It’s summertime and there’s 3 baits that I prefer every summer so this week I’ve been making the transition to less topwater with more spybait and more drop shot. Lately I’ve noticed that the topwater percentages are dropping but the spybait percentages are going up so by this weeks end I’ve shifted some of my focus from topwater to spybait with some drop shot sprinkled in. I’ve been able to figure out a bit of a pattern and it’s pretty much the typical summer stuff and that probably won’t change much for a while. This week the topwater was good, especially early in the morning and especially if there was wind. The problem was that there wasn’t always wind so I had to switch to other tactics besides the topwater to get them bites.
Basically I spent the bulk of my time out on the main lake checking humps and points. The way I approached an area was with the Ima Skimmer Grande or the Emerald popper to test the topwater bite, especially if there is brush on the point or hump. Typically, if a fish is going to hit the topwater they do it rather quickly and then the topwater shuts down if I catch a fish. Sometimes I can milk out the topwater bite if the wind is blowing and if there is a chop on the surface I utilize my spot lock on the Minn Kota to hold the boat up wind of the target area so I can fan cast the topwater.
My second plan of attack is the Duo Realis G-fix 80 spybait, especially during the afternoon, evening, or when the surface was flat. It’s a slower process but during the summer on Lanier it’s necessary so I make a dozen or so casts around the brush on the point or hump. With the spybait, I make a very long cast, I real in all the slack so the bait won’t run over itself and I count it down to 10 seconds followed by a slow steady retrieve. Once you get the retrieve right you’ll know it because the fish really react to it with the right retrieve. Once I’ve made a lot of casts with the spybait, I move into the brush and start dropping the drop shot stuff. Dropping right into the brush pile with Lanier Baits Blue Lily worm is about all I’ve been dropping with this week and I’ve been getting some very nice fish. I have the drop shot at the ready and I’ll utilize it from now till fall. That’s the pattern I’ve been on this week and probably more of it for the next few weeks to come. Here’s a couple of useful videos for the spybait and drop shot tactics.
The setup I’m using on all 3 rods are 7′ and 7′ 3″ MH rods with Penn Fierce reels loaded with 8lb Tatsu line.
The lake is a little above full pool and the lake temps are in the mid to upper 80’s. Here’s a video of the baits I used this week and some pictures of my memorable fish this week.
That’s pretty much the size of it this week. I’ve become addicted to topwater again and right now there’s no hope for recovery. If bass blow-ups could be defined as the fisherman’s high, right now I’m all jacked up on the chronic.
It’s just been blow-up after blow-up this week and I’ve given up on the drop shot and spybait. With the topwater right now I’m just running and gunning 20-30 places a day and only spending maybe 10-15 minutes per spot. I’ve been focusing on the main lake humps and points but I usually spend a little time in the creek on the way back home around lunchtime. Basically I’m looking for areas with a little wind and a little chop. If I can find some brush on a hump or a point in 20-25 feet of water I’m just placing the boat up wind and making fan casts down wind and bring the popper or skimmer back over the top of the brush or around the brush pile area. I like to work my baits back against the grain if the surface chop because that will cause the most surface disruption. That’s what it’s all about right now, it’s the surface disruption followed by a wake that the fish can zero in on. It’s a blueback thing and right now the bass are focusing on pushing bluebacks to the surface and chasing them down so my popper has been a good imitation for a bass slamming a blueback on the surface and the skimmer, used correctly, imitates a skittering blueback trying to evade a predator. In both cases the result is usually a giant blow-up followed by an adrenaline rush of excitement. Using my technique of running and gunning I’ve cut down on the number of fish I’m catching but the tradeoff is bigger fish and less smaller fish to fool with. Another benefit of the summer topwater running and gunning technique is avoiding overheating in this July sun. If I’m moving frequently and drinking plenty of cool water in this heat it really isn’t so bad. I get the occasional big topwater bass as a reward so it’s a fun way to spend a morning. Right now the water temps are mid 80’s and the lake is about a foot below full pool. The corps is generating during the afternoon for just a few hours during peak power usage. Here’s a video of the baits I was using this week and a nice 4lb 6 oz bass I caught this morning on the popper. I also posted a few pictures from my week.
