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.

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