The Ole Ten Second Rule

I still do it when I drop something on the floor; the ole 5 second rule comes into effect and I blow the dirt off whatever it was that hit the floor and eat it, more than likely if nobody is looking. The bass have their own cruel version of the 5 second rule, only it’s around 10 seconds and they use this rule every so often to mess with me.

Every once in a while, when I get these bass figured out and I’m sitting on a fastball, that’s when they throw the old curve ball….or slider…or change up or something besides the fast ball. It’s like these bass are messing with the old geriatric fisherman on purpose, playing with my fleeting memory and laughing at me, looking up through the gin clear water. Early this week I had them figured out and I was on top of their game. It was cruising fish on the deep flats in pockets early in the morning and then it was the rocks and docks in the afternoon. They were taking the bait with this pattern on Monday and Tuesday. My baits of choice on Monday and Tuesday were the Damiki early on the 30-40-foot-deep flats and then moving on to the rocks and docks with the green pumpkin shaky head in the afternoon. I looked for the sunny, rocky areas that had wind blowing into it. As far as worm color goes, pick one. If these bass are hungry, they’re going to eat, and I found that the color green pumpkin is just about as good as any of them when it comes to hungry bass and worms. You can get creative with the sizes and shapes too, it’s hard to say what will trigger these bass. Since I’ve surrendered most of my time to the shaky head pattern here lately, I’ve had to evolve a bit because I feel like the fish are evolving along with the pattern.

Generally, when I cast the shaky head, I control the decent of the worm, whether it is a dead weight freefall or falling at an angle because I have taken up all the slack in my line. This is something I have to think about because now I know that the fish are thinking about it too. It took me about 4 fish on Thursday to figure it out but I noticed that every time I made a cast and fed out a bunch of slack so the worm would freefall vertically. If I waited long enough, around 10 seconds after the worm settled on the bottom, when I took up the slack it was like magic, and a fish would be swimming away with the worm. My second clue was while I was running a stretch of deep docks, I saw 3 bass suspended underneath my boat, so I dropped my shaky head straight down through them and they all chased it down. I watched it all unfold on my 2D graph. As soon as the worm hit the bottom all 3 bass just stopped dead in their tracks and just stared at it. I fought off my natural instincts to “jiggle-jiggle it” and I just gave them the old razzle-dazzle dead stick to counter their 10 second rule. Little did these bass know old Jim was an expert at countermeasures and countermeasures was a very important defense system when fighting the bad guys back in the day. Sometimes the best plan is to let them make the first move, so I just let the worm soak till they either hit it or moved on. Just like clockwork at around 10 seconds I felt the old familiar tap and I set the hook on a fish some 35 feet under the boat. And so it was to be, the old 10 second rule was in effect. I remember this rule from past experiences with these bass, but I had forgotten that they sometimes use this rule to mess with me. Whether it was rocks or docks, these fish wanted that bait completely still for at least 10 seconds after it hit the bottom. If you gave it the old jiggle-jiggle they were gone.

Yesterday I got my revenge and I set out in the creek, through all the boat traffic to get some redemption and I was able to get a few good ones by using the old 10 second rule to my advantage before heading back to the house for a dinner menu consisting of crawfish gumbo, homemade potato salad and gator bites.

This week we also had windows installed for our screened in porch. These are made of a thick flexible plastic and the windows slide open and closed and are pretty durable. If anyone is interested in having there screened areas enclosed send me a message and I’ll give you their contact info. I ncluded a couple pictures below.

I also made a dozen of my favorite early spring jerkbaits this week and I’ll be sending ten of the 110+1’s to Lanier Baits next week. I included a couple pictures of the jerkbaits below.

I’m also finishing up around 20 custom spybaits for the guys at Fish North Georgia and they should be ready next week also. Most are my emerald color but there are a couple other favorite patterns of mine included.

Water temps are around the mid 50’s right now and the corps is generating off and on. Lake level is just above full pool. Here is a link to the corps generation schedule if you don’t have it.

I’m doing my pictures a little different starting this week. It’s mainly just random photos from my week.

