Category Archives: Where To Fish

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Guntersville Keeper Bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 4/4/20

The bass were staged for an active pattern that was ready to explode then we had three nights in the 30’s and the fishing just stalled until Friday afternoon where it all changed. We found some 68-degree water temperature and the fish turned on like they were supposed to. I was a gift from the big guy as we boated several good fish and hopefully the best is yet to come.

We stuck mainly with plastics, Missile bait stick baits, Tight-Line jigs and swim jigs and we did throw some Picasso spinner baits and SPRO Aruka shad at certain times. We stayed in mainly 8 ft. of water or less looked for movement, bait and grass.

Come fish with me no one will treat you better or work harder to see you have a great day on the water. We fish with great sponsor products, Lowrance Electronics, Ranger Boats, Mercury motors, Vicious Fishing, Boat Logix mounts, Navionics mapping, Duckett fishing and more.

Fishing Eufaula In March

 Spring weather means fast-changing conditions for bass fishing. Two weeks ago, it was a ten-degree drop in water temperature in two days at Sinclair. At Eufaula the next week it was a drop in water level.  Those are my excuses!   

I got to Lakepoint Campground a week ago last Tuesday and set up my camper. A couple of folks camping near me stopped by to talk and told me they were catching a lot of catfish, but few crappie.  One of them pointed to a five-foot-high pole by the boat ramp and said it and half the campground had been underwater the Friday before.  The pole showed just over one foot of water on Tuesday.     

A four-foot drop in water level in four days had to hurt, and my fishing seemed to prove it.  I fished about five hours Wednesday and caught only two bass. Both looked like males that had moved in to find a bedding area in the 59-degree water. And the water continued to drop, going down .4 of a foot Wednesday. 

   Thursday morning I got up and drove south to put in closer to the main lake, hoping to find clearer water. It was even muddier! I did catch a keeper spotted bass and an eight-pound blue cat hit my shaky head worm.   

I did get a thrill. While fishing grass beds between docks, I eased around one and looked at the post with my Garmin Panoptix. What looked like a fish was at the base of it about a foot off the bottom.    When I pitched my jig to it and watch it sink, I saw the bass come up to it and the jig disappeared.  I was so shocked I just watched; I had not seen that before.  Then the fish almost jerked the rod out of my hand as it took off, and I did not hook it!  

  Friday, I rode around checking some creeks and found some clearing water that was 67 degrees back in one. I decided to start there Saturday morning in the Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament the next day.  It was a good decision, but a lot of other folks decided the same place looked good. 

   Saturday morning, I put my boat in at the campground ramp and ran up to the bridge where we were to meet.  Due to the Alabama Nation tournament with more than 60 boats and several other clubs taking off from the park, the ramp was a madhouse.  It didn’t help that one set of ramps was closed due to construction.   

Folks were backed up from the ramp all the way back to the highway, at least a mile and a half, waiting to put in before daylight.  It was so bad Niles called me, got the campground gate code and drove around to put in there. He was at the bridge while most folks were still waiting.   

In the tournament the first day, 27 members landed 79 bass weighing about 153 pounds.  There were seven limits and four zeros. Lee Hancock did it right with five weighing 16.02 pounds and had a 4.88 pounder for first. My five at 12.70 pounds was second and I had a 4.62 pounder. Third was Caleb Delay with fiver weighing 12.26 and Edward Folker was fourth with five weighing 11.59 pounds.

On day two, Sunday, the fish bit better – for some. There were 10 limits and three zeros. We landed 58 bass weighing about 173 pounds. Stan Wick had five at 13.80 pounds for first with a 4.59 pounder.  Raymond English had five weighing 13.68 pounds with a 5.11 pounder for second, Trent Grainger was third with five weighing 13.02 pounds and Edward Folker had five weighing 12.73 pounds.

Overall, Lee Hancock won with 10 weighing 26.80 pounds and Edward Folker was second with 10 at 24.32 pounds. Raymond English came in third with ten at 23.14 pounds and his 5.11 pound largemouth was big fish.  Fourth was Trent Grainger with ten weighing 22.91 pounds. I caught only three keepers the second day and dropped to a tie with Drew Naramore.  My eight and his ten weighed an identical 19.12 pounds. 

On Saturday I quickly caught a keeper on a spinnerbait, then two more on a bladed jig.  At 9:30 I laned my four-pounder on a jig. Then it got slow, I did not have another bite until 2:30 when I caught my fifth keeper on a jig then immediately caught another keeper on it.  A few minutes later I set the hook and felt a good fish fight for a few seconds before pulling off.

Sunday did not start well.  I did not get a bite until 9:00 and that fish pulled off the jig. I guess I set the pattern the last fish the day before.  At 9:30 what looked like a four-pounder just came off my bladed jig.  Then, at 10:00, in about ten minutes, I caught three keepers and a grinnel on the jig.

