The Shadows of September

It happens ever year about this time and it’s been a constant reminder that fall is on the way. At my old shop where I used to build tackle, the windows of the shop faced the south and every year the noonday summer sun would light up the back windows of the shop but as the days started growing shorter in late summer the angle of the sun would start to droop to the south. Since the angle of the sun would slowly get lower in the south in late summer, instead of direct sunlight in the windows the trees to the south would cause the sun to cast shadows through the windows and the area would be shaded all day until the following June.

Since this is our 3rd fall here at the new house on the lake I’ve noticed that the same shadows are cast every year in our little cove. Soon the leaves will start to turn and those humid days will be replaced by passing cool fronts and much dryer conditions. There is usually a time in mid to late September when the water starts to make that shift and starts getting cooler and I noticed yesterday that the water temps were barely holding at 80 degrees. First time we’ve seen 80 for a few months.

My week started with a run out to the main lake on Monday morning and found very little wind to work with but there were pockets of chop on the lake that I could work with. I started with the emerald popper and threw it around points and humps where I could find a little surface disruption but to be honest, my morning topwater bite has been really lacking. I can get a few to come up but these bass know that the surface activity is driven by bluebacks and bluebacks don’t like to come to the surface until the sun gets high in the sky, like around noon. I moved from location to location on the main lake but around lunchtime the wind picked up a little and I found a large blow-through that was just loaded with bait and fish. The schools of bait were being blown over an old road bed of sorts and the stripers and bass were ambushing the bait on the leeward side of the roadbed. I broke out the big black pearl OG and started bombing it into the wind and bringing it back down wind where the fish were set up. First I was able to catch a nice spot but after that it was all big stripers and they were aggressive. I started catching one on every cast using the black pearl OG till finally one of the big stripers broke me off. It was a humbling lesson in checking my line after every catch. It was a clean break and it was more than likely from a nick in the line. I waited in the area for another 30 minutes hoping the fish would shake it out but it was to no avail as the black pearl was gone….

I was heartbroken because I was just getting into a grove with the bait and it was gone. I went back home after catching a few other fish here and there on smaller baits but my day was ruined. There was a bright spot as I had ordered 2 more OG’s and they were coming in the mail Monday evening so I had something to look forward to.

Tuesday I got out with my buddy Mike and our plan was to throw big baits for big fish but the weather had other plans for us and it was a day of hit and miss fishing with very little wind to work with so we had to got to the smaller subsurface baits to get good bites. Shortly after lunch the topwater bite turned on but with very little wind to work with, it wasn’t like it was on fire. We popped a few good ones on the surface stuff and called it a day in the late afternoon. Here’s a couple nice fish and probably our biggest 2 of the day.

Wednesday was a wash this week and the weather was pretty nasty so I stayed in and worked in the shop. Most of ya’ll already know but LJ and Cory over at Lanier baits are selling the Emerald Popper now and I think they should be stocking most of the stores around here with the popper. Hopefully very soon they’ll all be all stocked up on poppers before the fall popper bite really gets going. Lisa and I discovered the Emerald Popper in Sept. of 2014 and this month makes it’s 7th anniversary of fun with our little popper. We’ll have more on the popper later including a little video on how and where to use the Emerald Popper. Stay tuned.

So Thursday rolls around and the weather is still kinda nasty but it was the kind of day I like for fishing. These fish are banking on us fisherman staying home on the rainy days so they take a few more chances during bad weather. On Thursday I had my new OG’s ready and really wanted to give them a workout in the big chop out on the main lake and as luck would have it my crank battery died leaving me stranded out on the main lake in the wind, whitecaps and rain. I made a quick battery swap with one of my trolling motor batteries so I could get back to the house but before the battery issue I managed to give the OG’s a work out. It was mainly stripers but I did find a few nice bass on the new OG’s and I really had a good time out in the nasty conditions before the battery trouble started. When I got back to the creek I stopped and drift fished a few points since my trolling motor was basically dead. I found out late in the afternoon that the fish were really responding to the Z-dog walking bait I’ve been using from time to time so I just started rolling the the Z-dog and ended my day with it. Here’s a couple pics from my day and a video of the Bone OG 40 gm in action.

