The Topwater Bite is Starting!

I hadn’t been out in the morning all week so I decided to get out yesterday morning and take a peek at the topwater situation. It still isn’t quite ripe yet but there are some bass hitting the surface in pretty good numbers. If it’s like last year, a lot of small fish will be hitting early in the topwater season and as we get into the cooler days of fall the big guys will start surfacing more and more. Right now, for me the topwater bite is kinda subtle. They aren’t hammering it on the surface so I’ve been just popping the popper a few times and then creating a wake and then a few more pops and more wake.
I caught as many waking the bait as popping it this morning and I probably caught somewhere between 10-15 fish with maybe 5-6 keepers and 2 small stripers as well. I only had a few minutes of battery power this morning but I made a little video of how I’m working the bait and a couple of fish as well as some keeper pics.

IMAG0210

IMAG0208

IMAG0207

IMAG0205

Fixin the Bone Vixen

IMAG0658
Just last week I made my first purchase with Tackle Warehouse. I wanted to pick up a few things I needed, and as always, a few cool looking new things I wanted. I’ve been reading a lot about these topwater lures called “Vixen” on the Bass Barter and Buy website I frequent and some of the old Vixens on the site sell for upwards of $200.00. The fishermen on the website rave about these Vixen lures and I remember reading about the lures last summer in a Georgia Outdoor News magazine. In the magazine they had a cover page picture of this guy holding up a solid 5 pound spotted bass and this bone colored “Vixen” topwater lure was dangling from the fishes jaw. I could see the word Vixen plain as day on the back of the lure. That was a pretty cool picture and just about all the convincing I needed to buy a few of those Vixens.
With summer just around the corner and a shallow water striper bite in full swing I decided to take the plunge and buy the Vixen. The only color I was interested in was the bone colored pattern. The bone color is the universal color for stripers and bass. I’ve been throwing lures for a lot of years and when I think back to some of my most memorable topwater striper catches, a bone colored topwater lure made the top 10 on a few different occasions. Probably the most memorable was a few years back in the July heat of the summer, my friend Capt. Doug Nelms and I ran across a big school of stripers pushing bluebacks to the surface over deep water. We were pulling a spread of leadcore rigs and decided to take a crack at the big school of stripers with some light tackle topwater action. I circled the boat towards the surfacing school and we took a shot at the school while pulling leadcore. We couldn’t stop the boat with the leadcore lines running 250 feet behind the boat so we had to take a shot at the surfacing stripers on the fly. I had a bone colored Spook Jr. tied to a medium light spinning rig at the ready. You know, sometimes timing is everything with a topwater striper. If you put the right bait in the right area at the right time you’ll usually get the right reaction and the right result. I did all that stuff right and here was the end result:

That was my first topwater striper while trolling leadcore and casting to a single striper on the fly. My buddy Capt. Doug did an excellent job of driving the boat and circling the fish while I battled the striper on light tackle. You can see that bone colored Spook Jr I was using in the video.

Well, back to the bone Vixen. I received my package on time and timing couldn’t have been better. We have some crappie fishing friends who have a lake house out towards the mouth of our creek and this is the time of year the crappie like to hang out around docks and brush piles. Our friends enjoy catching crappie at night under their dock lights and these warmer spring nights provide some nice evenings for catching crappie. The only problem is the big stripers like to frequent the same areas at night during the spring and scare off all the crappie so striper eradication is necessary to make our friends evenings more enjoyable. That’s where I come in. If there is ever a need for striper eradication I’m your man, Johnny on the spot and ready to do battle with those pesky unwanted stripers day or night. Those three bone colored Vixens I bought were going to work right away. It was Friday afternoon and I was finishing up and order of shad baits and checking out the box my lures came in. Heck the box looks seductive in itself so I guess if the lure doesn’t work, well, you’ve got the box to look at. Here’s a photo of the lures and the box just before going into battle.
DSC02946
I inspected the lures and determined that the hooks were somewhat tough looking and slip ring looked a little weak but with todays new technology those slip rings were probably some kind of miniature forged metal heavy duty slip rings. Hey, it’s a Vixen and a somewhat pricey one at that so it’s bound to have good hardware. It looked sweet and I thought about a big striper blowing up on it as I tied it on my medium spinning gear with fresh 8lb test mono. I was ready.