It got slow. Just after lunch I set the hook, my rod bowed up and the fish fought then came off. With 30 minutes left to fish I set the hook on a good fish, fought it to the boat, and reached for it with the net. It jumped, missed the net by THAT much, about two inches, and came off.

I had my chances, as did many others. There was a lot of talk at both weigh-ins of big fish lost.  Part of the problem was the number of fishermen, especially on Saturday. All-day there were at least ten bass boats within sight in the small creek I was fishing.  

Sunday at least four other club members were fishing the same area, it was get in line, go down the bank and hope you got a bite all day both days.

Right now is a great time to get on the lake to avoid the virus and catch good bass. That is my plan!

Fishing Lay Lake with Chandler Holt and Zeke Gossett

I am always amazed at fishing in Alabama.  Tuesday morning, I met Curtis Gossett, a high school bass fishing team coach, and Chandler Holt, a senior on his team, to get information for my April article. 

Curtis’s son, Zeke, is a senior on a college team.  I did an article with Zeke six years ago when he was just a sophomore in high school with his dad as coach and was very impressed with him.

Chandler was impressive, too, with great fishing skills and knowledge of Lay Lake.  He quickly caught a 3.5-pound spot then I caught a largemouth just over four pounds.  A little later Curtis got a largemouth right at four pounds.  So we had three nice fish in the five hours we fished, plus some smaller fish.


Chandler fished the High School Championship on Lay the following weekend and weighed-in on the Bassmasters Classic stage just before the pros weigh-in on Saturday.  He placed Second.

On Sunday Zeke fished the college championship and weighed-in on the Classic stage that day, and he won. Zeke was practicing while I fished, and he caught five spotted bass weighing a total of 20.17 pounds in five hours!   

Watch for both these young men next weekend and in the future!

Catching Ice-Out Crappies

Ice Out Crappie
Catching Ice-Out Crappies in Northern Lakes
From Northland Tackle Pro Joel Nelson
from The Fishing Wire

It’s been an odd spring, and for that matter, and even more peculiar winter.  Open water in the southern part of the northern states has been around for a few weeks, while in the north, there’s still ice, albeit a poor version of it, clinging to memories of a winter that wasn’t. 

Early season panfish bites are a rite of spring, typically happening in mid-late April for most northern lakes.  This year due to the unseasonably warm weather, I’m happy to say, we’ll probably have some bonus time in my state, Minnesota, with crappies already snapping in the shallows. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when tracking down a good spring crappie bite.

Water temperature is a key contributing factor to everything crappies in the spring.  Cold nights below freezing, cool-water runoff from melting snow, and heavy cloud cover can all contribute to the death of a seemingly un-killable bite.  As black-bottom bays and rock-laden shorelines store what solar energy they can, crappies flood to the shallows as water temps hit 45 degrees and above.  In most of the lakes I fish, this seems to be as close to a “magic number” as I can find in helping to predict not only locations, but mood of the crappies I’m after. 

Anything much off that value, and shallow water crappies become much more rare and hard to find.  Even after locating them, you just don’t see the large congregations of fish that are willing to eat like you do in the 45-50 degree range and above.  That said, spring is a roller coaster of conditions in northern states, full of false-starts, short intense feeding periods during warm weather, and then eventually spawn and post-spawn behavior.  Your best bet is multiple trips that allow you to track changes in water temperatures, such that you don’t hit before the front end, or after the spawn.

Regarding location, when warm water is scarcer in the early season, those shorelines that are even a few degrees warmer can be full of fish.  This is true even when they lack good cover, provided you’re fishing the warmest water in the lake and it’s still early.  Black bays on the north side of a lake are a good start, and don’t hesitate to fish shallower than 5 feet, especially in systems with poor clarity.  Even as water temps rise into the 50’s, fish remain shallow, feeding on baitfish drawn to the warm water and emerging life that’s brought on by warm afternoons and an even more aggressive sun angle.

Cover is king for pre-spawn crappies, and while any wood or timber is good for finding them, brush is better.  An isolated log or stump may hold a few fish, but large concentrations of fish will be found where they can bury themselves within and along brush piles.  Unfortunately, most anglers miss the bonanza by fishing only around the edges, rather than within the heavy cover.  Occasional fish are to be had this way, but to do well in these situations, you’ll need to be prepared to fearlessly fish inside of the heavy stuff, not just around the edges.  For that reason, especially in darker, more turbid water, I’ll fish 8lb test mono or heavier, as small jigs and small line are an exercise in brush-fishing frustration. 

In northern natural lakes with broad and shallow shorelines, timber can be hard to find, so crappies focus on bulrush and pencil-reeds for cover.  Whether wood or vegetation, getting in the middle of it seems to pay dividends.What to use is an important factor during this time of year, with water temps again dictating presentation and lure selection.  Especially early, the temptation is to fish fast and cover water to find larger schools.  Just coming out of winter, locations can be a mystery, and bobber-fishing shallows is simply too slow for most anglers. 

