Stealth vs Noise

Just a couple of things to cover before we get started with the fishing:

I’ve been thinking about starting a podcast for a while and I think we may pull the trigger on it soon. My neighbor has a podcast for his business asked me if I had thought about it for my fishing and offered to help. I think it would be great to have it in the Cast Away man cave and cover more topics than just fishing. I’d like to talk about a variety of topics, including hunting, fishing, sports in general, outdoor type activities as well as military topics and guests to tell their story. I’d like to invite different guests every week, whether it’s bass and striper fishing guides to promote their business or just folks that I find interesting and want to chat with. I’m open to ideas and suggestions to get it off the ground and I’d like to hear what you think…..

Secondly, chigger has been taken off the “seriously ill” home hospice list. He tried to bite Lisa and myself a couple days ago which means he’s back to normal. He’s barking at squirrels and turkey buzzards again and he’s eating well, so I think he’ll be around a bit longer.

Now to the fishing:

Speaking of seriously ill, topwater is on life support right now. Don’t get me wrong, you can still catch them on top, especially early or if you can find them schooling but I can definitely tell it’s slowing down considerably, and my friend Mike told me that a lot of the fish he’s seeing on Panoptics are coming up to about 5 feet below the surface before going back down when they see a topwater bait. That tells me that there isn’t good oxygen at the surface which means that if the fish do come to the surface they won’t stay there long. My friend Mitch Harper told me that the 3 second rule was in effect. If you can’t make a cast to a surfacing fish within 3 seconds of him going back down, he ain’t coming back up. Today it was more like 1 second but who’s counting. That’s where the Stealth stuff comes in.

Just after I retired from the Navy, Lockheed Aeronautics contacted me and ask if I would be interest in working on their F-22 stealth program. That was back when stealth was becoming a thing and I knew very little about stealth because there were no Navy aircraft with stealth capability. I agreed to go to work for Lockheed and I learned a lot about stealth and the need for it. There is a lot to be said for the element of surprise and being stealthy provides just that. This week I left the topwater on the deck for the most part and chose to sneak up on the brush and start out with the spybait all stealthy like. I found that if I approached the brush throwing topwater, the fish more than likely were not going to come up but what throwing the topwater did do was scatter the fish. The more I threw the topwater, the more the fish would scatter. It was like when the Army Air Cav blasted music approaching an area for attack. Blasting music from the choppers confused and scared the hell out of the enemy before they scattered into the trees. That’s what topwater is doing right now, for the most part it’s scaring the hell out of the bass, and they are scattered for the trees. For that reason, I have chosen the stealth approach and kept it quiet with the spybait and then after moving around the brush casting the spybait, I’m moving in with the drop shot. If I used this method this week, I caught more fish than if I started with topwater.

My week started on Sunday afternoon out at Man Pond. We caught some very nice largemouth including my buddy Will with a nice 7.5 on an ole monster. Here’s a pic.

Man Pond never disappoints, and I had a few nice ones myself but nothing like the 7.5. On Monday the 4th of July, Lisa and I got out on an early morning spybait/drop shot trip before the crowds got out and we caught some nice ones. Lisa and I were using the very same spybait, ghost minnow, but she caught 5 spybait fish from the back of the boat with me zeroing from the front on the same exact Spybait. Go figure.

Here’s a few pictures of our biggest from our trip on Monday including Lisa’s 4lber.

I really didn’t do much fishing until yesterday when I took my neighbor and his friend out. We just threw around the spybait and we caught 8 pretty nice fish for the morning, all on spybait. The bite died about 10;30-11:00 and we called it quits shortly thereafter. We had some great fellowship and talked about our faith in the Lord. David and Keith are great mentors when it comes to faith. Here’s a picture of one of my guests, Keith, a retired dentist and avid surfer as well as a few other sports. He’s still going strong, and I want to be as active as Keith when I hit 72.

Today I got out early in the morning, just after sunrise by myself for a little spybait and drop shot action. I caught fish on both and made a little video with a few fish and a quick report to end my week. Water temps are hoovering in the upper 80″ and the corps is generating during peak power usage and into the night right now. The lake level is a foot below full pool. Have a safe weekend. Here’s the video from today.

