Category Archives: Where To Fish

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Guntersville Winter Bass


Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 4/17/2021


Extremely weird year for Guntersville as we are back below normal temperatures pushing the
fish back out some from their normal patterns. Not all bad as fishing is good the activity has
been great, but the fish have relocated once again as the temperature change always put
them out off the drops as we try to gain stability again in where they are located.


We have stuck to typical plastic baits in most cases fishing Missile Bait 48 stick baits, DBombs, and some traditional lizards off the edges. In most cases the bite requires you to fish
slow bite as always there are fish in many stages and we did catch some fish on Picasso
spinner baits, Picasso chatter baits, and Tight-Line jigs and swim jigs every day.


Come fish with me I have days and guides available to fish with you 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 Ranger Boats, Dawson Boat Center, Mercury Motors, Boat Logix mounts, Vicious
Fishing, Duckett Fishing, SPRO, Lews Fishing, Power Pole and more.


Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
www.fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com
www.facebook.com/FishGuntersville
Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Call: 256 759 2270
Capt. Mike Gerry

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

From Captain Mack Farr

Nice Lanier striper

January in February continued last week,
lots of rain and wind to contend with,
making fishing tough. The long term
forecast calls for moderating weather in the
coming week, and hopefully the fish will
respond accordingly. Add in a full moon on
the 27th and it could make for a very good
bite.

The lake level came up, and many
parts of the lake muddied up as well, but
that will be to your advantage as the new
muddy water moderates. The lake level as
of Friday afternoon was 1069.96, 1.04 feet
below full pool, up .22 feet from last week.
The surface temps went the opposite
direction of the lake level and dropped
slightly to 47 degrees.


Striper Fishing

After a brief glimpse of spring, last week’s
cool down squelched some of the activity in
the backs of the creeks. I think those
patterns will reemerge soon with the
pending weather forecast. The stained water in the rivers and creek backs should warm quickly,
attracting the bait and the gamefish right behind them. Until then, many of the Stripers are still in
the creeks around the bait schools, over a 30 to 70 foot bottom, basically the same patterns/
places we have utilized for several weeks now. Use the mud lines where applicable, the activity
will often be best around the color change is most pronounced. Of course the smaller creeks,
and the coves that did not experience an influx of new water will remain stable and fish in those
areas are probably still hanging around.


A mix of free lines, down lines, and planer boards will still be applicable, and a little weight on
the planers and free lines has been a plus. Keeping a Mini Mack in the spread is also beneficial,
either as a flat line or behind the Perfect Planer. Herring, Trout, Shad and Shiners have all been
productive, and give the Stripers a mix until you see a preference. Don’t rule out using spoons
and dead sticking jigs to catch these deeper fish, both of these techniques should remain viable
methods for a last a couple more weeks.


You will have plenty of stained water areas to fish, and you may be able to use this to your
advantage. This stained water will often warm quickly and the Stripers are not hesitant to
venture into the of colored water. Basically if the bait is there the Stripers will likely be there as
well. I think that the fish in the stained water are often easier to catch, especially with artificials.
Casting a bait to the banks while you are pulling the live baits will often be very productive.
Small jigs, 3/8 1/4 and 1/2 oz, Flukes on a lead head, flukes on a weighted keel hook are also
excellent choices.


Bass Fishing


The Bass bite is still pretty good, the difficulty is dealing with the changing water conditions and
fish movement. There are many patterns producing, and also many baits that are effective. The
deeper patterns I think offer more consistency, particularly after last weeks inconsistent weather.


Look for the pre-spawn bite to ramp up with the improving weather, and the shallow patterns
that really were starting to develop should become reenergized. Fish moving into the creek
backs, up on clay banks and points should respond quickly to the Rock Crawlers and Rapala
DT’s, along with spinnerbaits and jerk baits. Until then, deep brush, rock bluffs, rocky points,
ditches and drains are all likely areas to target. The depth range is also wide, 20 to 40 feet, so
try and narrow that down as your day progresses.

One of last week’s patterns, fishing the creek backs, drains and ditches is still a productive
pattern. The ditches and drains may be the best choice, because they do not get the influx of
new water like the creek channels. The fish on these structures may also be using a big depth
range, but generally moving into the shallow end of that range early, getting deeper as the day
progresses.

Cast green and brown pattern jigs with Hula grubs or twin tails, the smaller Keitechs
on a lead heads, or the worms on a Shakey Head. Super Spoons also remain productive on the
deeper fish, especially in areas where the bait is layered up on the bottom.
Our best bite may arguably be fishing after dark. Lights, both submerged and above water
lights, are holding some good numbers of fish with some big fish, both Largemouths and Spots.
The night bite is not limited to fishing lights, with some fish roaming around points and reef
poles. With improving weather, night fishing may be more appealing, and the full moon may also
benefit this pattern as well. Flukes, small buck tails, and Keitechs on the lead heads are
effective on the lights, as are pitching live Herring. Jerk baits and crank baits are effective on the
points and reef poles. As a bonus, you’ll probably get some Stripers off the lights to help keep
you awake.


Good Fishing!
Capt. Mack

Do I Need A Boat To Catch Fish On the Gulf Coast?

No boat? No problem when you visit the Gulf Coast.
by Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

Many anglers who visit the endless sandy beaches between Dauphin Island, Alabama, and Panama City Beach, Florida, come without boats. Trailering a large boat is a hassle, and many anglers don’t want to put their flawless $50,000 bass boat and trailer into saltwater that can corrode metal parts. But this is not a problem in several locations, thanks to resort destinations that cater to anglers and boaters.

Not only are there literally hundreds of boats of all sizes for rent and for charter along the coast, there’s also very good—and free–wade-fishing or kayak fishing along much of this stretch, all the way from both sides of Dauphin Island to St. Andrews Bay at Panama City Beach.

I enjoyed some great action on blues, jacks, ladyfish, trout and reds both from rental pontoons and also while wade fishing on a recent visit to Florida’s Grand Lagoon, just inside Panama City Beach Pass, the manmade cut that leads into St. Andrews Bay. I’ve had similar results in previous visits to Dauphin Island and to Orange Beach.

As throughout much of the Gulf Coast, there are loads of quality accommodations here very close to the water—but one of the very few directly on the bay with docks right in front of the hotel is the upscale Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf and Spa Resort on Jan Cooley Drive. Check them out at https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/pfnsi-sheraton-panama-city-beach-golf-and-spa-resort.   The Sheraton Panama City Beach is a great spot for anglers and boaters, with wadefishing on the premises, boat docks just across the walkway over the lagoon.

The hotel, rebuilt repeatedly after getting hammered by hurricanes, is now ideal for those who enjoy boating and fishing as part of their beach vacation. It’s directly on Grand Lagoon, with an extended walkway reaching out across grass flats and needle-rush marsh to the marina, and to some great wade fishing. There’s also a private beach on the lagoon here—a good spot for those who don’t like the waves and the crowds of the main beach along the Front Beach strip. (If the fish don’t bite—rare—you can always play golf or tennis or enjoy the miles of great walking paths.) Anglers also like “Flip-Flops”, an open-air bar and restaurant overlooking the lagoon, so close you can hear the mullet jump.  Flip Flop’s Bar and Restaurant in Panama City Beach is close enough to the lagoon to hear the mullet jump.

Alligator Point extends out from the corner where Grand Lagoon makes off to the west from St. Andrews Bay proper, and like many “elbows”, it’s a likely fishing spot. There’s grass here to several hundred yards offshore, all wadable at depths from 1 to 3 feet. For those not staying at the hotel, there’s a public access at the end of Jan Cooley Drive good for wading access or to launch a kayak. I caught trout and one big redfish throwing a Rapala Skitterwalk topwater at dawn off the point, while after the sun got high the trout and reds disappeared but several schools of 2 to 3 pound bluefish and lots of ladyfish and small jacks swarmed baits on the edge of the flats—a half-ounce Krockodile spoon caught all I wanted. This same action continues all along the north Gulf beaches until water temperature drops below about 67 degrees, which pushes the baitfish south.  Bluefish are a common catch all along the Gulf Coast so long as the baitfish are still present, which they typically are from April through early November. While wadefishing gets you to lots of fish, it’s also possible to rent kayaks and paddleboards at many locations along the coast, adding considerably to range as well as allowing you to fish deeper water if that’s where the fish are holding.  Standup paddleboards float in just inches of water, while allowing access to miles of great flats fishing all along the north Gulf Coast.

Fish the larger passes here and you get into other species. Deep water and lots of flow at Panama City, Destin, Pensacola, Perdido and the mouth of Mobile Bay means lots of bait and lots of big fish. Everything from 30-pound redfish to 5-foot-long king mackerel and 60-pound cobia prowl these passes, along with more big sharks than most of us want to deal with.

There are also nice mangrove snapper on the deep rocks, and an occasional keeper-sized gag grouper—put down a live sardine for them on 60-pound-tackle. If all this is not enough to provide your angling fix, you can also visit the sugar sand beaches that stretch some 160 miles. Holes right along the beach hold whiting and pompano ready to grab a shrimp tail, while outside the bar big reds and cobia cruise, along with tarpon in summer.

