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May Topwater Milk Run For Lanier Spotted Bass

Laura Gober shares locations that are producing good tournament sacks of Lake Lanier spotted bass.

Ronnie Garrison | May 1, 2009

Georgia fishermen have a dilemma in May; there are just too many good lakes to fish right now. What makes one stand out?

Consider the big spotted bass at Lake Lanier, where low water has reduced fishing pressure for a couple of years, and the spots are big, strong and feeding heavily.

Lanier is a 40,000-acre Corps of Engineers lake that was filled in 1956. It is ringed with more than 7,500 boat docks, although many have been out of the water until recently. The lake was very low for a couple of years with few usable boat ramps, but by mid-April it was only 8 feet low, and most ramps are now open.

There is a 14-inch length minimum for all Lanier bass, making it the only lake in Georgia with a size limit on spotted bass. If there’s ever been a reservoir that could stand tighter regulations for keeping spotted bass, it’s Lanier. Five-pounders are weighed in at most tournaments, and 20-lb. stringers of five spots are common. Spotted bass weighing more than 7 pounds have been caught. Right now is a great time to catch a bragging-sized spot on Lanier.

Laura Gober grew up in Florida and got her love of fishing from her grandmother and mother. She always liked fishing, and when she moved to Atlanta and met Trent Gober, they started dating — and fishing. They have fished many couples trails like the HD Marine Couples Trail, Guys and Dolls and Southern Bassin’ Couples. Laura and Trent also fish together in other team trails like Boating Atlanta, BAIT and local pot tournaments.

As a long-time Georgia Peaches club member, Laura has fished several Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Top Six tournaments, and she now fishes the Women’s Bass Tour (WBT) as a pro. She won the Red River WBT tournament in 2007 and has made the championship each year. In the first WBT this year at Neely Henry, Laura placed eighth.

Laura and Trent live near Lanier and fish it often. At the April 11 BAIT tournament, Trent and Laura weighed in five spots at 16.5 pounds for fifth place, and Laura’s 5.18-lb. spot caught on a Yamamoto Senko dipped in JJ’s Magic won the big-fish pot.

“The bass at Lanier are mostly through spawning by early May and are moving to their deep holes,” Laura said.

Although spots will spawn on humps and points, most bass move out of the shallow pockets and points where they spawned and onto deep points and humps where they feed on blueback herring and shad. Laura likes fishing for these deeper fish, and she is happy when her boat is in 35 feet of water and she’s casting to water 17 to 20 feet deep.

Stumps, rocks and hard bottoms with some drop are the keys Laura looks for in May. Sunny days mean better fishing since the herring seem to be more active, and that turns on the bass. A variety of baits will catch these deep spots, from topwater to draw them up to a Senko bumped on the bottom.

Laura will have a Chug Bug topwater bait ready at all times. She also sometimes uses a Staysee 90 jerkbait if the sun is bright. These action-type baits will call up and draw strikes from big spots looking for herring.

For fishing on the bottom, Laura likes a Texas-rigged Senko in watermelon-red color, a Double Tail Yamamoto Hula Grub in green pumpkin on a 3/8-oz. jig head, and a Gambler Giggy Head jig with a sand-colored Swamp Crawler worm on it. All the plastics will be dipped in JJ’s chartreuse dip and dye to give color and scent to the tails.

Laura likes to fish the main lake this time of year, concentrating on humps and points from Brown’s Bridge to the dam. The following 10 locations are favorites, and some of the bass she and Trent weighed in on April 11 came from them. They will hold even more bass now.

No. 1: N 34º 15.201 – W 83º 57.293 — The wooden breakwater on the outside of the boat docks at LanMar Marina is over deep water, and bass hold there and feed. It is a heavily fished area, so try to arrive early, but it consistently produces big spots. Laura and I both got 3-lb. spots here when we fished in early April.

Start at the end of the seawall, and work the whole thing with topwater and jerkbaits. Laura says cables run out at a 45-degree angle from the breakwater to anchor it, and bass hold on these cables. Keep your boat well out from the breakwater, and make casts in toward it. Work your bait all the way back to the boat.

With a topwater bait like a Chug Bug, make it look like a bass chasing a herring, splashing along in quick pops. Vary your speed to see what they want. Sometimes a pause between pops works while at other times a fast, constant action is best.