It’s All Chrome This Week

This week my report is just a little different and I want to share a few personal things before I get to the fishing. First Lisa’s son Mark and his soon-to-be bride Amanda are tying the knot tomorrow and we’re all pretty stoked around Cast Away Cove. We’re all very happy for them and starting a new life together. Secondly, a little update on our little dog Chigger. He fell pretty ill a few days ago and we were all but certain we were going to have to put him down today, but that little joker bounced back this morning and started eating and drinking again. He had been checked out for the last 3 days and just paced day and night. He hadn’t recognized me for the last 2 days, but he knew who I was this morning. I really believe that some new foreign chicken snacks we gave him made him very sick. We’re not out of the woods yet but hopefully he’s on the mend. Lastly, every once in a while, I run into someone who thanks me for writing reports, answering questions and making videos to help others on our lake and I really appreciate the kind words. A neighbor thanked me just a little while ago out on the lake and I told him the good Lord asks us to live our lives in service to others. I believe you can find it in the pages of Matthew and Peter and among other places throughout the Bible, but we all need to be in service to others in some way whether it’s at your everyday job, first responder, serving in the military or writing fishing reports. I really enjoy what I do, and no thanks are necessary. Now on to the fishing.

This week actually started last weekend, right after my last report when I had a chance to get out for a while to try a few new baits. LJ, from Lanier Baits hooked me up with a few of his new hard swimmer prototypes so I put the chrome swimmer to work. I had it tied on when I was out throwing a spybait on the main lake when a few fish started schooling beside the boat. I had the video camera rolling so here’s my first cast with the hard swimmer and another fish a little later in the morning.

Here’s a couple more fish from my trip with the hard swimmer.

Another bait I was throwing off and on that morning was the spybait. Once again, I had the camera rolling when I boated a nice 4.3 on the spybait and I also added some instructional stuff to the video as well as a cast to catch video of the 4.3 at the end of the video. Here’s the video and a picture of the 4.3.

No fishing on Monday so I was back at it Tuesday morning and I was actually greeted with some wind in the morning. I’ve been saving this one bait for a nice windy day and that bait provided me with a lot of fun last year, so much fun I wore the chrome off the old one last year. That bait was the 120 chrome Choppo. I tied that sucker on Tuesday morning and slap wore them out in the wind all morning. It was a steady retrieve with no ripping necessary and I had at least one fish boated at every stop. I tried the same thing with my ghost choppo pattern, and I also tried a solid shad pattern choppo 120 but the only one the fish would react to was the chrome choppo. It was just like last year when I wore all the chrome off my last one. Unfortunately, this one broke off on a fish right before I was coming in Tuesday afternoon, but I’d venture to guess the chrome choppo 120 accounted for 20+fish. Here’s a few from the morning.

Wednesday, I had a doctor’s appointment, so I didn’t get out till lunchtime, and it was brutal hot with little to no wind. I didn’t stay long and only took a couple of pictures, but I was starting to put something together. Here’s a couple from Wednesday. I also did pretty well with the smaller fish in the afternoon on the spybait. The spybait always does better in the afternoon.

By yesterday morning I started figuring out that these fish wanted chrome. I had a few z-dogs in a chrome pattern, so I tied one on just to see if I was right and sure enough, they went after the z-dog in chrome while denying other topwater baits. I tied the Casper shad pattern on, and they were not interested in that or a solid bone color, but it was obvious that they wanted the chrome. I had caught them on the chrome hard swimmer and the chrome choppo earlier in the week, so it only made sense that they were attracted to the chrome and the success with the chrome z-dog just proved it. Here’s a few pics of some of the fish and the chrome z-dog I was using this week.

I may have another video to put out this week with more of the hard swimmer catches. It’s been a good option for me off and on over the past week. Here’s a pic of the hard swimmer.

In terms of bigger fish, I would have to say that the best bait this week was the chrome 120 Choppo when there was wind and bigger chop, the little g-fix spybait for the flat/calm water, especially in the afternoon. If there was a small to medium chop, I used the little chrome z-dog. They would also come up a whack that little z-dog even when the wind would die down at times. Lastly, I was dropping a little bit with Blue Lily this week. No big girls on the drop shot this week but it’s coming soon. Water temps are hovering around the mid-eighties and the lake level is approaching a foot below full pool. The Corps is generating during peak usage hours in the afternoon and evening, and I think the drop shot bite is picking up during generation periods. If you’re on the lake this week, be safe and good luck~!

The First Week of Summer

It’s official, it’s summer on Lanier and time to settle into the summertime fishing patterns on Lanier. This week I had four rods on the deck and every one of them produced good fish and good numbers, it was just a matter of figuring out which one worked the best for the conditions where I was fishing.

First and foremost, I have to brag on my electronics this week. There are certain times of the year I can get by without electronics but for the next few months my Humminbird units are essential for the way I’m fishing. For the next few months brush and structure in the 20–35-foot range is what I will be targeting and boat position in relation to the brush or structure is crucial for my success. My Humminbird mapping is what I’m relying on to get the boat in position in relation to the brush. A lot of times, if there’s wind, I want to position the boat up wind of the brush and make my casts down wind, using the wind to help carry the little spybait or topwater bait on a long cast. Being up wind and pulling a topwater bait against the grain also provides more surface disruption. I really need good mapping to target summertime fish in or around the brush and my Hummingbird’s get the job done every day.