This week was rather short for me but it was definitely one to remember. I got back out on the lake after a long 4th of July weekend, only to find that the recreational folks never left after the holiday. The lake looked like it was a weekend all week and I think the boat traffic affects the bite at times. I haven’t been spending a whole bunch of time in the creek this week and I’ve been focusing on the vast main lake humps and points. Topwater has been my preferred pattern this week but I’ve also been mixing in the spoon, spybait and drop shot, all with a degree of success. It’s pretty much typical summer patterns and not a whole lot will change over the next 2 months.
I did get to see an old friend of our family that came for a fishing visit. Michael and his son flew out from Texas to spend a few days site seeing and a day fishing with me. When Michael told me he was coming in for a fishing visit with his son I got the dates and then pinged my old buddy and striper guide Alex Vasquez for a little striper fishing in the morning followed by a bass fishing afternoon in my boat. Alex and I go way back to my years as a striper guide. Alex and I fished together a few times probably 8-10 years ago and with Alex being a veteran also, we kinda have this unwritten brotherhood of respect. Back then Alex was just learning the ropes of striper fishing and he and I put a lot of fish in the boat during our trips. Alex was the perfect striper guide for Michael and his sons visit.
When our striper day finally got here Michael, Brent and I met Alex at Tidwell and we headed out for a morning of chasing stripers. Electronically, a lot has changed since I was chasing stripers. Alex had a cool Simrad system in the console and Livescope up in the front. Sidescan on the Simrad was used to search left to right and the Livescope was always moving and searching areas in front and below as well as side to side searching. I was amazing for me to see how far technology has come in 10 years. The fish are definitely loosing the advantage on their home waters. Alex didn’t disappoint and we we catching fish on downlined/freelined herring almost immediately. Within minutes of putting baits out on a few fish scattered in a deep cut Brent was bringing in his first striper and shortly after that Michael was fighting his first striper also. after that it was just moving around and scanning till we found groups of scattered fish to drop on. This went on for the next 4 hours and we all had a blast. Alex has turned into an awesome striper guide and he’s running a great little smile factory out of that center console. l posted Alex’s business card below and I’ll tell you guys that if you or your friends are looking for a memorable striper trip make sure you give Alex or Jeff Blair a call. Both are very knowledgeable striper guides and the best of the best on the lake. They don’t dissappoint…ever.
When we ended out trip with Alex, I had kept 7 nice sized stripers for a friends table fare for his family and friends and we dropped those off for my friend who was very appreciative. Myself, Michael and Brent grabbed a quick bite to eat and jumped in my bass boat for a few hours of creek fishing. Brent is 15 years old and very interested in bass fishing so I showed him how to walk the dog, the spybait technique and the drop shot, all of which was pretty new to him. Brent did well with the spybait and got the hang of that pretty well after missing a few topwater blow-ups and he brought a few bass to the boat including his first spotted bass ever.
We capped the day off with a nice dinner and Michael and Brent headed back down to Atlanta where they were staying. It was great to see Michael again and riminess about past times. I met Michael and his family through my dad who had worked with Michael and his dad in the oil business for years. My dad and Michael lived very near each other and they got to be very close friends. Michael’s dad and my dad have since past and I know they were both in heaven looking down on our fishing trip this week. It was very special for both of us. Here’s a few pictures from our day and I also included a link to my “What’s on the Cast Away Deck” video for this week after the pictures. Lake temps are hoovering around the mid eighties and the lake is only down about a foot.
