Though Lake Lanier has never been a great lake for spinners during the early pre-spawn period, this spring as the surface temperature of the water crept above 50 degrees, I have discovered a new way to catch spotted bass with a proven striper lure.
As the warming waters start to draw the bass away from their deeper winter homes towards the flowering shorelines, they tend to hold and feed suspended away from the banks of the lake in 10 to 15 feet of water. Therefore, for an angler to be successful, it is necessary to have a lure pass through this magic depth at a very slow pace, but with enough action to attract the bass’ curiosity and appetite. We have been accomplishing this lately by utilizing Striper Series Swirleybirds in 1/4 and 3/8 ounce sizes. These lures have enough weight to easily take the offering to the desired depth with enough flash to attract any bass.
In the clearer waters, color never seems to make much of a difference, but when fishing stained or slightly muddy water, brighter chartreuse or green/orange/chartreuse Swirleybirds seem to be more productive. Nevertheless, the most important ingredient is always the speed of the retrieve.
Most anglers seem to think that the more casts they make the better their chances, but during Lanier’s early pre-spawn period, that is certainly not the case. It is imperative that one finds the “happy medium” to be successful. The retrieve must be just fast enough to allow the lure to reach the magic 10 to 15 foot level, but not one bit more. Only the trial of success or failure will show a fisherman when he has achieved the proper speed.
Best places to cast are usually points and coves above Browns Bridge in the beginning of this period, but within a week, it won’t matter which end of the lake one chooses. Red clay banks seem to have more bass than rocky or sandy ones.
It’s best to use spinning tackle with 8 pound test line to be more efficient and allow the lure to go deep enough to attract the bass. Smaller diameter lines will let the spinner go even deeper, but one is more at risk of losing fish and lures with the lighter lines.
Swirleybird SetIf an angler casts directly at the bank, finds the right speed of retrieve, and diligently works the proper places, he can expect to catch 10 to 25 spotted bass and a few other species of fish in an 8-hour period each day for the next couple of weeks. As soon as the surface temperature all over the lake reaches 60 degrees, however, one can put the larger Swirleybirds away and learn how to catch 40 to 80 bass each day with the smaller, Original Swirleybirds.