Anticipating the Transition

This week was close, not quite there yet for me but we’re close and I can feel it in my bones. For weeks on end most of my offerings have been slow moving and I’ve been relating my baits to the bottom. Whether it’ ‘s a worm or a swimbait, it has been crawled on the bottom with the speed of a three toed sloth and I’ve grown tired of the pattern. My fish brain tells me to anticipate the cheese move and go looking for new cheese and with the water temps on the rise and the fish moving to the shallows, it’s just a matter of time before I rely heavily on the moving and swimming baits, rather than the slow, crawly ones.

It certainly looks like we’ve turned the corner on the lake temperatures and hopefully we’ve seen the last of the water temps in the 40’s for a while. I know we are in store for another artic blast or two before spring arrives, but this week has given us a glimpse as well as hope for warmer days. Another good sign that spring is just around the corner is the fact that Lisa came out of her fishing hibernation and jumped in the boat a few times this week. Each year when the air temperatures hit the 70’s Lisa knocks the winter rust off her hook setters and dominates our fishing competitions year after year. I can’t explain it but I usually take a beating on our outings no matter how badly I front end her and make the choice casts. She has learned to adapt, and she has obtained this 6th sense in fish location from the back of the boat. I’ve grown accustomed to it and just net her fish like a man.

On Monday Lisa had the day off some about mid-morning we set out in the creek to see if you could find a few shaky head fish. Lisa throws a pretty mean shaky head, and she has the touch when it comes to feeling those really light bites with the shaky head so we both enjoy throwing it. We hit rocks and docks with a small limit to show for our efforts. We ended the morning with a small limit on rocky points, and I wasn’t very impressed with the morning bite at the places we fished. It was a little chilly but a fun morning and I’m glad Lisa got to catch a few to get her week started.

I know there’s going to be a good moving swimbait bite right around the corner and I’m incorporating more and more moving baits in my arsenal now. The sure bite for me has been the shaky head for the last few months but I know that very soon the fish will come out of their slumber and start running down shad in the shallow areas and sometimes out over deeper water. For these fish I have a quarter ounce Damiki coupled with a Cast Co. Prodigy or a 2.8 Keitech. If I see anything come to the surface and I can get to it fast, I’m throwing the little swimbait. I’m also throwing it if I see suspended fish on the graph, usually on points. When these bass get on the little moving swimbait bite in early spring, the shaky head can become a distant memory and we can go right from slow rolling the swimbait to topwater. When I looked at my blog reports from the first few weeks in March and all those big fish I caught last year on the little swimbait it made my mouth water even more. I had some tanks in early March and some of my biggest fish of the year. If you have time, take a look at March of 2022 in my archives and check out some of those fish on the little swimbait. I expect that bite to take off very soon and I’m devoting more and more attention to the moving stuff now that the water temps are on the rise.

Tuesday morning Chris and Joe from C&S Marine got me fixed up with the 20-hour on the new powerhead. I was in and out of there in less than 2 hours and back on the water by lunch. A huge thanks to my friends at:

On Tuesday I was back at it with the shaky head, and I hit the rocks and docks with some success. I could tell that the dock bite was starting to turn on late in the sunny afternoon and the fish were starting to relate to the shallower docks. That bite is mainly driven by the sun so the success rate on docks goes up considerably when the sun is out in the afternoon and evenings. I finished the day with some nice fish, and I could tell more fish were moving to the shallows.

I was back at it on Wednesday afternoon and with the warm weather and sunshine Lisa jumped in the boat with me after she got off work. We started running docks about 5:30 and it just kept getting better and better. It was like every empty slip had a fish in it, every spud pole had a fish on it, and we ended up with 7 pretty nice fish in a matter of an hour and a half tops.

I was out again both yesterday and today for a while, and basically for this week it was the same deal, rocks and docks with the shaky head, but with the cloud cover moving in, the dock bite kind of fizzled at times so I focused on the rocks during the cloud cover. The shaky head rig we used this week was the TRD and Big TRD mounted on a Trokar Pro-V tungsten 1/4 ounce round head or a Trokar Shell Buster football head in 1/4 ounce. I recently talked about the TRD worms from ZMan in my last YouTube video and we used it almost exclusively this week.