You really have to stay ahead of these fish and their eating habits if you want to successfully catch these spotted bass on Lake Lanier. The way these fish feed can be predictable at times and tricking them into eating my bait is a trick that is always evolving. If you’re a regular to the lake you’ve more than likely already accepted the fact that fishing changes daily and what worked today may not work tomorrow so sometimes their can be failure. You also have to accept the fact that sometimes the fish will win the battle and you have to swallow that bitter pill.
It doesn’t happen often for me but it bit me again yesterday and I am still trying to put it behind me. Yesterday I was out on the main lake and I was in an area where I knew there was a good chance I was going to catch a big bass. I was so sure, I turned on the video camera and explained in the video that “out here on the main lake it’s a good idea to make sure your drag is set and you check your line frequently for nicks“. I then turned around and made a couple of casts. Just a few casts later a big bass just hammered my popper and the fight was on. I knew the fish was going to be close to 5lbs and that notion was affirmed when the fish jumped right in front of the boat but when I went to grab the net the fish made one of those bulldog runs and broke off. I was heart broken and I got it all on video.
Early this week I was still riding my high on the Ima Skimmer bait and the fish were practically jumping in the boat, chasing the Ima but as the week progressed the Ima Skimmer lost it’s luster and the bass decided that the popper was a better choice. The Ima Skimmer is the bait I pulled off the Wall of Shame two weeks ago and it provided me with some top notch fish and entertainment. I made a video last week with the Ima and I finally got it downloaded so here’s a little video of the Ima in action.
Thursday I was back in the shop and making a few more poppers so I could have some for yesterday morning out on the main lake. I got a late start because I had to fill up with gas and the marinas don’t open till 9am so I messed around the creek for a while. When I finally gassed up and got to the main lake I could see that I was in plenty of company on points and humps. Pretty much all week has been running and gunning a milk run I made up for my summer stop, pop and drop pattern. I’m basically hitting humps and points from the southwest end up to Browns Bridge and over to the east side and back down lake. I have a lot of options and the wind is always a factor on how I fish the milk run. Right now I’m approaching the hump or point up wind if there’s wind and hitting Stop Lock once I’m in position to fan cast the area. After I’ve pounded it pretty good with the topwater, I’m moving in with the drop shot and spending a few minutes dropping with Lanier Baits Blue Lily. Always have Blue Lily ready to drop this time of year. After 5-10 minutes of dropping I’m off to the next spot on the milk run. As it gets hotter the time sitting still in one area may be shorted to just a few minutes.
My baits of choice this week has been the Ima Skimmer in chrome, the Cane Walker 125 in chrome, the Emerald Popper, a Duo Realis G-fix 80 Spybait in American Shad and Lanier Baits Blue Lily drop shot worm.
The lake is a foot below full pool and water temps are in te mid *0’s. Here’s a few pictures from memorable fish this week.
I’m pretty sure it was a week ago today when I made a visit to my wall of shame. I mainly go there now when I’m stumped and I’m in need of some help and sometimes my wall of shame puts me on the right track. Such was the case for the past week. My wall of shame has a little bit of everything including new and used options from one season to the next so I usually stare at the baits for a while and think of what has worked in the past or what may work for various reasons. If something jumps out at me I pick it up and take it to the lake and give it a try. I grabbed one bait off the wall a week ago and it has accounted for 99% of my fish this week and I’ve had a blast using it.
This week has been a blast for me in terms of learning a pattern with a bait I’ve never really used before and using it with a very rewarding degree of success after learning it. What makes it even better is the fact that it’s a topwater bait and I get to enjoy the benefit of watching some big fish blow up on it and finally get hooked. I’d been having this problem with the bigger fish missing the stuff I’d been using like the popper and my little 4 inch walking baits. I’d been throwing a steady diet of chug bug, popper, Sammy style baits and the whopper plopper to name a few but my hook-up ratio was way down and the fish were constantly winning the battle. It’s like the bass had the stuff figured out and I wasn’t able to trick them like I had expected to. I don’t know about y’all but it’s pretty disheartening to have big fish barely miss your bait or get barely hook time after time during the course of a day.