On Friday I made a little run out in the creek after charging the batteries and putting the old crank battery in the mix with the other 2 batteries for the trolling motor. It got me back on the water for a couple hours before the bad battery killed the trolling motor. I mainly just stayed close to home and used the little Z-dog on points and humps with brush. Here’s a few more pics of some late week Z-dog damage and I included a YouTube video “On the Cast Away Deck” from the week. Lake levels are up around full pool and the corps is still moving water during the afternoons and evenings.

Can You Feel It?

This is that week in September when we start to see the first signs of Autumn with the entrance of a mild but dryer cool front. When I woke up this morning the temperature was down in the upper 50’s and I actually thought about something a little warmer to wear this morning when I hit the lake shortly after dawn. This week we had some warmer more humid days early in the week but by weeks end we are experiencing a touch of early Autumn with lows in the 50’s and highs in the low 80’s. Don’t get me wrong, I know we are in store for more hot days over the next few weeks but the last 2 days are just a reminder that fall is on the way.

A few weeks ago I ordered a few new baits from Cast Company called the “OG”. It’s been all the rage here lately on the lake and I’ve been seeing some very nice fish being caught on it. The problem is that a few weeks ago I cleaned the man cave and I misplaced my OG until this past weekend when I found it and decided to give it a whirl this week. It’s a bigger bait and I was throwing it on my baitcaster mounted on a 7 foot rod with some heavier flouro. One of the best parts about throwing a big bait like the OG is that I can cast it a mile and the bottom line is that the more time your bait is in the water, the better chance you have of catching a fish.

Tuesday morning I worked in the shop but in the afternoon I lit out for the main lake with the OG. No kidding, on my first stop with the bait, I was slinging it out in the wind off a reef marker and after a few casts, BAAAMMM!! one of my biggest fish of the year smoked the OG on the surface and it looked like an absolute “TRAIN WRECK” when she hit it. I knew it was a big fish right away and I enjoyed every moment of bringing the fish to the boat. Here’s a pic of my first fish on the Cast Co. 40gm OG“.

That was all the convincing I needed and from that point on this week it’s been on the deck and if I can find some wind I’ve been throwing the OG. This week the only two rods I’ve had on the deck is the OG and the popper. It’s all been topwater this week and I’m having fun learning about my new bait. I’ll give an expanded report on the OG next week when I get a full week with it and I also get to try the other two colors that are coming in the mail on Monday. Stay tuned for more on the OG. The water temps are cooling and as I write this the temps were around 83-84 degrees. The lake level is a little less than a foot above full pool and the corps is moving water in the afternoon. Below is a little bit of video I made this week catching a couple of nice stripers on the OG and some memorable fish from the week.

Stopping, Locking and Hot Afternoon Plopping

If there was nothing more to learn from this week, it would be to find the wind and find the fish and if you mixed a little wind with some midday sunlight, the topwater bite was on and plopping.

This was definitely a hot week out on the lake but the fishing was good if you could stand the heat. For me the best bite didn’t get started till late morning and I left them biting every afternoon this week. I’ve been without electronics this week so I had to adjust my strategy just a little. A lot of my favorite main lake humps we’re out of the question this week so I mainly stuck to the points and familiar stuff that I have been fishing all summer on my milk run. The topwater bite is still my most viable option and this week I caught some good ones, especially after introducing a new bait to the rotation late this week.

