Carters Lake Fishing Report – March 2019

GON Staff | February 26, 2019

Carters: Level: The lake is 21 feet over full pool and still rising. Temp: 48-52 degrees. Clarity: Less than 12 inches.

Bass: Guide Bill Payne reports, “For the last several weeks, the lake has been yo-yoing up and down, but now it’s really up in the trees to the point that some of the ramps have been closed by the corps. Also we have stained water to deal with at least for a few days, and the bait and the bass seem to be very scattered. With the help of some moderating temperatures and stained water, I think March will start off with good spinnerbait and ChatterBait bites, and there will be some big spotted bass moving up shallow in the stained high waters. Of course, the corps will pull the lake back down to more normal levels as soon as possible, but as long as we have stained water and water temps on the rise, look shallow for the spotted bass. As the water begins to clear, you can expect the bait and the bass to settle back down in the deeper water where they were before all the heavy rains. In the days leading up to this report, the bass have generally stayed deep, and we’ve been having good success with drop shots, shaky heads, underspins, Alabama rigs and blade baits, like the Silver Buddy. When you are fishing for these deep fish, the key is to slow down. Lots of the fish remain deep and around bait. Some will be 50 feet and deeper. I would look for this to continue when the water level returns to normal but only for a short time because March is prespawn time. The bass will begin to make a move from the deep water to shallower staging areas. During this time, I continue to look deep for schools of bait and fish, but I also keep an eye out for the fish that are moving up shallower. I use my Humminbird Solix to follow the bait and schools of fish as they move shallower into the creeks and ditches as they stage for the spawn. March is a huge transition period for the spotted bass on Carters. Even though you can catch some fish deep almost every day, be aware that as the temps rise, a lot of big spotted bass will pull up on the ends of long points and move even shallower where they will be easy targets for lures like the Vision OneTen jerkbait, spinnerbaits and shaky heads. Blowdowns, rock, mid-depth brush will all be potential places to look for trophy fish. March is also the time I really like to focus on secondary points back in the creeks. The prespawn spotted bass like to position on the breaklines of these points before moving shallower.”

Linesides: Guide Robert Eidson reports, “Carters linesides is good for big fish. The  water is pretty much clear on the south end, and the stripers, spots and walleye are still biting pretty good considering we are heading into  the month of March. Downlining trout, shad and shiners have been working well in the backs of the creeks early and then again in the late afternoon. Once the sun gets up, we are moving out over the river channel. There are massive schools of bait out over the deep water. With the bait has been some really good schools of stripers, spots and walleye. Earlier in February, we had two walleye over 8 pounds and many pushing 7 pounds. No real numbers but quality fish of all species.”

Guide Eric Crowley reports, “As the water temp creeps back up toward the upper 50s and low 60-degree marks, look for schools of bait to gather into giant spawning schools near rocky structure, submerged timber and low-hanging brush. The stripers and hybrids will be close by following the large bait balls feeding on them throughout the day and evening. There will be days when the fish feed all day. Live bait is king during daylight hours. Live threadfins or fresh herring will be key, and typically the bigger the better. There’s no real target depth except follow the depth of the bait you are fishing. I like to be just above or just below the school of bait. Circle hooks, a 14-lb. leader and a good medium-action rod is all you need. Rig it either to fish shallow or on a slightly weighted setup or fish it on a 1- to 2-oz. sinker. If you prefer trolling live baits over sitting still, Castaway planers and a combination of flatlines are the way to go this month. I pull a spread of five to six rods. As always, Worley Creek, Fisher Creek and Woodring/Camp Branch are the places to be. At night, throwing artificials can really pay off. Finding the bait and fan casting the shorelines nearby is a great tactic that can produce some great fish on lures as well as on fly. Zara Spooks, original Floating Rapalas and a number of other similar baits are the way to go. As far as fly gear goes, a 6 to 8 weight with a sinking tip or full sink line striped in short 4- to 6-inch bursts while attached to big streamer baitfish patterns are what I like. Up the river, if it ever clears out, look for the walleye to move up past the Ridgeway area into ideal spawning areas. They will be on the bottom and usually eager to eat an easy meal. Live threadfins are a great option here, as well as small to medium crankbaits and jerkbaits.”

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