemed like I hadn’t slept at all. When I tried to get out of my rack, my muscles were completely locked up. I have never felt like I felt that morning at any time in my life. I have competed in military and civilian marathons at a lightning pace and pushed my body to the brink of destruction but I have never ever felt like that since. Powell and I went on to graduate from boot camp and start our Navy careers but that little 2 hour snippet in time will never be forgotten by me and I’m sure, by Powell also.

Although that was just a small fragment of my life there was a lesson to be learned and our old Company Commander was right, during my career in the Navy I’ve witnessed more than one incident or accident where complacency was the culprit and the outcome wasn’t good. On the flight deck of an aircraft carrier there is an old saying “The moment you get complacent on the flight deck, that’s the moment you jeopardize your life and the lives of everyone”.

 

The bone “Hump Buster” walking bait

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A few years back and ran across a topwater blank that I really liked so I bought a few and painted them in a few of my favorite colors. When the fish are surfacing in the spring and fall the hump buster is a great choice, mainly because of the size and shape of the bait. It is the same profile as a blueback swimming on the surface and this bait looks great when walking the dog.

My wife Lisa’s biggest largemouth to date came from this bait and it’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine on Lanier. Here’s a video and a few pictures of the Hump Buster in action.

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Early Summer Report South End

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It’s been a couple weeks since my last report and the topwater is still going strong. For the past 2 weeks there was a good mix of stripers and bass out on the creek points very early in the morning. If you got out in the creek at dawn, you could see the fish surfacing and fishing these areas with a variety of topwater baits has produced a lot of nice fish lately. Being in the right place at the right time helps tremendously when it comes to catching these fish. More times than not, if you get your bait in the area of surfacing fish too late, the fish will not come back up for it. The window of opportunity to catch these fish has been small and basically, if you don’t get to them while they are on the surface or seconds after they surface, there not coming back up. That tells us that the water at the surface is degrading in oxygen levels. If the levels were good, the fish would be more than happy to come back up after a bait. The good part was that 2 weeks ago there was still a good mix of stripers and bass together and we caught a lot of stripers and bass but that is changing fast in the creek. Most of my trips last week were runs out to the creek at dawn and back at the ramp by 9am. I did get a chance to take a couple of people out to enjoy the topwater bite. Here’s a few pics from a trip with my friend Mark who joined me for an early morning creek run last week and a couple videos of my wife Lisa walking the Sexy Dawg topwater bait last weekend as well as a video of some early summer hump fishing this week.

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Just as in past years there comes a time when the stripers migrate from the reaches of the creek to the deep mouth or main lake and join forces in big schools to spend the hot summer feeding on bluebacks in the thermocline layer.  That’s what is going on right now. I’m starting to see less and less stripers in the creek and more and more out on the main lake. Most of the stripers still coming to the surface are smaller fish and the bigger stripers are going deeper in the water column. This is the time of year I start changing my tactics to a summer pattern and looking for fish out on the main lake. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of bass in the creek worth catching but I’d rather be out on the main lake humps where a lot of big bass are taking up their summer residence. The big bass and smaller stripers are coming up very early in the morning for a dawn feeding on the humps and then the stripers go deep but the topwater bass bite has been coming back around about mid day right now.  It’s the down time between the dawn bite and the midday bite that been tough to figure out. I’ve been catching a few with different subsurface methods when the fish have been suspended around structure on the humps. Right now I’ve been biding my time with the dropshot, jigs and shakeyhead around the structure and bagging a few nice ones.

Another option for early to mid morning right now is a crankbait on the cool shady chunk rock areas near the mouths of the creeks and out on the islands. During the over night hours the big rocks tend to cool and by morning the big rocks provide a nice cool little haven for baitfish as well as crawfish. Throwing a medium to deep diving crankbait in a shad or summer crawfish pattern around the shady rocky shoreline in the mornings is a lock for a few nice bass foraging for a morning meal.

