Bald Ridge Report week ending 6-22-2014

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.

Bald Ridge Report week ending 6-15-2014

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.

Bald Ridge Report week ending 6-8-2014

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.










Crankbait Trolling Setup and Tactics

DSC02746A 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.

Bald Ridge Report week ending 5-31-2014

Early in the week we fished in the evening for a couple days and then I hit the morning bite late in the week. I’ve been concentrating on jerkbaits and crankbaits and I’m seeing the bite slow with both as the water warms. Water temps are in the upper 70’s to low 80’s when the sun is out. This past week I’ve been looking for bigger fish out towards the mouth of the creek on points. We’ve been finding a few nicer fish casting crankbaits around rocks. It seems that the bigger fish are out deeper but they are still moving up on points in the morning. Early in the week, in the evenings we found fish cruising the shoreline in the back of the creek right before dark, feeding on small gizzards. We had no problems with numbers but size was lacking. I decided to move out to the mouth of the creek to look for some morning fish and I found some very nice fish that were cruising the rock piles early in the morning. The Zee Shad medium diving crankbait around the rocks has been the key around the mouth of the creek. I’m seeing more topwater fish, both stripers and bass over deeper water so next week I’m going to paint some topwater Sammy type blanks in a few different patterns including bone and blueback.

Our top producing baits this week is still the crankbaits, both shallow diving square bills and my medium divers. The best color pattern is the Zee Shad pattern right now because there are still a lot of smaller gizzards cruising the shore line and the Zee or Zebra pattern has a close resemblance to the gizzards. We’ve also had some luck with my Sand Key and the Sexy Shad patterns in low light conditions.

Next week I’m going to use the Ultra-Spin with my twitchbaits in a pearl with blue highlights pattern. Last year in June we were catching quite a few fish with the Ultra Spin and I think this year will be no different. We’ll see what happens later next week with the Ultra-Spin. Also, I should be putting the big striper boat back in the water and going in search of stripers as well as netting some spottails and doing some dropshotting out of the striper boat. As far as the stripers go, I’ll probably break out the leadcore rods and start pulling some shad type baits around long points and flats looking for some shallow cruising stripers.
Here’s a few pictures and a video from this weeks fishing trips: