Carters Lake June Bass On Blue-Rock Banks
Billy Lambert’s first choice for June bass is a spinnerbait, and he looks for blue-rock banks where the magnum spots hang out.
“I wanted to try some topwater stuff this morning, but this wind is too much,” Billy Lambert said as we sat in his bass boat on Carters Lake, the morning sun barely cracking through the sky. “I think we’ll do good with spinnerbaits today.”
Billy, a wholesale-carpet salesman from Calhoun, has fished Carters his whole life and participates in pot tournaments with his son on the lake regularly during the spring and summer. Billy says June is a good time to fish Carters, and he allows that while daytime fishing can be productive, night trips can sometimes produce spectacular catches of magnum spotted bass.
“A lot of guys don’t like to fish this lake in June. Carters can be tough any time of year, but in the summer it can get really tough,” Billy said. “Nine times out of 10, my best catches in June come at night.”
Billy has extensive bass-fishing experience. He spent two years in LaGrange, guiding anglers on West Point before moving back to Calhoun and starting a guide service on Allatoona, Weiss and Carters. Billy believes Carters has changed significantly over the years he has fished there.
“It used to be that the spots here fed heavily on crawfish and bluegills, but since the shad have become so prevalent, you are likely to find schools of big spots gorging themselves on shad,” Billy said.
For daytime fishing, Billy says early morning, before the sun gets on the water, is the best time to roll some quality Carters Lake spotted bass. He’ll stick with topwater baits such as a weightless Zoom Super Fluke or a Zara Spook to entice strikes from feeding bass in the early morning hours. If that isn’t working, Billy will start flinging spinnerbaits on points and around blow- throughs between points and shoals.
“I like a 1/2-oz. War Eagle spinnerbait,” Billy said. “That’s pretty much the only spinnerbait I throw.”
We had been sitting close to the boat ramp in the shelter of a high, rocky ridge talking for a few minutes when Billy fired up the big motor on his Ranger boat and said, “Let’s go catch some fish.”
Leaving the cove where the boat ramp at Carters dam sits, we rounded the steep point and into a main lake whipped into a frenzy by a stiff wind that had been blowing since well before dawn. We didn’t run long before we came to a shoal marker sitting off a short, relatively shallow point. Billy said such locations will often hold scads of spotted bass on windy days because the fish will wait to feed on baitfish that get pushed across the points.
As Billy lowered the trolling motor, we both picked up rods and started casting spinnerbaits toward the rocky shoal, the top couple of feet of which was visible above the surface of the water. I noticed both our spinnerbaits had two trailer hooks; one large one hanging off the main hook, and a smaller one tied on below.
“Tournament fishing,” Billy smiled. “You wouldn’t believe how many times you’ll catch a fish on the second trailer when they are striking short.”
There were no takers on the blow-through, and before long, Billy and I were “behind the beach,” in a huge, relatively protected pocket on the opposite side of a point where the Carters Lake swimming beach sits.
I had fished the spot many times, and Billy said such places were known by pretty much everyone who frequents Carters.
“The lake is so small that every hole is pretty much a community hole,” Billy said. “You see the same guys fishing the same spots all the time on this lake.”
In the back of the pocket, shad were flipping along a rocky stretch of bank. Within five minutes, Billy had a fish bite and come off within a few feet of the boat on his spinnerbait. Three or four casts later, a smaller fish took a wild slash at the bait as he lifted it from the water to make another cast.
“This bank has fish on it, let’s work our way back down,” Billy said.
A few minutes later, Billy set the hook and a spotted bass that looked like a solid 2- to 3-pounder jumped before the line went limp. When Billy retrieved his spinnerbait, all that was left was the arm with two willowleaf blades on it. Head, skirt, hook and all were somewhere else, possibly still in the corner of the mouth of the fish Billy had just hooked.
Billy retied, and we worked our way toward some standing timber. Billy says these small areas of wood cover, which can be found all over Carters, can be a great place to catch bass in June.
“Early in the day, I like to come to these little areas of timber and throw the Fluke,” Billy said. “Try the Fluke all around the timber, around the edges and in it. If you miss a fish, you can throw a Senko in the same place, let it sink, and they’ll usually attack it.”
Billy’s favorite places to fish on Carters in June — day or night — are around what he calls blue rock. He says that by June, most of the schooling activity on Carters will be over, but the fish that relate to the blue rock, areas of huge chunks of granite around roads, boat ramps and steep banks, will stay there most of the time.
