While peering through the eerie mist that always rises from the water on a cool, fall morning, I picked up a flash of water that caught some of the dawn’s first rays of light near the mouth of one of Lake Lanier’s major creeks. I knew in an instant that those distinct splashes were caused by a marauding school of stripers and bass that were in hot pursuit of shad trying desperately to escape. More than twenty years of seeing this frantic action during the cooler months immediately started my blood boiling and my adrenaline pumping.
This is “jump” fishing at its best, so I sat down into the driver’s seat , fired up the big outboard motor, and aimed the boat at the feeding fish. Even before we came to a complete stop, both of my clients and myself had already cast Striper Series Swirleybirds into the foaming water, and within seconds, we were all stumbling around the boat with rods bent almost to the breaking point.
“Jump” fishing at Lake Lanier is historically later in the year, but due to the recent cool nights and a cooler summer, black bass, white bass, and stripers are already frantically feeding near the surface. Catching these congregated, aggressive predators has been fantastic using topwater baits or lures that run horizontally. Striper Series Swirleybirds are getting hot again, but grubs, and especially topwater lures are very productive for fish that are feeding primarily on threadfin shad minnows.
Most of the marauding fish have been observed attacking shad in creeks that deliver fresh water into the lake. One only has to cruise slowly and scan the surface for breaks made by bass or fleeing baitfish.
When searching for these surface feeding fish, keep a spinning reel handy that’s filled to capacity with 8 pound test Stren fishing line in a visible color so that strikes can be easily detected. When surface fish are spotted, cast the lure past the feeding fish so that it can pass right through the thickest part of the action during the retrieve. If the hungry bass fail to break the surface for a few minutes, then cast at expanding angles to where the fish were last seen and reel slowly enough to allow the lure to fall. Swirleybirds are especially effective with this method because they are still spinning as they sink. These lures are available at The Dam Store, Hammond’s Fishing Center, Duluth Outdoors, and at: www.georgiafishing.com.
The cooling water will bring plenty of change, but this early coolness has already given Lanier anglers a taste of what is to come. The bass and other predators are having a ball with their favorite fast food source of congregated shad, and every day on the lake is extremely exciting in the “jumps”!