And of course all this is added to huge charter and party boat fleets at marine centers all along the coast. The big boats are ready to take you out for anything from red snapper and grouper to blackfin tuna and blue marlin.In short, there’s no need to bring a boat to the north Gulf Coast to enjoy the fishy bounty. 

For information on other accommodations, restaurants and area attractions in the Panama City Beach area, visit www.visitpanamacitybeach.com.

For Pensacola Beach visit www.visitpensacola.com.

For the Alabama coast, visit www.gulfshores.com

Epic Fall Bites for Coastal Anglers


From New Jersey to the Texas Coast, St. Croix pros sound off on epic fall bites
from The Fishing Wire

PARK FALLS, Wisc. 
Whether you mine the Northeast for stripers, tuna, blues, sea bass and blackfish or hit the southern coast for redfish, snook, sea trout and flounder, the next several weeks will see some wild action on the inshore scene. Are you ready? St. Croix’s top pros are, and we’ve asked them to share a bit about what they’re doing to capitalize on the best bites in their respective areas right now.

Northeast Coast
Captain Robbie Radlof is a renowned guide at Waterman Charters out of Barnegat Township, New Jersey. He’s one of the best in the game at consistently hunting down big tuna, as well as making a living putting his clients on striped bass, which he says has been about 90% of this fall’s fishery so far. Right now, he says the stripers are schooling up in Montauk and Connecticut and are just starting to pass through New Jersey.

“Our striper fishery has been incredible this year and it’s only going to get better here in the next few weeks,” says Radlof, who adds that new slot limits in New Jersey and New York are adding tremendous value to the recreational striper fishery in the Northeast. “We now have wads of 40”-50” fish coming back through Jersey waters. I’ve never seen this many jumbos.”Radlof says the bass are primarily feeding on adult bunker inshore.

“We’re throwing big spoons and metal-lipped plugs with the new 7’9”, extra-heavy power, moderate-fast action St. Croix Mojo Inshore rods (JIC79XHMF) on 65-lb. braid with 60-80 lb. leaders,” he says. “This is the exact rod St. Croix won the saltwater road category with at ICAST earlier this year, and it’s clear why; this is what these rods were designed for… casting large, 2-6-oz. moving baits to big, powerful fish. They’ve got a unique blend of extra-heavy power to control and subdue jumbo stripers and an ideal medium-fast tip for casting and absorbing those slashing strikes that happen with plugs and swimbaits. I’ve never used a rod this powerful that has remained so light in the hand and easy to fish.”

On days when stripers are keying in on sand eels farther offshore, Radlof switches to the new 7’11”, medium power, fast action (JIS711MF) and 7’11” medium-heavy power, fast-action (JIS711MHF) Mojo Inshore rods “These rods pair perfectly with the smaller epoxy jigs we’re using in the 1-1/4-oz. range paired with 5” paddletails, as well as the heavier Savage Gear Sand Eel lures, which have been really hot.”

Radlof says the New Jersey bluefin tuna fishery has been evolving for the better in recent years, again, thanks to tightened regulations implemented about ten years ago. “We’re seeing regular opportunities for 100- and 200-lb. fish that we didn’t have just a few years ago,” he says, but points out this year has been atypical. “We’re getting an impressive biomass of sand eels, which has really helped, but the water got warm this summer and a lot of our tuna just pushed north. We have some resident bluefins around right now, but they are fairly spread out and have been picked over pretty good. We had a great yellowfin bite in mid-August, and the bluefins should be coming back through soon, headed to North Carolina,” he adds.

“I’m hoping it won’t be too bitterly cold in December when they show back up!” When they do, Radlof says he’ll be targeting them with poppers and stickbaits.

Radlof drills down on some additional key features of St. Croix’s new Mojo Inshore rods. “The larger, more powerful rods in the series I’m using daily have new hybrid cork/EVA foam handles. The EVA portion in the middle of the handle sits right under your arm when you’re throwing those big metal lips and adds some real comfort to the equation. That’s also the same section of the handle that makes contact with a rod tube or rocket launcher when the rod are stowed, so it keeps the cork grips from getting worn and banged up. The soft non-marring rubber gimbles on the butts are a huge plus, too,” he says. “I’m often running 50-60 miles one way to find the big fish, and that soft gimble holds the rod and heavy reel securely in the rod holders.”

South Carolina & Georgia Coast
RedFin Charters captain, Justin Carter, operates out of the rich and diverse waters around Charleston, South Carolina.“We’re just past the mullet run and our bull redfish have moved offshore,” he reports. “But the shallow-water speckled trout bite on artificials is really picking up. Our water temps have dropped, trout have moved past the spawn and are transitioning into shallow wintering areas,” continues Carter, who says a couple key factors are contributing to the quality of the trout fishery right now.

“Waning daylight is prompting a lot of feeding. There’s a lot of shrimp in the creeks, and trout will continue to feed hard with temps mid-50s or higher, which could last into January,” he says.Carter is finding success on bigger trout with topwaters and suspending twitch baits, and well as Z-Man Trout Eye jigs paired with 4” DieZel MinnowZ. Depending on the size of his jig, he’s fishing 7’, light power (JIS70LF) and 7’6”, medium-light power, fast action (JIS76MLF) St. Croix Mojo Inshore spinning rods, and switches to the 7’6”, medium power (JIS76MF) Mojo Inshore when throwing spinnerbaits or topwaters.When the birds show him where they’re at, Carter is still targeting 35”-50” beast reds farther offshore with chuggers and 7”DieZel MinnowZ, but the smaller resident redfish are schooling up in the shallows to protect themselves from marauding porpoises, which no longer have access to as many mullet. “Along with the trout, we’ve got tremendous sight-fishing opportunities for slot reds and some up to 35” right know,” says Carter.

“It’s a really exciting time to be fishing right now.”

Cobia represent Carter’s ace-in-the-hole, bonus big fish at this time of year. “It’s interesting; we have some recent studies – which back up my observations over the past several years – that show our cobia aren’t just moving south and north in the spring and fall. They’re also moving east and west, and I tend to catch them in 90-120 feet this time of year,” explains Carter, who says 30-40-lb. fish aren’t unusual. “We see them regularly showing up in the chum slick while drifting on the bottom for kings and little tunny.” Carter keeps two Mojo Inshore rods rigged and ready for when Cobia appear: one rigged with a freelined livie on a 5/0 circle hook, and another set up with a white, 10” Z-Man HeroZ jerk bait rigged on a ChinlockZ hook.

“That HeroZ is outstanding cobia bait,” he says. “They’ll hardly ever turn it down as long as there’s enough distance between the fish and the boat. The Mojo Inshore 7’11”, medium-heavy (JIS711MHF) rod is ideal for both of these presentations.”

Florida Keys
“The month of November can be full of great opportunities in the lower keys,” says owner of Push It Good Inshore Charters, Scott Brown. “Resident tarpon, snook and jacks are gorging on schools of bait and some of the bigger bonefish and permit are still cruising the flats. As long as water temps don’t drop below 75 degrees and winds stay relatively moderate, you can find good numbers of all of them,” he says.Brown touts sight fishing the flats this time of year when conditions are favorable. “I like to pair a 3000 series spinning reel with a St. Croix 7’, medium-light power, new Legend Xtreme Inshore spinning rod (XSS70MLF) for presenting ¼-oz to 3/16-oz jigs to cruising bonefish and redfish.”The lower keys flats can be tough at times depending on the weather and conditions, which warrants a lightweight, responsive and super sensitive rod like Legend Xtreme Inshore.

“The ability for quick, accurate and subtle presentations is paramount when fishing for pressured bonefish. And when the wind starts blowing and visibility is reduced, that’s when Legend Xtreme’s unmatched sensitivity really comes into play; you may not be able to watch it happen, but you know when a fish has picked up the jig.”For cruising permit, Captain Scott likes freelining a live crab. “A 7’6” medium-power rod paired with a 4000 series spinning reel is the ticket,” offers Brown, who prefers to fish with the new Legend Xtreme Inshore version (XSS76MF), but keeps the incredibly capable new Triumph Inshore version (TIS76MF) rigged and handy for his clients.

“These new, handcrafted Triumph Inshore rods are simply amazing, and – in my opinion – offer an unbeatable combination of performance and value.”A big part of the lower keys’ appeal is that there’s always a bite to be had, even when conditions get nasty. “When the north winds kick up and water temps drop, I like to switch it up to live baiting for tarpon, snook and snappers. This time of year, the tarpon and snook are between 10-20lbs and larger snapper move inshore,” says Brown, who prefers a rod that’s not too heavy, but has adequate back bone to set the hook and keep fish out of the mangroves.