That said, especially during the early season, crappies will rarely chase to eat moving baits presented on the edges.  Fish with floats, and use meat.  Crappies are carnivorous little beings, and you’ll be surprised how savagely they’ll strike a minnow offered on a jig with hair, tinsel, marabou, or flashabou.  This larger profile requires some aggression, and hookups seem much more sure as crappies are required to fully inhale such a presentation. 

Keep in mind however, that bluegills which can be found in the same areas this time of year, are less likely to be able to eat such baits.  I have been pleasantly surprised by large perch, especially when fishing backwaters bites, that will be more than happy to eat a 1/32oz jig with a minnow.

Plastics bites are still to come, but typically require warmer conditions yet.  It’s unfortunate that minnows are best fished when your freezing fingers would otherwise want you to use artificial bait-only, but it seems like warm weather and glove-less hands are about the best predictor on when to start looking to retrieved plastic presentations.  For this reason, bring bait until moving presentations readily out-perform more stationary live-bait options.

It’s a great time of year to be on the water.  Wait till a warm afternoon, and pick apart the shallows until you find some fish.  Keep it simple, have fun with it, and save the ultra-serious stuff for later.For more fishing tips, visit www.northlandtackle.com.

Ricky Layton’s Great Sinclair Catch

Call it a tale of two Sinclairs.  Or a tale of three lakes in only three days. Last weekend showed how fast bass fishing can change this time of year.  

   Last Friday I met Ricky Layton to get information for my GON April Map of the Month article.  The weather guessers were right for a change when they predicted high winds, bluebird skies and cold weather. That combination is usually the kiss of death for fishing in the spring.   

Ricky said we would meet at Bass’s Boat House, an old marina where the clubs used to put in back in the 1970s. It was near the dam and the water might be slightly clearer in that area, and we would be more protected from the wind. All this spring the flooding rains have made our lakes fill up with very muddy water.   

We waited until 9:00 AM to go out since it was cold.  The first two hours seemed to show the weather and muddy water was working against us. Ricky took me to some places he had caught good fish the weekend before, but the water was even muddier than it had been and we got no bites.   

At 11:00 Ricky was starting to look at the article pattern and caught an eight-pound largemouth on a bladed jig. The fish was up shallow near a grass bed, the pattern for April.  That is a big fish for Sinclair, it has been a long time since I have seen one that big there, although there have been several that were close the past few years.   

About noon we started fishing and marking places for the article, working bass bedding and shad spawning areas.  Ricky caught a five-pound largemouth out of a grass bed on what will be hole #2.  A few minutes later he caught one weighing about six pounds there.  

  The next place we fished Ricky caught another fish right at six pounds, on the same pattern, halfway back in a creek with grass beds up shallow on the bank.  One of the last places we fished he landed his smallest fish of the day, one that weighted about 3.5 pounds.  In all that time I landed one weighing about 2.5 pounds, but my excuse is I was too busy netting his fish and taking pictures and notes to fish.   

Ricky ended up with five bass weighing a conservative 28 pounds.  That is the kind of catch you dream about and expect on Guntersville, not Sinclair, especially under bad weather conditions.  The water temperature was 58 to 59 degrees where we fished, making those big largemouth were looking for bedding areas.     

On Saturday Ricky took his son fishing at Sinclair.  Although colder, the weather was better, but the fishing was not.  He said they did land a seven-pound fish out of hole #10 but their best five weighed “only” about 14 pounds, not great compared to the day before.

Tips on Catching River Run Walleyes

Big Walleye

Tips on Catching River Run Walleyes in Spring With Northland Pro Chip Leer
How to catch river-run spring walleyes

Winter’s waning moments signal the start of an annual rite of spring, as schools of spawn-minded walleyes surge upstream in rivers across the continent. Don’t let the cool water temperatures fool you, the spring run can produce some of the year’s best fishing for walleyes and sag-bellied saugers.

Team Northland Pro Chip Leer of Fishing The WildSide knows the drill.“My favorite fisheries are good-sized rivers flowing into larger bodies of water, like the Detroit River on the western end of Lake Erie, or the Rainy River at Lake of the Woods along the Minnesota-Ontario border,” he says. “Walleyes from the main lake congregate around the river mouth in late winter, then swim upstream to spawning areas—thereby boosting the walleye population into the stratosphere.”

To find fish fast, Leer often begins his walleye quest at the river mouth and works up from there, prospecting prime lies like channel edges, eddies and all sorts of likely-looking seams and current breaks.“Virtually anything that breaks the current or otherwise offers walleyes an opportunity to rest or feed is worth a try,” he says. “Main-channel holes rank high on my hit list. Holes are magnets for fish moving up and down the river, and often ‘recharge’ throughout the day as fresh waves of walleyes roll in.”

A variety of tactics take spring walleyes, from three-way rigging to trolling crankbaits along the bottom. For Leer’s money, vertical jigging is hard to beat. “You can jig from an anchored position or while slipping down-current, using your trolling motor to keep the line vertical,” he says.