We were settled in at the lake house right after an early Friday dinner and I was heading out towards the mouth of the creek in our little 17 Lowes. I wanted to do a little recon mission and then come back and get Lisa right after dark for the night raid on the stripers. I showed up in the pocket our friends dock is in and I cut the motor down to watch the sun set and look for stripers. They already had the dock lights on and it didn’t take long till I saw the first surfacing striper. I had to do a double take on the boil the striper created. It was big and I watched the same area for other activity. Another boil caught my eye in a little pocket to the left of area of the dock so I kicked the trolling motor up on high and made my way into the area of the boils. I saw another good sized striper in the very back of the cut and he was full on chasing bait on the surface. The little pocket came alive with stripers and boils as I approached. I took my foot off the trolling motor pedal and quietly picked up the Vixen on the spinning gear. I was right in the middle of a feeding frenzy and stripers were moving all around me. I unhooked the Vixen and watched the water to pick out a target. I was looking for one aggressive surfacing fish and as soon as I found it, I was going too put that Vixen right in the area as quickly as possible. Finally I saw a bigger striper hit the surface and I made my cast; it was perfectly placed just beyond the area where the big striper surfaced and I moved the Vixen for the first time, walking the dog back to the boat. The lure had a big clunky ball bearing in the forward area and the sound the ball bearing made banging back and forth provided some audio attraction for the fish. I saw the striper come up and swirl behind the Vixen but then left it alone as I brought it back to the boat. I liked the feel of the lure and I got ready to make a second cast when I saw the same striper come back up in the same area and was swimming on the surface like he was looking for something. I threw the lure back at the fish and within an instant he attacked it. The lure disappeared from the surface with a small pop and it took a second for me to process what happened. As soon as everything was processed I set the hook on the running striper. He was big, tearing drag off the spinning reel with no intention of slowing down. He was heading for the back of the cut, right down the middle and pulling deeper as he went. I put my foot down on the trolling motor and started chasing the striper down. He didn’t stop so I put my hand on the spool of the spinning reel for just a tad more drag on the fish to see if I could stop him before snapping the 8lb test. Finally he stopped in mid channel after a 200+ foot run. Now came the task of turning the fish and getting him pointed in the right direction. I knew just about how much force I could put on the 8lb test and I began to try and turn the fish and I pulled hard to turn the fishes head. When I did, I felt the line unload and I was cranking back a weightless length of line. It took a while to get the line back to the boat but when I did I was glad to see the Vixen still attached and ready for the next cast…. well almost anyway. Upon further inspection of the lure, I found one of the back hooks straightened. My heart sank.. I don’t mind losing a fish now and then but it stings pretty bad when losing one to faulty hardware. Especially brand new lures that cost some coin. Hey, it happens and I know that was a big striper. It looked well over twenty up on the surface and I know a big striper has a hard boney mouth so a single hook holding a striper that big is probably a pretty tough task. There are 3 big treble hooks on a Vixen for a total of 9 barbs to be used to hold a fish and the chances of just one of those barbs being used is pretty slim. Usually the fish get at least 2 sets of hooks buried in his jaw to hold the weight. I thought to myself, I should probably change those hooks out when I get back to the shop and put some bigger hooks and heavier slip rings on these lures.
I sped back to the lake house to pick up Lisa and get back out to the action right after dark. Lisa was ready to go and I tied on a blue bomber on her medium action rig. The blue bomber is my second favorite jerkbait type lure to use after dark. It has some evil looking florescent orange eyes that glow in the dark and stripers love them. Our friends were on their dock as we pulled up and we chatted for a minute and watched for surfacing fish. It was dark beyond the reaches of the dock lights but we could hear splashes off in the distance in the direction of the cut where I had lost the big fish earlier. After chatting, I kicked in the trolling motor and started moving us towards the darkness and the feeding stripers. Luckily there were some smaller lights from a couple docks in the cut and it made seeing the ripples from the surfacing fish more visible. We slipped ito the area and cut the trolling motor and waited. The stripers were swimming everywhere on the graph. We could see schools of 5-10 fish moving all around. Lisa started throwing the bomber and I went to work with the Vixen. It didn’t take long and Lisa was hooked up with a nice 8 pounder on the bomber. She was having a blast and the striper provided us with some aerial acrobatics in the darkness with the dim dock light in the backdrop. The smaller stripers were feeding and we were sitting in the middle of a striper feeding bonanza. The Vixen was a big hit with the smaller stripers and a few bass that were getting into the action in the cut. We lost as many hook ups and we landed but after about an hour of this I think the stripers figured us out and moved out of the area. Lisa and I headed back to the lake house for the night and with a plan to get back out the first thing in the morning before light. Here’s a nice striper we caught on the Vixen just after dark.
IMAG0649
My internal alarm went off at around 4am and I gathered my thoughts before rolling out for that first cup of coffee. My plan was to have a few cups of coffee and get the boat ready for a early morning run back to the scene of the crime from the night before. I made a cup of coffee to go and off I went up the creek channel with the occasional dock lighting on both sides acting as a large runway path up the creek in the early morning hours. Lisa was still fast asleep and I would be fishing alone for the first hour or two before I went back to the lake house for breakfast. As I pulled into the area in front of the dock I saw a smaller striper just to the front edge of the dock. The striper was right at the dock and swirling on bait attracted to the light. I threw the Vixen into the area of the smaller striper and he swirled on the Vixen just as soon as it made the first rattle. After the swirl he disappeared and I briefly thought he was gone, but in a second I heard another pop and felt the line tighten of the spinning rig. The striper was smaller and I was able to horse him to the boat rather quickly and in a couple minutes I had the fish at the side of the boat using the lights on the dock to help me land the fish. It was a little guy compared to some and maybe made 5lbs but fought like a solid 10 pounder. These stripers had been spending the last month feeding on the abundant bait that had made its way into the creek in search of warmer winter water. The stripers we were catching were fat March stripers and very very strong.