This week started out on Monday with Lisa joining me in the morning. We were going to do a little topwater and drop shotting on our trip and Lisa loves to drop shot. I kinda figured we could find a few with the drop shot and maybe a few topwater fish if the wind picked up. That was the problem early this week, the wind has been sporadic and the topwater was only good when the wind picked up for me. We struggled to find a topwater bite and the spybait was still coming around, so we focused on the drop shot fish. Lisa started us off as usual and started boating fish right away on the drop shot on our first brush pile, so we spend the next few hours dropping. I think we boated 12-14 fish and just about all were from the drop shot around brush. LJ had re-stocked me with some fresh Blue Lily drop shot baits and we used Lanier Baits Blue Lily fruity worms and Roboworms Aaron’s Morning Dawn for just about all of our fish. Here’s a few pictures from the trip.

On Wednesday I got out for the morning with my neighbor David, and we focused on the topwater and ended up with 12 fish for the morning. We had a decent Choppo bite, and we had a little wind to work with, so David used a pearl white 105 Choppo and I had a 105 in a ghost pattern. I think we were about even in the number of fish we caught and that pearl Choppo was the ticket early in the morning while it was still a little low light. After the sun came up, mid-morning the ghost pattern started producing better. The pattern for the bait was back to slow rolling it. Ripping the Choppo wasn’t necessary to get bit, it was just a cast, a few quick pulls to draw attention and then slow rolling it back to the boat. The technique would usually gather a school of bass and it would get hammered by the school. We had some good explosions but the topwater really slowed down about late morning. I dropped David off at his dock around lunchtime and I went back out to see if there was a better afternoon spybait bite and drop shot bite. Here’s a few pictures from our morning and some of David’s pearl Choppo fish.

On the way back out I was digging through my little passenger glove box and found a brand-new little chrome and blue chug bug that I had been looking for over the past year or so and I tied it on just in case I saw some fish surfacing. I was really surprised to catch a nice fish on my first 2 casts using the little spybait at my first stop after dropping David off. It was getting hot, but it seemed like the fish were responding a lot better to the spybait in the afternoon which is usually the case in early summer. I spent the next few hours catching fish with the spybait and occasionally I threw the little chug bug if I saw fish surfacing nearby. The little chrome chug bug was money if I could quickly get it into where fish were schooling, and I caught some decent fish on it, but I also caught a lot of dinks on it. I also caught a few on the drop shot when I moved in on the brush. Here’s a couple of nice spybait fish from Wednesday afternoon in the heat.

Wednesday evening Lisa and I had dinner at the BBQ place (Smokey Q) at Bald Ridge marina again. Great food and if you’re on the water, it’s a good place to stop in and cool off and grab some great food. Lisa and I both had a brisket dog, mac and cheese and some Cajun tater tots. It was delicious.

Yesterday I got back out early in the morning, and I had 4 rods on the deck. First was the 105 Choppo, second was the little chrome chug bug, third was the little Duo Realis G-fix 80 spybait and last was Lanier Baits Blue Lily 5-inch worm rigged up on the drop shot. I caught fish on all four and it was just a matter of how I wanted to approach my target area.

Approach can be a problem in the summer months and sometimes it’s a good idea to leave the topwater on the deck and make a more subtle approach to your target area. This week I found that a lot of times if I threw the topwater when I approached a brush pile the fish would school and follow the bait back to the boat only to turn away and head to the bottom without reacting to the bait when they saw the boat. I could see them on my electronics and the school would head to the bottom and disappear. After doing that a few times the schools would scatter, and the brush pile would be just about depleted of fish by the time I decided to move in on the brush to drop shot or throw the spybait. Sometimes the topwater approach would work but most of the time the topwater would amount to a big blow-up without producing a fish so I left the topwater stuff on the deck unless there was a good chop over the brush pile. If there was a good chop, I would usually give the top water baits a quick try because the hook-up percentages went up when there was wind, so it was worth a shot. I could still call a few fish up to the topwater offerings yesterday but today when I got out there was hardly any topwater fish to be called up.

Today I was on a mission to get a buddy some bass for a family get together. I pretty much bypassed the topwater and went straight to the spybait and drop shot method I’ve been using. We had a nice wind today and lots of chop. I utilized the Minn Kota spot lock upwind of the brush piles and I made my casts down wind. It didn’t take me long till I had some very nice fish for my buddy and his visitors to have a nice fish fry this weekend with the spybait and drop shot combo.

Here’s a video I made this week to explain the spybait and drop shot approach I used. I also added a video that explains a little more about the drop shot technique and my gear. At the end of the video I included a nice 4+ on the spybait.