“The 7’ medium-heavy Triumph Inshore rods are ideal when fishing medium-sized mullet and large pilchards on 30-40-lb. fluorocarbon,” he says. “You have that fast tip necessary to accurately pitch baits close to cover, plus the power required to pull the fish away from trouble.” When the bite is really on and the tarpon are cruising , Brown switches from livies to ¼-oz. soft swim baits and bucktail jigs. His preferred rod in these cases is the 7’, medium-power Legend Xtreme Inshore spinning rod (XSS70MF).

Texas Gulf CoastFlorida-born Guillermo Gonzalez grew up chasing snook and tarpon in the Biscayne Bay backcountry south of Miami. A transplant to Texas, the 2017 Kayak Angler’s Tournament Series (KATS) Angler of the Year travels extensively to fish and compete, but most often finds himself chasing redfish and trout along the Texas coast.“The majority of our coast is known for sight fishing to shallow redfish, but the marshes are really coming alive right now,” says Gonzalez, who believes the increased activity in most areas is primarily shrimp-related. “There’s definitely more shrimp in right now, and you can see them popping as redfish move through an area.”Given the natural smorgasbord, one would guess that live shrimp and shrimp imitations are the bait of choice right now.

“Shrimp imitations are always going to work,” Gonzalez confirms. “But redfish aren’t the pickiest fish in the world; in my experience, if a red is going to eat, it will eat about anything in your tackle box.” But Gonzalez does choose certain lures that have some well-defined characteristics. When sight-fishing shallow redfish in the fall, he gravitates towards smaller, softer baits that land quietly, and are darker in color. “I’m fishing a lot of belly-weighted root beer-colored flukes, as well as smaller, darker paddletails when sight fishing,” he specifies. “Whatever you choose needs to land softly and small tends to win… nothing clunky.”

For presenting such baits, Gonzalez is bullish on St. Croix’s all-new Triumph Inshore series of rods. “These rods combine incredible St. Croix performance with an almost-unbelievable price, and the entire series has been designed to support the specific regional techniques coastal anglers employ around the country,” he says.“Wade fishing around oysteries, potholes and drains in the marsh is hugely popular along the Texas coast, and many Triumph Inshore models have been designed with this in mind. These anglers are doing a lot of casting, so the rods are lightweight and crisp with great ergonomics,” says Gonzalez, who adds that often means split grips and shorter handles.

“They are also using a lot of moving baits, so rods need to be soft enough to keep fish pinned.”Gonzalez prefers the 6’8” and 7’ medium-power, moderate-fast action Triumph Inshore models for his style of fishing. “The tips on these rods are perfect,” he says. “They’re soft enough to make the short, accurate pitches necessary to have success with shallow redfish in the marsh, with the power and back bone required to tame them. He also adds that the 7’ medium-light power, moderate action casting rod (TRIC70MLM) has a sweet, parabolic action that coastal Texas trout anglers are flocking to.St. Croix pro and lifelong inshore angler, Joseph Sanderson is a former collegiate FLW and BASS competitor and current KBF tournament kayak angler. He dives deeper on the new, trout-centric TRIC70MLM.

“As Guillermo already mentioned, wade-fishing is really popular down here. if I go wading for trout, I’m really working; popping and reeling in slack and then repeating. A heavy, stiff rod will wear you out. This rod is comfortable to fish all day with,” he says, “When wading deep, you can’t use your arm; you have to use your wrist. The medium-light rod and shorter handle of the TRIC70MLM really helps. And since speckled trout have really soft mouths, the moderate action of this rod keeps them hooked up.”

Sanderson recently spent a day sight-fishing for reds from a skiff and wading with the 6’8” and 7’ medium power, moderate-fast action Triumph Inshore casting rods (TRIC68MMF and TRIC70MMF). “We had calm conditions and clear water, so we were making a lot of medium-distance casts in the 50-60-foot range. Accuracy mattered and both rods delivered with 1/16-oz. jigs and small paddletails,” he says, noting that rods also had plenty of power to subdue the 20”-28” slot fish they were catching. “I’m not very conventional about matching rods to big fish,” says Sanderson. “I can assure you these medium-power rods will easily handle 30”-35” reds.”Sanderson drills down on Triumph Inshore’s varied handle options. “I preferred the 7’ version a bit better with the longer, full cork handle because I prefer to cast with two hands, but found the shorter-handled 6’8” split-grip an ideal option for wading. It’s rare to find a casting rod that performs with the lightweight jigs and baits I use so much of the time, and both of these rods excelled.”Sanderson and Gonzalez were impressed with the new Triumph Inshore rods from the start. “When I unpackaged these rods, the first thing I noticed was the surprisingly high quality of the cork and their beautiful finish,” Sanderson says.

“The second was their extreme light weight. These are without a doubt the finest inshore rods in their price range I have ever held.” Gonzalez agrees, adding, “the finish, components, balance and cosmetics of these rods are flawless. I never expected to see that in a rod retailing for $130.”

Catch Up with Radlof, Carter and Sanderson Live
Want to hear even more about what’s happening on the inshore scene right now or ask questions of your own? Join St. Croix pros Joseph Sanderson, Justin Carter and Rob Radlof on Facebook Live @stcroixrods, Tuesday, November 24 at 7:00PM Central.

#CROIXGEARLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel. Save 20% off retail on select performance tees, November 16th through the 31st. 
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Where and How To Catch February Logan Martin Bass, with GPS Coordinates

        Although winter still has a firm grip on fishermen, bass are responding to longer days.  They are starting to feed up for the coming spawn and venture from deep water to nearby shallows to eat. At Logan Martin this means they are on deep rocky banks that have shallow cover and on shallow points that drop into channels.

    Logan Martin is on the Coosa River east of Birmingham and I-20 crosses it near Pell City.  It is full of fat Coosa Spots and quality largemouth. Rocky river channel shorelines with docks and points at mouths of creeks and coves line the lake and both species are feeding on them this month.

    Tim Ward grew up fishing Logan Martin. He and his family stayed at a campground in Clear Creek often and he had a small boat to explore the nearby area and learn to catch bass.  He really got into bass fishing when he was 13 and fished his first tournament when 18.  His experience club fishing led him to join the Auburn Bass Team and he fished with the team from 2011 to 2015.

    Now Tim fishes with the Marathon Bassmasters in Birmingham and is working on fishing on the pro side of big tournaments by fishing as a co-angler in BFLs.  He placed second in a Bass Nation tournament and won a couple of BFLs on the co-angler side. He also fished the ABT Southern Division.

    Logan Martin is Tim’s home lake and he fishes it often.  He knows that the bass start feeding more and more in late January and all during February, even if the water remains cold.  Toward the end of the month when the water does start warming they are even more active.

    “All during February Logan Martin bass still want to be near deep water, but will move shallow to feed,” Tim said. Rocky river channel banks with a shallow ledge along it is a good place to find them, as are points that drop into deep water. Rocks are the key but wood cover on them helps.

    To cover those kinds of places, Tim relies on a variety of baits. A jerkbait, crank bait, rattle bait and chatterbait all allow him to cover water and find feeding fish. If he is not finding active fish, a shaky head will always catch fish on Logan Martin under any conditions. 

    The water is usually a brownish stained color this time of year, with clearer water in some creeks. The water color controls his choice of colors.  Shad colors are good in clearer water but brighter colors like chartreuse are better if the water is stained. In muddy water Tim says red is hard to beat.

    We fished on a cold, cloudy windy day in early January and caught some spots and largemouth on several of these places. 

    1.  N 33 29.288 – W 86 14.998 – Going up the river from Cropwell Branch the river makes an “S” bend and Powel’s Campground is on the left bank going upstream.  The right bank across from it is an outside bend with docks on it and wood cover washes in. It is a good example of the kind of river bank he likes.

    As the river turns back to the left there is a big bay on the right with a smaller bay just upstream of it.  Start at the upstream point of the upstream bay with a dock on it.  The dock has a covered boat slip and there is a matching smaller covered deck on the bank.  There is a small private ramp on the upstream side of the dock. 

    Start at the point and fish upstream, casting to the bank and covering any wood cover and all the docks along this bank.  Your boat will be in 20 feet of water or deeper a fairly short cast off the bank, but there is a small shelf the docks sit on, and bass move up out of the channel to feed all along it.

    Tim will fish all the way up to the next pocket if he is getting bit. But if he fishes a hundred yards of this bank without a bite he will move to another place.  He does not expect to catch a bunch of fish in one spot.  He is looking for individual feeding fish holding on the cover along this bank.

    2.  N 33 30.754 – W 86 15.618 – Going back down the river there is a double creek entering on the outside bend on your right. There are two islands in the mouth of it. The downstream point runs way out to the creek and river channels and fish hold and feed on it until moving in to spawn.

    We rode over this point and Tim’s electronics lit up with baitfish holding near the bottom in 20 to 25 feet of water.  Baitfish are always a good sign that bass are in the area.  We did not stay long since the wind was blowing strong but if you can fish a place like this you should stay on it and cover it carefully.