The week started with temps in the upper 80’s to low 90’s and the wind was light and variable but you could find patches of little choppy water from small random breezes on the water and if one of those little choppy areas just happen to be over a point or hump it was game on for me. Basically, when I left the creek in the morning my eyes were on full scan across the lake looking for the choppy areas over the points or humps I could fish. If I saw a place that looked good I would set the boat just upwind of the point and I’d make casts down wind with the topwater bait. That was the primary objective but if I had to fish into the wind I was probably going to use the Grande Ima because that thing casts a mile like a bullet into the wind and works well bringing it back down wind. If I fished down wind the popper was my primary bait from Monday till Wednesday and then the popper bite just died. I used the Ima a good bit after the popper bite died on Wednesday but the problem with the Ima is that the fish are seeing it a lot now and they aren’t totally committed to the bait so I was getting a lot of short strikes and near misses. It was getting frustrating to make all those casts with a bunch of blow ups but no fish to show for it. On Thursday I decided to put my custom whopper plopper back into the mix to throw the fish a curve ball. They had been on a steady diet of walking baits and popping baits but I hadn’t hit them with the whopper plopper since April so I put it to work in the same areas I was using the other baits. To my surprise, on the first cast with the little custom 110, I caught a decent fish and followed it up with fish after fish. The bite only got better as the day progressed and on Thursday afternoon it was blazing hot but the fish were responding to the plopper very well. I didn’t need another bait and lost count of the fish I was catching. I started shaking as many smaller fish off as I could, only landing the bigger fish if possible. The big question on Thursday evening was whether or not it would work on Friday. That was answered in short order yesterday as I picked right back up where I left off with the whopper plopper, they killed it yesterday too.

Sometimes for me it’s just a matter of introducing something different to these fish and they will react. Finding the right setup like looking for the areas of a disturbed surface is crucial to success also. Keep in mind, when you have chop on the water it distorts the fishes view when he’s looking up for a food source. The fish is far more likely to make a mistake and attack something that’s moving over a distorted surface than a smooth one. Understanding that and eliminating slack water will also eliminate wasted topwater casts. Another key is to use the ghost patterns now. The fish can also get confused and make a mistake with a lure that he can’t really figure out and a lot of times they keep coming after a clearer bait over a solid color bait, especially this time of year when the water is gin clear. Here’s a picture of the custom whopper plopper that did the damage this week. I used a hint of pearl on the sides and a pearl black color for the back of the bait.

I had a few fish over 4lbs this week and some of the explosions were magnificent! These fish are pushing bluebacks around all afternoon on the big water and in the creek. If you find the areas where the bass are chasing bluebacks like points and humps, there are a few different ways to catch these fish but I’m just running and gunning in the hot sun, not spending more than 10-15 minutes in one place and then moving on. I’m covering my skin and keeping hydrated in the hot afternoon sun and moving around frequently usually cools me down if I start getting hot. I’m guessing water temps are in the upper 80’s and the lake is just below full pool and dropping. The corps is generating in the hottest part of the day and what little wind we had the week was out of the west. Here’s a few pictures of my memorable fish this week and I also included a link to my “On the Cast Away Deck” video with some cast to catch footage this week.

Back to Old School

This week is back to school for a lot of our youth but for me this week has been back to old school in terms of fishing. For the past few months I’ve been using one graph on my boat, a Helix 12 mounted on the bow. I can easily see the Helix mapping from the cockpit while I’m driving around so it’s been all I’ve needed after my console Helix went out. Well, this week it happened, my remaining Helix on the bow bit the dust so now I am graph-less until I determine what to do about the graphs that are out of warranty… and you know, I’ve been thinking, it’s not such a bad thing.

This week, when my only graph on the boat failed I had a momentary panic attack, so I freaked out for about 15 seconds before I realized that there was a time when I fished successfully before mapping and 2d sonar was a thing. There was a time when I fished by landmarks and I read the shoreline to figure out where those underwater humps and points were, I just needed to adjust my thinking to get back to that thought process. It was like a few weeks back when I went out fishing with a striper guide and my whole thought process changed in a matter of minutes when my brain shifted from chasing bass on points and humps to locating stripers in the deeper channels of creek pockets and the river valley floor. I even recognized when the shift occurred in my brain and it was like I had dialed my life back 10 years and I was out there hunting stripers again.

