Carters Spotted Bass Move To The Points In September

Keep plenty of crankbaits and plastics on the deck this month.

Braden Arp | September 1, 2008

If you have spent any time at all on Carters Lake, I’m sure you have developed the same love-hate relationship most all of us have for this spotted-bass sanctuary. There’s no other place I know where an angler can position his boat in 80 feet of water and actually be fishing 18 feet deep in a single cast. It sounds a little intimidating, I’m sure, and it should. Many fishermen lose interest long before masterminding a strategy to catch fish in this body of water. Fact is, you either have to know some people who are willing to share years of experience, or you simply have to begin a trial-and-error search mission. I suppose we might as well be bowhunting, right? Wrong!

If it’s spotted bass you are looking for, look no further than Carters Lake. In just a few paragraphs, we will dis- cuss techniques that will allow you to launch your boat and start catching fish on one of the premier spotted-bass lakes in the South.

September is one of the most productive months to fish Carters Lake. Fish move from their very deep summer haunts in brush and on steep-dropping rock walls and begin to stack up on long points as they make their fall migrations back into the creeks and up the river. Fish will begin to relate to bait on these long points and can be caught in 6 to 25 feet of water. While 6 to 25 feet is a vast range, fishing on Carters can change from hour to hour, day to day. Twenty- five feet may also be considered deep on lakes like Oconee or Clarks Hill, but it’s actually a shallow bite for Carters. Fish also group up on these points, meaning you’ll often catch several off a point once you find the fish.

To show me more about early fall fishing on Carters, I spent a day with Zack Foster last September. Zack isn’t listed with other guides on bait-shop walls or in phone books, and he may not even call himself an expert, but Zack puts fish in the boat. There are a lot of people who can talk about catching fish on Carters, but I needed some- one who actually catches fish on Carters, and Zack was my choice. Zack’s father cut his teeth on this lake, which meant Zack had a vast array of knowledge to pull from when learning the lake. With all of that being said, let’s catch some fish.

We unloaded the boat on a nice September afternoon and headed for the hotspots that were producing good numbers of bass, along with some good quality fish. We set the boat down in Fisher Creek and went head to head to boat the first fish. I picked up a baitcaster rigged with a worm on a shaky head, while Zack opted for a spinning reel rigged with a kudzu-colored Trick Worm threaded onto a shaky head.

“I like the Trick Worm because it floats, and the tail of the worm will float up and dance with the current of the water,” said Zack. “If the fish are finicky, you may want to go to a darker color like purple passion and throw a finesse worm in 15 to 20 feet of water.”

If you don’t have a shaky head, you can peg a Texas rig. To peg it, just rig it the same as a simple Texas rig. The only difference is to take a toothpick and insert it into the bottom end of the bullet weight until it is tight on the line. This will keep your weight close to your worm, and you’ll have fewer hang ups than with a conventional Texas rig. We have tested this technique alongside a shaky head, and the bite numbers were the same.

It didn’t take long until Zack hooked up with a nice 2-lb. spot fishing a long point. I chalked that one up to pure coincidence and threw in a brotherly comment on how I was getting front ended being in the back of the boat. Fact is, we were casting to the same spots.

I kept my All Star rod and Pinnacle reel in hand. Suddenly, I felt a bite. I set the hook and hauled in a 3/4-lb. dink. Zack responded with a fish of his own, another 2-lb. spot.

It was obvious we were on the fish, and if I didn’t start fishing like he was, I was about to get schooled in the ways of catching fish. I laid down my All Star rod and picked up his spare spinning rod rigged with 8-lb. line. Three casts later, I set the hook on a nice 3-lb. fish and hauled it toward the boat.

“It makes a difference,” said Zack. “The most important piece of tackle you have on Carters is what’s in your hand. You have to have a very sensitive rod to feel the bite. If you can’t feel the bite, you can’t catch the fish.”

Zack said he’s been fishing on Carters and having trouble connecting on bites. When he switched to a G- Loomis rod with a sensitive tip, he doubled his hook-ups.

“Line also plays a big role in your hook-ups, too, especially when fishing deep water,” said Zack. “I fish 8-lb. Gama due to it being abrasion resistant. It also has a very low stretch for a solid deep-water hook set. It’s a little expensive, but it’s worth it. The September worm bite can be 18 to 25 feet deep, and it pays to have a good rod coupled with good line.”

One of Zack’s favorite September places to fish is around the Woodring boat ramp.

“Woodring is my favorite place to fish during the day in September,” said Zack. “I like to fish the long point around the boat dock. Stay off the bank a bit and fish the 15-foot range. That is where you will get the best bite.”

If the fish aren’t biting around the boat ramp, head to the back of Fisher Creek. There are humps, roadbeds and points that hold fish. Almost any place with a change in contour is likely to hold fish at Carters in September. You may want to invest in a lake map to help find additional areas of contour change. The fish will hold to this pat- tern, but you need to have a good number of these areas marked so you can make a milk run to help build a good sack of fish.

We landed our share of fish working Trick Worms and finesse worms but later switched to Deep Little N crankbaits as the afternoon air cooled the water temperature. As water cools late in the afternoons, fish will move up in the water column. It is imperative to adjust depths as the afternoon draws near dark. A Lucky Craft Pointer in chrome and red or chrome and black is also an excellent choice.

A few minutes before dark, you’ll find fish 6 to 8 feet from the surface chasing bait. Zack likes a Husky Jerk in the same color combinations for this period of the day.

“I prefer to fish Carters after dark in September,” said Zack. “That’s when the fish are most active. Watch the moon phases also. Try and make it a point to fish after dark a few days before the full moon. The long points in Fisher Creek are hotspots in September.”

Zack said when darkness hits, the fish actually go back down into the water column. You’ll find them 15 to 20 feet deep on the points, and he likes the Deep Little N or a DD22 crankbaits.

“Make your presentation from different angles on these points to give you the best chance at getting bit,” said Zack. “Don’t spend too much time on one point if you don’t get the bite. Fish each point out and move on to the other points that lead out toward the river.”

Also, when cranking for these late afternoon and nighttime fish, try a hand-painted crankbait from Wicked Baits. We have just begun to fish the Wicked Baits series. Each lure certainly adds a new flavor to the same style of bait we have been throwing for years. They have to be ordered from the web at Even though you won’t find these crankbaits in the stores yet, don’t let that fool you. The paint jobs on these lures are amazing. This same company will also take your crankbaits that have been getting crashed on the rocks and repaint them with a new fresh look.

In our afternoon and evening fishing trip, we landed 16 fish and had a five-fish limit that would have excited the best of tournament anglers. The only problem was we had decided to opt out of the night’s tournament and pleasure fish.

If you are not sitting in an early September treestand, Carters is a good place to be. Over the past several years, it has been miserable to try and bowhunt in the afternoons until the weather breaks. As for me, I prefer to give in to Mother Nature and spend the warm afternoons holding a fishing rod. These tactics aren’t the only ones that are proven on Carters Lake, but they sure do work for September spots.

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