This week in pictures:

The Magic Ledge

Three years back a friend and I were pre-fishing for an upcoming BFL tournament in late February, and he had just gotten the new Panoptix LiveScope system for his boat. Shortly after we got started fishing, we pulled up to a point and my friend Jeff said to check out the screen on the Panoptix as he panned the ledge of the point. He pointed out these little objects moving up and down the ledge just crawling on the bottom. Some going up and some coming back down. I was mesmerized by what I was seeing. They were fish and they were moving up and down the ledge of the point from 25 feet of depth to less than 10 feet. The wind was blowing across the point and the fish were on the leeward side of the ledge chasing bait as it came over the crown of the point. Jeff and I made our shaky head casts to the crown of the point and drug the worms down the hill, right where the bass were running up and down the ledge intercepting the bait. It didn’t take long, and Jeff was setting the hook on our first fish. I followed him up with a fish of my own and we proceeded to catch fish after fish off the ledge. Granted, most of the fish were in the 1-3lb range but some were decent tournament fish. After a while the fish scattered from the point, and we moved on. Later in the morning we pulled up to another point with wind on it in the mouth of YD and we found the same scenario, the fish were running up and down the steeper rocky ledge of the point and we were able to target another batch of those fish, successfully boating 6-8 fish before they scattered. Once again, I was amazed at the fish moving up and down the ledge chasing the bait that came over the point in the wind.

After that trip I had a much better understanding of what the fish were doing, and I was able to build from the scenario we were watching even though I didn’t have the benefit of Panoptix. Fast forward to last year in Feb. when I was cruising the ditches in pockets in a creek. There was one pocket or bay in particular, towards the back, where the very back made a “Y” and there were 2 drainage ditches on either side of an underwater point. The underwater point was kinda blunt at the end with a noticeable ledge or steeper drop-off, where it dropped from a 15-foot tier to another 25-foot tier. The ledge was fairly steep and felt rocky, plus sometimes I could feel my bait free-fall down the ledge a foot or so which told me there were so fairly large rocks around. The two drainage ditches were always packed with bait early in the morning and as the morning progressed, the bait would move out from the shallow backs of the ditches only to be ambushed every morning by the waiting bass on the ledge. Sometimes the wind would blow from the back of the pockets and help push the bait over the ledge for the waiting bass, and other times the wind would blow into the pocket and push bait into the ledge where the bass were staging. If there was no wind, the fish were still there waiting on the bait to move from shallow part of the ditch to deeper water as the sun came up. Either scenario produced fish and the fish were always there waiting on the bait, whether it was coming from the back of the ditches or being blown into the ledge. Some days there were a lot of fish and bait and other times the population of both was minimal.

This week I fished Monday, Wednesday, yesterday and today with pretty good results for numbers using the little Lanier Baits 1/4-ounce Damiki with a 3-3 swimbait from KBDBaits for the first few hours of the morning, and then moving to the rocks and docks with the shaky head or ned rig in the afternoons. On Monday we had a west wind and after a visit to the magic ledge and a couple of ditches in the creek I had 3 limits of fish so far. I set out for YD again, knowing that there would be wind on an area of rocks and docks that I wanted to visit. By the time I got there, the wind had kicked up a pretty good chop on the water and one dock in particular was right in the wind. The dock had a shade patch on the north side, and I made a cast into the patch with my shaky head but before the worm hit the bottom, I had my first fish from the dock. I pulled out a little further and hit spot lock in the wind and cast to the shade patch again, and again I caught another fish. This happened 5 times within a shade patch the size of a small car, in the wind a waves. It was a pretty cool way to end my day in the early afternoon. No big girls but fun numbers. Here’s a few pics from Monday.

On Wednesday I was back at it, hitting the magic ledge early with a Damiki and a Keitech and then pounding the rocky banks and docks in the afternoon with the shaky head and ned.

Yesterday I was equipped with some new baits I got in the mail the evening before from KBDBaits, so I had a few new options to choose from. It was overcast so I picked out a lighter colored 3-inch swimbait in an “emerald ice” pattern and I went to work at the magic ledge. The key to catching the fish at the magic ledge was finding the right speed, which was slow and slower. The slower you moved the bait, the more attention the bait got. I spent a couple hours at the ledge and amassed a few keepers. Here’s a few pictures of the fish from yesterday.

A strong cold front came through overnight and I really hadn’t planned to fish today but I finished some baits and had a couple hours to burn so I hit the lake not expecting much, but to my surprise the fish were biting pretty well with the strong north winds. The first stop I made was to the magic ledge, but it was after 12 noon and the ledge bite usually dies off about 10 or so but I made a couple casts with a new little swimbait color. Here’s a picture of the little swimbait on a Lanier Baits Damiki head I chose today. Kevin, from KBDBaits told me the color was called “green gizzard”.

It only took a couple casts, and I felt a little tap as the little Damiki rig slowly moved down the ledge. I reeled down on the tap and was rewarded with a nice headshake and this early afternoon ledge panda. I never saw one fish on the graph, and I was just casting on faith.

I spent the next 20 minutes looking for more fish, but I never caught another fish on the ledge, so I moved on to the docks and wind-blown rocks. I caught another fish on my first dock with the shaky head and I thought that was a good sign. I lost a nice fish a few docks later and then landed another shortly after. After that stretch of docks, I hit a couple wind-blown rocky points and found enough fish to finish out my limit before heading back home. All of my fish, with the exception of the ledge panda came from my shaky head. Here’s the others from my trip this afternoon.