    Keep your boat in 25 feet of water off the end of the point and fan cast all over the point. Cast toward the bank will be in eight to ten feet of water and you can cover it out to about 12 feet deep with a crankbait that dives that deep, Tim’s choice this time of year. He likes a chartreuse and cream color and wants his bait to bump the bottom from 6 to 12 feet deep.

    Also try a rattlebait in places like this.  Cast it to eight feet deep and work it out to 15 feet deep, the range Tim expects bass to hold right now.  Work it back by slow rolling it near the bottom or pumping it up and letting it fall back.

    3.  N 33 29.529 – W 86 17.354 – Going down the river past the mouth of Cropwell Creek the first opening on your right is a cove with docks in it, and there is another smaller pocked just downstream of it.  Fish stage on the points of both these pockets and spawn in them.

    The downstream point of the downstream pocket is rocky with a dock on it. The upstream side is flatter with docks along it, too.  Tim likes to fish both sides of this pocket this time of year.  Cast a chatterbait and squarebill crankbait to the dock posts.  Try to bump the post with the squarebill.  Tim uses a Strike King 1.5 in chartreuse and black. Bump it off dock posts and any other wood cover on the bank.

    Also work a shaky head around the docks and wood cover, and probe for brush around the docks with it.

The first dock on the upstream side has a yellow bench on it and there is a good brush pile out from it. 
We missed a couple of bites in that brush pile, the wind made it hard to fish a shaky head.

    4.  N 33 26.822 – W 86 17.321 – Run down into Clear Creek to the bridge.  The riprap on the bridge holds fish all month long and more move to it as they work up the creek toward spawning areas.  Fish both side of the riprap on both ends of the bridge.

    Fish the rocks with a jerkbait and crankbait.  Tim says a Megabass 110 in sexy shad is hard to beat. The water in here is usually clearer, as the creek name implies.  A shad colored crankbait bumped along the rocks in 8 to 12 feet deep will also catch fish. Both baits allow you to cover the riprap quickly.

    Work the rocks with a shaky head, too. On the rocks a fairly light head will get hung up less. Tim uses a three sixteenths to one quarter ounce head and he puts a green pumpkin or Junebug Zoom Trick or Finesse worm on it.  He also dips the tail of the worm in chartreuse dye.  Fish it with a drag and shake action. 

    5.  N 33 26.928 –  w 86 16.688 – Going up the left arm of the creek a long point comes off the right bank and runs over half way across it. The creek channel runs along the upstream side and the end runs out to where the channel swings around it. There are big rocks and a danger marker on the end of the point.

    Keep your boat in 25 feet of water and fish the end and upstream side with a jerkbait and crankbait.  Try different cadences with the jerkbait but Tim says the typical jerk, jerk, pause works well most days.  Pause the bait longer in colder water.   Also try your shaky head here. We caught a keeper spot here on a shaky head.

    6.  N 33 26.839 – W 86 18.577 – Going down the lake from Clear Creek there is a big cove on your left. Arms run off both sides in the back. There are good channels running into them and there are a lot of docks along the banks. Bass move into this cove to spawn and hold along the channels, moving up to the shallows to feed this month.

    Tim said this is one of his favorite places and we fished all the way around it, and caught a good largemouth and two spots, as well as missing several bites.  Start on the left as you enter the pocket at the dock on your left in front of a brick boat house at the mouth of the arm that goes back to the left. There is a flag pole on the bank beside the dock and a cement boat ramp going to the boathouse.

    The water is shallow along the banks here and Tim choses chatterbait and squarebill around the docks and gravel banks.  The largemouth hit a chatterbait and the spot hit the crankbait here. Hit any cover along the bank.

    Also fish your shaky head here. Some of the docks have brush in front of them where the fish feed. Probe for the brush and work it thoroughly with your shaky head.  Fish all the way to the last dock on the right side.

    7.  N 33 26.927 – W 86 18.704 – The upstream point of this big cove has riprap around it, a white bird house on the bank and big rocks up shallow.  Rocks also run out to deep water on the point that runs across the mouth of the cove.

    There were fish and bait fish on it when we rode over it and we caught a largemouth out in 15 feet of water. Stop out in 25 feet of water off the end of the point and fan cast it with a shaky head, crankbait and rattlebait.  Then work toward the bank, covering the shallows around it with square bill and shaky head.

    8. N 33 26.659 – W 86 19.208 – A little further down the lake toward the dam a long point runs out from the left bank, drops into a saddle and comes up to a small island. There is a yellow smiley face flag on it and there are rocks all around it and a big tree off the bank on the downstream side. The river channel runs right off the outside point of it.

    Start at the saddle on the upstream side and work around the island with your jerkbait.  When you get to the outside point keep your boat in 15 feet of water and cover the point with both jerkbait and shaky head.   This point is one of the few places Tim expects bass to school up and he says you can catch a lot of fish on it.

    9.  N 33 26.469 – W 86 19.673 – Across the lake a big island with a causeway sits near the right bank going toward the dam. The outside bank of this island drops off fast with rocks and docks on it. There is a small pocket half way down the bank.

    Tim starts on the upstream side of the pocket at the dock in front of a house with red umbrellas by it and fishes around the pocket. Tim says this is a good place to catch a big fish this time of year.  Fish all around the pocket and docks on both sides with chatterbait, jerkbait, squarebill and shaky head. Tim uses the Z Man half ounce bait with a chartreuse and white skirt.

    10.  N 33 27.487 – W 86 17.826 – Back up the lake on your right at the mouth of Clear Creek, Clear Creek Harbor Marina has a riprap breakwater point running off the right bank.  Bass hold and feed all along this riprap on both sides, and concentrate on the end. We lost a decent fish that was right on the edge of the water.

    Fish all the way around the riprap point with crankbait and jerkbait. Get in close to the rocks and parallel them, especially if there is wind blowing in on them. There was a good chop on the water here when we fished, perfect for this time of year.

    If the wind is not blowing stay off the rocks and cast a shaky head to the edge of the rocks and work it all the way back to the boat.  This is a good spawning pocket so fish gang up along the rocks as they get ready to move in and spawn.

    All these places are excellent this month, and many similar places hold fish right now.  Check Tim’s favorites to see when he looks for and you can find many similar spots all over the lake.

Fishing South Carolina’s Lake Thurmond

It will always be Clark Hill to me! And most of the lake is in Georgia
Photo courtesy Old 96 Tourism District

By David Lucas
from The Fishing Wire

Whatever you call the lowest lake in the Savannah chain along South Carolina’s “West Coast” the fishing there is red hot, even when the weather turns cold.

Ask an old-time Sandlapper (that’s a South Carolinian for you folks “from off”) what the big lake bordering the Sumter National Forest North of Augusta is called, and like as not, they’ll tell you it’s Clarks Hill.

That was true for a long time, but both the dam and the lake impounded by it were renamed after South Carolina’s longest-serving U.S. Senator in 1987 as the “J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Dam.”  Before that, the lake was known on both sides of the border as “Clarks Hill,” though it’s official name when opened in 1954 was “Clark Hill” (a clerical error later corrected at the insistence of Senator Thurmond.)

Anyway, that’s history (and politics) for you — one lake, three names.

Today, with nearly 71,100 acres of water and 1,200 miles of shoreline at full pool, Lake Thurmond is a haven for outdoor recreation such as fishing, boating and paddling, as well as a major attraction for anglers, tourists and people looking for a nice place to retire.

Though the lake was built with the primary purposes of flood control and power generation in mind, recreation was part of the plan from the beginning. Constructed between 1944 and 1954 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project plan included numerous shoreline recreation spots for camping, picnicking and bank fishing built at the same time that have remained popular throughout the years.

Numerous private camps and marinas also sprung up around the lake in the years after it opened, and the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism maintains three beautiful state parks that all offer lakeside camping and water access via boat ramps — Hickory Knob, Baker Creek and Hamilton Branch. 

Four-Season Fishing
Lake Thurmond is sometimes referred to as an “angler’s paradise,” and it’s easy to see why; there’s a reason Bassmasters magazine and Bassmasers.com recently included it on their list of the Best Bass Fishing Lakes of the Decade in the Southeast.

The lake’s abundant underwater timber and large forage base of blueback herring, gizzard and threadfin shad provide the essentials for great fishing — food and cover. Anglers at Lake Thurmond can successfully target largemouth bass, and a large population of stocked striped and hybrid bass. Flathead and blue catfish, crappie and bream are also plentiful.

With the area’s mild weather, late fall and even into winter is a great time to get out on the lake and chase schools of stripers and hybrids. The fish are in winter prep mode and can be found loading up on schools of shad or herring. Landing a forty-plus pound fish isn’t unusual.

Experienced guides on the lake will advise you that the way to find winter stripers and hybrids is to find the baitfish, and one way to do that (other than using sonar equipment) is by looking for flocking gulls feeding on the surface. The birds also show up in big numbers beginning in fall, which just goes to show you – the Palmetto State’s “West Coast” is a popular stop for winter migrants of all kinds (even the two-legged type).Striped and hybrid bass stocked in the lake by SCDNR’s Freshwater Fisheries Section can be successfully targeted nearly year-round at Lake Thurmond. [photo by David Lucas, SCDNR]

In the spring, crappie on the lake begin moving into shallower water to spawn, and that’s when knowing where the lake’s well-maintained fish attractor site can work to your benefit, especially if fishing from the bank is your thing.