I also had a little fun this week with Lanier Baits chrome swimmer out on the main lake. Here’s a video of the swimmer in action as well as a couple pictures.

Water temps are in the mid 80’s right now and the lake is about a few inches below full pool. The corps is generating during peak power hours in the afternoon and evening. Hopefully next week will be cooler.

Rip’n Stop, Spybait and Drop

There are times I feel guilty playing dirty tricks on these fish but it’s all in good fun and a lot of times the fish swims away with nothing but a sore lip and a bruised ego. This week the fish were waiting on me to give them the ole “plop-plop-plop” over the top of the brush pile with the 120 Choppo again, but I blew their little fish minds and mixed it up this week. I noticed that when I threw the Choppo over the brush piles early this week the fish were slow to react to the constant plopping or chopping sound of the Choppo and there was little to no schooling like the weeks before. They were tired of the Choppo and they had gotten used to the chopping sound of the Choppo. With the exception of a few overnight newbies to the brush pile it was the same old schools of bass at the brush pile, and they knew the chopping sound meant trouble. I could see the fish swimming around the brush but the Choppo had little effect on the fish. They had fallen for the Choppo’s constant steady plopping sound for the last 2 weeks and they were done with it. They had figured it out so I gave them the old razzle-dazzle “rip’n stop” with the Choppo.

I haven’t used the rip’n stop technique with the Choppo lately, but I used to use it this time of year with the Choppo and the 130 Whopper Plopper when it became a little harder to call the fish to the surface as the water heats up. Years back my buddy Jake Wohlers painted a 130 Whopper Plopper knock-off and he called it the “J-rip”. At the time I had never had the pleasure of ripping a Whopper Plopper and I wondered why he would use the name “rip”. I asked him and he told me that they had been catching them by ripping the 130 rather than the steady retrieve I had been using exclusively. I tried ripping and killing the big J-rip on my next trip out and to my surprise it was a great success and another great option for the whopper plopper type baits. This week I brought the old ripping technique back into play and that’s how I caught about 80% of my fish. I found out earlier this week that the fish were used to the constant chopping technique I had been using but they didn’t expect the ripping technique and just about everywhere I went there was schooling, followed by either a blow-up, multiple blow-ups, and about 50% of the blow-ups resulted in a hook-up. I reduced the size of the Coppo 120 to a slightly smaller 105 which netted me a lot more smaller fish this week.

With every school that came to the boat with a caught fish, I could see bigger fish beneath the caught fish swimming around whereas last week I was catching nothing but the bigger fish on the 120 with a steady retrieve but for whatever reason this week, they weren’t as interested in the big 120. I could actually cast the smaller 105 a little further and one of the key features of ripping the Choppo is the amount of water it splashes out in front of the bait and the amount of water it displaces around the bait when you rip it and kill it. The amount of displaced water around the bait is important, especially when the surface is flat because the displaced water confuses the fish much like a choppy surface with a little wind. When the fish sees all that displaced water around the bait, the fish thinks it’s a distressed bait and takes a whack at it. Unfortunately, they are somewhat cautious of the bait and the hook-up rate was slightly lower. Lots of blow-ups but not a lot of hook-ups, and a lot of times the bigger fish would let the smaller fish react to the bait as they would be swimming a few feet beneath the schoolers.

We had pretty extreme temps this week but if you could stand the heat, the fish didn’t care, and they were usually putting on the feed bag early in the morning and then again in the hottest part of the day. Mornings were pretty awesome with that big ole moon in sight and a lot of surfacing fish. If I was in the right place at the right time, I could put the 105 Choppo in a “Perfect Ghost” pattern right in the area and they would react to it. The fish were very active in the morning, but the grind was the hottest part of the day. Rewards were bigger in the afternoons, but you also had to contend with no wind and lots of summertime recreational boat traffic if you were in the creek. The afternoons didn’t really bother me so much as I spend about 4-5 days a week in my sauna for 30 minutes and the temps in the sauna are 130-170 degrees for the 30 minutes I spend in it. My body starts pouring sweat quickly and it’s just a matter of staying hydrated with lots of water and covering my skin from the sun.

The trend this week was numbers in the morning and big girls in the afternoon for me. I could catch a few big ones early here and there, but in the heat of the day the big ones took over the show and got way more aggressive. Here’s a couple of those fish I caught on a mid-day Monday trip out to the main lake.

There were two other baits that I used successfully this week and one was the G-fix 80 Duo Realis Spybait in an American Shad pattern. I tried my old faithful spybait color pattern, but the fish only had an interest in one pattern, and it was American Shad for me. Once I caught a fish or had the fish school on the Choppo I could pull back away from the area and then cast the little spybait around the area and pick off another fish or two. It was just a matter of casting the spybait as far as I could and giving it a 10-15 count before a slow retrieve back to the boat. Here’s a video I made a while back that explains a little more about the spybait and how I use it. It’s a tactic that is coming into play now as the water continues to heat and the thermocline becomes more defined.