After the morning and midday bite is over, it’s back to the dropshot on deeper structure for the rest of the day for me. If you can stand the heat, the Corps has been generating in the afternoon and into the evening lately which usually gets the dropshot bite going around structure on the main lake humps near the river channel. If the water is moving during generation, the bass are usually looking for a meal around the structure. If you’re new to the dropshot or looking for these main lake humps to find where the summer bass hang out, just look for shallower areas that are near the river channel. These are not visible to the naked eye so you need a good contour map to actually see the humps. You need to look for the humps that come up to 25-40 feet in depth and seek out the structure in these areas. If there is brush or structure on the hump, there’s bound to be bass. Soon we’ll have a solid thermocline out on the main lake and it will be time for our summer striper spoon bite so stay tuned for that. Water temps are in the mid 80’s right now.

Yesterday I took my friend Clint out for a 1 hour run to the humps at dawn. There has been some good surface activity on the humps and Clint had an hour before he went to work to catch a nice bass on topwater. Clint was throwing a blueback colored Whopper Plopper and nailed his personal best magnum spot. Here’s a pic of Clint’s spot and some random pictures from the last week including a few pictures of my new “Hump Buster” topwater plug.IMAG0831IMAG0830IMAG0828IMG_25291IMAG083720160602075152(1)20160602055502 (6)IMAG0820

 

 

Late Spring/Early Summer Report

Not much has changed since my last report and fishing is pretty typical for this time of the year. I will say one thing that is a noticeable difference from past years and that’s the population increase of stripers. I’m sure we can attribute that to the Georgia DNR’s stocking program and the great numbers of fingerlings they have been putting in the lake for the past few years. I think there were a few stockings in upwards of 600k fingerlings over the past 10 years which is almost double from what the lake would generally get. The stripers from those stockings are starting to get bigger and showing up around the lake in good numbers. The water quality is good all around the lake including the far reaches of the creek arms which means the fish are scattered throughout the lake. Right now you have many options for catching fish. The biggest ticket item has been the early morning striper and bass topwater bite. It’s fun, fast and furious. A lot of the fish I’ve been catching on topwater have been relating to structure, particularly the bass but the stripers have been present in the same areas. Basically the fish are using the structure as home base while moving around the structure looking for a meal. My recommendation right now for targeting these fish is some kind of bone or light colored plug, whether it’s topwater or something running just below the surface. Here’s a short video to explain how I’ve been getting a few. The second striper in the video was taken with a Sebile Magic Swimmer. I was just moving around sight fishing.

I’m still getting a few fish on the Emerald Popper on cloudy days and low light conditions but the more aggressive fish have been hitting the solid bone or light colors right now. There are several different topwater baits that will work and several different manufacturers that make a bone colored topwater bait or sub-surface bait. Here’s a picture of one I make in the shop and the one I used in the video above.IMAG0778

Once the topwater bite dies off about 9-10am it’s time for the grind. I’ve been squeezing out a few more fish with a chrome Rattle Trap or a Sebile Magic Swimmer after the surface activity subsides in the same areas but once that’s over I’ve been hitting the docks and shoreline with the shaky head or a shallow diving crankbait in a shad pattern. The docks have been producing a lot of smaller fish lately but if you’re looking for numbers and not size, docks and the backs of pockets will provide a lot of smaller fish on a variety of baits. I’ve also been catching a few fish around blow-downs with a shad pattern jerkbait. Here’s a picture of the jerkbait pattern I’ve been using around blown-downs rocky points and shallow structure.
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One other way I’ve been picking up fish recently after the topwater bite slows is to circle back around and keep fishing the same areas of early morning surfacing fish but casting a Blueback Herring pattern Shadow Rap. I’m just casting around the areas and particularly over areas of underwater structure from 20-30 feet in depth. It seems that some of the bigger fish are heading out to deeper water for the summer and spending their days looking for drifting bluebacks. Here’s a pic of a nice one caught in the early afternoon over deep water with the Shadow Rap.IMAG0794

Here’s a few recent rattle trap and popper fish.IMAG0772IMAG0773IMAG0776

IMAG0774With the water temps fluctuating right now the topwater pattern is hit and miss so it’s good to have a few alternate methods because there are going to be days the topwater just doesn’t happen. Water temps as I write this are just above 70 degrees and the water visibility is getting clearer by the day. Over all the topwater bite should last another month or so before the fish hunker down in the depths for a hot summer.