Carters Lake Fishing Report March 2012

GON Staff | February 29, 2012

Carters: Level: 1.4 feet below full pool. Temp: 50 degrees. Clarity: Very clear; 8 feet visibility.

Spotted Bass: Fair. Guide Louie Bartenfield reports, “The bite here has been a little slower as of late, but that’s very typical February fishing on Carters Lake. Although we’ve caught good numbers most of the month, the bigger spotted bass that Carters is known for have been hard to come by. Fishing remains consistent with the majority of fish being caught in 35 to 50 feet of water on Spot Sticker jig heads, drop shots and finesse jigs. As we move into March, look for a good number or our stubborn deep fish to make their move up shallower near spawning areas. March is always a great month for crankbaits and jerkbaits. Target areas near the mouth of coves or flat banks leading into spawning areas. Gravel and clay banks are high-percentage areas during early spring. I like to use Spro McStick jerkbaits and Little John crankbaits in spooky shad or natural bluegill or shad patterns. Vary your cadence as this will make all the difference in getting bit or not some days. Jigs, worms and other slow presentations will also work around the same areas fished from shore out to 30 or so feet.”

Very good. “The striper bite has been better this month than I’ve seen at any time this winter,” said Louie. “Now, we haven’t had big numbers days, but I’ve only had one trip out of my past nine that we didn’t boat a striper, and as always with Carters most are big fish. We’ve caught a few of our fish casting bucktails near gulls, but I’ve primarily been fishing trout and small bluegills on downlines from 30 to 50 feet deep. I haven’t zoned in on one particular area or structure the fish are keying on. They’ve been on main-lake points, in the backs of major creeks and literally in the middle of the lake near bait —a little of everywhere.  I think the key is being persistent, moving a lot and having good bait. I’ve purchased my trout this winter from Bart’s Bait and Tackle. They’ve kept a variety of different size trout which helps. As we enter March, keep your eye out for schooling early morning and late evening. We always catch some big white fish on topwater in March. Redfins and Super Spooks along with jerkbaits will work if you are close enough to reach the schoolers. It won’t be long until shad spawn, which is the best time of year to fish for stripers at Carters.” Guide Eric Crowley reports, “On the main lake, look for the stripers to be keying in on the bait. There are no key places for the linesides in March, just wherever they can find large schools of bait. Gizzard shad seem to be their favorite in the spring before the weather turns hot and they start to key in on threadfin and herring. I am usually fishing downlines in March on the main lake unless I see some surface action or flipping bait.”

Crappie: Good. “March is also a great month for crappie on Carters,” said Eric. “Most people like minnows and jigs, and I agree it is hard to beat minnows for numbers of crappie, but if you want to target the bigger fish try fishing small threadfin shad on a bobber rig just like a minnow. We caught several crappie last year heavier than 2 pounds, and fishing the live threadfins is an awesome way to find a monster slab this month. If the fish are not up shallow, look for them in 25 feet of water off the ends of the trees that DNR cut down last year along the river banks.”

White Bass: Very good. Eric said, “March is one of my favorite months on Carters. The river comes alive with fish as the temps increase. Some of the first to arrive are the yellow and white bass. These fish are not the powerhouses like their bigger cousin the striper, but the numbers of fish make up for the size. Yellow and white bass will fill the upper reaches of the river and can be a lot of fun. Small yellow or chartreuse jigs fished on 4-lb. test line or live minnows fished below a small split-shot are deadly on these fish. There are literally thousands of these fish holding in these areas waiting to spawn. Kids will have a blast reeling them in one after another, and this can be a great way to spend some time with the family.”

Walleye: Good. “Walleye will not be too far behind the whites and yellows and will start to move in on the full moon,” Eric said. “The fish will position just downstream from the major current breaks or will slide down into the slower deeper holes of the river as the sun gets overhead. Small swimbaits or small live shad will be the bait of choice on the spring walleye.”

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