The Mystery and the Thrill of Spring

If you’ve been on the lake lately and watched the surface, you’ve probably seen a little blueback skipping across the water with a large wake right behind it. The bass are like cats sometimes and play with their prey, slapping it in the air, coming back down disoriented so the fish can easily consume it upon landing. It usually ends with a big splash and another blueback has completed it’s purpose in life. I don’t know about y’all but I think some of these tackle companies need to develop a portable pacemaker that comes with each topwater lure purchase because some of these blow-ups and anticipated blow-ups have had my heart racing this spring.

For the past few weeks we’ve been experiencing the ups and downs of our spring topwater bite. It’s kinda been like a false season so far because the fish are on the top one day and relating to the bottom the next. You have to be prepared for that and use a variety of techniques. To give you an example, on Monday I hit the water at 8am and started hitting the points and humps with the topwater. It’s been my experience so far this spring that when I first approach a point or hump there is usually a topwater fish willing to bite provided they haven’t been pressured yet. I call those “green points” and I wrote an article some years ago about fishing the “green points” on Lanier. The term green points came from me describing the points that haven’t been touched by another boat and the fish are still “green” when it comes to committing to a topwater bait. Usually, they are subject to mistakes when they haven’t seen a lure in a few hours and pretty easy to catch. Sometimes the bass will be grouped up and schooling when they are green and sometimes it’s a crap shoot as whether you get a 2lb bass, a big 4-5lb bass, or a nice aggressive striper. Unfortunately, as the day progresses there are less and less green points and less and less opportunity for success unless you make the proper adjustments. On Monday I was able to capitalize on some surfacing fish on a point and I connected with a good fish on my little topwater walker by throwing into an area which the fish were schooling on some bluebacks. After boating the fish, I had to make some adjustments to get a second fish. First, there was no wind on the point so I ruled out big moving baits that they could easily see, plus the bait that they were feeding on was smaller 2-3 inch bluebacks so I was thinking of using my small swimbait but every fish I saw on the graph was either on the bottom or very close so I pulled out my shaky head rig. On my shaky head rig I’ve come to rely on the ElaZtech worms rather than the traditional Plastisol worms the fish have been seeing for years. In my opinion the fish hold the ElaZtech plastics longer than the harder plastisol and if you couple ElaZtech with salt the fish tend to swim away with it rather than shaking it and spitting it out. I also believe that sometimes you can rule out smaller fish by using bigger worms so for that reason I use a pretty beefy worm. Not long after I started throwing the worm I felt a few tugs and missed a bite but it gave me hope that they were interested. I threw back into the area with some shallower brush and before long I felt the soft spongy resistance of a fish slowly swimming away with the bait. I reeled down and set the hook on the fish and was rewarded with the fish pictured below in my left hand. The fish in my right hand was the one I caught on the topwater when I first pulled up and saw the surfacing fish.

After these two I went searching for more fish using the same two punch combination of topwater and then the worm on the bottom. I caught a few more fish with that method and lost another nice fish to the brush. I’m starting to see more fish coming from the shallower water and moving to the summer brush piles every day. This observation brings things like the drop shot and spybait into play but that is for another week down the road shortly. Right now the water temps are still solid in the upper 60’s and we desperately need some warmer stable weather and a pretty stable lake to get the topwater bite really going. I can remember a couple of years ago we had an algae bloom that pretty much destroyed the topwater bite and any activity on the surface. From what I understand the root cause of the algae bloom was from the large influx of fresh water being moved through the lake and the normal stratification did not occur as it usually does. When this happened the fish just went to the bottom and acted like it was the middle of winter when they do the majority of feeding on the bottom vs the top. It didn’t take me long to build a pattern on that and I had a phenomenal time with the shaky head on points and humps out on the main lake. I spent the better part of a month without much fishing in the creek but I found that I could catch better fish on the less pressured main lake. Such could be the case this year but things could be just the opposite as I have found that it’s impossible to predict what will happen down the road. The best advice I can give for any day on Lanier is to be prepared from top to bottom and understand the options vs conditions.

One other pattern I’d like to address and that is the weightless fluke bite. It’s been working pretty well over the past few weeks but for me it’s loosing it’s momentum and luster for the moment. That really doesn’t mean to put it away from the deck. I’ve found it to be a really viable option on the windy points when I can set the boat up wind with spot lock and make my casts down wind and let the fluke soak with the occasional double or triple twitch. I probably caught as many stripers as bass using this technique in the wind but it’s been an effective one nonetheless.

Last week Lisa and I went out for few hours and basically threw the fluke over brush and on a few points. We both used a different color fluke and they accounted for 10 of our 11 fish. I used a plain white pearl super fluke and Lisa used a super fluke with some pearl, flakes and a blue hue. The one Lisa used out fished the white pearl I was using and I believe it was because they hadn’t seen Lisa’s fluke as much as mine. It was a fun trip and the fish were obviously reacting well to the weightless fluke. Here’s a few pics from our trip.

Things kinda changed this week so I made an adjustment to the little Keitech instead of the fluke and that paid off. One of the reasons I started using the Keitech is because my friend Jimmy is retired and fishes the creek just about every day just like me. We fish many of the same spots only Jimmy feeds the fish a steady diet of flukes so I’ve given the fish a different option. Here’s a picture of my preferred rig this week.

It’s my old faithful, the 3.3 Keitech and the Damiki head. I did a little slow rolling over brush for a few good ones yesterday. I can’t brag enough about my little 7’ St Croix medium Triumph rod with a Penn Battle III and 6lb flouro. It’s been getting it done with some big stripers and bass this spring and it’s going to be my spybait rod in just a few short weeks. Here’s a video from yesterday and slow rolling the Damiki swimbait rig over brush.

Right now it’s all about options and I have 5 active rods on my deck including the ghost type walking bait, the emerald popper, a pearl white super fluke, a pearl 125 Sebile and some kind of shaky head option for the bottom fish if I see a trend of fish relating to the bottom instead of being suspended. We’ve had a lot of unstable weather over the past few weeks with fronts coming our way every 3-4 day but soon the fronts will run out of steam and high pressure with start to set up for longer periods of time. Topwater and the bait situation is often driven by by stable weather conditions running for multiple days in late spring. The water temps will soon be north of the 70 degree mark and the shad spawn will be in full swing for the bank beaters. The lake itself is more than a foot above full pool and on the rise. The corps is starting to move a little more water because of the most recent rains so lets hope the weather stabilizes for a while so the topwater will get back to normal.

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