It’s a little more than a week into January and I feel like the past holidays are ancient history. I was on my way to the “Jim”inar a week ago this morning and getting ready for a big day. We had a blast last weekend. BASS elite series pro and Enigma Fishing owner Jesse Tacoronte, his brother-in-law Shane P plus BASS elite series pro Shane Lineberger were all guests for the weekend at Cast Away Cove. We had a blast in the man cave and did a lot of chatting about fishing and the upcoming BASS trail while watching MLF on the big screen…LOL It was pretty cool to have that much talent all together in the man cave for a weekend. We did the Jiminar on Saturday which was a raving success with over 170 in attendance. I did a 45 minute presentation and worked in the Enigma Fishing booth for the rest of the day. Sunday morning we all got up and had a little Cracker Barrel before spending a few hours on the lake. Jesse’s brother-in-law Shane had never caught a spotted bass so Jesse wanted him to ride with me and see if we could find some spots. It was windy and very cold on the backside of a strong cold front so that kinda limited our options for success. I wanted Shane to get a good bass up on the rocky points but I also knew that we could catch our fill of spoon fish in a ditch I had staked out earlier in the week that was loaded with 1-3lb fish. We wound up picking on the spoon fish before calling it a day and heading back to the house. Between Shane and I we caught 12-13 spots on the spoon and Shane got his first spotted bass as well as 6 more in addition to his first. His first spotted bas is pictured below. Jesse was heading up to Chickamauga and Shane was catching a flight out and needed to get to the airport so we could only spend a few hours fishing. All in all it was a very fun weekend and now it’s back to fishing.
I got out early in the week spending a few hours looking for that crankbait bite and found that it wasn’t working for me so this week I just kinda messed around with the shakey head and crawling a deep small swimbait. It has been pretty windy this week so I’ve been using a heavier Senko type worm with a 1/4 ounce head to get the bait down in the wind. The worm color has been a green pumpkin type worm with some type of flake. I prefer red or blue. I’ve also been using a Keitech 3.3 swimbait in a Dobyns 1/4 jig head on the points early. I’m swimming this bait at a steady pace early for suspended fish and then slowing it way down and dragging it on the bottom as the sun get’s up. You can also do this in the backs of pockets early swimming or dragging an underspin with a fluke or fluke jr.
Not much more to report this week. I did catch a few more than usual around docks this week but they were usually lacking in size. Yesterday I mainly fished rocks and docks but never found the big ones, just a bunch of smaller fish. The last picture was the biggest from the 7-8 I caught yesterday.
The water temps are around 51 to 53 depending on where you are and the lake level is a little more than a foot below full pool but the expected rains coming this evening could bump that up to close to full pool by late next week.
One other thing that we did that was fun was doing my first podcast. It was hosted by “Fish North Georgia” and lasted and hour and 41 minutes. It’s just a little more of a look at my personal life, military travels and how that relates to my fishing addiction. I’ve included a YouTube link to the podcast below as well as some pictures from the last weeks fishing. Take a look at the Fish North Georgia YouTube page and hit that “subscribe” button for these guys as they have some great upcoming videos and podcasts in the near future planned.
I got out a few days last week and was able to find a few on topwater, spybaiting and dropping. Right now the topwater bite is the big ticket item for me so that’s what I’ve primarily been doing. I’ve been using my little emerald popper to catch them but just about any surface disruption bait works right now. I’ve been catching some doubles lately and that tells me a couple things, one, the bass are hungry and two, the bass are competitive. Here’s my philosophy about topwater baits right now on Lanier.
The bass are feeding on bluebacks that they have pushed to the surface. They have probably singled out one little blueback and they are relentless in there pursuit to get that little blueback. If you’ve been out lately you’ve probably seen this going down on the surface in the form of a bass chasing a skipping or fleeing bait on the surface. If you watch and listen you can hear the noise the bass makes when he’s attacking the bait. I try and emulate that noise with my popper and if you’ve watched my videos, it’s been working out well and I think I’ve got that noise down to a science. Right now the bass are very competitive so if they hear that noise they think another bass is chasing a bait and they have no problem trying to steal that bait from their buddy. That’s why you see more doubles being caught on one lure right now. Another thing bass do right now is follow wakes to the source. If you’ve ever watched a blueback swim on the surface they create a wake, bass can see this wake and they will track it to the source, thinking it’s a blueback so I use a combination of waking and popping. With my little popper, I put a dressed hook on the back and tied up holographic Krystal flash on the hook for added attraction.