Leer’s go-to leadheads include Northland Fishing Tackle’s Slurp! JigUV Whistler Jig and round-head RZ Jig. “These jigs hold live bait and plastics in place, and allow me to get a solid hookset,” he explains. “That being said, the relatively new Swivel-Head Jig is an up-and-coming choice. I like the way the jig’s rotating hook gives live bait and plastics more action than traditional fixed hooks.”

Leer recommends tipping your jigs with a flavorful artificial trailer like Northland Fishing Tackle’s IMPULSE Paddle MinnowSmelt Minnow or Ringworm. “Three- to 5-inch baits give walleyes a target in the low-visibility conditions common in spring rivers,” says Leer. “For added scent and taste, skull-hook a fathead or shiner minnow on top of the plastic bait.”

For best results, Leer advises keeping your jig strokes on the down low, especially early in the spring run. “Slow and methodical lift-drop moves tight to bottom trump crazy ripping maneuvers,” he says. “Some days, holding the jig still, within an inch or two of bottom, gets the most bites. As the water warms up and walleyes gravitate to shallow water near the bank, pitch your jig toward shore and experiment with different dragging, swimming and pendulum presentations,” he says.

Grande Ronde Public Access Provided By The Public!

Grande Ronde

New Angler Access to Open on Washington’s Grande Ronde
Editor’s Note: Here’s an amazing story about a dedicated group of Washington state anglers and cooperative land owners who might have created a model for fishing clubs across the nation, pooling resources with other clubs to buy access to prime private water that will become public as the group donates it to the state Department of Wildlife next year.
from The Fishing Wire

The Wild Steelhead Coalition (WSC) is excited to announce that we have secured a major victory for angler access and steelhead conservation by completing the purchase of an eight-acre parcel of land with 2,000 feet of riverfront on the lower Grande Ronde River in Eastern Washington. In the coming months, the WSC will donate this land to the Washington Department of Wildlife (WDFW), which will permanently protect this riverfront property from development and continue to provide public access to this famed summer steelhead river in perpetuity.

This project, which would not have been possible without the support of the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club of Spokane, the Washington Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the Washington State Council of Fly Fishers International, is a testament to what the angling community can accomplish when we work collaboratively on behalf of anglers and wild steelhead. Together, these groups and hundreds of donors across the region raised more than $35,000 for the purchase of this unique property.

We would like to extend a special thanks to the previous landowners Radar and Kay Miller, who for years allowed the public to access their land and fish this prime stretch of steelhead water. When Radar and Kay decided to sell this parcel of land, they were committed to maintaining public access and worked proactively to figure out the best way to permanently conserve this land.“We all owe a debt of gratitude to Radar and Kay Miller for putting the public good ahead of profit and choosing to sell this land to us, and in turn, the general public,” said WSC board member Josh Mills.

“As they had hoped, this land will now be permanently protected for future generations. The Grande Ronde is my home river, and someday soon I plan to take my boys to this piece of water to show them this special place and teach them the value of public lands.”

The Wild Steelhead Coalition was invited to help secure this land by the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club of Spokane after the club had been approached by the Millers. The WSC immediately recognized the amazing opportunity, and we committed important initial funding, launched a larger fundraising campaign, created and implemented the property acquisition plan, and negotiated the land donation timeline with WDFW. We thank the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club for their leadership, financial commitments, and the opportunity to work on this project.

This project was a true collaboration by the fishing community. In addition to Inland Empire’s leadership and support, the Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the Washington State Council of Fly Fishers International, numerous regional fishing clubs, and Sage Fly Fishing played a pivotal role in the fundraising efforts. The dedicated members of the Wild Steelhead Coalition also continued their long history of supporting wild steelhead and the fishing community by generously stepping up to support this project.

Completing the land transfer from WSC to WDFW is scheduled to take a number of months, and during this transition angler access to the river will be maintained through a land use agreement with WDFW. When this transfer is finalized, WSC will place signage on the property that thanks the Millers for their commitment to public access and that tells the story of the Grande Ronde’s summer steelhead and the challenges facing wild steelhead throughout the Snake River basin.

A successful collaboration like the purchase and donation of this land on the lower Grande Ronde River speaks to the vast number of people who value wild steelhead rivers and public access to Washington’s irreplaceable wild places. Thanks to this broad coalition of advocates, eight acres of land and nearly 2,000 foot of riverfront on one of the country’s best summer steelhead rivers will now be permanently protected and forever owned by the public.

###To learn more about the campaign and location of the parcel on the lower Grande Ronde River, please refer to our October post announcing WSC’s fundraising effort.

Where and How to Catch October Bass at Lake Oconee, with GPS Coordinates

October 2015 Oconee Bass

With Cody Stahl

Die hard bass fishermen love October.  Pleasure boaters are mostly off the lakes so you don’t rock and roll all day while fishing. And a lot of part time fishermen are in the woods hunting or stuck in front of a TV watching football so there is a lot less pressure on the fish.  A great choice to take advantage of these things for an October trip is Lake Oconee.

