Camping in November is an iffy proposition, as last week proved to me. I went to Don Carter State Park on Lake Lanier last Wednesday and came home Monday after fishing the Flint River Bass Club tournament on Sunday.
Wednesday afternoon was nice enough driving to the north end of the lake and setting up my slide in pickup camper. I went back into town to meet a friend that lives on the lake, get some information from him, and eat some delicious fried scallops at the Atlanta Street Seafood Market.
On the way back to the camper it started sprinkling rain a little. By the time I showered it was getting cold and the rain was steady but light. It lasted all night and all morning Thursday and I just could not make myself launch my boat and go fishing in the cold mess.
When the rain stopped around 1:00 and my weather radar app showed no more heading toward me, I put in at the state park ramp and fished around that area way up the river. I never got my boat up on plane, just fished around the ramp since it was cold and windy.
The water had a stain to it and was a surprising 54 degrees, but the fish bit pretty good. In just under three hours I landed six largemouth and one spot and lost two more. All hit a crawfish colored Rapala DT6 on steep rocky banks back in small creeks. Two of the largemouth were about three pounds each.
It got colder Thursday night and I slept in Friday morning, getting to the ramp in Balus Creek about 30 minutes from the park around 11:00. The water was clear and 64 degrees, but warmer water did not help. By 4:00 I was disgusted, I had tried everything I could think to do and had hooked one small spotted bass on the crankbait. That was the only bite I got.
Saturday morning was similar and I started fishing down around Balus Creek just before noon. When I quit at 4:00 I had not hooked a fish. I spent a lot of time riding and trying to fish baitfish and bass deep, but everything that looked good did not work.
Saturday night got cold. My camper has an electric rooftop heater but it is either wide open or off, there is no thermostat. Even though it was 37 degrees I had to turn it off, it was stifling hot after 15 minutes. The small electric heater I carry kept the camper tolerable but not comfortable.
When I got up at the new too-early time to be at the ramp at 6:30 AM there was frost on my windshield. My truck thermometer read 32 at one point driving to the ramp in the dark.
I ran to my favorite point when we took off at 7:00 AM but never got a bite. After fishing a couple more places I seriously considered making the 15-mile run back up the lake where I had caught the largemouth, but the cold made me want to stay where I was.
At 8:30 going to a deep point to try I noticed two big pine trees had fallen into the water down the bank from it. I thought the water was too shallow but decided to fish them anyway. My first cast with a shaky head worm produced a 15-inch keeper spot and I put I point the live well. I would not zero!
My very next cast to the same tree produced another keeper spot. As I put it in the livewell I got in too big a hurry to make another cast, stumbled and stepped on my net handle, breaking it. Just my luck, if I hooked a big fish I would be in trouble.
By the time I got back up front my boat had blown into the tree, messing it up. But I went to the next tree and on my second cast to it I caught another keeper! Three on four cast – my day was looking up.
As I eased around the deep point, trying to remember more trees nearby to fish, I saw four or five fish suspended 15 feet down over 45 feet of water on my Garmin Panoptix. When I cast my shaky head to them I watched them go to it as it sank. When they started swimming off was disappointed until I realized I couldn’t see my bait falling any more, set the hook and landed a 15-inch spot.
A few minutes later on the same point there were three fish cruising about five feet off bottom 25 feet deep. When I cast to them they went to my bait and followed it down. When it hit bottom I felt a tiny little tap and set the hook on another 15 inch spot. I had a surprising limit at 9:00!
When I went to another bank with some blow down trees with a little wind on them, I caught my sixth keeper, then hooked a big fish. I thought it was a catfish but when I got it close to the boat I saw it was a big spot. Then I remembered my broke net!
It was a comedy for the next few minutes but somehow I landed the 4.07 pound spot. Fishing that pattern the rest of the day produced only two more fish but I was thrilled with nine keeper spots.
At weigh-in my five weighed 11.88 pounds but got beat by Don Gober’s five at 11.96 pounds. Chuck Croft had two at 7.75 pounds for third and his 4.11 pound largemouth beat my 4.07 pound spot for big fish. Alex Gober had two weighing 3.35 pounds for fourth.
It hurt to be so close but I am thrilled to have what I had after my poor luck Friday and Saturday, and glad I did not make a long cold run.