Now, here’s where the chop comes in. Here’s one of my biggest tips I can give you about surface fishing and bass, if you want more success with your topwater, find a light chop, whether it’s a point or over structure, position your boat up wind of the chop and throw down wind over or across the point or structure and make your retrieve against the grain of the chop. This does two things, it makes the pop and wake more exaggerated and easier for the fish to see as well as distorts his view of your lure, more so than fishing calm or glassed over water. Another thing fishing up wind gets you is a longer cast and let’s face it, the more time that little bait is in the water the more chances of catching a fish. Here’s a video from earlier this week and a 2 hour afternoon run. You can see the chop and how I work the popper.
If you would like to try your hand at Spybaiting here’s a little info on my setup.
I’m using 7lb Sunline FC Sniper flouro on a spinning rig with a medium heavy rod. No leader, just straight up flouro. I primarily throw the 90 size but if you’re fishing the smaller 80 size you might want to use a medium fast action rod. For a rod I recommend the Enigma Aarons Edge. Enigma uses a different design that most rod manufacturers, it’s lighter and you get a longer cast from that design. I’m on Enigma’s Pro Staff so if your are interested in an Enigma rod, I can help you get a little better deal. I’ve lost very few spybaits this year even though I primarily fish it around and over offshore structure. Whether it’s a crankbait or a spybait, I hold the rod loosely in my hand when retrieving it and if I feel resistance it’s one of two things, either I have a fish or a snag. At any rate, I just gently reel down, if it’s a fish you’ll know because it feels way different than a snag. If I feel the fish head shake, I reel down even faster but I DON”T SET THE HOOK in any fashion. If it’s a snag and you don’t want to loose that $15 lure, don’t panic or try to jerk it out of the snag, just keep minimal pressure on the line and move your boat to the other side of the snag and chances are it will come out. If you’re holding the rod loosely and it snags, chances are the hooks won’t bury too far in the snag and just re-positioning the boat to the opposite side works almost every time. To me, $15 is a lot of money for a lure so I try and make sure I don’t loose it. I also check the first 3-4ft of my line a lot. Especially if I’m catching a lot of fish on it. It can get scuffed up after a few fish and with flouro you don’t want any scuffs or nicks.
Well, October is finally here and I couldn’t be happier. October is by far my favorite month of the year with baseball play-offs in full swing, college and pro football is getting cranked up (even though my fantasy team is tanking), the nascar chase is on and most of all, the topwater is busting loose. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been stepping up my topwater game and the bass seem to be busting the surface more and more each day. The surface temps are getting down to the mid seventies and I’m seeing signs of the turnover in the back of the south end creeks right now. A few weeks ago there was a good early morning topwater bite but for the past few days it seems that the better bite has been in the afternoons. I suspect that the bluebacks are cruising near the surface when the sun gets higher in the sky, soaking up the warmth of the afternoon sun and the bass are feeding on them as they cruise the surface. We’ve watched plenty of fish and bluebacks tearing across the surface on points and over submerged brush in the creeks and out on the main lake. This is something we see every October and with all the bass chasing the bluebacks, the topwater bite is in full swing right now. Over the past few weeks I’ve been using my emerald popper with great success and once again October and the emerald popper is a big hit. I’ve also found a good bite on some walking baits such as the Yozuri 3DB, Sammy type baits, the bone Vixen, the Sexy Dawg and Sexy Dawg Jr. At times, when the fish get finicky and they aren’t cooperating with the topwater I’ve been throwing some blueback type jerkbaits and the spybait to get a few bites. When it really gets slow, we’ve been using the drop shot around brush to get bit but the majority of the fish we’re getting on the drop shot are on the small side right now.
One bait that I’ve been having a lot of fun with for the last week is the larger Chug Bug. Last week I took a friend out and he broke out the big Chug Bug on a windy point and caught a nice striper and then followed it up with a nice bass over 5lbs as well as a 3lber. Here’s a pic of my buddies Chug Bug bass:
That’s about all the convincing I needed and I remembered that I had seen the big Chug Bug hanging on the shelf at Walmart last week so I went back to Walmart and bought the last 2 they had on the shelf. I started using it right away and over the past 4 days of using it I have wore the bass out. I’ve literally wore the paint off the lure and probably caught a few dozen fish on it so far. The big Chug Bug works the best for me on windy points with a small to moderate chop on the water and I like to cast it down wind and bring it back up wind, making it splash and pop as much as I can. Here’s a video I made using the Chug Bug for a couple hours this afternoon. I was supposed to be going out this morning but when I launched my motor sucked up some mud and I spent most of the day cleaning mud from my impeller and cooling system on the motor before going out.