Oconee is a Georgia Power lake in the middle of the state. It is lined by golf courses, houses and docks. There are so many pleasure boaters on a summer weekend day it can be tough to fish.  Right now bass are responding to cooler water temperatures and less boating activity by feeding.

Cody Stahl is a senior at CrossPoint Christian Academy in Hollonville, near Griffin, and loves to fish. His father Chad is a well-known tournament fisherman on the Berrys’ trails and won the Berrys’ point standings two years in a row.  He has taught Cody well.

Last Novemer Cody and his partner Tate Van Egmond won the BASS High School state championship at Eufaula.  They came in tenth out of 134 teams in the BASS High School National Championship on Kentucky Lake this past spring.  Cody plans on picking a college with a good fishing team next year to attend.

Cody loves bass tournament fishing so much he changed schools two years ago to attend a school where he could form a team.  His dad took him to night tournaments on Jackson starting when he was seven years old so it is in his blood.  Oconee is one of his favorite lakes, especially in October.

“By the end of September the cooling water is making the shad move into the creeks and the bass follow them,” Cody said. The old adage “find the bait and find the bass” definitely applies on Oconee this month.

“Active creeks are the best,” Cody says.  He likes to find a feeder creek that has a good ditch in it and fish it from the mouth back until he finds where the bass are feeding. Once you find that area is should be consistent in other creeks, too.

A wide variety of baits will catch bass right now on Oconee and Cody will be prepared to throw a lot of different baits.  He has a Texas rigged FishHog Angry Beaver, a Zoom Baby Brush Hog and a  FishHog JigSaw jig and pig ready to pitch to shallow cover.  For faster fishing a #6 Shadrap, Chaqtterbait and RC 1.5 square bill is on his deck. And he always has a Spro Frog to throw to grass and shallow wood.

Both a buzzbait and a spinnerbait are good for fishing faster around any kind of shallow cover.  These baits allow him to fish docks, grass, wood and rocks as he works from the mouths of the creeks all the way to the back.

Cody and Tate took me to Oconee in early September to check out the following places. Shad were just moving into them and fishing was tough, but we caught a lot of throwbacks and Cody landed three good keepers. Bigger fish will be on these spots much better now.

1.  N 33 25.184 – W 83 14.243 – Going down the river past the Old Salem Campground on the left the river makes a turn to the right.  On the left bank, an outside bend, there are a lot of rocks and small pockets that attract shad and bass early in the morning.  There is a gray dock with white post on a block seawall just upstream of a small pocket.

Start in the pocket just downstream of the dock with buzzbait and spinnerbait and fish upstream, working the wood, rocks and docks.  Fish around the point into the small creek upstream of the dock.  Cody likes a white three eights ounce Terminator spinnerbait with two sliver willowleaf blades and a Booyah black or white three eights ounce buzzbait.

Hit any cover you see and also cast right against the seawall.  The curves and changes in the seawall are key spots.  Pitch to the docks, too.  Wind blowing into the docks and seawall makes this and other spots better if it is not too strong.

2.  N 33 25.807 – W 83 14.571 – Back upstream a double creek enters downstream of the campground and the swimming area is on the left going in. Stop on the point between the two arms, across from the swimming area, and fish to the right, into that arm of the double creek.  There are rocks on the point and it is one of the first places the shad and bass move to as the water starts cooling.

Start on the point with your boat in about eight feet of water, a long cast from the bank, and fish a buzzbait and crankbait on it.  Cody likes a crawfish colored Shadrap and a squarebill in shad colors.  When you get past the point to the cuts on that bank and with other cover on it, cast a frog, buzzbait, chatterbait and spinnerbait to it.

There is a big blowdown on the bank past the first small pocket and Cody lost a good three pound bass right at the boat from it.  It hit his chatterbait on the end of the tree. Don’t hesitate to work a chatterbait through the cover like this. Cody likes a three ounce black and blue bait.

Fish all the way around the back of this creek. There is a good ditch in the back and I lost a two pound bass almost right in the back that hit a worm under an overhanging bush. Cody likes overhanging bushes like you find here and bass will often hold right against the bank under them.

3.  N 33 25.648 – W 83 15.290 – Across the lake there are some condos on the upstream point of a creek with an old dam across it.  Go to the corner of the riprap at the condo docks and start fishing.  Cast your Shadrap and spinnerbait on the rocks and try topwater early in the morning, too.

Fish through the gap and work the back side of the riprap, then fish the docks and other shallow cover on the left back in the creek.  Don’t hesitate to fish very shallow cover like the brush pile on the island with the “Traffic Island” sign on it back here.

A shad color frog is good on the thick shallow cover and your jig, Brush Hog and Beaver are all good when pitched very shallow, especially around dock posts.  Cody rigs his Baby Brush Hog in watermelon red or black and red on a quarter ounce sinker and skips it to the cover. He rigs a black and blue or dirty pumpkin beaver the same way.