As the sun was rising through the still leafless trees, I could feel the air warming and I could see a mix of pinks and blues in the eastern sky. I saw two big stripers roll on some bait very near the shore so I pointed the boat in the direction of the big swirls and splashes. I put the hammer down on the trolling motor and got ready for a precise cast. I took a quick look at the line from the lure up about 4 feet to make sure there were no scuffed up areas. The line looked good and the trolling motor couldn’t get to the area fast enough. I had about 100lbs of pressure pushing down on the foot pedal and I could still see the stripers in the shallow water chasing threadfin shad and blueback herring. They were making a big wake as they moved through the shallows and I only had a few more feet to make the perfect cast. I could tell these fish were bigger fish. Maybe 20+ pound fish and they were making some big splashes as they went. I could feel my heart beating in my chest and I know my knees were shaking as I quietly pulled my foot off the trolling motor. I put my first cast right into the area next to the mud bank and within an instant one of the big stripers sucked the Vixen down and I set the hook on the running fish. The fish made a run directly under the boat and I had to stick the rod deep in the water to avoid the fish getting tangled in the trolling motor. I cleared the trolling motor with the rod somehow and the fish was clear and heading for deeper water. My drag was set perfectly and I knew I could put some pressure on the fish as I stood on the bow of the boat and let the big striper pull the boat along. For some reason the striper wanted to stay on the surface which made my job a lot easier. If I could keep the fish on the surface it was just a matter of wearing out the fish and gaining line till he gets to the side of the boat. That’s the preferred method but sometimes the larger and wiser stripers go rouge and swim down deep, looking for that underwater standing timber or huge brush piles that riddle the bottom of Lake Lanier. I’ve been outsmarted by some big stripers before and when I’m fighting a big striper I always know that going deep is something in the stripers bag of tricks. If the striper starts going deep I always like to add a little extra pressure to the fish in hopes of turning the fish back towards the boat.
I had the fish on the ropes and I could see the Vixen in the fishes mouth as he came along side the boat just under the surface. At the sight of the boat he made another run and I held the rod up high too keep him at the surface. I just about had him turned when the line went limp and I saw the Vixen come to the surface 10 feet behind the boat. The big striper was gone, pulled off…so I thought until I inspected the lure and found the whole front hook was missing right down to the eyelet. The big striper had straightened the slip ring and made his escape sporting some new hardware on his lip. Man, the Vixen let me down again…. I felt like a dumb*** for letting it happen a second time. I pulled up the trolling motor and headed back to the house to pick up Lisa and switch out a few hooks and slip rings. Let’s just say that the ride back to the house was the ride of shame as I reflected on my inner stupid coming out in full force this morning.