By this time you’re probably wondering what I was throwing this week but to be honest, that’s not the point this week. It’s not so much about the bait as it is the pattern. I think that my biggest take away from the past week was that these fish see a lot of baits in the course of a day and giving them something different to look at can be the key. When I was staring at my wall and contemplating my plan I thought about how the fish had reacted to the popper by the popping sound and the splashing it creates. I thought about how the bass reacted to the popper in calm water because of the surface disruption around the popper and I wanted a bait that would create that surface disruption but I also wanted to mimic the blueback skittering across the water for visual effect. I wanted surface disruption, sound as well as visual effects and while staring at the wall one bait jumped out at me. It was sleek, different and I know the fish hadn’t been seeing it a lot lately because most folks are throwing the social media/dock talk specials right now. I just needed to create a pattern with the bait so that’s what I did. I was able to make the bait skitter and stop and I was able to create the surface disruption as well. I then created a combination of skittering and stopping, making some surface disruption and then starting the whole process over again. That was the pattern I wanted to achieve with the bait so late last week I set out to try it on the lake.
It didn’t take long till I had my first victim on a point in the creek and I was able to build on that. I just started running and gunning points and humps on my milk run and I got rewarded at every stop. My pattern was something the fish hadn’t seen lately and my hook-up ratio jumped back up where I like it. I was also able to fool some of the bigger fish with regularity again which really had me fired up. My neighbor and I had been planning a trip out on the lake and yesterday we were able to get out for a while. I had told my neighbor about my new bait and pattern so he procured a few more (all) of the baits at a local tackle shop and off we went on the milk run to chase a few bass. He had to get a little training but it didn’t take long till we were both on track and catching fish. I’m not sure how long our new pattern will last but I’m going to definitely ride this horse till the bitter end or until the summer spybait bite picks up a little more. LOL
Water temps are in the low 80’s and the corps isn’t pulling a whole bunch of water right now, mainly for a few hours in the evening. I fully expect the spybait and drop shot bite to pick up for me very soon.
I caught a lot of fish on one bait this week and I weighed a dozen of them for my “guess the weight” give away. Check my Facebook page later today for a link to a YouTube video for a sneak peek at the fish and guess the weight. You could win one of my emerald poppers and a few other baits from my shop.
Here’s a few pictures of my memorable fish for the week.
It seems like just a couple months ago I was freezing my butt off dragging tiny swimbaits across the bottom of a ditch ledge at the speed of a 3 toed sloth and dreaming about the early summer topwater bite. Well, here we are, it’s early summer and the stop, pop n drop pattern is in full swing.
Last year about this time we were in a great spybait pattern but all in all the topwater was lacking. This year the spybait pattern hasn’t really took off but the topwater pattern is on fire and the popper is really showing out. Yesterday was one of those days that I could get the fish to school at every stop with the popper. A lot of times it’s just the rhythm and deep sounding popping noises that really get these summer bass worked up and yesterday the wind was just about perfect to fish the popper with success. There were a few places that the popper created enough surface disruption in dead calm water to create a strike and as the morning progressed it just got better and better. That’s another thing about these summer bass on a blueback lake; they know that the bluebacks like to come close to the surface on sunny days and once the sun gets up the gauntlet begins between the predator and prey.
Here’s a YouTube video I made yesterday. These were some of the fish I caught on the popper yesterday. I’m using a St Croix 7’1” Bass X spinning rod with a Penn Fierce III loaded with 7lb flouro.