The water temps are averaging around 50 degrees and the lake is just above full pool. The corps is releasing off and on for the past week.

The Early Crew

This would seem just a bit early to be thinking about the spawn but these big girls (or “meat eaters” as I like to call them) on Lake Lanier like to get things started early in February. Some of my biggest and fattest fish have come during the pre-spawn staging phase in Feb. and when I say, “staging phase” it starts early in the creek.

I believe that sometimes we tend to overthink a situation when it comes to bass fishing and that’s where patience comes into play with fishing. I used to spend hours with my dad just sitting on a pond dam after dark with an old Coleman lantern and 2 catfish rods in rod holders. My dad and I would just be watching those rod tips in the glow of the lantern, just waiting for one of the rod tips to start bending towards the water. It would be very peaceful with nothing but the sound of moaning frogs, crickets and cicadas in a never-ending melody from nature. That’s where I learned patience as a kid and now, I have that same patience when it comes to fishing.

This week I tried not to over think my situation on the lake. Plain and simple, there are plenty of fish in the ditches and finding the magic ditches are the key to success. Find multiple ditches and you can occupy your time, sometimes all day going back and forth from ditch to ditch. There is also another pattern going on and it happens every year around this time. There is a class of bass that chooses to cruise the sunny, rocky, shallow shoreline in search of a meal. This class of bass doesn’t cruise the rocks for exercise or sight-seeing adventures, this class of bass goes to the rocks for one reason and that is to eat. I have a choice and that choice is to find the meat eaters in the shallow rocks or go out and hover over the deep ditches, sitting on spot lock and making fan casts. I made a rare trip out last Sunday after church to play with the little Emerald Ned rig on the shallow sunny rocks and I made a little video of my afternoon.

On Monday this week I was able to go from ditch fishing in the morning to staging areas in the afternoon and I had success with both. On Monday I got out early and looked around the ditches till I found one that held fish, so I just moved around the areas and made casts in 40+ depths with a little Damika rig. There were 2 little areas of structure and the fish seemed to be relating to the structure and moving around looking for baitfish in 42 feet of water, so I just set up spot lock and fan casted around the structure using the little 1/4-ounce Lanier Baits Damiki head and various swimbaits including a new Emerald swimbait from KBDBaits.

On Monday afternoon I hit the rocky staging areas where the Feb. stagers show up on the sunny afternoons. That’s where the patience comes in because there aren’t many stagers right now. It’s still a little early but there are a few looking for that big fat meal up on the sunny rocks. It’s generally the bigger fish, in excess of 4lbs that are cruising these areas and getting them to eat a bait can be pretty forgiving. They are pretty aggressive fish and will eat a variety of bait. So aggressive that I’m reminded of a Feb. on a rocky point in 6-mile creek, I caught a fish on a crankbait and the fish had a trick worm and a creature bait half-digested in its gullet and it still wanted more when it whacked my crankbait. On Monday afternoon the bites were few and far between on the secondary points in the sun but towards the end of my afternoon I was rewarded with a very nice fish and my patience paid off. Here’s a picture of the fish and a video of my catching the fish. This fish pretty much made my whole week.

On Tuesday I met my buddy Mike for a few hours of fishing. Mike and I just happened to run across a couple of ditches while out looking for areas to fish shallow up north in YD and in a feeder ditch in 2-mile. It was a ditch I had visited a few years back and found fish. The fish were there again, and we went to town on the deep fish stuck to the bottom. Mike had the magic touch and was dragging a fish up from the depths on every cast with a swimbait while I was popping the occasional fish casting the little spoon for my bites. We basically went from a ditch in YD to a ditch in 2-mile twice and amassed a day of close to 40 fish, with a couple pushing the 4lb mark.

Yesterday was likely my last day on the lake this week and I wanted to make a little video about the ditch bite and how slow the bite can be. Most of the time the bite is so light in 40+ feet depths it’s hard to feel but just take it slow, keeping the bait on the bottom during the retrieve and sooner or later you’ll find the fish, or the fish will find you. Here’s a little video that shows just how slow the ditch bite can be. When working a swimbait in the ditches, there are 2 ways I like to work it on the bottom, either bouncing it with my rod tip up or dragging it with my rod tip down. You can see in the video that I quickly learned that dragging the bait was more effective than bouncing it.

The lake levels are dropping right now, and the corps is pulling water around the clock. The lake is a little over a foot above full pool and the water temps are holding steady in the upper 40’s.