The bone Vixen needed fixin and I had just the hardware it needed for these big stripers. I dug through the hardware box at the house and found some brand new Eagle Claw #2 nickel plated 375 treble hooks with 30lb stainless slip rings. Lisa drove the boat back out to the mouth of the creek while I switched out hooks and rings on the Vixens. No big deal, they just needed a striper modification. I guess those stock hooks were good for those feisty little green fish jerking around on those spindly hooks and rings but this was one of those times where I have to put the big boy pants on the bass lures to accommodate the larger variety of the bass species. I knew my new hardware modification would be up for the task. One thing that I like to do with these bigger stronger stripers once they are hooked is set the hook a few more times during the fight because these bigger fish have very big and boney mouths and a good hook set is necessary to hold the fish during the fight. The nickel plated Eagle Claw trebles were more than enough to hold the bigger stripers.
When pulled into the cove the stripers and bass were in full feeding mode with boils both large and small. We could tell the difference between the stripers boiling on the surface and the bass boils. I saw one big boil in particular near the shore. This was a bigger fish and it was working it’s way down the red clay shoreline wreaking havoc as it went. When the striper surfaced it was like a train wreck with tremendous splashes and slapping from the big fishes tail crashing the water. This fish was an upper 20’s, maybe low 30’s and I told Lisa to get ready as I made my way to the shoreline to intercept the fish as she worked her way up the shoreline. This fish was more than likely a female feeding for the upcoming spawn. I eased up in the area and put Lisa in position for a cast just as the big fish surfaced between the boat and the shore. When she surfaced again Lisa was startled by the size of the fish and she put the perfect cast just where I would of put it. She rattled the Vixen and few times but nothing came up. In the next instant the striper resurfaced to the right of where we had guessed the big striper to be and had moved on up the shoreline. I realized we had the morning sun to our backs and the big striper more than likely saw us approaching and quickly departed. I was really hoping that Lisa would get hooked up with one of the bigger stripers we were seeing and she was working the Vixen perfectly with the back and forth rhythm of walking the dog. As it turned out, that was the last striper we saw for the morning when a couple of jet skiers decided to cruise through the area several times. The stripers moved on but we stayed for a while and was able to manage a few nice bass to salvage the morning. Here’s a few pictures of some nice spring bass on the Vixen.
IMAG0655
IMAG0650
Here’s a good video of the Vixen in some early morning dock action with a feisty spotted bass:

20150323073555(4)
As we were leaving the area just before lunch the jet skiers pulled into the dock next to our friends dock and we were able to chat for a few minutes. Turns out, the jet skiers would be renting the neighbors lake house for the next two weeks and there would be several kids swimming and jet skiing throughout spring break in the cove. I figured all the extra traffic and noise would probably run the stripers from the area in just a few days but we were able to pull a few good ones out of the area before they left. We headed back to the house to call it a day.