This week was a little different for me and for a few reasons. This time of year I would be doing a lot more spybait and drop shot but this week I wanted to see if I could get a 5+ pounder for a replica wall mount. I want to do it on the popper so that makes it a bit harder. I know there are bigger profile baits out there right now that I could use and more than likely get the job done rather quickly but I want to do it on something I created so that makes it a bit tougher. I’ve mainly been fishing the main lake because of the water clarity and the boat traffic in the creek but I also know my chances of a 5+ go way up out on the main lake right now. My strategy has been to fish the places I could throw the popper where there wasn’t too much wind. A light chop is perfect so I just looked for points and humps that either had no wind or just a little wind on them. When I start throwing the popper around a moderate to larger chop my hookup percentages go way down and it get’s much harder for the fish to pick up on it. This week I’ve had a pretty solid milk run and went up the west side of the main lake to past Vanns, hit the humps on the main lake and worked my way back down the east side of the main lake. I’m mainly fishing places to I have caught big fish in the past and my electronics doesn’t play a real large part of my fishing.
I’m kinda old school and I fish a lot by memory but I do use my electronics as a reference. Let’s face it, a lot of these bass are cruising around in wolf packs right now and just throwing a loud topwater bait near brush piles could induce some schooling action on your bait. I’m using my electronics as a reference to pinpoint the brush but I’m actually working my bait all around the brush and I only move in on the brush when I feel like the topwater chances are over and it’s time to pick up the drop shot. Since it’s getting hot out, this whole scenario of pulling up and fishing and area, plus drop shotting, may only last 10-15 minutes and then I’m moving on. A lot of times the bite heats up the best in the hottest part of the day and if you can stand the heat the rewards can be worth it. Running and gunning with plenty of cold water in the boat and body coverings are the norm from now till Sept.
I also have 2 different tactics I use for the topwater pattern; first is my “Bull in the China Closet” approach where I come into an area doing a lot of splashing and popping, creating as much disruption as possible. A lot of times this will trigger the fish to start feeding and if you watch some of my popper videos you’ll see that the popper actually triggers topwater schooling around the boat. That’s the bull in the china closet approach and it’s been working well lately. My other approach is my stealth approach which also works well. I use my little 4 inch walking bait for the stealth approach and it’s more about just creating a wake and letting the bass track the wake back to the source. Waking a bait is just about as effective as popping a bait right now but sometimes one approach may work better than the other so you just need to see what works. I know a lot of folks don’t have an Emerald Popper so a good replacement is the small chug bug. It is a great choice and you can generally get the same effect as the popper. To be honest, I’d probably be using the small chug bug a lot more if I wasn’t trying to get a magnum on the popper right now.
For me the spybait bite hasn’t really taken off and I’m pretty sure it’s because we don’t have a solid thermocline yet. The stratification process is still ongoing and there is still very good oxygen near the surface, hence good topwater. Once we have a more defined line at the top end of the thermocline at 20-25 feet the fish will be more inclined to feed deeper and that’s when the spybait will really take off. It’s just around the corner and I would definitely throw it every day I’m out right now under normal circumstances. I like the Duo Realis G-fix 80 in a few different patterns. You just have to play with the colors to see what works on any given day. Just remember to count it down and fish it slow and steady around brush and out on points.
Lastly is the drop shot. It’s starting to get heated up as these fish start to pile up around their summer homes. I’m seeing more and more fish in and around the brush out on the main lake and in the creek. Right now I’ve got Lanier Baits Blue Lily worm tied on and if I see fish underneath me, I’m dropping the blue lily right on their heads. More specifically, I’m easing my boat over the brush and dropping my bait right down into the middle of the brush and dead sticking the bait. Generally there will be a bigger fish deep in the brush so don’t be scared to drop right into the thick of it. That’s where the big girls hang out.
Here’s a few pictures from my week. I did catch a lot of smaller fish that didn’t make the highlights this week but out of the 3 morning I fished this week I probably caught 30-40 fish.
Years and years ago I worked with a guy that acquired the nickname “Stuck-on” due to the fact that he had a hard time learning from his mistakes so they claimed he was stuck on stupid. Sometimes I feel like ole Stuck-on because this week I really got stuck on throwing the popper. In terms of percentages, this week the popper probably took up about 50% of my time on the water. I’d say the little white pearl walking bait came in a close second to the popper with the fluke and spybait coming in third and the anchor was the drop shot with Blue Lily worms. The fish pictured above was caught earlier this week on the drop shot with Blue Lily.