The Resting Phase

A few nights ago, we were having our usual Thursday night dinner with our fishing friends and of course the topic of fishing was on my mind. It had been on my mind all day and I was just waiting for someone to strike up the right conversation. My old buddy Jimmy Sanders was sitting across from me and asked how the fishing was going. That’s all I needed to get to talking. Jimmy is recovering from a recent knee surgery, and he is just getting back on the water after a couple months off. Jimmy is a few years older than me and a good litmus test for me when it comes to tracking physical ailments. It seems we both kinda have the same breakdowns, only Jimmy is a few years ahead of me. We have both had multiple shoulder surgeries and we both tried to plan our surgeries for the “Resting Phase” or a period just after the holidays until early March. To me, it’s usually from the full moon in January until the full moon in March. That’s usually when the water gets it’s coldest and when the fish take a little break from the action. It’s the dog days of winter and that’s the time that Jimmy and I plan our repairs and recovery time.

Don’t get me wrong here, the fish still need to eat during this period but in terms of the bass moving around and aggressively seeking food, the window of opportunity can be very small. It’s all for good reason as the bass need to rest for an upcoming event that keeps them busy for a while, in the spawn. Right now, as I write this, the days are getting longer, and our little spring Lilies have just broken the surface of the ground. The water temps are down in the upper 40’s right now and unless we see a very cold February, the water temps shouldn’t get much cooler so we should be on our way to another awesome spring bite. I can tell that the fish are slower to react to a bait and are refusing to chase a bait very far, and I can also tell the difference in catching a fish in 40 feet of water verses catching a fish in 10 feet of water right now. The fish in the 40-foot depth are chilling for the most part. They are resting and eating the occasional bait pod or school that drifts overhead. They are stuck to the bottom like glue until something triggers them to move. This week I only fished a few fragmented days, but I actually caught fish in both deep water and shallow water. On Tuesday a buddy came over to fish some docks with me and we wound up finding fish in a 40+ feet deep ditch and pulling fish off the bottom. It was just dropping on faith and waiting to see if the fish showed up. My buddy caught his fish on a 3.3 Keitech and ball head and I was dropping an emerald-colored Damika rig. It was slow but every once in a while, the fish would just show up under the boat if I hit the Spot Lock very near some kind of structure or just vertically jigging from the bottom up about 5-10 feet very very slowly. The fish would usually pop the bait on the fall so controlling your baits decent was a good way for feel for a very soft strike. We ended our 3–4-hour trip with a small limit from the deep water but it was fun to jig the fish up from the depths.

I went back out for a while on Wednesday and played around with the deep fish again with basically the same result. Nothing to brag about, just some very cold 2lbers coming off the bottom and not giving much of a fight on the way up. On Thursday the rains came in and a by Friday morning the lake had shot up more than a foot. The back of the creek looked very stained, and we had some new debris in the creek to deal with. Water temps in the back of the creek were 47 yesterday morning so I headed out into the main part of the creek to try and find the clearer water to check the shallow bite. My experience is that anytime the water rises the fish instinctively come to the shore to investigate the newly submerged, even in the coolest part of the year. My buddy Kevin “Kbad” Badgett made some special looking, emerald-colored baits for me and last week I caught them on his little drop shot bait and his emerald trick worm. On Thursday this week I got a few more baits to try from Kevin, one of which was a little Ned bait that I really liked. I had just been going over my reports from last Feb. and I found that a year ago around this time I had sized it down to the Ned rig to get my bites. The Ned rig was on my mind at dinner Thursday night when I told one of the guys at dinner how the fish seem to really like the smaller stuff in Feb.

I knew exactly how I was going to rig the little Ned rig for fishing shallow yesterday and my little rig worked to perfection. Here’s a picture of the little rig and all the parts I used as well as my rod and reel of choice. The reel was loaded with KastKing 20lb high vis braid and a 20 foot KastKing 10lb Kovert fluorocarbon leader line.

Yesterday the rain ended mid-morning and I headed out to the main body of the creek and a few docks to try the new Ned rig on. The wind really kicked up and I think the fish were kind of shut down from the storms and the sudden rise in water level. It will probably take the fish a few days to get used to the new water levels, but I was still able to catch a few plinking the little Ned rig around the docks. Here’s a picture of my first fish on the rig, caught between 2 docks in about 10 feet of water. I caught 3 others while I was out, but this was definitely the highlight of my short trip out in the cold wind. My KastKing Speed Demon rod and reel combo with the medium tip worked well for the task and enjoyed putting the KastKing spinning rig to the test.

The lake is still on the rise at 1.5 feet above full pool and the corps is moving water for a few hours in the evening right now. It looks like we have a pretty good run of upcoming stable weather, so I expect things to pick up next week. Water temps are in the upper 40’s to near 50.