Right now is probably the best time to get out and try your luck with the topwater fishing with a lot of points holding fish that are feeding up for the cold winter. For the topwater baits, my little emerald popper is a big hit once again this fall and I’ve got plenty in stock if you would like to try one. Here’s a link to the emerald popper: http://www.castawaybaits.com/product/the-emerald-popper/
Here’s a few picture of some popper bass over the past week or two.
It’s been a long hot summer this year and I know I’m not the only one ready for fall. Once again we’ve endured the heat of summer to get to the cooler, dryer air of autumn. We are quickly approaching a time of year when the bait rises from the cooler depths of the thermocline and I’m already seeing numerous pods of small threadfin scattered throughout the creek on the surface. It won’t be long now till the 1st and second year bluebacks follow suit along with the threadfin and seek the warm sun near the surface. Inherently, groups of bluebacks in Lake Lanier rise to the surface in October basking in the remaining warm surface water as the lake begins it’s winter cool-down and bass as well as stripers start feeding up for the winter gorging themselves on the surface offerings. Our summer stripers have been hanging around the deep waters of the main lake chasing massive schools of bluebacks but in the fall the stripers start making their way back into the creeks where the new batch of first year threadfin are piled up and waiting. The threadfin are just an addition to the menu for our stripers and bass and they provide some excellent topwater opportunities for us anglers. When I think back to October over the past few years, one thing that always comes to mind is our fall topwater bite. More specifically, for the past few years the stripers and bass have fallen prey to my Emerald Popper in the fall and the way things are shaping up, this fall should be no different.
This fall I’m going to do something a little different and make an interesting offer to ya’ll. As some of you know I fished my first FLW Bulldog series tournament as a Pro earlier this year on Lake Lanier and I really enjoyed the tournament and the tournament atmosphere in the FLW. I’ve always been a competitor and the level of competition in the Bulldog trail was a challenge that I couldn’t resist. I managed to finish in the money in my first tournament as a Pro and I’ve set a goal for myself of fishing the full Bulldog series trail next year. With that being said, as you can guess it isn’t going to be a cheap endeavor. I need to offset some of the cost and I’m going to offer a few things to help with that. First off, as some of you know I have a military background and in the military one of the things we used to do was award challenge coins to our over achievers. It was always a big honor to be given a challenge coin and I’ve collected a few over the years. I’ve designed a Cast Away Baits challenge coin for my Emerald Popper topwater bait and it will come complete with a inset notched bottle opener with my old cast away fishermen under a palm on the front of the coin and the words “I popped the top with Cast Away Baits” inscribed on the back. I should be receiving 100 of the custom challenge coins in the near future and I’m going to offer these coins to anyone who wants to jump in my boat with me this fall and take a shot at catching a fish or two on the popper for a few hours of fishing plus you’ll get to keep your own popper. I’ll even throw in a Cast Away decal to sweeten the deal even more. That a total of learning to use the popper on a topwater fishing trip with me, a custom Cast Away “Popping the Top” challenge coin, one of my Emerald Poppers and a decal to commemorate the trip.
*If you’re not local and would like to drop in for a weekend, be sure and ask about availability of our 3 bedroom private fish camp on Lake Lanier. I can offer a weekend getaway package that includes a day of fishing with me and if you bring your own boat, we have a single slip covered dock to park your boat for the weekend.
I don’t consider myself a guide and we have some very knowledgeable, talented bass guides on Lanier so I’m not going to charge a guides fees for the trip but I do need to earn some money to offset the cost of the trail fees. I’d also like to invest in a wrap for my boat for the trail next year and represent some local businesses as well as some bigger tackle names in fishing. I will be spending the fall and early winter soliciting some sponsors in exchange for advertising on my wrap and on my videos so if you are interested in a trip out this fall or you have an interest in some sponsorship just drop me a line or give me a shout for more information. Keep an eye out here on my blog for a topwater start date and a picture of the Cast Away Challenge coin very soon.