As of today, the water temps were in the mid to upper 50’s and the lake is a few inches below full pool. The corps has been generating a little more than usual this week. I look for the moving bait bite to pick up for me soon, but this week was more of the usual worm bite. Here’s a few more of our fish from the week.

The Early Bass gets the Worm

I can usually tell when the early staging bite gets good as there are signs. Yesterday when I was out beating rocks and docks, I had just made a cast when I got a text from Lisa. I needed to send her back a text right away so after making a cast, I cradled my rod in my arms and started texting. I think I was about 3 texts in, and 2-3 minutes had gone by. My worm had been just lying on the bottom during this time. Right in the middle of my texting, I feel the rod tip start bouncing and I fumbled with the phone and the rod to set the hook on a running fish. That worm had been down there soaking for a few minutes before a bass whacked it. I can only imagine the bass down there on the bottom staring at the worm and daring each other to grab it. Finally, one of the bass said, “I’m your Huckleberry”!! It’s staging time and the bass turn into a bunch of Huckleberrys during this period before the spawn.

This week was hit or miss with the staging bass, but the rocks and docks was all I focused on with one bait, the shaky head. I know that I’ve got the worm color blacked out this week because the worm color doesn’t really matter, and you may have better success with your own color than trying to use mine. I used two different colors this week and both worked well. When it gets to be staging time on Lanier, the bass are going to eat, and they aren’t very selective about what they eat. I caught a couple bass this week that were regurgitating chow on their way to the boat and what they were barfing up was a cornucopia of chewed up mess. There were chucks of crawfish, frog legs, dead brim, shad, bluebacks, bugs and I actually think I saw an old chartreuse Hot Wheels car as well! The point is that these fish are feeding on a lot of stuff, so color choice doesn’t really matter, and bait may not matter as well. I ran into my lake neighbor yesterday on the lake and we chatted for a while. While we were chatting about our week, I couldn’t help but notice the worm he was using. It was very bright in color, and he had shortened it a bit. His little worm stood out like a sore thumb, and I asked him how his little worm was working. He said, “Jim, I’m smoking them with this little guy”. They were on that little unique worm like a bum on a ham sandwich.

Talking to my neighbor and seeing that worm color took me back to at least 10 years ago when Lisa and I fished up around Longhollow a lot. At the time about all we knew how to do was beat the banks and we found that a little pack of twin tailed grubs in that same color was all we needed to have a good time. Lisa and I would just go down the bank throwing our little grubs and every once in a while, we would pop a bass or get into a little flurry of bass. We had a blast with our little bright grubs. To me, catching the occasional bass is like getting the occasional birdie in golf, it gives you a good feeling, and it keeps you coming back for more.

I fished every day this week and pretty much ran the same milk run. Basically, my milk run is the best way to monitor the progress of the fish. Inevitably, they will show up in certain places and by me checking these places every day, it tells me what to look for and where to look. I don’t need forward facing sonar to find the fish and at this point, as my contour mapping is my biggest help. I didn’t really fish any ditches this week and my main focus was rocks and docks. For me the dock bite is steadily getting better, and more fish are starting to relate to the warmth of the docks on sunny days. Yesterday evening I picked up Lisa at 5pm and we went out and ran docks for an hour. In that hour we caught 3 very nice bass just throwing worms around a little stretch of dock. This was Lisa’s first bass of the year and my last bass of the evening.

Earlier in the day yesterday I was running stuff in the creek and racking my brain to try and think of places I haven’t fished in a few days or places I haven’t checked in weeks that might hold a bigger fish. Right now, the fish could be in a lot of different places so I’m doing a lot of moving around. I might run a stretch of docks and then run a stretch of bank with rocky secondary points that are visible from the shore, and my favorite, those hidden underwater outcroppings that are also secondary points, only submerged. Those submerged secondary points are often overlooked and that’s where my Humminbird mapping comes in. I want to find and target those areas, especially if the bank leads to a spawning area. Some of these submerged points have rock and muscles on them and they are a favorite hunting ground for the staging and feeding bass.