The problem with the popper was that it wasn’t very effective this week in terms of hook-up percentages. I have to say that I only caught maybe 30% of the fish that actually schooled or blew up on the popper this week. I just couldn’t believe the amount of big fish near misses or big fish coming unbuttoned on the popper. These big fish really made it frustrating to use the popper. Another thing that really bothered me was the amount of fish following the bait without reacting to it. I literally had to quit watching my retrieve at times because it was frustrating to have fish swimming around the popper without striking at it. I think they get interested in the holographic tensile on the trailing hook swaying back and forth on the retrieve and they just follow it. At any rate, it was frustrating to watch but I just kept after it and every once in a while I could get a fish to commit to the popper so I just kept throwing it over and over and over….
This week the creek was pretty crowded so I mainly focused on the main lake and the offshore stuff. Main lake points and humps held some good fish this week and I focused on topwater being my primary pattern but I did catch some good fish on a little holographic swimbait and the G-fix 80 spybait. When I was fishing brush I caught some very nice fish throwing the weightless fluke over the brush and then when I moved in over the brush I was dropping the Blue Lily drop shot right down into the brushpile and dead sticking the worm. The bite was so subtle sometimes the fish would be on the hook when I lifted the rod without any hint of a fish eating the worm. I will say this about the drop shot bite. When I caught one deep in the brush it was a good one.
Another bait I gotta brag on this week is the little pearl white walking bait. It was a great choice early in the morning or when it was cloudy. Every once in a while a good fish would come out of nowhere and just hammer the walking bait and usually they didn’t miss so the hook up rate was pretty good. The spybait bite hasn’t really kicked off good yet but I feel like it’s coming around very soon so I keep throwing it around suspended fish that aren’t coming up or after I’ve caught a topwater fish or two and the topwater bite dies off. I think the main lake offshore bite is a little better than the creek and far less crowded so if you haven’t checked out some of the points and humps on the main lake give it a try sometime. There’s a lot less pressure out there and there are some quality fish cruising around. Lake temps are around 80 degrees right now and the lake is down about 1.5 feet. Here’s a video of my top 5-6 baits this week and some pictures from the week.
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.
This week started out slow but on Tuesday I was rewarded for efforts with my biggest spotted bass of the year, a 5.23 ounce beauty that I caught slow rolling a swimbait over brush just before giving up for the day and heading back to the house. It was my only fish of the day and I can say that I was totally satisfied with my day. I had the video camera in the boat and made a little video of the occasion…
On Wednesday I took my neighbor David out for a morning trip to see if we could find a few on docks and points. Once again it was a bit slow and we really didn’t have much wind to work with but we put together a decent morning with the shaky head and the weightless fluke. Here’s a nice fish David caught on a weightless fluke in front of a dock.
David had a good morning with the fluke and I was throwing the shaky head a getting a fish here and there. That evening I took Lisa out after work and she was able to catch a few on her favorite shaky head worm, “The Sweet Potato Pie”
On Thursday everything kinda changed for me. I have been throwing some topwater with no good results earlier in the week but on Thursday morning I felt like the topwater was going to work so I tied on an old spring favorite of mine, the translucent walking bait. I was trying to find the right chop in key areas like points and humps. I had the video camera in the boat and made a video of my first topwater action of 2021.,,
This morning, (Friday) I was back out looking for more topwater and found a little area with a light chop blowing over some brush so I set the boat upwind and started making casts down wind with the walking bait. My focus was bring the walking bait across the top of the brush to see if I could lure a fish up to the bait and it worked out to perfection. Here’s a video I made this morning that explains the process.,,
So that kinda gives you an idea of how my week has gone by and also it should give you an idea of how to approach the lake right now. Here’s one more video that I made to cover the baits I’ve been using this week….Water temps are in the mid to upper 60’s and the lake is just a few inches above full pool. This weekend should be a busy one on the lake so be safe and enjoy!!