4.  N 33 25.017 – W 83 14.550 – Going down the river the big inside bend on your right has some good docks to fish on the downstream side. Go around the point and stop at the first dock.  It has a black canvas top.  The house for this dock is way back in the trees.

The bottom at the first couple of docks is soft but turns to hard clay past them.  There are some rocks on the bottom, too.  Fish each dock with jig, Baby Brush Hog and beaver.  Also pitch a chatterbait under them.

Many people fish only the front of docks and Cody says this is a mistake. He always goes in behind them and fishes the back side and walkway, too. He skips his baits under them and works them back, hitting every post.

Cody is very good at skipping or skittering a jig under docks and says the rod action is critical to do this. He prefers to flip docks with an ALX Rods IKOS series Promise 7 foot rod because he says it has the prefect amount of tip on the rod to flip and skip docks,

Between the docks throw your crankbaits, chatterbaits or spinnerbait.  Shad move down this bank in October into the small creek it leads to.  Cody will fish all the way to the back of the creek and then fish back out the other side, hitting the docks and banks between them.

5. N 33 24.817 – W 83 13.495 – Go down the river past the island on the left and around the bend to the second creek on the left. A marina is back in this creek in a cove to the right and the creek goes to the left. Stop on the left bank of the main creek just upstream of a long point with grass down to the seawall.  The creek narrows down at this point.

Just upstream of this point are three small docks. The bank is fairly deep with overhanging bushes. Start fishing at these small docks, hitting each one with jig, Baby Brush Hog and beaver. Also skip a chatterbait or frog under the overhanging bushes and pitch a soft bait under them, too.

Fish down this bank until you stop seeing shad or catching fish, then jump across to the other side and fish those docks to the point of the marina cove.  Try to hit every post of each dock.

6.  N 33 24.531 – W 83 13.914 – Go back up the river to the next creek upstream of the one in hole 5.  It is a smaller creek downstream of the island and has a good ditch and docks to fish, and there are overhanging bushes, too.  Start at the third dock on the left and fish to the back of the creek.

Cody likes docks with five feet of water in front of them but says most of the fish he catches are three feet deep or less, so don’t hesitate to fish very shallow docks.  Fish all the posts. It takes longer to get in behind them to fish the back side but it is worth it.  Also fish the shade on this bank.

7.  N 33 25.228 – W 83 14.608 – Go back up the river to the big point on the left, across from hole 1.  This long point gets a lot of wind blowing in on it and has a hard bottom. There is a lot of brush in the water from bushes that have been cut to clear under the trees to clear the bank.

Stay out and fish a crankbait, spinnerbait and beaver all along the bank.  Run your faster baits between the brush in the water but fish the brush in the water thoroughly with your Baby Brush Hog.   Fish all the way around the small pocket on the upstream side of the point and the upstream side of the pocket has brush, too.

Wind helps on this point and in other places if it is not too strong to make boat control difficult.  Wind stirs up the water, breaks the surface and moves baitfish into the area.  All those things make the fish bite better and makes it more difficult for them to identify your lures as fake.

8.  N 33 25.039 – W 83 14.256 – Across the river from the  point in hole 7, just downstream of hole 1, is a small creek that splits right in the back. There is a blue canvas cover dock on the downstream point of it and one brown shingle boat house on the left bank going into it. There are four docks in this small creek.

Start near the upstream point and fish the left bank to the back, then fish the dock on the point in the middle of the split and the ones on the other bank, too.   Cody says the left bank is usually better in October since it is a little deeper and has overhanging bushes to fish.

9.  N 33 24.339 – W 83 15.597 – Go up Lick Creek until you see the first bridge ahead of you. On the right before the creek turns a little to the left is a small creek with light gray siding house with a black canvas top dock just inside the point.

Start at the dock, fishing it carefully, then work to the back of the creek down the left bank. There is a seawall with rocks in front of it along this bank and it holds fish.  The little points on the seawall are usually best.

There is a pond back in the woods above this creek that feeds it and water flowing into the creek attract bass. Fish all the way to the ditch in the back and fish the cove in the back of it. Also fish the first three docks in the back of the creek on your right going in.

10.  N 33 24.410 – W 83 15.724 – Going up Lick Creek a big creek comes in on the right just upstream of the one in hole 9.  Go into it and stop at the dock on the right with a black canvas top and red Adirondack Chairs on it.

Fish this dock and all the others going into the creek.  Run a spinnerbait on the seawalls between the docks.  In the back on the left side is a small pocket with a blowdown in it. Fish the blowdown with a frog, Cody got a keeper out of it the day we fished. Also work it with Baby Brush Hog, beaver and jig.

All these places are good right now and give you examples of the types of places Cody catches October Oconee bass.  They are in a compact area so you don’t have to burn much gas to fish them but you can run all over the lake and find many similar creeks where you can use this pattern to catch bass.

The Salty Ned Rig

Red on Ned

The Salty Ned Rig, with Captain C.A. Richardson
Captain C.A. Richardson believes the ‘Salty Ned’ shines during the toughest conditions.