I’m not fishing the BFL, but it looks like the weather is going to be post front and sunny. If I were fishing the BFL, I would definitely utilize the sun to my advantage and find those sunny rocky points that Lanier is full of, and I’d throw my bait all day on those sun-drenched points. I don’t think the bass are going to be too choosy in the afternoons when they put on the feed bags. I caught just about all my fish this week in less that 20 feet of water and the fish that I was catching had good color with some being fat as mud. Most had been feeding heavily and spitting up chow boatside. Every once in a while, I’d see half-digested crawfish in the fish’s gullet which tells me that the crawfish are active right now and which has driven my focus to the meat-eaters this week.

The lake level is a few inches below full pool and the corps is generating a little more than normal this week. The water temps are starting to rise into the low 50’s. Last year we turned the corner in water temps in the last week or so of February and the days of water temps in the 40’s may be over till next winter. Here is a few of my memorable fish for the week.

Cast Away Cajun Seafood Dip

A few years back my lake neighbor Glen introduced me to his Langostino lobster cheese dip at a Christmas party he hosted, and I got the original dip recipe from him. Glen’s recipe inspired me to make a Cajun rendition because of my time in Louisiana and my love for cooking Cajun food. Although it’s a seafood recipe in title, I thought that the Andouille sausage really gave it some pop and a Cajun flair. I get the Louisiana Crawfish at the Walmart at 369 and 400 and I’m pretty sure you can find the sausage there also. They make three different kinds of sausage, mild, medium and hot. Your call on that but I prefer the mild or medium. The picture above is just about everything I used for the dip, and it makes enough for 10+. I reduce the ingredients to half for a smaller group of 4-6 guests.


  • 1lb of cooked and peeled shrimp
  • 2- 12ounce packages of cleaned Louisiana crawfish tails (sautéed for 10 minutes)
  • 1 package of Ragin Cajun Andouille sausage
  • 1/2 chopped sweet onion.
  • 2 8-ounce packages of Philadelphia cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 tbsp of Old Bay (optional)
  • 2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis (drained).
  • 12 ounce bag of grated parmesan
  • 12 ounce bag of grated mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of grated Mexican blend
  • Lemon pepper, salt and coarse ground pepper to taste.


First, I preheat the Oven to 375 and sauté the crawfish in the juice from the package for 10 minutes. That gives the crawfish a great flavor. I mix the thawed shrimp in a bowl with the crawfish and that gives the shrimp a good flavor also.

Next comes the sausage cut into quarters and the the rest of the ingredients listed above, stirring as I go. Once everything is mixed, the mixture goes in my deep 9×13 baking dish.

I cover the top with foil and bake the mixture for 45 minutes and transfer it to the crockpot. At that point I stir and serve with scoops.

The Big Girls Cometh

I’m up at 4am every morning to get my day started. From 4am to 6am when Lisa gets up, among other things, I usually spend a bit of time in prayer and reading scripture from the Bible. I also like to watch a little of the many videos from Billy Graham. This week I watched one of his sermons and he told the story of a young self-proclaimed atheist who walked to the front of the huge stadium in which Mr. Graham was speaking to a large crowd. The young man was holding up a watch, and he shouted out to Graham, “if your God is real, let him strike me dead in the next minute”. At that statement the whole stadium went silent, but then an elderly man standing near the atheist turned to him and said, “son, God has a lot more patience than just one minute“. Probably the best video I watched all week and I thank God for his patience.

This week was one of those weeks in February that I look forward to every year. You can’t stop the bass from doing what they do and in February some of the largest bass prepare for their spawn by running rock for a high protein meal this month. Some stay out over timber or on a deep bottom ditch feeding on shad but there’s some that prefer that warmer rock water and the little orange mudbugs that are spawning and molting in those rocks. Our Chattahoochee crawfish population likes to spawn when the water temps are in the 50’s and they can spawn several times a year. A few weeks after they spawn, they will molt and turn shades of orange, copper and red. When they turn these vibrant colors, they are highly visible moving around on the darker chunk rock and very easy picking for the bass. Knowing which rocks they occupy is both beneficial to the angler as well as beneficial for the bass. Here’s a few key factors I look for in rocks when looking for big fish in February can really help with your rock game. Probably, the first and most important is that there has to be deep water very near the rock early in the staging game. This week there needed to be 40 feet of water very near the rock. I believe that the fish are still oriented to the deeper water and run up and down the ledges and steep drop-offs when they are ready to feed. Secondly, I believe that the green slime that covers some of the rock I fish is a deterrent to the bass as well as the crawfish. From what I have researched and understand, the crawfish make noises on the rock with their hard tails when they spawn to attract other crawfish. They click their tails on the rock as some sort of mating call. That clicking sound is like a dinner bell to the bass and the reason some of our choices for lures work well. If a crankbait is banging and clicking as it contacts the rock, I believe that sound is an attractant to the bass, and they are drawn to the sound. The rock that gets covered in slim is counterproductive to this ritual. For this reason, and the lack of fish catches in the areas my lure of choice comes back with green slime on it, I try and avoid the green rock in favor of the clean hard, dark chunk rock. Thirdly, I look for rock with sun on it on the sunny days as I believe the bass are just like us, in that they love the warmer rocky areas to boost their metabolism.

