Lake Lanier November Spotted Bass With All-American Troy Morrow
Troy Morrow won the 2010 BFL All-American and recently placed fifth in the FLW Cup on Lake Lanier.
Troy Morrow is living his dream. This 38-year-old angler from Toccoa has been fishing most of his life and started competing in local bass tournaments before he could get a driver’s license.
“I used to throw my jonboat in the back of the truck when Dad was going to Hartwell for pot tournaments,” said Troy. “I’d stay in the cove near the ramp and work it hard for bass.”
That kind of passion and determination has paid off for Troy. He has long been a favorite in club and pot tournaments on Lake Hartwell, his home lake. But last season he broke into the spotlight.
In May of this year, Troy won the BFL All-American tournament on Arkansas’ DeGray Lake. This was a huge step forward in Troy’s drive to be a full-time professional bass angler. The win netted him $120,000.
The All-American win guaranteed him a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lanier this past August. Fishing against some of the best anglers in the world, Troy finished in fifth place. He added another $50,000 to his earnings.
As a result of those huge accomplishments, Troy is heading out full-time on the FLW Tour next season. It looks like he’s off and running in hot pursuit of his dream. Troy is spending this fall making financial and logistical preparations for a year on the road.
Troy took a short break from all that activity and took me fishing on Lanier in mid October. Although the pattern would be different than when he had his high finish on the lake in August, Troy spends enough time on Lanier that he could tell GON readers what to expect in November.
“November is a transition month on Lanier,” said Troy. “We usually have some fairly significant temperature changes during the month. As things cool down, the bass begin to move out of their late-summer pattern.”
I met Troy at the Balus Creek Park ramp, just before daylight on a cool, mid October morning, and we headed out toward the main lake. Troy told me the methods we would be fishing would be the same he would be using in early November.
“Unless there is a major change in the weather, the bait and bass should still be hanging at their late-summer locations on the main lake,” said Troy. “We’ll start on top. The spots are still holding over deep brush, and a noisy bait on the surface will sometimes call them up to feed.”
Pulling up on our first location, Troy handed me a long white rod with lots of tiny guides. Troy said the new rod concept from Duckett Fishing is called Micro Magic. The guides on the rod are much smaller than conventional guides, usually about 4 mm in diameter, and they are spaced closely together.
“The smaller guides have two advantages,” said Troy. “They reduce overall rod weight and eliminate much of the line vibration on the cast.”
Troy said this configuration keeps the line from slapping the rod on the cast, reducing drag and allowing much longer casts. After four or five casts, I had to agree.
We were making long casts with big poppers that were tied behind a smaller popper, or Front Runner. We then worked them back to the boat making a lot of commotion on the surface.
“We may pick up a few fish early,” said Troy. “But this technique usually works best once the sun gets up a little.”
We didn’t get any action on the first spot but could see fish breaking the surface periodically all around the cove. Moving to another brushpile, Troy connected on the second cast and landed a fat 2-lb. spot.
The big trailing plug on the rig was a large Pop-R, but most any chugger or even a Zara Spook will work. The Front Runner was about 2 to 3 feet in front of the big popper. And on one rig Troy substituted a small Pop-R for the front bait. He modified the Pop-R by removing the rear hook and beefing up the front hook to increase chances of hooking bass that strike the front bait. The eye, which originally held the rear hook, was used to tie on the leader for the bigger rear bait. Troy said when the action is good, it isn’t unusual to have two fish on at the same time — one on each bait.
The rig is fished on rods at least 7 feet long and casting reels spooled with 15-lb. test line.
He sets up the boat by stopping short of a brushpile he wants to fish and makes a long cast past it. He then works the bait aggressively back to the boat directly over the brush. Strikes will generally occur in the vicinity of the brushpile.
If he doesn’t get any takers on the surface action, Troy pulls out a deep-diving crankbait and fishes the same areas he’s fishing the topwater lures.
“Ideally you want the crankbait to cross over the brush just above it,” Troy said. “On most of the deep brush I fish, a bait that will dive about 20 feet is just right.”
His favorite plug is a Spro Little John DD because of its consistent 20-foot depth on the retrieve. Troy recommends dark colors early in the morning and on cloudy days, and he prefers light colors when the sun is bright during the middle of the day. The crankbaits are fished on long casting outfits spooled with 10-lb. test fluorocarbon. The line produces less drag and lets the bait run deeper while still having the strength to manage a hefty bass around brush.