Ladson, SC  “We call it the ‘Salty Ned,’” quips exceptional inshore guide, Captain C.A. Richardson. “A lot of days, it’s even better than livebait.”

In recent years, as Richardson and other intelligent inshore anglers recognized the parallels between freshwater bass tactics and those for redfish, seatrout and other saltwater species, a fresh approach began to emerge.

“We followed the evolution of freshwater finesse techniques and the rise of the Ned Rig for smallmouth and largemouth bass,” says Richardson, the brains behind Flats Class TV and University. “It made perfect sense that similar methods and baits could excel in saltwater for a lot of reasons.”

While cold-fronts, heavy fishing pressure and other adverse factors often make bass tough to catch, these same dynamics can have a multiplier impact on saltwater species. “From the first day we experimented with a Ned Rig under cold, bluebird skies our results spoke volumes. Three little baits—a 2-3/4-inch Finesse TRD™, TRD TicklerZ™ or TRD CrawZ™— on a 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ™ jighead are all you really need to continue catching fish when conditions turn tough. With water temps in the high 50s and low 60s, we start fishing a Salty Ned around December 1 in Florida and catch fish with it all the way through the first half of March.”

Richardson, who today focuses much of his redfish, trout and snook efforts on the fertile though popular waters between Tampa to Fort Myers, believes a Salty Ned easily outfishes previous-era finesse baits like a 3-inch stingray grub or a small bucktail jig. On some days even a live, juicy shrimp or strip of cutbait can’t equal the appeal of a soft, buoyant ElaZtech® bait on a small jighead.

“Even for a novice or someone accustomed to using shrimp on a jighead, it’s an easy-to-fish bait that also eliminates pinfish and other nuisance biters. Admittedly, you’ll often catch smaller reds, trout and flounder, but you certainly won’t lack action.“The buoyant nature of ElaZtech and the mushroom-shaped jighead make the bait pivot and float tail-up off the bottom when you stop your retrieve,” says Richardson. “These baits are the perfect match for so many of the small creatures eaten by inshore predators—marine worms, shrimp and other invertebrates as well as sea horses. The upright posture of a TRD on a jighead shows fish a lively morsel that moves with the slightest underwater current—even when you’re not moving your rod at all.”

A Z-Man Ned rig remains affixed to Captain Greg Peralta’s inshore rods at least eighty-percent of the time, all year long.Like its freshwater counterpart, fishing the saltwater Ned Rig is all about keeping the bait close to the bottom, letting its buoyancy and soft, active composition do the heavy lifting. “We might fish the Ned a little more aggressively in saltwater,” notes Richardson. “The best presentation I’ve found is to let the bait sink to bottom and then shake the rodtip to make it quiver. Give the jig a 6- to 12-inch pull, pause and then reel slack and repeat. You’re making the back of the bait quiver; when you stop, the bait pivots and goes tail-up.

With a bait like the TRD TicklerZ or TRD CrawZ, you’ve also got little appendages that undulate subtly in the current. The bait never really stops working for you.”Even while fishing high-pressure zones like Tampa Bay, Richardson says the Salty Ned remains a non-threatening presentation to which fish react positively. “What’s also cool is you can sight fish for really spooky reds up on clear shallow flats because the bait touches down with such a small, compact signature.” To fish the Salty Ned on featureless flats, in depressions on flats and bends in creeks with deep holes, Richardson rigs one of the aforementioned Z-Man TRD baits on a 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jighead. He spools with 6-pound test braid and a 50-inch leader of 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon. Wielding a medium-light to light action 7-foot spinning rod, he can cast a light jig close to 30 yards.

For fishing around heavy cover or docks, Richardson switches to abrasion resistant monofilament line and a Pro ShroomZ™ Weedless jighead.The TRD TicklerZ quivers subtly, even at rest.

Summer Catches “Although we primarily finesse-rig in the winter, I’d argue with my guide buddies that even in the warmer months, when spooky, pressured fish won’t hit a faster-moving reaction bait, I can still get bit with a Salty Ned,” Richardson offers.It’s a notion shared by Charleston, South Carolina based Captain Greg Peralta, a now-retired guide who still fishes almost every day of the season. “Several years ago, we started fishing a Finesse TRD with a 1/5- or 1/6-ounce NedlockZ™ jighead and found it to be a super productive coldwater and post-coldfront bait. But when it got warm, we kept fishing the Ned Rig to see when they’d stop biting it. They never did.”

These days, Peralta says he fishes the Salty Ned about eighty-percent of the time. Particularly when the water gets warm, Peralta prefers a slightly more aggressive retrieve to entice a reaction. Keeping his rodtip low, Peralta gives the bait a hard snap, followed by a pause. He describes the cadence as similar to working a jerkbait.Z-Man Trick ShotZ on a NedlockZ HD jighead.