The last technique that I used to put fish in the boat this week was the drop shot. The population of fish on brush has exploded over the last week and competition for a Lanier Baits Blue Lily worm is getting stiff in the brush. If I was directly over a school of fish this week or I saw fish in the brush, I had my drop shot rod at the ready and I had it baited up with the 5-inch blue lily pattern. Here’s a link to the Lanier Baits Blue Lily and I recommend getting some for the summer month ahead:

https://lanierbaits.com/shop/ols/products/fruity-worms/v/FRT-WRM-BL-LLY

Yesterday I made my final trip of the week and I caught fish on all 3 baits listed above but ripping the 105 Choppo over brush this week was the big-ticket ride for me. The blow-ups would come from nowhere at times and sometimes I could watch the fish school around the bait before inevitably one would take a crack at it. Other times a big one would come from nowhere and just blast it into the air and attack it when it came back down. It was a fun week for topwater and I got to hone my spybait/drop shot skills for the upcoming few months. Water temps are pushing the upper 80’s now and the lake has dropped a few inches below full pool. The corps is only generating for a few hours a day and during the week it’s generally during peak usage hours. I got a new I-phone this week and didn’t figure out how to take pictures till yesterday.

If we thought this week was hot, wait till next week, it looks like a scorcher. Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s trip.

Choppin chop with the Choppo

This week wasn’t much different than last week in terms of what I was using and what I was doing. One big bonus this week was the wind. I was able to do very well this week when working with the wind in the right areas and utilizing the choppy water to my advantage. It has become very apparent to me that my bite all hinges on the wind, and it becomes very hard to connect with larger fish when the wind isn’t blowing.

I only had 2 baits on the deck this week and the size of the chop determined which one I used. If there was medium to heavier chop, I used the Berkley Choppo 120 in a “Perfect Ghost” color pattern. If there was light to medium chop I used my little Azuma Z-dog in a “Casper Shad” pattern, which closely resembles the Perfect Ghost pattern on the Choppo.

I can say this about both baits that I used this week; 90% of the fish I caught were larger fish. I didn’t have hardly any smaller fish this week and when I did connect with a big one, the blow-up was phenomenal, especially on the Choppo in the wind.

I found that the Berkley Choppo is more of an annoyance bait to the bass and their cat-like mentality. I think the bass just get riled up when they hear that chopping sound around their home at the local brush pile, and pretty soon one of the bigger ones in the area decides to give it a whack. I’m using a larger Choppo (120), so the profile looks pretty big going through the water. That may be why I don’t get many smaller fish. As far as the cadence for the bait, it’s pretty simple, just a slow and steady retrieve. No burning it or jerking and pausing it, just a slow steady retrieve is enough to drive them crazy. I had a lot of near misses and it’s a test of nerves to keep from jerking the bait away from the fish, but the key is to keep your composure and just keep right on cranking until you feel the fish load up. There’s a chance the fish will continue to pursue the bait after an initial and intentional miss because of the translucent bait.

With the wind being a factor out on the main lake, I really utilized the Spot Lock function on the Minn Kota a lot this week. I just positioned the boat upwind of brush on a point or hump and fan casted the Choppo against the grain for the best surface disruption with the bait. Some of the blow-ups on the windy humps and points out on the main lake this week were the best I’ve seen this year. That Choppo really makes the fish aggressive and although I haven’t used it this year, the 130 Whopper Plopper would probably get you the same results. I’ve used the big 130 out in the wind over the years and I’ve had great success with it, so that may be an option to try besides the Choppo. I’m using 8lb fluorocarbon on a spinning reel for the Choppo. The further you can cast this bait the better. The more time this bait is running through the water the better chances of it gathering a school of fired up spots.

