Carters Spotted Bass May Transition

In May, follow the Carters Lake bass from spawning flats to summer holes. Here are 10 GPS locations to set your pattern.

Ronnie Garrison | May 1, 2002

For the past 10 years anyone wanting a big spotted bass in Georgia headed to Carters Lake. Reports of 5-lb. plus spots from Carters were common. The hot fishing has cooled just a little, but the lake still produces a lot of quality spotted bass — and May is a great time to catch them.

Carters is small at 3,220 acres, so you can fish without running around all day. There is no development on the shoreline, so it is a natural, relaxing lake to fish. And the big spots there will make you love it when they are stretching your string in the deep, clear water.

Brian Drain lives between Bart’s Bait and Tackle and Carters Lake, and he fishes the lake constantly. He knows the lake well and can catch its spotted bass consistently, placing well in many pot tournaments there.

Brian Drain lives near Carters Lake and often fishes tournaments there with his 9-year-old son Logan. Brian says May is a transition month for the spotted bass at Carters, and anglers need to be able to fish from spawning flats to summer holes.

Brian fished farm ponds all his life and got started fishing big lakes and bass tournaments in 1984. He worked rigging boats for Little River Marine as a teenager, and being around fishermen got him fired up to start tournament fishing. He has done well enough over the past few years in Anglers Choice and other tournaments that he was on the Stratos State Team when the company was sold.

In December 2000, Brian’s regular partner could not fish a pot tournament at Carters, so his 9-year-old son Logan went with him — and they won. That hooked both of them on fishing together. Now they are fishing the “Like Father Like Son” trail. They weighed-in 14.88 pounds to win at Lanier in February, and they placed third overall and first in the Junior Division at Allatoona this spring.

Over the past eight years at Carters, Brian has landed 13 spots that weighed more than five pounds. That is impressive, as is his biggest, a 6-lb., 4-oz. monster. He caught a 5-lb., 10-oz. spot last August in a night tournament at Carters, and Brian says there are many more that size in the lake.

May is a transition month at Carters with the bass changing patterns and behavior drastically. Early in the month Brian says some are still bedding, a few are moving in to bed, and many are moving back out of bedding areas. By the end of the month most bass have set up on their summer holes, and you can catch them all summer long on that pattern.

Early in the month Brian likes to start just inside the mouths of the spawning pockets and work back into them, trying to catch fish that are moving in and moving out. He usually starts with a War Eagle spinnerbait in the firecracker color and fishes all the cover along the bank, searching for shallow, active bass.

Once back in the pocket, Brian will look for bedding fish and cast a white tube or weighted Super Fluke to them. He says he can usually get a bass on the bed to bite the Fluke by working it so it darts away from the bed then back to it. If that does not work, a Texas-rigged tube filled with buoyant foam is dropped into the bed. He gives it slack, letting it float up.

As he goes out of one pocket and into another, Brian will also throw a jig ’n pig or a worm if the bass have not been hitting the spinnerbait. He says this pattern, hitting the secondary points and banks in the deep creeks and pockets, will pay off all summer long. Some of the bass never move out of the pockets, staying on cover from 15 to 30 feet deep in the cuts.

Brian makes his own jigs and likes a light 1/8- to 1/4-oz. jig in brown or pumpkin color. He usually tips it with a Zoom Chunk or Yamamoto Twin Tail in a matching color. Finesse worms Texas rigged are also good, and green pumpkin or pumpkinseed are his favorite colors.

Brian likes to throw a Zoom Super Fluke on bedding spotted bass. The Fluke is also good on post-spawn bass during the month of May.

Drop-shot rigs work well for this fishing, and Brian has Logan follow him up with one. Logan shakes his drop-shot rig hard and gives it a lot of action, and Brian says this often makes a bass bite that will not hit the jig. A Finesse worm or Senko nose-hooked about 18 inches above the lead is the way Brian rigs the drop shot that Logan uses.

Toward the middle of the month Brian will move out to the main-lake points and throw a ZZ Top jerkbait for fish. He is fishing this topwater bait over deep structure and says big spots will come up to nail it from 30 feet deep where they are holding in brush and tree tops. This can be fast, exciting action from mid-May all through the summer, and the bass will hit topwater all day long.

The following holes give you a choice of bedding pockets and big-water points. Start now fishing the pockets, but check out the deep points for topwater action, too. These are just a few locations Brian likes to fish, and there are many others. Fish these (GPS coordinates are provided) and use Brian’s patterns to find more locations on your own.

No. 1 on the map: N 34 35.658, W 84 37.855 — Camp Branch is an excellent year-round creek to fish. It has several good spawning pockets, the secondary points and banks leading in to them hold fish year-round, and there are some good topwater holes, too. Head into the creek and watch for the first deep cove on your right. It is about three-fourths of the way to the back of the creek. Start on the downstream point throwing spinnerbaits and work all the way to the back. Watch for beds from half way in to the very back end.

Beds can be hard to see since spotted bass bed deep. Good glasses help. Watch for any indication of a bed, and fish it if you see one. Try the Fluke first, then the tube, and look all around. This pocket can hold many bedding fish. Right in the back there is a tree growing over the water on the right, and bass like to bed under it and around the log just past it. If you don’t see beds, fish your jig or worm around the standing timber on the right as you work your way out, and fish the downstream bank as you go out of this pocket.