The next morning was Sunday and we were packing for an early departure from the lake. It was raining outside and it had been since just after midnight. We were going to grab some breakfast on the way home from the lake and watch a little nascar in the afternoon. I was pretty sure the neighbor kids next to our friends house would take care of the striper problem over the next week. Lisa told me she wanted to do a little cleaning before we left and it was going to take about a half hour….well that’s all I needed. I told her I was going to dawn my rain gear and make one more check on the dock before we headed out. She said ok and I was off in an instant. I jumped in the boat, fired it up and untied for the quick trip up the creek. The rain had let up a little and it made the run a little more bearable for the run at 30mph to the cove. When I got there nothing was happening, no surface activity except the small circles made by the rain droplets on the water. I sat and watched but nothing was happening. I figured the neighbor kids were up half the night swimming and hanging around the dock making noise and running the stripers to the next county. The rain started to get heavier again and I was just about to head back to the house when I saw 2 separate stripers come up at the same time right in front of our friends dock. They rolled on the surface again and again and I knew they were attacking a big pod of bait in front of the dock. I was just in range to make a cast so I tapped the trolling motor to get my body in position to make a good cast right in the area. The two stripers were still on the surface when I made my cast and it was a good one, right in the area the two were swirling around. I rattled the Vixen and nothing….I rattled the Vixen and just as I thought it wasn’t going to happen the big striper popped the Vixen and it was gone. I set the hook on the striper just as she took off. My rod tip was bouncing as the reel drag gave the fish the resistance needed to wear the fish down. I faced the fish and let her run. She peeled off a good 100 feet before slowing and turning parallel to the boat. My knees were shaking and my heart was thumping and I watched the 8lb test line from the rod tip to the water. The striper was coming to the surface as I watched the angle of the line rise and I could see small pieces of lake debris hanging from the 8lb mono rising above the water. The fish was pulling the boat along and I knew that if the fish stayed on the surface I had him. I pumped the Vixen a few times to ensure a good hook set. I watched the end of the line sink and the angle of the line change and I knew the fish was looking deep again. I kept constant pressure on the fish and kept the rod tip high in the air to hopefully coax the fish back to the surface away from the underwater structure that bigger fish like to get into. Finally the fish started to rise again and I felt a sigh of relief as she swirled on the surface. I went to work on gaining the line back and for the next few minutes it was a game of tug of war with the striper as she stayed near the surface. I kept the right amount of pressure on the fish and she eventually calmed down and came along side for a quick landing and photo Before being released. Here’s a photo of the striper:
IMAG0652
She was a pretty stout teenage fish and a great fight on light tackle. She was just the fish I had been looking for to end the weekend and I considered the striper eradication to be a complete success. The neighbors called and said between the hurting we put on them and the neighbor kids in and out of the cove the stripers had cleared the area for the year and the crappie had returned to the underwater brush piles.

Here are a few more videos from our spring with the Bone Vixen.


Winter Crankbaits on the Rocks

Over the past week or so I’ve been working the crankbaits over warm rocky shoreline in the middle of the afternoons. Once I caught a few fish on a medium crankbait last weekend I tried a bigger 3.0 DD with same color pattern. I tried casting it in the same areas I’ve been catching fish and after a couple hours I put it back in the box. I tried trolling the bigger deeper diver but it got no attention.

We also tried my old faithful 2.75 CB medium/deep diver. It’s the one that we used over the summer and up at Burton with great success, both trolling and casting. Something that is very interesting about the 2.75 medium/deep CB blanks I’m getting is that the bill has changed from a clear plastic to a frosted looking plastic. Since the change, our catch rates have went way down with the lure. The clear bill really makes a difference in the CB and I probably won’t get any more with the frosted bill. We have yet to catch a fish on the 2.75 over the last month.
Once I determined that the fish weren’t interested in the 2 inch and bigger CB’s we just concentrated on the 1.75 medium crank and the 1.5 medium crank. The 1.75 medium is the one in the pictures above. The 1.75 has the loudest rattles of all my CB’s and I think that’s a huge success factor on the rocks.