The second bait I used with success this week was the Azuma Z-dog in a Casper Shad pattern. It was a little tricky to get it to work but I could get the fish to school on the bait and it was also a good option if fish were schooling on the surface and you’re close enough to make a cast to the action. If you got the Z-dog in the area of schooling quick enough, they would just hammer the Z-dog. I found that I could call the fish up and get them to school on the bait if I could make it splash and skip enough to get the fishes attention but not let the bait sit long enough for the fish to see it well. You have to keep the bait moving 90% of the time. It was imperative to keep the fish moving and guessing rather than a traditional walking of the bait. If I walked the bait normally, the fish would follow or swirl on the bait, but they would not react to it. Another big reason both the Choppo and the Z-dog worked well is the fact that they are translucent baits. I’ve found that the fish will keep coming after the translucent baits if they miss the first strike. A lot of times the fish will strike at the bait with its tail and knock the bait in the air if they are unsure of the bait. When they do this, they want to see what the bait does when it comes back down. A live blueback will be disoriented when it hits the water after being knocked in the air. It becomes easy prey for the bass. I found that a lot of times a bass will turn down a solid-colored bait after knocking it in the air or swirling on it, but they tend to keep reacting to a translucent bait more often than not. It just seems to me that the fish is just a little unsure about the clearer baits and they just keep coming after it 9 times out of 10. The Z-dog is just a great bait to mimic a blueback and if you can make the fish think that it’s a blueback skipping across the surface and having some kind of blueback seizure the fish definitely react to it.

Once again, the way I used this bait was in the smaller chop areas of the main lake and the creek, both points and humps. If I felt like the chop wasn’t large enough to fool the fish with the bigger Choppo, I broke out the Z-dog. I used either one or the other depending on the size of the chop. I really utilized the Spot lock this week in the wind and I didn’t move around quite as frequently, mainly because it wasn’t blazing hot and I had good wind to work with.

Two other baits that I caught a few fish on this week was the Emerald Popper and the little Duo Realis G-fix 80 Spybait. I’ll probably talk about the spybait a little more next week because I’m pretty sure that bite is going to kick in very soon.

Water temps are in the low 80’s and the lake is hovering around full pool. The Corps is generating during the high power usage times, usually late afternoon and into the evening. Lots of summer boat traffic out there so be safe. Here’s a few pictures from my more memorable fish this week.

The Law of Averages

Shortly after I checked into boot camp almost 40 years ago…to the day, our Company Commander (the equivalent to a Drill Seargent) sat us down for a little chat one evening. There was about 75 of us sitting cross-legged on the floor of a gathering room in the barracks and the Company Commander told us about the “Law of Averages”. Something I haven’t forgotten, and I apply it to everyday life still to this day. Our Company Commander explained to us that out of the 75 of us sitting on the floor, in the next 8 weeks someone’s immediate family member would die, and they would have to leave bootcamp to mourn with their family and attend a funeral. For that reason, one of us would be set back and graduate at a later date because of the time missed to go back home. He said that it was the law of averages and it always happened. Guess what, he was right, about halfway through bootcamp, sure enough, one of our shipmates mother had passed and he had to leave for 10 days. We never saw him again and I learned a lesson in the “Law of Averages”. It never fails.

This week was fast and furious for me. It’s been hot and I’ve shifted gears into my early summer topwater milk run, averaging over 30 stops in a day right now. The law of averages says that out of 6 hours of fishing and 30+ stops, I’m going to put fish in the boat. It never fails. I’m probably spending 10 minutes or less at each stop, trying to stay cool and hydrated in the warmer part of the day. Moving around frequently helps stay cool and as far as the fishing goes, I usually know within a couple minutes if the stop is going to produce. It’s just a matter of throwing my little walking bait out just as far as I can and walking it back over brush to lure a fish or a school to my bait. It’s been tricky but I figured out a way to up my success and its pretty much textbook what I wrote last fall in one of my topwater reports. I included a link to the report because it explains exactly what I’m doing now with the little Azuma Z-dog to catch my fish. here’s the link below. It fits this week to a T.

https://castawayblog.com/2021/10/15/shake-and-bake-in-the-chop/

I started this week with my last Azuma Z-dog walking bait on Tuesday after the holiday festivities during Memorial Day weekend. I didn’t get out on the lake over the weekend, and I was anxious to get back out for some topwater this week. I’ve been diligent about checking my line and taking good care of my last little z-dog but Tuesday morning it happened, and I lost my last Z-dog in the Casper shad pattern. I dug around in the tacklebox and found a similar bait in the little 4-inch Sexy Dawg. The sexy dawg was translucent and that was one of the key factors in success this week. The fish were just a little too smart for the solid colors so you I had to trick them with translucents. It’s pretty common with Lanier when the water gets gin clear, I have the best success with the clearer topwater baits. It’s mainly because the fish can’t quite figure it out and he keeps after in instead of moving on and not committing to it. Another aspect of my success this week was the cadence of the bait and making the fish think it’s the real deal without letting the fish analyze the bait too much. I explained the cadence in the link above and once again, it’s helped me put fish in the boat. The sexy dawg was the perfect replacement, and I really didn’t skip a beat until I lost my only sexy dawg yesterday afternoon when I was out with my buddy Steve. Before I lost it though, it accounted for my 2 biggest fish of the day and also most of the fish yesterday. I gotta say that the clear sexy shad pattern for the sexy dawg did the trick. Here’s a few fish it accounted for this week.

