Things have changed this spring at Lake Lanier as to the way we are catching bass during the early pre-spawn period. As the surface temperature of the water crept above 50 degrees, I discovered a new way to catch spotted bass with a lure that was primarily designed to catch striped bass.
When the warming water draws the bass away from their deeper winter homes towards the 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 by utilizing Striper Series Swirleybirds in 1/4 and 3/8 ounce sizes. These lures have enough weight to easily take the lure to the desired depth with enough flash to attract any bass. They are available online at www.georgiafishing.com.
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 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 than that. 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 soon 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 lure go even deeper, but one is more at risk of losing fish and lures with the lighter lines.
If 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 day during the early period. 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, 1/8th ounce, Original Swirleybirds.