On Monday I fished with my good friend Jeff Nail, who is a retired Army veteran (Airborne Ranger) and the owner of Jeff Nail Guide Service. Jeff and I decided to look at some areas north of Browns Bridge and one of the things we keyed on was rock that faced the sun early in the morning. One of the first places we stopped was a huge bluff that faced the sun and had deep water within a few feet of the bluff. It was the perfect area for what I look for in February and it paid off right away for Jeff. We hadn’t been on the stretch long and Jeff busted this 5.4lb toad on a shaky head, on the sunny rocks. It was a great way to start the week and a good sign of what’s to come.

After that rock run, we focused on two things, the first was steep chunk rock and the second was locating deeper fish in the ditches using a small swimbait. I will say this about this week, for us the bite seemed to follow that big ole moon up in the sky. For the most part, when the moon set, so did the bite. After the moon went down, it was a grind and finding fish got a lot harder. We ended our day with over a dozen fish with some being caught on the shaky head and some on the little swimbaits in and around the ditches.

If you’re looking to up your staging game on Lanier this month, Jeff is your guide. Give him a call as he’s fishing every day now and he has an array of tactics for catching fish in February. Here’s a few pics of our biggest for the day.

On Tuesday I was out by myself scouting rock and found a few on rocks and docks with the shaky head. I ran up lake and worked some rock from Bald Ridge to Vanns and located a few here and there but it was slow. Probably my most productive areas on Tuesday was sunny rock bluffs and some deeper shady docks with rocks nearby. Not sure why but the size was off just a bit on Tuesday, but numbers were good, and I finished the day with some decent fish.

On Wednesday I met up with my good friend Joe McVickers and we looked at a few things up lake. It was a bit of a miserable day with the weather and the cooperating fish but it was mainly about getting out with Joe for the fellowship. I first met Joe years ago while fishing up lake. Joe was sitting in his Ranger boat and we were fishing near each other. I went over and struck up a conversation with Joe and he showed me a few of his hair jigs he ties. We chatted for a while before I headed out, but I didn’t forget about Joe and his hair jigs. Fast forward to Jimbo’s gathering a few weeks back and I ran into Joe again at the expo. We chatted for a bit and we wound up swapping some lures. Joe showed me pictures of his new Ranger boat, a 50-year edition Ranger that was just beautiful. Joe had won the boat in a picture contest with Cabela’s, and I really wanted to check it out so we planned our trip for Wednesday. Joe and I weren’t really blessed with fish, but we were blessed with fellowship and that’s much more important than the tangible fish. I enjoyed every second of our trip and looking forward to the next one.