After I dropped Steve off yesterday afternoon the boat traffic was getting pretty bad, but I wanted to try one more bait that I’ve had good success with this time of year and that’s the Berkley Choppo. I had it sitting out on the deck of my boat and I had planned to make some casts with it during the day. The wind was hit and miss yesterday but I stopped at a point on the way back home yesterday and on the first cast with the Choppo, I was rewarded with a nice 3lber. On the very next cast it was the same result with a smaller fish, but those 2 fish told me it was a pattern, so I ran with it for another hour yesterday afternoon and probably caught another 6-7 fish just running points with or without wind. The Choppo did the trick yesterday afternoon. One other little pattern I had some success with this week was the drop shot. What little bit I did the drop shot, it produced a few fish. The drop shot is going to get much better over the next few weeks. I still haven’t found a good spybait bite yest but that’s a thermocline deal and the thermocline is still setting up. The lake is at full pool and the Corps is generating during peak usage from afternoon into evening. The bite seems to be hot first thing in the morning and then again in the hottest part of the day. Water temps are in the low 80’s.

Was it just a Fluke?

Almost…. This week I put the worm away in favor of another favorite springtime bait of mine and I went to work with the weightless fluke. When I checked my history for this time of the spring there is one bait that always stands out for me and that’s the nose-hooked weightless fluke. This week wasn’t the best for the fluke, but it kept me occupied and every once in a while, I’d get a good one which made the slow sink rate of the fluke worth it. Mid to late this week I started seeing more and more bluebacks on the surface very early in the morning and I also found some schooling fish here and there in the creek around dawn. I used the weightless nose-hooked fluke early in the morning for the schooling fish and caught a few nice ones.

I focused on points and brush this week and much of the stuff I caught fish on this week is on my summer milk run which tells me that there are some post-spawn fish already setting up around their summer homes. Working the fluke over brush accounted for my biggest fish this week and they were mainly caught in the middle of the afternoon. The topwater walking bait on windy points accounted for a few nice fish also this week and I’m sure it’s only going to get better and better over the next few weeks.

Water temps are right around 70 degrees, and the lake is at full pool right now. The corps is generating water for a few hours in the afternoon and evenings. I made a video and talked about the baits I used this week and how I used them. I also included some random pictures from my week.

Prepping for the Post Spawn

This week was somewhat abbreviated for a few reasons, the first being that it’s time for some boat maintenance in preparation for the long spring and summer run. The second reason is to give these fish a chance to finish their business with the spawn. Swimbaits on the Damiki heads and shaky heads in the afternoons/evening were the biggest producers this week. Water temps are just below or right at 60 degrees right now and the lake is just above full pool. The corps is moving water off and on every day now and they’ll be moving water tomorrow afternoon. Below are a few videos I made this week including a rundown of baits I’ll be using over the next few months for the post spawn. I also included some pictures of memorable fish this week.

Stalking the Huckleberries

There’s usually one in the bunch, the one that raises their hand and says, “I’m your Huckleberry”. The fish have their own version of a Huckleberry and that’s the fish I was looking for this week.

Not much has changed for me since last week. I did manage to get out to my buddy’s place on Sunday afternoon for a springtime crappie trip which never disappoints. We’re just kicking back and trolling around the pond in the Pond Prowler while catching the occasional crappie on lite crappie tackle to add to the cooler. Fileted out boneless, these little guys are the perfect size for fish tacos, and they are very tasty. We usually take out several every spring which helps with the pond size management. Here’s a couple pictures from the trip on Sunday afternoon.

This week I fished for a few hours almost every day and I pretty much did 2 things all week. I ran points and humps casting the Damiki swimbait, and I also threw the shaky head when I got bored with the Damiki. On the Damiki rig I rotated between the 2.8 size and the 3.3 size Keitech. The 2.8 averaged more bites and actually caught my biggest fish this week while it seemed like the fish just didn’t like the 3.3 as much this week. I can’t say that the Damiki bite is on fire and that’s where the “Huckleberry part comes in. Sometimes this week I would pull up to a point that held fish and I would start casting the Damiki all around the point. I would mark fish under the boat and some fish were suspended at 10-15 feet over a 25–30-foot bottom. I would just make a long cast with a 5-10 second count down before starting my slow retrieve and every once in a while, one fish would just randomly come out of the bunch and smack the little Damiki. It’s like the fish just raised his hand and said, “I’m your Huckleberry”. Usually, the first Huckleberry would be the biggest and if I caught another in the area it would be smaller more times than not. It seemed like this week the biggest fish ate first. For that reason, I didn’t stick around one place to long and I kept moving if I was throwing the Damiki.