2. N 34 35.258, W 84 37,349 — You can fish all the way to the back end of the creek or crank up and idle back to the small pockets on the right. Fish them while looking for bedding bass. Watch the little cuts and dips in the bank for beds, as well as any kind of wood in the water. Watch for beds right in the back of the creek, too.  Brian says this is an excellent area to fish all during May and even into the summer. Bass don’t have to move far since the water is so deep, and they will hold on any cover in the 15- to 30-foot range. Work the cover with worms and jigs to find them.

3. N 34 35.692, W 84 37.575 — On the right side of the creek going out is a long point that is an excellent place to catch topwater fish. There is some standing timber just off the point. Stay way out and make a long cast, keeping your boat in 50 feet of water or so. Fan cast the whole point, covering it from one side to the other with your favorite topwater bait. Brian likes the ZZ Top and says it is similar to a Spook or Sammy. Work it like feeding fish and the spots holding deep will come up to hit it. You can also try a Fluke over the same area for a little more subdued presentation. This is an excellent pattern on any clear, deep lake that has spotted bass.

4. N 34 35.840, W 84 37.778 — Across the creek there is a hump off the big, round point. You can see a road running right to the water on the point. This hump tops out at 18 feet deep at full pool, and Brian has dropped an underwater camera down to it. He says there are trees all around it, and spots hold in them. Just like at hole No. 3, keep your boat in deep water and cast all around the hump. Circle the hump, staying out in 50 feet of water and casting a topwater bait toward it. The bass can be holding anywhere on it, and you can catch several before moving on.

5. N 34 37.102, W 84 37.880 —Run straight out of Camp Branch toward Wurley Creek, and watch for the long, narrow point on your right where the river channel swings back around. There is a long reef here that is loaded with stumps and trash and is one of Brian’s favorite topwater holes. Start on the downstream side and cast toward the point. Keeping your boat in 50 feet of water you will swing way out as you follow the ridge out from the point. Keep casting across it working your plug almost to the boat. As you swing around the end, continue to cast across the point and work up the upriver side. Cover the point and reef from the bank all the way out and back again on the other side.

6. N 34 37.403, W 84 38.041 —Across the river the points on both sides of Wurley Creek are also good topwater spots. On the left watch for a narrow ridge running to the water with a road on it. There are some big pine trees right on the end of the point. This ridge runs way out underwater, too. You can head straight in to this point and watch for the bottom coming up. When it hits 50 feet deep, stop and start casting across it. Work down one side, back out to the end and down the other side. If they don’t want the hard bait, switch to a Fluke and try it.

7. N 34 37.499, W 84 37.866 — Across the mouth of the creek the point on the right has some standing timber on it. This is another of Brian’s favorite topwater holes, and he says he has caught a lot of 3- to 3 1/2-lb. spots on it, so he fishes it a lot. Start on the river side and cast to the point, and then fish around it and cast across it from the creek side, too. Stay out two to three casts from the bank here and cast toward the point. Work your topwater fast like schooling fish chasing baitfish. You cannot work a jerkbait fast enough that a bass cannot catch it. Make a lot of noise and disturbance in the water with it. Remember you are trying to draw bass up from 30 feet down in these areas. A little wind helps, but too much makes it difficult to fish topwater on these points.

8. N 34 37.182, W 84 37.002 —Another good bedding spot is the pocket upstream of Coley Creek. As you go into this pocket, you will see a middle point separating two coves. Brian likes to start on that point with his spinnerbait and jig, probing for a brushpile that is on it. He will then go in closer to the bank and cast a spinnerbait to the shallows, looking for beds. The left pocket is the one Brian usually finds bedding fish in. He works from the point all the way back to the end, then fishes the other bank coming out. Fish all the visible cover with your spinnerbait and try to hit any hidden cover with a jig or worm as you move out looking for bedding bass in the cuts in the bank.

9. N 34 37.395, W 84 38.616 —Fisher Creek at the dam is another good year-round creek, and there are some excellent bedding areas back in it. Brian likes to run to the last pocket on the right almost at the back of the creek and fish it. The bank drops off fast on the right side going in, and this is were he expects to find pre- and post-spawn fish holding in cover. This creek and pocket have some of the warmest water in the lake because they are protected and get good sun, so bass often bed here early, too. Most of the bass here should be post-spawn this year since the weather has been warm, but some may still be bedding.

Work down the right bank, fishing shoreline cover and also fishing any brush down to 30 feet deep. Look for beds on the side of the creek and all the way in the back. Brian usually fishes back out on the same bank and works it out all the way to the point, where there is a small flat that holds fish year-round. All of the back end of Fisher Creek can be good so check out all the pockets, especially if you find fish in this one. Check the same depth in other arms that you catch fish in this one, since bass tend to hold at the same depth in an area.

10. N 34 36.232, W 84 39.373 —The back of the small creek right at the dam on the south side of the lake with the Corps of Engineers ramp and work area in it is good. Brian likes to start right at the corps ramp and fish it and the bank on that side going in. Go past the public ramp on your left and watch for a sign and small ramp on the right. Start fishing there. As you work back, you will come to a big pocket on the right that has several trees lying in it. Fish them and look for bedding bass around them and all around this pocket. The next pocket as you make the turn to the left in the back is also good. Fish both pockets with spinnerbaits and jigs as you look for bedding bass.

These places are excellent for May bass at Carters, and you might see Brian and Logan fishing them when you try them out. Fish these spots, learn the kind of structure that holds May bass at Carters, and you should be able to find a lot more just like them. Be prepared to catch the biggest spotted bass of you life. It could be waiting at Carters.

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