Some folks have ask me about how I target bigger fish and finding the right areas where they reside.
I gotta say that over the past few days the biggest fish have come from areas where the sun is heating them up. All the fish yesterday came from rocks and docks. The big fish came from a southwest facing rocky outcropping with a dock directly facing the afternoon sun. When the sun comes out and starts heating up these areas, the bigger fish usually follow. The fish have been hitting in the 5-15ft depth.

Something else that is very important is presentation. My buddy and I used the same bait a few days ago and he zeroed with the bait while I caught 4 nice fish. The difference was that he was just casting and cranking. I’m casting, hard jerking the bait to the bottom and then cranking, jerking and stopping over and over. I’m working it more like a jerkbait than a crankbait and I think that mimics a foraging bait on the rocks instead of a swimming bait. here are a few pictures and videos from some of our recent crankbait trips in the creek. The first picture below is a picture of my last bass for 2014, caught on New Years Eve just before sunset. It was a nice way to end 2014.

cropped
DSC02905

DSC02899

 

IMAG0513

 

IMAG0510

IMAG0508

winter bass

Crankbait bass

Crawfish

Early Winter Creek Report

It’s been a while since my last report and the water has cooled to around 50 degrees in the creek. The fish have done what they do best this time of year and that’s getting cold and slow. The fish take a few weeks to acclimate to the cold water and generally they will sit down on the bottom and slow their eating habits. This is the time I like to slow down with them so I go to my slow baits like worms and jigs. I like to crawl the worm down the drop-offs and ledges as well as working the worm on points. The best color I’ve found is a green tomato color I made. This worm is kind of special because it changes colors in the sunlight. I added some chartreuse to a watermelon color and added some red and black flakes to make a killer color for these winter bass. We’ve been using the Carolina and Texas rig and dipping the worm tails in a garlic dip. That seems to be what the bigger fish are looking for. Here’s a few pictures and a couple videos from some recent worm fishing trips.

jims3

jims

20141130143259 (2) (1)

20141130161911 (4)

20141130143259 (2)

IMAG0495

IMAG0494

IMAG0492

IMAG0491

IMAG0490



Bald Ridge Report week ending 6-8-2014

This week I fished on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and then again Saturday evening. This past week the deep diving crankbait in my Sand Key pattern was the dominate bait all week. The best location was rocky points in a 20 to 25 foot depth. If there was brush out on the point at that depth, there were generally fish in the area. I caught a lot of nice fish with some pushing 3-4lb mark on the deep diving crank and I found that working it slow was generally the key to the bigger fish. Trolling the cranks were successful, but casting, cranking the bait and working it back to the boat slowly was a better pattern. The slower the better with stopping the bait on occasion was the key. When the bigger spots hit the bait it was generally a good strike and some of the fish were hooked with both sets of trebles which would take some of the fight out of them. I caught fish all week on this pattern and figured the same pattern would hold true for a tournament we fished up on the north end of the lake on Sunday. As fate would have it, the crankbait bite was slower up on the north end but I was able to catch a smaller keeper and lost a very nice fish at the side of the boat that was barely hooked with a single treble barb. It was just that kind of day for us as I caught a few dinks but the fish were generally chasing and short striking it. We tried a variety of baits but the other 2 keepers came from the dropshot with my little dropshot worms in a crystal blue pattern. They seemed to really react to that color.