“What I’m looking for is steep rock banks because they are usually close to deep water,” Billy instructed. “When the water temperature gets way up, the fish will stay close to them, come up every once in a while to feed and race back to deep water.”
Billy says areas of blue rock, especially ones near lights, are great at night in June.
“There’s not many lights on this lake, but if you can find some, everything is there,” Billy said. “Bugs, shad and big fish will all congregate there, and it makes for some fun fishing. Boat ramps are great at night for the same reason. There’s not much structure near a ramp, but the shad seem to stay around there and draw the bass.”
The spinnerbait bite wasn’t really on, and no fish had taken a Fluke, so Billy and I resorted to dragging another of his summertime favorites, the Zoom Brush Hog on a Carolina rig.
At night, Billy will Texas rig the Brush Hog, usually in green pumpkin with the twin tails dipped in chartreuse, garlic-scented dye. Billy prepares his Texas rig with a 3/16-oz. weight because he wants just enough weight to get the soft-plastic bait down in the water as he hops it down steep banks and wiggles it through brushpiles.
Another of Billy’s favorite night time tactics for June is to dig deep-running crankbaits on clay points.
“You want that thing down there really digging in the clay,” Billy said. “If it’s not digging, it’s not going to be effective.”
Billy throws a firetiger-colored Norman’s Deep Little N or Rapala DT- 10 or DT-16 around secondary points. He says that on open-water, main-lake points, the crankbait isn’t quite as good, but on the right spots, it can lead to a quick limit of fish.
The real fun on Carters at night can be found on baits most bass fishermen love to throw. Big spinnerbaits and buzzbaits work, and Billy says when the bite is on, there’s no doubt about it.
“The strikes are vicious. They’ll just about jerk the rod out of your hand,” Billy said. “That’s the most fun around here at night, and when they hit a spinnerbait or a buzzbait, they’ll hit it so hard they won’t miss it.”
Billy sticks with the 1/2-oz. War Eagle spinnerbait at night, but he changes from his daytime colors, mostly grays and reds, to a bait with a black skirt and black blades. A large, white buzzbait rounds out the arsenal.
With either bait, Billy said paralleling blue-rock banks and making lots of casts are key. He believes many anglers don’t have the patience
to keep on throwing either bait if it’s not working, but he encourages fishermen who want to try their hand at some Carters night angling to stick with the spinnerbait-and-buzzbait pattern for as long as they can.
“Sometimes a guy will throw that buzzbait for a few minutes, decide it’s not working and put it down, but if you stick with it for long enough, you will catch some bass and more often than not, they’ll be good ones,” Billy said. “Same thing with the spinnerbait; the longer you throw it, the better your odds of hooking into a nice fish, and like I said, the bites will be ferocious.”
Billy believes Carters is a very good spotted bass fishery, and it can produce some heavyweight limits of bass when the bite is on, as evidenced by recent pot-tournament results.
“Earlier in the spring, there were some tournaments won with 5, 6 pounds of fish,” Billy said. “Lately it’s taking 14 to 16 pounds most of the time.”
The day Billy and I fished at Carters, the stiff east wind kept the fish activity to a minimum and on the way back to the boat ramp, Billy stopped at the shoal we had fished just after daylight.
“Let’s give this one more try,” he said as he shot his spinnerbait toward the rocks and began a steady retrieve. A fish thumped the bait, and Billy made a crushing hookset.
We were both watching for what promised to be a magnum spot to come charging from the depths when we saw the fish roll.
“That’s a stupid catfish,” Billy laughed, “No, it’s a big ol’ walleye.”
Billy hoisted the toothy walleye — about a 4-pounder — over the side of the boat.
“You want some good fish to eat, that’s it right there,” Billy said before he unhooked the fish and tossed it back in the water.
One thing about night fishing that Billy cautioned about is the same on any lake. Use extreme caution when operating your boat. Always use your running lights, wear a life vest, and when you are in an area you’re not familiar with, drive slowly. There are lots of shallow, rocky shoals and standing timber on Carters, a lake known more for its steep banks and extreme depths. Be careful.
If you want to try some fun fishing on a beautiful lake, head up north to Carters this month, either early in the morning, or at night, and try Billy Lambert’s tactics for catching big spotted bass.
One thing is certain in bass fishing, especially on a tough-to-pattern lake like Carters: there is no sure thing. But if you try the things Billy Lambert has outlined, you’ll have a good shot at landing some quality fish and having a ball in the process.
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