Visit the USACE’s Lake Thurmond Recreation pages to find maps, or the SCDNR lakes pages.

The largemouth bass bite also turns on in the spring, when water temperatures begin to rise and the fish seek coves and shallow water to spawn.  But bass can be caught on Thurmond even throughout the dog days of summer if you know where to look, and just like with the wintertime striper/hybrid bite, the key will be locating the baitfish – blueback herring in particular. When the spawn is finished and hot weather takes over, the bluebacks head for deeper, cooler water and the bass will follow.  Points and deepwater brushpiles are key spots, and topwater lures can be deadly effective in that scenario, according to a pro angler who should know – local bass fishing hero Casey Ashley.S.C.-based professional bass angler Casey Ashley knows Lake Thurmond and advises fishing deepwater structure when the weather turns hot. [photo courtesy Bassmaster]

But don’t forget about catfish during the summer months. From June, all the way into early fall, catfish in the 1-10 pound range are pulled out of the lake in large numbers. Fish fry anyone? Anchoring or drifting off of points or humps while fishing cut bait or stinkbaits close to the bottom are the tried-and-true tactics. Night fishing is also popular, and some say that’s when the bigger cats are more likely to be landed.

Whatever time of year you choose to visit, it won’t take long for you to discover why Bassmaster magazine recently included Lake Thurmond/Clarks Hill as one of the top bass lakes of the decade in the Southeast.

If You Go
For more information about the lake’s recreational fishing and camping opportunities, visit the USACE’s Lake Thurmond Recreation web pages.

For a broader look at the area’s other attractions – scenic drives, historic sites, hiking trails and local hotspots for BBQ or country cooking, try the website for the “Old 96” tourism region for help with itineraries, accommodations and travel plans.

Virginia’s Prime Trout Streams for 2021

By Alex McCrickard
Virginia DWR Aquatic Education Coordinator
from The Fishing Wire

Virginia anglers are truly blessed with an abundance of trout streams in the Commonwealth. The diversity of these streams provides opportunities for every trout angler whether you prefer fishing for wild trout or stocked trout, spin fishing or fly fishing, or fishing with bait versus artificial flies and lures. No matter what you enjoy, Virginia has you covered.

However, with 3,500 miles of trout streams across the state it can be hard to know where to start. One could truly spend a lifetime exploring all the trout opportunities that Virginia has to offer. If you are wondering where to get started, consider these eight destinations listed below in alphabetical order.
DWR Fisheries Biologist, Steve Owens, hooked up at the Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing area.

Fee Fishing Areas 
(Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, Douthat State Park)

The Department’s three Fee Fishing Areas provide excellent “put and take” trout fishing opportunities. These fee fishing areas also have the added bonus of being stocked numerous times a week throughout the season. Both fly anglers and spin anglers will enjoy the fee fishing areas.

During the fee fishing season, which opens the first Saturday in April, the daily permit is $8. The Clinch Mountain fee fishing area is an excellent opportunity for anglers in the southwestern portion of the state as you can try your luck on Big Tumbling Creek, Briar Cove Creek, and Laurel Bed Creek. The Crooked Creek fee fishing area is in Carroll County, not far from Galax. Here anglers can try their luck fishing for stocked trout. Finally, the Douthat State Park fee fishing area provides opportunities to target stocked trout on the 60-acre lake and in Wilson Creek. These fee fishing areas are great places to take family members and beginners when teaching them how to trout fish.

The author with a 21″ brown trout caught on a large streamer while floating the Jackson River tailwater.

Jackson River Tailwater

Anglers looking to fish a larger river for wild trout should look no further than the Jackson River tailwater. Wild brown trout and wild rainbow trout thrive in the tailwater from Gathright Dam 18 miles downstream to Covington. This larger river provides anglers the opportunity to fish from a raft or drift boat for wild trout, with many in the 12- to 16-inch range. There are six public access points, giving anglers a variety of float options. Please note that some riverfront landowners have brought successful trespassing claims to anglers fishing in a couple of distinct sections of the river. Reference the map on the DWR website for additional information on access points.

Both fly and spin anglers will enjoy the wild trout opportunities on the Jackson. High spring flows can be the best time of year to hunt for larger brown trout with streamers and sinking line. Spin fisherman will also find luck pursuing some of the river’s larger specimens with trout magnets, live bait, or spinners like the Joe’s Fly during this time of year. A variety of caddis and mayfly hatches keep the trout happy throughout the spring, summer, and fall and can provide for technical fly fishing situations. Since the Jackson River is a tailwater, make sure to check the river flows and release schedule before planning your trip.The author with a nice brown trout from the upper section of the public stretch on Mossy Creek.

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Where and How To Catch January Lay Lake Bass, with Matt Herren – Includes GPS Coordinates

 

Its cold outside, the rut is making it a good time to go deer hunting and you might not be thinking much about fishing. But the big spotted bass at Lay Lake are on a very predictable pattern and you can catch some of the biggest spots of the year right now.

Lay Lake on the Coosa River east of Birmingham is known for its big spotted bass.  The Alabama Power Lake dammed in 1914 produces three and four pounds spots consistently and bigger fish are caught each year. There is also a good population of largemouth but in the winter the spotted bass fishing is more consistent.

Matt Herren grew up fishing Lay Lake and other Coosa River lakes in the area. His father took him fishing in ponds and on Lay Lake as a kid and they watched some tournament weigh-ins and got interested in tournament fishing.  They started fishing wildcat tournaments on Lay Lake in 1988.

From his success there he entered the Redman tournaments in 1989 and came in second in the points standings in the BAMA Division that first year.  By 2003 he was fishing the FLW Tour and now fishes the BASS Elite trail. 

Since turning pro, Matt has qualified for six BASSMaster Classics, including the 2016 tournament, and six FLW Championships.  This past year he tied for 10th place in the Angler of the Year point’s standings in BASS. In his career he has won over 1.2 million dollars in tournaments.

“In January the shad are moving up the river an into the creeks and the big spots are following them and feeding,” Matt said.  He prefers to go after quality spots up the river if possible rather than fishing further down the lake.  He said you can catch fish any day in January further down the lake but for the big ones he wants to fish up the river from the Locust Creek area to the Neely Henry Dam.

The day we went in early December the river was not fishable. We checked the Neely Henry Dam and all floodgates were open and all generators running. The river was three or four feet high and the current extremely strong.  When it is like that the fish hunker down and are very hard to catch since you can’t even control your boat very well. So we made lemonade, fishing from the Highway 280 Bridge downstream, and Matt caught some fish under very tough conditions.

No matter which way he goes Matt will have the same baits rigged.  His prime bait is a three eights to one half ounce Santone Lures Texas Finesse Jig tipped with a Reaction Innovations Petite Twerk or Smallie Beaver trailer. He goes with browns and greens if the water is clear or darker colors like black and blue if the water is stained.

A Santone three eights to one and one half ounce white or chartreuse and white spinnerbait is good for covering water faster, and he uses heavier baits the deeper he is fishing. A DT 6 or DT 10 crankbait in shad colors is also good for covering water and finding fish.

A Megabass 110 jerkbait and a Santone Piglet Shaky Head round out his arsenal of lures. The shaky head will have a Reactions Innovations Pocket Rocket worm on it.  With those lures fished on a Kistler Rod with the action for that lure, teamed with Gamma fluorocarbon line, covers all the types of cover and structure he wants to fish in January.

The following places give you a variety of kinds of spots to fish, no matter what the conditions. If the river is high and fast fish the first six and similar places downstream. If it is normal, with some current but not so fast you can’t fish effectively, fish upstream from the Highway 280 Bridge.

1.  N 33 17.626 – W 86 21.462 – We put in at Pop’s Landing in Tallaseehatchee Creek in Childersburg and started fishing at the mouth of it.  When the current is strong the fish will often hold in the mouths of sloughs and creeks like this and feed in the eddies there.  Start by casting a spinnerbait right to the rocks on the riprap bank on the downstream point since the fish will often be right on the bank. 

As you get out into the river work downstream on the same side and fish all the way to the Highway 280 Bridge.  If the current is strong point your boat upstream and let it drift downstream holding it as slow as you can with your trolling motor. Cast at an angle upstream, letting your bait work back to the boat with the current. Fish a crankbait and spinnerbait here, then follow up with a jig and pig.

Cast the jig right to the bank and use a heavy enough jig to keep it on the bottom in the current. If the water is high try to get your bait down to the rocks along the edge of the normal full pool channel. Bass will often hunker down behind those rocks and feed on baitfish and crawfish washed to them.

When you get to the bridges work the eddies behind the pilings on both the railroad and highway bridge. Matt got a keeper spot on his jig behind one of these pilings when we fished.