Water temps were moving up through 80 degrees and above. The wind was out of the north and the west later in the week and the barometric pressure was lower due to a front that moved over our area and stalled. The bass seemed very active, especially early in the morning. Here’s a few pictures from the week.
bass2

IMAG0304

IMAG0303

DSC02746

IMAG0279

IMAG0278

IMAG0275

IMAG0273

IMAG0272

IMAG0270

Crankbait Trolling Setup and Tactics

DSC02746A few years back I ordered some deep diving crankbait blanks and painted them in a few of my favorite colors. I figured out that spotted bass pull off the bank in early summer and spend their days out in 20-30+ feet of water and usually there is structure near by. Sometimes the bass stay tight to the structure and other times they range out foraging for bait. When the fish are tight to the brush, I like to dropshot them with spottails or jig them up with small spoons. When the bass range out in search of food, that when I like to troll for them. It’s not as easy as just putting a crankbait in the water and taking off trolling it. There are certain things you need to check before you even start trolling. The most important is your line. I use 6lb test XPS fluorocarbon and dragging it over rocks and through structure can really scuff it up. You need to constantly check it for cuts and abrasions. Anytime fluorocarbon gets scuffed up it loses it’s transparency and the affected area needs to be removed. I check mine very frequently because the 6lb test isn’t very strong and the slightest flaw can lead to a break off when you’ve got a nice fish on and that can ruin your day. Another thing that is just about as important is how the bait runs in the water. A lot of times and bait is out of tune and needs to be super tuned to run at higher trolling speeds. A bait that is out of tune will run in large circles when being pulled at 2-3 mph. You want your baits to run straight in a successful presentation or you’re just wasting you time. A good way to check you baits is to start moving at trolling speed and drop your crankbait over the side, let out about 6-8 feet of line and watch how the bait runs through the water. If it doesn’t run straight , it needs to be super tuned. To super tune your bait, if it’s pulling to the left, you need to adjust the little ring attach point to the right and then check it again. Sometimes this can take some time, but the rewards can be great when you get it running straight.

I don’t know of too many points and humps on Lanier that doesn’t hold fish this time of year. We have a very healthy population of spotted bass on Lake Lanier, and you can just about find the fish on any point of hump in June and July. With this being said, the most important thing to look for is structure. Structure can be a buzz kill while trolling crankbaits so you want to avoid it at all costs. If I’m trolling and cross over a brush pile that I think the crankbaits will get snagged in, I turn the boat to try and avoid the structure with my baits. If I think that’s not going to work, I just put the boat in neutral and let the cranks slow down and float up towards the surface to avoid the structure all together. All of this takes practice and you’re probably going to hang a few baits from time to time. I really recommend having a plug retriever handy, and know how to use it. I’ve lost a few nice crankbaits over the years and it still stings every time I loose one. The key is to find the structure in advance and if it doesn’t look like an area that you can successfully troll, it’s time to move on. There are a lot of long flat points that hold fish but have very little structure and if your just learning to troll crankbaits, those flats would be a good place to practice.

There are a lot of islands out on the main lake and a lot of these islands have areas that are void of structure and these areas area a good place to look this time of the summer. Spotted bass will cruise around the islands looking for bait and I like to trolling these areas, especially at the end of points where the spots tend to gather. If I see the fish and feel like I can troll them up, I’ll circle around and drop my crankbait out the back about 150 feet behind the boat and point the boat right at the area I marked the fish. I troll my baits at the slowest speed possible with the big motor which is around 2 mph. A lot of time the crankbaits I use will start scrubbing bottom at around 22 feet and generally that’s where I get my bites. The little crankbaits have rattles and dig into the bottom which mimics a bait fish foraging along the bottom. Spotted bass can’t resist the sound and the sight of mud kicking up off the bottom and will attack the bait. Sometimes these strikes can be very aggressive and I like to hold my rod in my hand so I can feel the strikes. As soon as I hook up a fish, I put the boat in neutral and slowly bring the fish to the boat. If the boat is still moving, it adds to the pressure on the light fluorocarbon line, so you want the boat to slow down so you can handle the fish.

There are two colors that I like when I’m trolling crankbaits, my favorite is chartreuse and my second favorite is a blueback pattern. The spotted bass will generally react to either color.

Trolling deep diving crankbaits is a fun way to cover a lot of ground and it’s a lot of fun for the whole family once you learn how to do it successfully.