The wind was definitely a factor late this week and some of my Damiki stuff was blown out from the wind, so I chose to drag the shaky head around the secondary points and docks for a few nice fish. I’m still using a 5-inch Senko style worm in green pumpkin with a 1/4-ounce head and fishing the worm very slow on the bottom is the key. Whether it’s rocks or docks my focus has been from 5 feet all the way out to 20 feet in depth. It seems like the fish on the docks are getting shallower by the day now and the docks that had rocks some kind of structure like a spud pole produced the best. This week the worm was more of a sure thing, but I couldn’t help but throw the Damiki about 50% of the time this week. I had good numbers this week and I released a bunch of 1-2lb fish on both baits all week.

The water temps are still in the upper 50’s and the lake level is almost a foot above full pool. The corps is pulling water a few hours each day and will be pulling water tomorrow afternoon and evening.

Here’s a few memorable fish from my week.

Finding The New Cheese

Years ago, there was a book published that became very popular in the business world. It was on a lot of desks for a few years, and it was a best seller in the book world for a while. The book was actually a parable about 4 different characters and how they delt with change differently. The name of the book is “Who moved my cheese” and it can be very enlightening and helpful if you’ve never read it. In a sense, I replaced the word “cheese” with the word “fish”, and I try and apply it to my fishing from time to time. This week was one of those weeks.

I put a link to a short, animated video version of the book below before I get into my report so you can kind of understand the storyline about dealing with change.

On Monday I hit the water early hoping for some good topwater but still not much happening on the surface yet. That all hinges on the bait and the water temps are still a bit low for the bait to come closer to the surface in big numbers. I was hoping the little Damiki bite was going to be better for me this week and on Monday I could tell that it wasn’t what I expected. The water temps haven’t really made a significant move upward yet and this week the fish fed a lot at night due to the near full moon. That slowed the daytime fishing down a little for me and I found the bites to be few and far between on Monday. I stuck with the swimbait like a trooper and refused to go to the shaky head again, so it turned out to be a slow day of searching and moving around. I probably put in 5 hours and had some smaller fish as well as these 3 decent fish all on the little Damiki swimbait. Here’s my 3 best from Monday.

On Tuesday I hit the water again about mid-morning and I decided to look for the new cheese out on the main lake. Generally speaking, it’s around this time of year that I start checking the offshore humps and points out on the main lake to see if I can locate some big girls that are less pressured than the popular creek fish that are staging for the spawn. Years ago, Jimbo and I were fishing in very early spring and the topic came up about where bass spawn on Lanier. For years I was under impression that a lot of the main lake fish made their way into the creeks when it came to spawning season, much like a striper does instinctively, but Jimbo had a different theory and I kinda liked his theory better than mine over time. Jimbo believed that the main lake bass find areas to spawn in place without ever leaving the main lake humps near the river channel. It took a while for that to soak in, but I eventually decided to spend more time on the main lake in the early spring and much to my surprise, the fish are there, you just might need to make some adjustments to catch them. On Tuesday morning I decided to make one stop before leaving the creek for the main lake humps. The one stop was close to the mouth of the creek, and it had been producing a fish every time I hit it with the swimbait, so I decided to make a couple casts. There were some loons and gull working in the area and I was hoping they had stirred up a bass or two. I wasn’t wrong and shortly after stopping I caught a nice one to start a chilly morning.

After that fish I hit 3 main lake areas and bombed in all 3 so I made my way into Young Deer to check some points I hadn’t checked in a while with the little Damiki swimbait. On my second stop in the creek I was able to bag another nice fish throwing the little Damiki and this fish pretty much made my day. This one was well over 4 and probably my biggest this week.

I got both fish on video and here’s a link below.

I may have caught a few smaller fish here and there, but I could tell that the little swimbait bait was dying off and the cheese had moved. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that I needed to go back to finesse fishing but I just kept right on throwing that little Damiki.

I didn’t fish on Wednesday and on Thursday there were no big fish to be had with the Damiki. The cheese had officially moved, and I just kept going back to the old cheese location, just like one of the characters in the parable.

By Yesterday I was ready to embrace the change and I decided to go back to finesse and throw the dang shaky head! There were docks that I hadn’t visited all week and there had to be fish on the docks by now so I set out to run some docks. It didn’t take long before I started catching fish around the docks with the shaky head but size was on the small side. I started thinking I might be in for a dink fest and there was some heavy rain headed our way. I really wanted to end the week on a good note and sure enough, right before the rain started I caught a good one on a rocky dock to end my week.

I had found the new cheese but who knows where the cheese will be next week??

The lake level is a little less than a foot above full pool and holding steady. Water temps are in the mid-fifties and the corps will be pulling water this afternoon and into the night so with the big moon tonight there should be some good night fishing on Lanier right now!