Call it what you will but this week it was all about “Fishing on Faith”. I think it was the dead of winter just a few short months back when I wrote an article about “Dropping on Faith” and I described the winter deep spoon bite. If you missed the article, the description I gave was about taking a chance and dropping your spoon down when there was nothing on the graph and having “faith” that fish will be there. If you look up the word “faith” in the dictionary, among a few other definitions, one in particular is described as “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.
This week is a short week because of a two day tournament this coming weekend. I’m done until Saturday morning when I make my first cast on the lake. This week I fished Monday through yesterday and I could tell that my knees and shoulders needed a rest. I’ve made so many casts in the last 3 days it’s time for a rest but the casts I made were productive casts this week. I have the luxury of fishing every day and with that I am able to stay on the fish and track their movements from one day to the next. Lot’s of times I can follow them by reading my sonar and seeing them beneath the boat or they may surface for a brief second and I can get an idea of what they are doing from the surface activity. I also possess the old school knowledge of reading the shoreline because there was a time in my past that reading shoreline was the best way to locate fish. All this is factored in when I made my decisions on where to fish and what to use. A few weeks ago my up front sonar bit the dust so I’ve been using my console sonar for double duty, moving it back and forth from the front to the back as I need it. Some may think that it’s problematic but to be perfectly honest, I’m not really using my sonar at all this time of year. If anything, the most I’m getting out of sonar is water temp and maybe a verification of depth, the rest is combination of mapping and reading the bank.
Right now the fish are determined; they are on a task right now that cannot be stopped. That’s what I kept telling myself when I’ve been fishing this week. This is the one time of year that the fish are very predictable in what they are doing and where they will be. Understanding that the fish are on a mission to spawn is half the battle, the other half is understanding where they will do it. If you know where they will do it, then you can backtrack to where they will be feeding before they do it and possibly run into one along the way. One of the variables this year is the water levels. They are down a few feet from previous years so what was good last year may not be good this year and that’s where the mapping comes in. My mapping can show contour and underwater features that I can’t necessarily see with my eyes reading the shoreline so that’s where the fishing on faith comes in. I’m positioning my boat at a certain depth while making a cast at a certain feature and trusting that the fish will be there. I’m totally relying on what I am seeing on the mapping and the fact that the fish will be there feeding up and nourishing those eggs. Right now the window for feeding fish is wide open for a lot of the day. Sometimes the window is small and they may only be feeding for a few hours a day but right now, in pre-spawn mode they are packing on the pounds for stored energy and egg growth so I have faith that they will be there. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s never a lock that there will be success but that’s where the second definition of faith comes in, which is a belief in God and being at peace with failure as well as success. Believe me, there is failure for sure but failure can be turned into success if failure is used as a tool for future success. By that, let me give you an example when it comes to fishing; Right now I am making several stops a day and if I continually fail to catch a fish at a certain location day after day, at some point I will quit wasting my time in that location and remove it from my list of stops. That’s what I mean about turning failure into future success, something was learned from the failure of not catching a fish in that location and I moved on to more fertile grounds. I may have moved on but I still ponder the reason why there were no fish in that location and if there was something inherent to the location that made it void of fish.
All that being said, I have found and slayed enough fish for the week and my satisfaction cup hath runneth over. Whatever happens from this point on is just extra gravy on my biscuit and I have reached the pinnacle of my spring fishing. I have moved from creek to creek this week and looked for the same contour with success at just about every stop so bring on the weekend and our chance at success in a field of the best. I’m going to once again rely on Faith as well as experience for my success this weekend. Water temps are in the upper 50’s and on the rise and the lake level is around a foot below full pool. Here’s the pictures from the week.