Bald Ridge Report week ending 5-31-2014

Early in the week we fished in the evening for a couple days and then I hit the morning bite late in the week. I’ve been concentrating on jerkbaits and crankbaits and I’m seeing the bite slow with both as the water warms. Water temps are in the upper 70’s to low 80’s when the sun is out. This past week I’ve been looking for bigger fish out towards the mouth of the creek on points. We’ve been finding a few nicer fish casting crankbaits around rocks. It seems that the bigger fish are out deeper but they are still moving up on points in the morning. Early in the week, in the evenings we found fish cruising the shoreline in the back of the creek right before dark, feeding on small gizzards. We had no problems with numbers but size was lacking. I decided to move out to the mouth of the creek to look for some morning fish and I found some very nice fish that were cruising the rock piles early in the morning. The Zee Shad medium diving crankbait around the rocks has been the key around the mouth of the creek. I’m seeing more topwater fish, both stripers and bass over deeper water so next week I’m going to paint some topwater Sammy type blanks in a few different patterns including bone and blueback.

Our top producing baits this week is still the crankbaits, both shallow diving square bills and my medium divers. The best color pattern is the Zee Shad pattern right now because there are still a lot of smaller gizzards cruising the shore line and the Zee or Zebra pattern has a close resemblance to the gizzards. We’ve also had some luck with my Sand Key and the Sexy Shad patterns in low light conditions.

Next week I’m going to use the Ultra-Spin with my twitchbaits in a pearl with blue highlights pattern. Last year in June we were catching quite a few fish with the Ultra Spin and I think this year will be no different. We’ll see what happens later next week with the Ultra-Spin. Also, I should be putting the big striper boat back in the water and going in search of stripers as well as netting some spottails and doing some dropshotting out of the striper boat. As far as the stripers go, I’ll probably break out the leadcore rods and start pulling some shad type baits around long points and flats looking for some shallow cruising stripers.
Here’s a few pictures and a video from this weeks fishing trips:

sexy2

sexy

IMAG0263

IMAG0261

IMAG0260

IMAG0259

IMAG0257

IMAG0254

lisa

20140528192709(2)

IMAG0242

Bald Ridge Report 3-1 through 3-11

The creek is clearing up and the fish are starting to heat up also. We’ve been concentrating most of our efforts to bass fishing of late because I’ve trailered the big striper boat back to the boat garage for maintenance and to prepare it for the summer striper trolling season that will kick off in a few more months. Right now we’re plinking away at bass with smaller tackle in shallow waters as the bass enjoy the warmer shoreline temperatures and start relating to shallower structure in lieu of the upcoming spawn. We have been using our new little Bed Bugs with 1/8 and 1/16 ounce egg heads and also our little 1/4 ounce Ultra-Spin with a 3.75 inch Twitch bait in a pearl white, blue iridescent pearl or chartreuse over white has worked the best. Here’s a few pics and video from the past few trips out.
IMAG0105

IMAG0102

Bass

IMAG0343

20140308_094011_1
)

Cast Away Flash Boards

Several years ago when I first started making planer boards, I made a few sets with a mirrored finish. We called them flash boards because they created a flash while pulling them in the sunlight. On a trip up the Tugaloo River over on lake Hartwell in April we were using the Flash Boards pulling live bait during a club tournament. We got into a school of stripers and we started noticing that our flash boards had stripers swimming with them as we pulled them along. We knew that the boards were flashing in the early morning sunlight and the stripers were very curious as to what was flashing in the water. We caught several stripers on the boards that morning and we won the tournament. Those boards were a definite help to us that morning and I believe the flash created by the boards was a great attractant for those river stripers. We decided to bring back the Flash Board design this year for our 5th anniversary at a great price.

***Update***

The Boards are now in yellow only. We have discontinued the blue colored boards.

DSC02491
DSC02472
DSC02482
DSC02484

DSC02487