2. N 33 16.711 – W 86 23.289 – Running down the river the houses and docks stop and you will go a good ways down to the mouth of Bailey Creek opening on your left without seeing any docks.  There is a picnic pavilion on the point and a dock just inside the upstream point, with riprap around it.

Stop on the upstream side of the slough and work the point as you go downstream. Cast into the slough and work a spinnerbait, crankbait and jig and pig back out to the eddy of the current. Also fish the downstream point of the slough.

If the current is real strong you can position your boat inside the mouth of the slough and cast your bait out, working it into the eddies on both points like a baitfish coming from the river into the slough.

3.  N 33 16.353 – W 86 24.664 – Running down the river just before it starts a bend to the right you will see some big rocks on the bank on your left. This marks the start of a bluff outside bend of the river and is an excellent place to catch spots in January.

Start at the first visible rocks and fish downstream, keeping your boat in about 25 feet of water and casting to the edge of the water. Work your bait back out to about 15 feet deep.  A jig and pig and a shaky head worm are both good here.

You can fish a long way down this bank since it is a sweeping outside bend and the rocks run all along it. Rocks are the key this time of year, if they have baitfish on them. Watch your depthfinder and if you are not seeing balls of bait don’t spend a lot of time in the area.

It is good to fish your bait with the current no matter how fast the current is moving. Some current is good and will make the fish bite better, even if the water is very cold.  If the current is normal work upstream, casting ahead of the boat at an angle as you work into the current.

4.  N 33 16.976 – W 86 25.636 – Across the river and downstream Deer Lick Creek enters the river as it starts a big horseshoe bend to the left. This big creek has a house trailer on the downstream point well back from the river.  The upstream point of it has a defined underwater point coming off it and bass will feed on it in all current situations.

Stop upstream of the slough and fish the upstream point as you go past it. Then swing around into the slough and fish across it, casting your jig and pig and jig head worm out into the river and bringing it up and across the point.  There are some stumps on the point that hold fish so probe for them with your baits.

5.  N 33 14.547 – W 86 27.443 – Run on down the lake to the power plant on your right.  This coal fired steam plant discharges warm water into the river and that warmer water draws shad and bass to it in January.  Stop just upstream of the discharge and fish downstream.

Cast a spinnerbait or crankbait into the discharge and let the current carry it downstream as you fish it back. The river current and the discharge current will make eddies here that the bass hold in to feed so concentrate on them.

Also, fish a jig and pig or jighead in the discharge and downstream of it, too. The warmer water will say near the bank going downstream, making it better this time of year. 

6. N 33 13.382 – W 86 27.840 – Further down the river the channel splits into three parts with islands separating them. The main marked channel is to the left side going downstream.  Just upstream of the first marker where the channel goes to the left is a bluff bank. There is a house trailer sitting on top of the bluff upstream of the channel marker.

Stop out in front of this trailer and fish downstream, letting the current take your boat downstream backwards. Fish to the shallow gravel point where the bluff runs out and there is a small cove. 

Fish the bluff bank and the big rocks on it with a jig and pig and jig head worm.  Your boat should be in 25 feet of water a short cast off the bank. The current was almost too strong to fish here the day we went, even this far downstream, but Matt got a good keeper spot and we both missed fish in the current.

When you get to the shallow gravel point near the channel marker fish all over it with your jig and pig and jig head worm, too. Fish will run in on this point to feed.

7.  N 33 19.766 – W 86 21.839 – The following places are all upstream of the Highway 280 Bridge and you can fish them for big spots as long as the floodgates are not open. One or two generators running produce enough current to improve the fishing but more than that makes it tough.

Go to the water intake tower on the right going upstream. It is just downstream of the golf course.  This big structure breaks the current and bass will stack up on the downstream side of it as well as in front where pipes or indentions create an eddy.

Keep your boat downstream and cast a spinnerbait and crankbait up past the building and let them come back with the current. If you can hold your boat on the downstream side just downstream of the structure cast a spinnerbait to the wall and let if flutter down it. Also fish your jig head worm and jig and pig down the walls in the eddies.

8.  N 33 20.157 – W 86 22.112 – Across the river and a little upstream is the mouth of Locust Creek. If the current is very strong you can fish it like the ones downstream but if the current is right start at it and work upstream.

Matt likes to slowly work up the river bank, casting at an angle ahead of the boat, all the way to the powerlines. He will work a crankbait or spinnerbait from the edge of the water back to the boat. If the fish are holding deeper along the bank he will go to a heavier spinnerbait to get down to them. He will also work a heavier jig and pig or jig head worm to keep it on the bottom deeper.

9.  N 33 22.176 – W 86 20.567 – Something different that is always good in the winter, no matter what the conditions, is the back end of Flipper Creek where there is a big spring.  The spring keeps the water a steady temperature, must warmer than the river water in the winter, which draws shad and bass, and it will be clearer if the river muddies up.

Go in the mouth of Flipper Creek and to the very back of it. You will be right beside the road and railroad that are in the back end of it just up the bank.  Fish all the way around the area in the back, working all your baits around the wood cover here. Also cast right down the middle of the area to cover the bottom there.

10.  The following spots are between the upstream railroad bridge and the Logan Martin Dam. Most of them are very similar and they are easy to find.  The first is the railroad bridge itself. Matt says to fish all the pilings on it with spinnerbait, crankbait and jigs.  Work the eddies caused by these pilings, just like at the downstream railroad bridge and the Highway 280 bridge.

Rateliffes Island is a big island that splits the river upstream of the railroad bridge. Just upstream of it is the mouth of Kelly Creek on your left and you can fish the mouth of it like the other creek mouths if the current is strong.  If the current will let you, Matt says fish the banks on either side of it for a half mile both ways. Work up the current casting ahead of the boat and fishing all your baits back with the current.

Just across from Kelly Creek and a little upstream the right bank going upstream is an outside bend of the river Matt says fish it for a mile going upstream, as long as the rocks hold up on the outside bend.  This is a typical bank that drops off fast and has rocks that you need to fish. Baitfish in the area makes it much better.

A little further upstream there is a small island not far off left the bank.  Fish the banks on both sides of it and behind it, too.  As in all places, look for current breaks to hold fish.

Matt warns that you should always wear your life jacket when up the river. The current is dangerous and the cold water can make you lose control of your muscles fast. Don’t take chances.

You can catch some quality spots right now on Lay Lake. Follow Matt’s suggestions for baits to use and kinds of places to fish and you will soon forget it is winter.

Matt does not guide but he is setting up an on the water electronics school. He will show you how to set up your Hummingbird electronics like his boat is equipped and show you how to use them to find fish. He can do the same for Lowrance units. You can contact him through his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/matt.herren.52

Where and How to Catch March Lake Seminole Bass, with GPS Coordinates

March 2018 Seminole Bass

with Jason Smith

        Bass in most of our lakes are moving near spawning areas, but Lake Seminole is so far south that some have already spawned, some are spawning and some are just off bedding areas ready to move in and fan beds.  You can catch them on sandy flats, in pockets and on sandbars on the main lake right now.

    Seminole is a big, shallow lake in the corner of Georgia, Alabama and Florida.  Everywhere you look makes you think you can catch a bass there. Grass and stumps are all over the lake, with lily pads and cattails lining the banks and shallows.  But if you don’t know key areas you can do a lot of casting without a bite.

    For the past year or so bass fishing has been fantastic on Seminole, with many tournaments won with 30 pound plus stringers.  If you fish a local pot tournament against fishermen that know the lake well you better have more than 20 pounds to even hope for a check.  Five and six pounders are common, and it usually takes a seven plus to win the big fish pot.

    Jason Smith lives in Albany, Georgia and has fished Seminole all his life. His mentor, Jackie Hambrick, was a well known Lake Seminole expert.  Fishing with the Albany Bassin Buddies taught him a lot about the keys to catching bass.

    Jason loves fishing so much he started Buddha Baits, selling jigs, spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, soft baits, line and rods and reels to fishermen.  He keeps in touch with local experts and this helps catch big fish when he goes to the lake.

    In a Seminole Winter Trail tournament in mid-January, Jason had 24 pound stringer and did not get a check.  That tournament shows the kind of fish being caught this year on Seminole. 

    “I love Seminole because you can catch so many quality fish,” Jason said.  March is the best month to find the sows in the spawning areas many years, and our cold winter has stacked them up even more this year, delaying the early spawners that sometimes go on the bed on Seminole as early as January.

    Jason will have as variety of his baits rigged on his rods for March fishing.  Since most of the fish will be located around grass or other weed cover, he throws most of them Buddha Braid since you need braid to get big fish out of the weeds. 

    He will have a rattle bait, a Texas rigged lizard or Senko, Swagger Swim worm, an Enlightened Swim Jig, a Carolina rigged lizard or Trick worm, a bladed Swagger Jig and an Inseine Jig and pig all ready to cast. For thick hyacinth beds he will be ready to flip them with a Baby Mama with a 1.5 ounce sinker.