As an alternative to the crankbait, Troy uses a Fish Head Spin in exactly the same fashion. He sticks with the 1/2-oz. model because he is familiar with the fall rate and can count the bait down effectively to the desired depth. He then uses a steady retrieve so the bait stays at the proper depth and doesn’t rise or fall. Again he tries to get the bait to come across the brush just above the top of the pile. A couple of feet either way and you’ll miss fish or find yourself snagged in the brush. Troy tips the bait with a Zoom Super Fluke Junior in a pearl color.
“The bait is usually pretty small this time of year, so the smaller Fluke seems to work best,” said Troy.
Before he leaves a brushpile, Troy moves in close and fishes a drop-shot worm vertically over the brush. This rig consists of a small drop-shot hook about 2 feet above a small sinker at the end of the line. Troy threads a small finesse-style worm on the hook and leaves the hook point exposed for a better hook-up ratio.
“I think the exposed hook produces much more effectively than a Texas-rig approach,” said Troy. “It’s just easier to get the hook into the fish when you don’t have to set it through the worm.”
There is a downside, though. The exposed hook sets well in brush, too. To combat this, Troy has devised a little “knocker” consisting of a small bell sinker with a snap swivel attached. If he gets hung in the brush, he snaps on the little knocker, lets it drop down the line and almost every time it will knock the hook free.
The drop-shot rig is fished on light spinning tackle, and Troy said that line size is key on Lanier.
“I use 7-lb. test line,” said Troy. “Six-lb. test will produce more strikes, but you’ll get broken off in the brush often and 8-lb. test is more visible and produces less strikes.”
Troy’s worm selection for the drop-shot rig is a straight Robo Worm in various colors. He likes something white in the worm in most cases, but the morning-dawn color is a favorite.
The technique is to drop the worm to where it is just barely over the top of the brush and shake it lightly in place. Troy keeps an eye on his bow-mounted graph and can often see the bass follow the bait down to take the bait. If you prefer, shaky-head worm rigs also work well. I used one alongside Troy’s drop shot and had good results. The key is to keep hooks, worm and weight small. This is a finesse style of fishing, and heavy terminal tackle or line test just doesn’t cut it.
By the middle of November, the bait should be moving into the pockets, and the bass will follow. When this migration starts, the ditches in the mouths of creeks are great places to look.
“Move slowly into the mouth of the creek, and pay close attention to your electronics,” said Troy. “The bass are keying on bait, and unless you see bait in the area, you chances of catching bass are slim.”
Troy said the bait will usually be near the edges of the creek channel or in the bottom of the creek if a front moves in.
Surface plugs fished over the brush can produce in the pockets, but that action will be less frequent as the water continues to cool. The crankbait and Fish Head Spin are good choices for this creek-ledge approach. When the bass first move into the pockets, 30 feet is a pretty good target depth. Bass may be right on the bottom or suspended, depending on what the bait is doing. Again, electronics will play a key role in your success.
If fish are on the bottom, let the Fish Head Spin sink to the bottom and begin a slow retrieve, keeping the bait down. If the bass are suspended, count the bait down to where they are, and use a steady retrieve to keep the bait in the strike zone. Troy said he will also count down a drop shot or even a jigging spoon to suspended fish in the pockets.
Another favorite is to fish a jig on the bottom in the ditches. Both the jig and Fish Head Spin are likely to attract big fish, according to Troy. So if he has a good limit of keepers in the box, he’ll switch to those baits to go for a big bite.
While Troy spends most of his time on Lanier from Browns Bridge to the dam, he’ll sometimes go up the Chattahoochee arm for largemouth in November.
“On a full moon, largemouth pull on wood and rocks along the bank,” said Troy. “I like to fish a buzzbait around the wood for a reaction strike and a jig around the rocks to imitate crayfish.”
On our mid-October outing, Troy’s techniques were very effective. We boated more than a dozen spots in a morning of fishing. Most of the fish were about 2 pounds, but a chunky spot estimated at 4 pounds popped the line on a drop-shot rig right next to the boat.
Surface action was a little slower than Troy had expected, probably because we had almost no wind. A little chop on the water makes the bass less spooky and more likely to come up to the bait.
November is a great month for bass action on Lanier, so get out and follows Troy’s tactics. Follow the bait as it migrates into the creeks, and you are likely to find bass with the bait.
Troy begins his career as a full-time professional bass fishermen on Lake Okeechobee in February, and the third stop on the FLW Tour is his home lake, Hartwell. We wish him well and hope he has a great year. You can see him in action on Hartwell in late March. Go up and watch the weigh-ins. I’m sure he would appreciate your support.
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