Unfortunately, when it comes to summertime bass on Lanier, you really need those electronics if you’re going to use the drop shot technique or you want to locate offshore structure or bass suspending over deep timber. You can be severely handicapped without the use of electronics and it can make for a long day of fishing in the hot sun but I made the best of it and it’s been fun.

I started off the week with a working graph and on Monday I was out with a friend who wanted to refine his popper technique so we mainly focused on main lake topwater but it was slow with very little wind to work with. I skipped Tuesday and took my neighbor and his grandson out on Wednesday after a weak cool front moved through and the wind picked up. On our first stop I set the boat upwind of a hump in the creek where I figured we would find some early morning fish over a small group of brush piles. I didn’t fish but instructed my crew on the location to make the casts down wind and over the area of brush. It worked to perfection and no sooner than the Ima hit the water we had our first fish of the morning.

My neighbor David and his grandson Caleb did a fine job of bringing the fish to the net. We had set a goal of 4 fish since Caleb’s record was 3 fish for one trip and school started back tomorrow so it would be a fine way to end summer vacation. After we released the fish and made the next cast, it happened again, another nice bass crushed the Ima on the surface. They were spectacular explosions and very exciting to see on two consecutive casts. We were half way to our goal and we had only made two casts. Needless to say, the old record was shattered in short order and we ended up with 11 for Caleb’s new record to finish the summer. Here are some of Caleb’s fish for our morning trip.

Caleb is actually looking forward to school and the start of football season. Caleb wants to be a wide receiver and has already set goals for himself as well as a workout routine for preparation. He wants to play for Auburn and later on, the nfl. We had a great time talking about football and his drafted fantasy team this year while catching fish on a very mild summer morning. The weather couldn’t have been better and I knew the fish would respond well to topwater.

Wednesday evening it was so nice out Lisa and I decided to take a short ride into the creek and do a little drop shotting. That’s when the graph died and we were graphless for the evening. That didn’t stop the action though as the fish were still responding well to the topwater baits and we caught topwater fish at every stop. We really couldn’t do much else but throw topwater and spybait on points and areas we were familiar with but the fish were responding well to both topwater and the occasional spybait fish. We had some wind and I think the corps was pulling water at the time so the bite was going well. We made one last stop and I had a group of fish school on my Ima and it just so happened that the bass that got hooked was a nice 4.3lber, my biggest of the week and a nice way to cap off the evening.

This week I would say that 90% of my fish came from topwater and the other 10 from spybait and drop shot. I tried to focus my efforts to offshore brush and making my topwater casts with the brush being and the surrounding area being the primary focus. I’m also focusing on new areas to fish on every trip. There are plenty of areas on Lanier that hold bass and don’t get a lot of pressure from day to day and I’m always trying to add new prosperous locations to my milk run.

The water temps had dropped a little with the cloud cover and wind so surface temps were back down to the mid 80’s by late this week. The lake level is still around full pool and the corps is pulling water during the heaviest power usage in the afternoons.

Is You Crazy Boy??

It was late July 1993 and I had just settled into my new home south of New Orleans, just off the banks of the Mississippi. It was the middle of the afternoon and extremely hot for my first official fishing trip out in the Bayou but I didn’t let that stop me from the opportunity to fish. I found a little bait shack just off a Bayou around the Jean Laffite area and I dropped in for some intel and bait for my first fishing trip. I’ll never forget the old man sitting on a rocking chair under the porch at the shaded entrance to the old cedar plank store. He was tall, old and slender, appearing weathered from years in the sun. He had an old box fan sitting on a milk crate in the corner blowing air across the porch and an old ragged cat was lying at his feet. I introduced myself and told him I was new to the area and looking for a good spot to fish. To this day I’ll never forget him looking at me with a puzzled look and asking “Is you crazy boy?” “The only thing we do around here this time of the afternoon is sit in the shade with a cold drink”. The fact that I was standing there asking pretty much answered his question so he probably felt sorry for me and gave me some solid advice on where to go. Turns out that my first redfish was a bull redfish from the bank and at the exact spot the old man told me to go with the bait he told me to use.