Yesterday I was skeptical because of the weather coming through but as luck would have it, the rain was minimal as the front approached. I think the front stalled out over our area for a brief period and the wind calmed down a bit. I checked the barometric pressure about 10am and it had dropped considerably. It was right at 30.01 and still dropping when I first checked. I went to a rock bluff where I had picked up a decent limit on Tuesday and it didn’t take long till I put my first keeper in the boat, a really nice 4.2-ounce fish. I was casting to the bluff from a depth of 40 feet and picked up the fish in about 30 feet of water. My next cast hit the bottom and I started slowly dragging my worm on the bottom when I felt that old familiar tick and I reeled down on another fighting fish, another solid keeper, a bit smaller than the last but still a good 3.3-ounce fish. From there I started moving around a bit but usually after a few releases the bite starts to slow, and I was satisfied with the two keepers. My next stop was at the mouth of the creek and another rock bluff. I set up the boat out in deeper water again and made long casts to the bluff. The first 5-6 cast came up empty, but I made a cast to a little rock pile at the end of the bluff, and I found what I was looking for when another bass thumped the worm. It was such a great fight all the way to the boat, and it was another solid fish off the rocks, and she weighed 3.14 ounce. From there I hit a little dry spell and the wind started to pick up again. I’ve been catching a few fish on this unsuspecting underwater point in a large bay with the wind blowing right into the bay. The underwater point had some brush out on the end in 25 feet of water and it had gravel rock back in the shallow area near shore. The fish had been migrating between the shallow gravel and the brush, so I started making casts in between the brush and the rock in about 20 feet of water. On my first cast I reeled down on a running fish that had picked up the bait as soon as it hit bottom. I knew this was a better fish and I grabbed the net. I thought that if I could land this one, I’d be working on a nice sack. when I boated the fish, I knew right away it was bigger than the 4.2 and when she dropped on the scale it read 4.9lbs.

At that point I started going over places in my mind where I thought I might get one more good fish and I thought of another rocky bluff in an area I call Kenny Bunkport because of the fancy long cruiser boat in a very nice dock. The fancy long boat was a Chriscraft and had a American flag on the back. I could just imagine the Kennedy clan riding around Martha’s Vinyard in this boat. It’s a place where I had been picking up a good one from time to time but recently it had produced nothing. Nonetheless it had dark chunk rock and that was what I was looking for yesterday. The wind was dying but there was a little bit of chop on the rock when I pulled up and made my first cast up onto the rocks in 15-20 of water. I could feel the worm falling down the chunk rocks and before I could get my first cast back to the boat, I felt a very faint tap on the worm. Hooksets are free in my boat, so I took a chance and set the hook on the tap. I was correct in my suspicions, and I had my fifth keeper on. I said a quick prayer and low and behold, I boated another nice fish to complete my sack, a feisty 3.11-ounce spot. At that point I was satisfied with my day, and I headed back to the house.

One change that I had made since fish with Jeff on Monday was changing to a lighter rod with a softer tip. Jeff was using a medium-fast rod while I had been using a medium heavy and occasionally breaking off fish. I had switched out my rig and loaded some 12lb Cast Co. braid Jeff had provided me on my Shimano Stradic Ci4 3000. I mounted the Stradic on a new 7.5 Mega Bass Levante spinning rod. I put a 6 foot leader of 8lb Tatsu fluorocarbon and married the two with my modified Alberto knot, appropriately called the “Jimberto” knot. I was really excited about the new rig and I gotta tell you guys, It felt great to bring in a 19-20lb sack on the first outing with the new rig. Here’s the pics of the fish and rig I was using yesterday, with 4 of the 5 fish coming from rocky bluffs.

Here’s a picture of the rig I was using for my shaky head this week.

Today I made a short trip through the creek and around a few other creeks to look at some stuff I hadn’t been fishing lately. I took some pictures of the type of stuff I fished this week. This is the stuff my larger fish have been coming from. It’s hit or miss on the rocks but when your timing is right, there are some big girls up on the rocks.

Things seem to be looking better and I feel like were just about to turn the corner with the water temps. I saw a 51–52-degree average in the creek and lake level is a few inches below full pool. The corps did a few big generations early this week, but they are only generating for a few hours a day now. The shaky head did almost all the damage this week and it’s probably something I’ll be using more and more on the rocks as we approach spring.

The Dog Days of Winter

It’s never been my favorite time to fish but I just can’t bring myself to find another interest to bide my time until warmer weather shows up again. The bottom line is that I don’t like the cold and I don’t like fishing in it, but I guess it could be worse and I could be drilling holes in thick ice to drop a line right now.