    We fished Seminole the last day of January after a cold front, with bluebird skies and little wind, some of the worst possible weather.  Even under those bad weather conditions we had a decent limit with a 5.5 pounder to anchor it.  The fish were not really in the bedding areas yet but just off them, ready to move in so you can catch them.

    1.  N 30 47.304 – W 84 48.447 – Going up Spring Creek the Grassy Flats cut, marked by poles going off the Spring Creek Channel to the left going upstream, is just downstream of the Big Jim’s Cut.  Where the Grassy Flats cut hits the creek channel on the left, on your right an island is just off the creek channel. A ditch runs in behind the island and forms a good staging area going into the spawning flat behind the island, the ideal area for this time of year.

    Idle in to the point through the standing timber and start by working it with a Carolina rig and jig and pig out near the channel and ditch junction. There are stumps and grass on it.  Start out deep and work up the ditch to the shallow spawning flat.

    There is a grass edge around the point and on the ditch side. Keep your boat off it and fish a bladed jig through the grass.  Work fairly fast until you get a bite then slow down and make multiple casts with your bladed jig and follow up with a Carolina rig.

    As bass move back they follow the grass edge and feed, then  move into the shallow water behind it to spawn.  Keep a watch for beds behind the grass as you fish. There will usually be several grouped together with empty space between them.  When you spot a bed fish it with a paddle tail Baby Mama, swimming it up to the bed and letting it fall into the bed.

    2.  N 30 44.878 – W 84 50.604 – Out on the Flint River, on the south bank before the turn toward the dam, River Junction ramp is on your right going upstream.  Bass hold out on the grass line in six to eight feet of water then move to the bank in the shallow bay to spawn.

    Start by fishing the outside grass line, especially if the water is still cold.  We caught a couple of keepers out here. Then go back in behind the grass and work the bedding area. Keep your boat in about five feet of water and fan cast a swim worm behind a one quarter to five sixteenths ounce sinker.

    Also drag a Carolina rigged lizard through the shallows, searching for bedding fish. The water is often too stained on the Flint to see the beds, so probe for them with a lizard.  Since beds are usually grouped together, make multiple casts to any area you catch a fish.

    3.  N 30 45.087 – W 84 50.005 – Going up the Flint upstream of the River Junction Ramp another bay swings back, providing a more protected spawning area.  Fish it the same way as hole #2.  You will see cattails on the bank and lily pad steams in the water. Watch for them everywhere you fish since they grow on sandy bottoms where bass spawn.

    For covering water more quickly until you hit a group of bass a bladed jig works well. Jason rigs his black and blue or green pumpkin Swagger Jig with a matching three or four-inch swimbait and fishes it through the grass.  A paddle tail worm also allows you to cover water more quickly to find the key spots.
   4.  N 30 46.014 – W 84 50.517 – The big flats between Spring Creek and the Flint are huge spawning areas.  Straight across from Sealy Point in Spring Creek, a small group islands is just off deeper water that goes in on the flat and is a highway for the bass moving in.   

    The downstream island in this group is a cluster of cypress trees and is closest to the deeper water. Go in to the downstream side of the island and fan cast the whole area, keeping your boat in four or five feet of water and casting all around.  Drag a Carolina rigged lizard or fish a little faster with a bladed jig, working the whole area. 

    Always watch for beds in areas like this.  If you see a lighter spot on the bottom, look at it closely.  There are light spots on the bottom that are not beds but the active beds will be brighter, and there will often be several close together.  When you see them slow down and fish a paddle tail worm all around them and in them. The water is clearer here from Spring Creek and you can usually see them.

    5.  N 30 46.181 – W 84 50.056 – Go around the island in Hole #4 and another smaller island is on the Spring Creek side a little upstream.  It is more shallow around it and you can see clumps of cat tails, pad stems and grass all around it.  Sunny warmer days warm this water quickly and move bass into the area early

    Start on the downstream end of the smaller island and fish on the side away from Spring Creek, working upstream behind it.  The flats all around it have sandbars for the bass to spawn and there are often a lot of beds in the area.   Fish from the bank of the island all the way out to deeper water.  Just remember deeper water here is only three feet deep or so.

    6.  N 30 44.748 – W 84 52.621 – On the Chattahoochee River side of the point between it and the Flint, a group of poles in a circle way off the last island on the point mark the Indian Mounds.  On the Chattahoochee River side of the island, across from the Indian Mounds, a shallow bay forms a good spawning area.

    There are scattered stumps as well as grass in this bay and bass spawn all over it.  Keep your boat in four or five feet of water and fish the water three or four feet deep, fan casting all over the flat.  You may not be able to see the beds in the more stained river water, but they will be here, and grouped together like in other places.

    Fish from near the downstream point of the island up the Chattahoochee River side.  Watch for lily pad stems marking sandy areas. A bladed jig comes through them well and is a good choice for a search bait.  A Carolina rig is good for slowing down and working an area.

7.  N 30 45.542 – W 84 47.298 – Up the Flint River on the right bank going upstream, a wide bay swings in away from the channel markers.  On the upstream end of the bay a wood dock with no top sits out on the downstream side of the point. Downstream of the dock slightly deeper water is closer to the bank.

    Start about 200 yards down the bank from the dock and fish toward it, casting to the bank and the scattered grass.  Sometimes a red rattle bait will attract bites in areas like this when other baits are ignored. A swim jig like Jason’s Enlightened jig or Inseine Jig will also attract bites from more active fish, especially if they are feeding on bluegill.

    Work the rattlebait fast, jerking it from grass when you hit it. With the swim jig keep it near the surface and work it with twitches as you reel it along. Jason likes bluegill or green pumpkin in clearer water and black and blue in stained water and puts a matching swim bait on his jig.

    8.  30 45,.759 – W 84 46.104 – a little further up the river the channel makes a hard swing from the right bank to the left.  In the flat bay just downstream of the last channel marker before the turn a depression runs back to the bank, offering a good path for bass to follow.  It goes in between two groups of two docks.  There is one silver roof dock and one green roof dock on each side.

    Follow this depression in from deeper water, fan casting to both sides of it and down the middle of it. The water is ten to 12 feet deep not far off the bank where it goes in.  This is a good area for rattle baits and bladed jigs. When you get to the bank fish it and down both sides to the docks. A paddle tail swim worm like Jason’s new Swagger Swim Worm in tilapia or black and blue is good, depending on water color.  Keep the worm moving near the bottom, making the flapping tail wiggle to get bites. Jason will often dip the tail of his plastics in chartreuse JJs Magic for added attraction.

    9.  N 30 46.215 – W 84 46.989 – Across the river channel Fort Scott Islands are a Waterfowl Management Area.  A small island sits just off the bank where the channel comes across and hits the north bank.  Just downstream of this island is a big flat just off a slough that goes back and is a good bedding area, full of lily pad steams and cattails.

    Keep your boat off the bank in water about 20 feet deep. This is a good place to cast your jig and pig, Texas rigged worm or Carolina rig up onto the sand bar that runs along the bank and has grass on it.  Keep your bait in contact with the bottom as it comes out of the grass and follow the bottom down the drop.
Bass will often stack up just outside the grass and move into it to feed.

    10.  N 30 46.334 – W 84 48.949 – Going down the bank the “Fire Break” goes in just downstream of the island with the waterfowl management area signs out in the water.  Follow the slightly deeper water in behind the island, keeping the signs to your right. 

    Bass spawn all back in here in the shallow sandy flats.  Watch for keys like lily pad stems and cattails and fan cast the whole area.  Try a variety of baits and speeds to find fish then slow down and fish that area.

    All these places hold bedding bass right now, and others post and pre-spawn. Try them with Jason’s baits to catch quality bass all month long.

Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful?  If so visit https://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/ – you can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

Where and How to Catch February Lake Lanier Bass, with GPS Coordinates

Five pound Lake Lanier February spot

February Lake Lanier Bass

with Jim Farmer

         Some of the biggest spots in Lake Lanier are already moving to staging areas on rocky points near spawning areas in early February. You can catch a personal best spot right now by fishing crankbaits on these points.

    Lanier has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing magnum spots over the past few years. Four and five pounders are weighed in during most tournaments and bigger fish are caught all year long. Right now is one of the best times to catch one over five pounds.

    With deep, clear water, standing timber and rocky shorelines, Lanier is perfect habitat for spots.  The introduction of blueback herring gave the spots an excellent food source and this big baitfish has made them grow big and fat.  All these combined to produce a trophy spot lake.

    Jim Farmer lives a few miles from Bald Ridge Creek, has a lake house on that end of the lake and fishes Lanier a lot. He also paints crankbaits and other hard baits with custom colors specifically designed for the spots on Lanier.  He guides on the lake, showing fishermen where and how to use his baits to catch big fish. 

    After retiring from the Navy Jim moved to Lanier and started making planner boards that were very popular with striper and cat fishermen.  He fished for stripers a lot but got into bass fishing a few years ago and got hooked on them. He joined the Greater Atlanta Bass Club and fished with them until he started guiding.