Here’s a few videos from some awesome fall topwater fishing over the past two years to get you in the mood…
It’s been a rough 2 weeks with a bout of bronchitis and the lose of a dear family member and my shop mate for the last few years, our cat Blacky. It took him 16 years to used up those 9 lives but after a 2 year battle with diabetes, he passed yesterday. I decided I could be sick and depressed at home or out on the lake so I I’ve been hitting the lake. A few things are starting to change right now and all we need is a good cold front to come through and drop the temps and humidity. Right now the heat of summer is hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit and even though the days are getting shorter the surface temps are still in the upper 80’s with no relief in site. I’ve been spending most of the time messing with the bass but I’ve thrown in some striper fishing out over deep water. For the bass, not much has changed but I have started to mix in some cranking on the big natural chunk rock piles on points and I’ve found a few nice fish willing to hit a crankbait early in the morning. My philosophy is that the early morning rocks are providing the bait and fish a nice little cool haven to hang out in and some nice big bass are foraging the shallow rocks in search of crawfish, bream and shad. I would look for this bite to get stronger and stronger and it won’t be long till the fish start running the shad up into the shallows. When this happens there are 2 crankbaits I like to use, the first is the DT-10 in a shad pattern. It’s been a favorite of ours in the fall and the perfect bait for bass on the rocks when they are pushing shad into the shallows early in the morning. Here’s a picture of the crankbait, it’s definitely one you need for the collection in Sept. My second “go to” crankbait is my old favorite and one I make in the shop, the DT-10 knockoff Sand Key crank. Here’s a picture of that one.
Believe it or not, I’m still getting some bass on the topwater and just yesterday I nailed a good one on the surface throwing a popper. My buddy has be getting some good ones on the surface with a blueback pattern Whopper Plopper over brush but you have to make a lot of casts to call up the topwater fish right now. The surface bite is only going to get better and by late September we should see a lot more fish rising to feed on the shad pods and bluebacks swimming on or near the surface. The key to calling up topwater fish right now is a little bit of chop on the water. With a little chop to distort the surface in gin clear water you can fool the bass where as with no chop they can see the topwater bait better and usually just swirl on the bait without eating it. Most of the bass we’re catching on the surface are bigger fish in the 2-4lb range right now so it’s worth making a few casts on points and over brush.
If you’ve been out lately, you’ve probably seen more and more bass suspended above brush piles in 5-10 feet of water. These bass can be frustrating but a couple baits that have been working for us is a spy bait and a little 1.5 squarebill in a shad pattern. I’ve also had some success with a shallow suspending LC Pointer jerkbait in a blueback pattern and it makes a good follow up bait for surfacing fish that refuse to resurface for a topwater bait.
The drop shot bite is still going strong but frustration can set in with more window shoppers and chasers than eaters on the drop shot but we can still get good numbers with a bigger bass or two mixed in, mainly in the afternoons and evenings. The biggest mystery for the drop shot is the color selection. A month ago the fish were killing the Aarons Morning Dawn 4-5 inch worms and I wiped out Hammonds for every bag they had. Since then the bass have been eating the lighter colored baits and I’ve been catching a few on flukes as well as the worms.
For the stripers, I’ve been using a Ben Parker spoon and a 2-3 ounce bucktail with a 5-6 inch paddletail in a chartreuse over white pattern. For the spoon, it’s as simple as dropping it through the fish and bringing back up with a steady retrieve. With the bucktail/paddletail combo I’ve been having a blast enticing the fish to bite it by using a yoyo pattern while watching it on my graph. With this technique I’ve been dropping it down as deep as I can get it and getting the fish to chase it. The stripers are very curious of this bait and if I can get multiple fish to chase it, I just keep bring it up and down between 20 feet and 60-80 feet and just keep going up and down with it until a fish reacts. I’ve come to the conclusion that these stripers are very competitive and if I can get a few fish to chase it, one of the fish will inevitably get aggressive and take a whack at it. It’s a challenge but a lot fun to watch all this unfold in real time on the graph. Here’s a little video using the bait and a pic of a nice one I caught this week.
If trolling is your thing, there are plenty of stripers to be caught with leadcore right now and a variety of baits will work for that. I’ve got some older videos on my YouTube page that will explain and demonstrate how the leadcore works. Just go to YouTube and type in Jim Farmer or jfarm44 and look at some summers past for my trolling videos.
We’re right on the verge of weather changes and pattern changes and I’m more than ready for cooler weather. Stay cool out there