I don’t know about ya’ll but the heat this week out on the lake has been staggering. Just walking out the door early in the morning is a reminder of living down in the Big Easy and that humid gulf heat hitting me in the face going to work every summer morning. It’s like that brutal humid heat is an outside house guest that has followed me here from New Orleans and won’t take the hint to leave.

This week has been the week that I have trained for my whole life. The heat that has plagued us this week is pale in comparison to the fighter jet filled tarmac in the heart of the Nevada valley desert on a hot July afternoon where the temps can reach upwards of 150 degrees during the launch sequence for a mission. I also have a sauna and spend time in my sauna about 4-5 times a week where temps go from 135 degrees when I enter the sauna to 175 degrees some 30 minutes later when I come out. I’ve been utilizing the sauna for years and I’ve become accustom to heat so running around out on the lake in the heat doesn’t really bother me as much as I let on. I usually just stock up on water, cover my body from the sun, put the heat out of my mind and head out to see what I can figure out with the bass.

It’s typical summertime on Lanier and it’s just about like any other summer right now, the thermocline is setting up and the topwater is starting to dwindle as the oxygen levels decrease near the surface. I’m still seeing some big schools of bluebacks being pushed to the surface and this will probably continue as the fish know that the bluebacks are a slower target when the surface temps warm. The problem with that scenario is that there will be very little oxygen at the surface so the bass and stripers won’t stay up on the surface long and the bluebacks tend to go a little deeper in the water column as the summer progresses. If I was in the right place at the right time this week I could make a cast with my popper or the Ima skimmer and pick off a nice bass when they were schooling near the surface. That’s why I always recommend having your topwater handy because time is critical when these fish surface chasing bluebacks. I pretty much made a morning out of running and gunning with the popper this week but I am mixing in more and more spybait and drop shot on every trip. If the topwater bite continues to slow I’ll just focus more on making good casts with the spybait and spending more time with the drop shot. I’m mainly concentrating on the main lake early in the morning and coming back into the creek midday to fish the brush piles in the creek on the way home. It seems like the fish in the creek are on a different feeding schedule from the fish out on the main lake this week. The big fish on the main lake points and humps are up early and chasing bluebacks on or near the surface and the big fish in the creek don’t get going till mid to late morning. If I was lucky this week I could find areas on the main lake where there was a little chop on the surface which was just enough distortion to fool a bass or a group of bass. If there wasn’t any wind and the surface was flat I would generally pick up the spybait and start fan casting areas around brush and over the crown of humps on the main lake. Bringing the spybait over the top of a brush pile accounted for a few of my nice fish this week but also I would bring the spybait across the crown of humps both out on the main lake and in the creek for a few good fish. Sometime while I was fishing an area the surface would go from flat to a little chop and I’ll pull out the popper and work the popper down wind and bring it back up wind and against the grain. If I’m using the popper at least 75% of the time I’m bringing it back up wind to create more surface disruption and attention. If an area goes flat while I’m using topwater, generally I’ll switch to the spybait and start fan casting. Spybaits come in all shapes and sizes now so you just need to pick out one that catches your eye and give it a shot.

Right now the drop shot is taking more of a roll in my boat and I’m spending more and more time sitting over brush and dropping after the topwater and spybait have run their course. The drop shot is working best for me the slower I work it. The Lanier Baits Blue Lily is all I used this week and if you really want to spice up the action dip the tail in JJ’s clear garlic dip. That’s been the key to dead sticking blue lily for big fish in the brush is a little garlic dip on the tail. It seems like these bigger spotted bass hold the worm longer and are more aggressive when I use the garlic scent.

All in all the topwater is slowing as the temps rise but hopefully the cooldown next week will get things rolling on the surface for me again. Water temps yesterday were 88 and on the rise and the lake is at full pool. The corps has been generating for a few hours in the afternoon and evening. Here’s some of my more memorable fish this week.

Less Power and More Finesse

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.

It’s All About Stopping, Locking, Skimming and Popping 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.

A Memorable 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.

Victory and Defeat

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.

The Wall of Shame

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.