    Jim also fishes the Bulldog BFL trail statewide and Hammonds and charity tournaments on Lanier.  This past December he and his partner won the UGA Fishing Team fund raiser North Georgia Fall Classic on Lanier with 19.6 Pounds and had big fish with a five-pound, twelve ounce spot.

    “The biggest spots in the lake move in to spawn earlier than most fishermen realize,” Jim said. There are still a lot of fish deep and you can catch them, but Jim likes to catch big fish shallow. He uses a variety of baits but relies on his crankbaits most of the time.

    For February fishing Jim will have a couple of crankbaits that run different depths, a jerkbait, a jig and pig, a shaky head and a spoon ready to cast.  The spoon is for catching the deeper fish, but the other baits are all fished on rocky points near spawning areas.

    Jim took me out in early January, the week after the first extremely cold week we had, to show me the following ten spots. We caught a few fish, but we were a little too early for them to be really good like they are now.

    1.  N 34 12.147 – W 84 05.019 – Going into the small creek off Baldridge Creek that has Baldridge Public Use area boat ramp, stop on the rocky point on your right. It is the first one upstream of the point with 6BR marker on it, and is a good example of one of the first places big spots stage. 

    As soon as the water starts to warm a little in early February, especially after two or three warm sunny days in a row, spots go to points like this one.  This one provides a smorgasbord of food for them but they really like crayfish, a high protein food great for pre-spawn feeding.

    Start on the upstream side of the point and fish around it to the smaller rocky point on the downstream side going into the cove.  Jim says crawfish are active when the water is 50 to 58 degrees and his “Sand Key” color is designed to match their color this time of year. And it has rattles to mimic their sound on the rocks.

    The rocks here provide ledges for the fish to hide under and ambush food.  Fish around the points slowly, casting your crankbait to a couple of feet of water and bump the rocks out as deep as you can with it.  Jim caught a small keeper spot here the day we fished.

    2.  N 34 11.874 – W 84 04.743 – Going down Baldridge Creek there is a small creek on the downstream side of channel marker 6BR on your left. The downstream point of this creek, across from the marked one, is another good staging area for big spots.  It has smaller rocks but they are clean, without the “snot weed” that grows in some places and that the fish don’t like, according to Jim.

    There are two points here to fish. Keep your boat out in 16 to 18 feet of water and use your crankbait. Jim uses his 1.5 squarebill or the deeper running Castaway Tackle Goto crankbait that runs eight to ten feet deep.  Bump the rocks all around these two points.

    Jim fishes his crankbaits on light line to get them down deeper. He says you have to have good line and uses Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon in six or eight-pound test. A smooth drag is important for fighting big spots and he checks his line on almost every cast for nicks from bumping rocks.

    Crank the bait down and then work it slowly with rod pulls and twitches to make it rattle and dart. Try to imitate the movement of crayfish.  When a fish hits, sweep the rod a little to hook them but don’t set the hook hard with the light line.

    3.  N 34 12.703 – W 84 03.794 – Go up Young Deer Creek past the small island on your right with 4YD marker on it. Across the creek a point runs way out to a shoal marker and there is construction work on the bank.  Stop on the upstream point of the pocket going in downstream of the construction.

    This pocket is a good spawning area and spots stage on this first rocky point.  The point is not big but has rock and clay that crayfish live in, and shad and herring move across it, too. Fish a crankbait but also try a jerkbait and jig and pig.  The jerkbait imitates baitfish while the jig and pig look like bream and crawfish, both good food sources for spots.

    4.  N 34 13.250 – W 84 03.750 – Going up Young Deer a big island is on the left with 5YD marker on it. On the right is a creek with Young Deer Access ramp in it.  AS you go into that small creek, a shoal marker is on your right and a house with a US flag is on the bank.  This hump is a long rocky point and it holds fish in February.

    Stop on the end of this rock and clay point and fish the upstream side and end of it.  The channel swings in on the upstream side and gives the fish quick access to deep water. Jim says here and other places a few warm days pulls spots up shallow, but they drop back after a cold front for a few days.

    Bump the rocks with crankbaits and work a jerkbait over them.  Also crawl a jig and pig down the drop. Work it slowly and out deeper, especially after a cold front.  Even after a cold front bass will still hold here and feed, just a little deeper.

    5.  N 34 12.074 – W 84 02.319 – Back out on the main lake run up to the long point with Shadburn Ferry ramp on it.  The ramp is in a ditch that holds fish all winter.  Jim caught four of his five fish in the December UGA tournament here.

    Fish the rocky point with the shoal marker on it with all your baits. Also check the ditch.  A good winter pattern that started early this year is catching fish out of ditches like this one. Bass will hold in them out to 50 feet deep and you can see them on your electronics. 
    Early in the morning work the back of the ditch around the ramp with a jerkbait.  Bass move to the back to feed shallower then go back out deep as the sun gets bright.  Later in the day find the fish down deep and drop a spoon down to them. Jim likes the chrome three quarters ounce War Eagle jigging spoon.

    Drop your spoon down to the bottom, pop it up a couple of feet and let it fall back on tight line.  Be ready to set the hook as it falls, that is when most of the bites happen.  You can often watch your spoon fall and see the fish follow it.

    6.  N 34 12.251 – W 84 02.434 – An island forms the side of the ditch opposite the ramp. Go around to the other side of it and the rocky point there is a good one to fish, especially later in the month.  It is a little further back from the main lake so fish to move to it a little later.

    Pick apart this point with all your baits, fishing all the way around it.  Bump the rocks with crankbaits and a jig and pig.  Jim likes a crawfish colored River Bend Custom Baits jig by Richie Westfelt in three eights to half ounce.  His Castaway Tackle jerkbait is a 110-style medium diver that he paints in white or cold steel blue.  Try different cadences on each cast until the fish tell you what they want that day.

    7.  N 34 15.657 – W 83 57.998 – Run up above Browns Bridge and go into the first creek on your left on the downstream side of Chestatee Bay. Islands divide the mouth of this creek from the main bay.  Go into this creek that runs parallel to Browns Bridge Road point on the right with a big house on it. The point is on the upstream side of a ditch with a marker in it. This is where Jim caught the five-pound, 12-ounce spot in the UGA tournament and he caught a good keeper spot here the day we fished.

    The point Jim calls “Big House Point” drops on both sides, into the ditch and creek channel.  Bass spawn in the back of the ditch and stage on the point. Fish around it with all your baits, keeping your boat in about 40 feet of water and casting to the rocks. 

    8.  N 34 16.711 – W 83 57.130 – Go to the north-west side of Chestatee Bay opposite and a little upstream of the islands on the south-east side going back to the Long Hollow ramp. There is a double point on your right with a small pocket between them. There are three small leaning pines grouped together on the downstream point.  Start on the downstream side of the downstream point and fish all the way around it.

    Start about 100 feet from the point and work around it to the big rocks on the upstream side.  Fish stage and feed all along this bank and on the point. Try all your baits but Jim says this is a good shaky head point, with some brush piles and some other wood cover on it.

    Jim uses three sixteenths to one quarter ounce Spotsticker Screwball jig head and puts a Mattingly Customs worm by Josh Mattingly on it. He says those worms come in some unique colors that give the heavily pressured Lanier spots a different look. Jim dips all his plastic baits in chartreuse JJs Magic to give them added color and smell that attracts spots.

    This point, like the others, get a lot of sun, especially in the afternoon. Jim says that helps warm the water and make the fish more active.  Work quickly with moving baits then slowly work the shaky head all around the point, probing for wood and rocks, shaking it as you move it along the bottom.

    9.  N 34 16.833 – W 83 57.050 – After fishing around the big rocks on the upstream side of the above point go across the cove to the other side where the line of blown down trees up on the bank come toward the water.  Fish from that place out and around this point. It is flatter, with white rocks along a clay bank and is a good feeding area.

    Fish all your baits, trying both faster moving and slower moving ones.  Remember it is important to keep your crankbaits in contact with the bottom, making it dart, bump and rattle.

    10.  N 34 14.126 – W 84 02.810 – Back down the lake go up Six Mile Creek till you can see the bridge on your right. Keep straight ahead into the small double creek and stop on the point between the two arms of it.
There is riprap around it and a ridge of rocks coming out on the end of it.

    Both arms of this creek are good spawning pockets and a lot of big spots stage on the point and feed.  There is chunk rock on a clay bottom all around the point and those rocks are what you want to bump with your crankbait, jig and pig and shaky head.  Fish all the way around it with all your baits.

    All these places are holding fish right now and will get better as the days get longer and the water warms a little. Give them a try with Jim’s baits or fish your favorites. You may catch the spot of a lifetime.

    You can follow Jim on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jfarm44 and see his baits and the spots he catches.

NOTE – not sure this is helping – really don’t get much response if you want to stop running it.

    Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful?  If so visit https://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/ – you can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.