This week I’ve struggled to find something to write about. It’s amazing how much one year can change things. Every morning I get up at 4am and at some point, shortly thereafter I usually look at my memories on Facebook to see what fishing was like a year ago. All week this week I’ve looked at pictures that brought back memories of my fishing this time last year. I can’t believe how much of a void there is in the same locations as last year. Last year the numbers were more than twice what they are this year and I have to ask myself why? I can’t see pressure being the issue here because there is just so many bass in the lake. Several years ago, when I was fishing in the striper community there was a big concern over the number of stripers being caught and most assuredly killed during the summer months by me dragging leadcore. I used to troll leadcore a good bit in the summer and a small group of striper fisherman decided to start crying about the possibility of fish being killed. There were even fishermen from other lakes commenting about the carnage of trolling leadcore and they were clueless as to what leadcore even was at the time. It was all unwarranted and the “Karens” of the striper community were put at bay when the DNR release a study that showed that the effects of fishermen during the summer months and the mortality rate was around 2-3% of the total population. That was 15 years ago and now leadcore is commonly used, and probably by some of the people who used to whine about it. I’ve never forgotten the minority of folks involved and harassment I took just to show folks a different successful way of fishing.

Fast forward to now and I’m primarily a bass fisherman. During the winter months fish can be grouped up in a small area and catching these fish in the ditches is fun because of the numbers. Most fishermen know that sometimes releasing caught fish over the same area can kill the bite after a few fish releases. It’s a fact and it’s something I’ve seen for years. It’s because of that that I would put my fish in the livewell to continue the bite. I would put 5-10 fish in my livewells at the most and then move away from the area and release the fish. The whole process sometimes would be an hour or two at the most and the caught fish would be released. They would swim away with their lips and feelings hurt but unharmed. The biggest mistake I made was posting pictures of the fish in the livewell and that’s all it took for the bass “Karens” to move in and start making comments about putting fish in the livewell if you’re not tournament fishing. One of these goofballs even went as far as calling me a liar twice on a certain local Facebook fishing forum that went unchecked and I’m no longer a member of that group. This was even after explaining twice in the public comments that the fish were caught in one area and released unharmed within an hour. This harassment was ok because it was all in the name of conservation. I don’t think Ranger made those live wells just for the arrogant tournament anglers and their ill-informed ilk. Sometimes it’s necessary to use my livewell to put my fish in to enjoy my afternoon of fishing and I have every right to do so. Now, I see picture after picture of fishermen holding up 5-10 bass at one time and you know those fish came from a livewell but I’ll bet the ole bass Karens of Lake Lanier aren’t saying a word now because some are their buddies. Be sure and use your livewell in the ditches to continue the bite and release your fish when you’re done, just don’t take livewell pictures. That’s the obvious bass Karen trigger.

My livewell was damaged during the polar freeze last month and I can’t use it right now. Now every time I get into a big school of fish, the bite dies after the 2nd or third release so that’s one reason my numbers are down this year. Another reason is because of the stain in areas I frequently fish in the winter but the stain has been bad in these places which changes the bite. All in all my ditch bite has been lacking so I’ve been doing a lot more beating the bank this week. I know that the fish will be moving to the shallows in bigger numbers soon so I’m just biding my time and testing the staging areas for the impending process of pre-spawn staging. I can tell from the lack of big females in these places that it’s still a bit early. A lot of the fish I’m catching are less than 3lbs right now in these staging areas and most are just there foraging fish in the shallow rocks for a change of pace. I think the rocks and dock bite is going to continually get better over the next month and we should see some of these big females on the move.

This week I’ve also been able to catch a few stripers that came close to me while I was bass fishing. One of which was my biggest this year, a 16lber on a 2.8 Keitech. It was a lot of fun and that striper really gave me a workout. One of the things the bigger stripers like to do is dive to the bottom after being hooked and with light line it’s hard to force them to the boat. What you can do is keep a little distance between you and the fish and keep your rod tip high in the air to keep the fishes head up. Take your time and if the fish starts diving put a little extra pressure on him to turn him back up. Usually this works well, and stripers will stay on top most of the time if you keep their head up.

I had another 2023 personal best this week when I thought I was stalking a surfacing striper and it turned out to be a 4.11lb spot for my best this year. It was a nice surprise to see that it was a surfacing bass. I got the fish catch on video, but we’ll probably wait a while to release the video because the location is still active for me. It was a fun catch and it felt good to bring in something big for a change.

I made an “On the Cast Away Deck” video yesterday of what I’ve been using this week to catch my fish. Here’s the video and a few pictures from my week.

Water temps are hovering around 50 degrees right now and the lake level is dropping because of the constant generation from the corps yesterday. Lake level is just below full pool, and the corps is doing another big generation today.