While peering through the eerie mist that always rises from the water on a late fall morning, I could see splashing 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 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 frantic fishing at its best! So, I sat down into the driver’s seat of the boat, 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 and larger curlytailed jigs into the foaming water, and within seconds, we were all stumbling around the boat with rods bent almost to the breaking point. As usual, none of the big fish headed in the same direction, so we were passing rods under other rods and running constantly from one end of the bass boat to the other.
Due to the recent cool weather, stripers are already coming to the surface to feed wildly on schools of shad and herring. These large groups of striped bass and other predators have already been seen driving large schools of baitfish to the surface and devouring them with such intensity that the spray can often be seen from a great distance.
Complete Swirleybird Set available NOW!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 to 10 pound test 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 fish 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 has brought plenty of change, and this coolness has already given Lanier anglers a taste of what is to come. The stripers and other predators are having a ball chasing and eating the congregated baitfish, and every day on the lake becomes an exciting experience for fish and fishermen!