“Snap and give slack,” he explains. “The lure will pitch or roll left or right, showing fish alternating flashes of dark and light. Color becomes a critical factor because flash is a key indicator of something alive—dark on top, light on the bottom. It’s why I choose colors like The Deal in clear water. As clarity fades, I go brighter with patterns like Hot Snakes—still has that dark-to-light transition, but with a louder chartreuse belly.

”Peralta notes that the length of the pause between snaps depends on conditions. “Colder water, coldfronts and when the barometer is switching from low to high, I go with a longer pause. Because fish typically strike after the snap, when the bait is descending, I like using high-vis 8-pound braid. You don’t always feel the bite on the rodtip; you’re watching your line for a pop or a sudden acceleration.

“I can’t say the TRD looks like anything they eat. The action you give it just instinctively makes fish react to and bite it. But it’s so versatile, durable and buoyant you can fish it almost anywhere. I can even throw it on top of an oyster bed or other gnarly areas in a foot of water. The bait’s buoyancy largely keeps it out of trouble. But it also works for fish hunkered down in 15-foot holes. Catches all three of species—redfish, trout and flounder— with regularity; what we call a Lowcountry Slam.”Texas angler Chris Bush fooled a rare 30-inch seatrout with a Finesse TRD on a NedlockZ jighead.

The Speckled Truth Even while redfish and snook garner much of the spotlight, select anglers like Chris Bush place the highest esteem on seatrout of trophy proportions. This past September, Bush, who authors a blog called the Speckled Truth, caught a monster 30-inch trout from Upper Laguna Madre, Texas. Stuck in the fish’s jaw was the bait Bush describes as possessing “magic appeal.”

A PB&J or The Deal-pattern TRD rigged on a 1/10-ounce NedlockZ, says Bush, has proven itself when the water’s warm and seatrout aren’t responding to traditional presentations. “A Ned Rig has been really effective when other baits aren’t—when there’s so many baitfish in the water that trout aren’t looking for huge meals, but for selective opportunities. Same deal under heavy fishing pressure. The fish are just chilling, feeding opportunistically for short windows. That’s when it’s so effective to put a little TRD down there and sort of invade their personal space.

“I give the bait one or two hard twitches and let it fall back to bottom. I try to maintain contact with it at all times, because these big, sluggish trout don’t thump the bait aggressively. Rather, they sort of sit on it, and all you feel is a sudden weight on the line, almost like you’re hung on the bottom.Bush adds that the smallest 3.5-inch Trick ShotZ™ rigged on the same jighead, at times, yields equally productive results as the TRD. “Fished on light tackle in the most grueling situations, these little bitty baits just seem to have a magic appeal for really big trout.”

About Z-Man Fishing Products: A dynamic Charleston, South Carolina based company, Z-Man Fishing Products has melded leading edge fishing tackle with technology for nearly three decades. Z-Man has long been among the industry’s largest suppliers of silicone skirt material used in jigs, spinnerbaits and other lures. Creator of the Original ChatterBait®, Z-Man is also the renowned innovators of 10X Tough ElaZtech softbaits, fast becoming the most coveted baits in fresh- and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest-growing lure brands worldwide. 

About ElaZtech®: Z-Man’s proprietary ElaZtech material is remarkably soft, pliable, and 10X tougher than traditional soft plastics. ElaZtech resists nicks, cuts, and tears better than other softbaits and boasts one of the highest fish-per-bait ratings in the industry, resulting in anglers not having to waste time searching for a new bait when the fish are biting. This unique material is naturally buoyant, creating a more visible, lifelike, and attractive target to gamefish. Unlike most other soft plastic baits, ElaZtech contains no PVC, plastisol or phthalates, and is non-toxic.

West Point Lake Striper and Hybrid Fishing

A little over a week ago I went to West Point to learn how guide Andy Binegar catches stripers and hybrids during the spring. The information will be in the March Georgia Outdoor News magazine. 

We trolled all day in very muddy water and caught a few of both species on a cold, rainy day.

The fish were still stacked up in the mouths of big creeks on the main lake. Maple Creek and Wedhadkee Creek both had clouds of baitfish and bigger fish around them out in 30 plus feet of water.  With the muddy water, the fish would not chase our trolled baits.

Captain Mack Farr, Andy’s mentor, joined us. He has been a guide for stripers on Lake Lanier for many years.  In the post trip discussion, we agreed we probably would have had better luck sitting right on top of the fish and dangling live bait in their faces, giving them time to eat it.

We tried the Chattahoochee River out from the pumping stations, too. Andy says he checks that area often and when he starts seeing fish on his electronics and catches some.  That tells him the fish have started their “false” spawning run up the river. Once he finds them there, he follows them up the river to catch big stripers.

Andy contacted me Monday and said the water was clearing in the river and Maple Creek and the fish were biting much better. Then all the rain Thursday muddied it up again!!

On Facebook some folks are posting picture of big crappie they are catching at West Point and other lakes. They are biting good for people trolling jigs and live bait 15 to 20 feet deep out over creek and river channels.  This is a good time to fill your freezer.