With a jerkbait, Laura reels it down and jerks it hard one or two times so the bass can hear it to draw attention, and she then reels it back at a fairly steady rate. Be ready for a bass to hit from the time the bait hits the water until you lift it out at the boat.

No. 2: N 34º 14.264 – W 83º 57.986 — Go downstream around the islands out from the cove with the LanMar dry stacks in it, and there is a long point running out that has stumps on it. This is a typical transition point for bass in May. It holds bass coming off the beds in the coves on both sides of it as well as the spots that bed out on the points and humps. There is also some standing timber out in deeper water where bass will hold, and then run in to the stumps to feed.

Keep your boat way out, and cast to water 17 to 20 feet deep. Start by working a jerkbait or topwater over the area with the stumps, and then drag a Hula Grub or a Texas-rigged Senko along the point. When you hit a stump, shake your bait and try to entice any bass holding on the stump.

If the bass don’t hit these baits, Laura will pick up a spinning rod with a Giggy Head and Swamp Crawler worm on it. She likes to fish braid for a main line but ties a fluorocarbon leader on it so it won’t spook the bass. The thin sand-colored worm with a chartreuse tail will draw strikes from reluctant bass that won’t hit the bigger baits.

No. 3: N 34º 14.086 – W 83º 58.595 — Go downstream to where you can see Vann’s Tavern Park. Upstream of the five docks near the field at the park is a point that runs way out and then rises in a hump. There is a shoal marker near the bank that might still be on dry land if the lake has not come up more. The point runs out from it.

Stop out in 35 feet of water, and ease in until you see the bottom start to rise. There are stumps on this point, and you should fish both sides of it, staying out in 30-plus feet of water and casting in. Fish all the way around the end of it. Laura says bass hold around the stumps all along this point in May.

Sun on the water calls for topwater and jerkbaits first. The herring seem to come toward the surface in bright sunlight, and the bass tend to be looking up for food. Work something over them, and they will come up, often 20 feet or more, to hit it. Then work around the same area feeling for the stumps.

No. 4: N 34º 13.066 – W 83º 57.362 — Run across the lake, and go in on the downstream side of the point at Old Federal Park, into Chattahoochee Bay. On your left is the campground, and a bathhouse is up on the hill. There is also a swimming area here. A point runs out on the right side of the swimming area, and it has stumps and rocks on it to hold bass.

This transition point, like others, runs out to deep water close by. Standing timber in the deeper water makes it even better. Bass will move out of the creek and hold on this point in May, gradually working deeper and out to the standing trees. Fish from 17 to 20 feet deep in early May then even deeper later in the month.

No. 5: N 34º 12.390 – W 83º 58.446 — In the mouth of the cove with the houseboat docks and gas pump at Aqualand Marina is a stump-covered hump that holds good bass this month. Start way out, and idle in toward the second no-wake buoy from the upstream side. The hump is out about even with the buoy.

Once the bottom starts coming up, Laura will stop and make her casts across the hump in toward the marina, fishing from the outside deeper edge in. She says this is usually the best way to fish many of these spots, since the fish tend to hold on the deeper side. Work it with topwater, and then use your plastics to probe the hump.

No. 6: N 34º 12.244 – W 83º 58.683 — Leave the hump in hole No. 5, and go toward the end of the point downstream of Aqualand, the one with channel marker 16 on it. The marker is on the downstream point of a double point that comes off the main one, and Laura likes to fish the unmarked point before she gets out to the marker.

Wind often blows into this point, and wind can make these places better, within reason. The day Laura and I fished, a wind out of the north made this spot unfishable because the waves were too high to allow any boat control at all. If you can hold your boat on a point like this in the wind, the waves and current will help.

Start on the marina side of this point, and make casts across it with topwater, and then switch to plastics. Fish around this point, working it from different angles until you cover it completely.

No. 7: N 34º 11.947 – W 83º 58.689 — Go around the point with marker 16 on it, and start into Flowery Branch. Just inside the point is a flat that runs out with a bar on it, and the flat has stumps that hold bass. Fish will bed back in the creek and around the marina, and then they move out to this flat before moving out even farther later in the month. As you come around the main point at marker 16, you will see three small islands with trees on them going toward the bank. The flat runs out even with the middle island toward the deeper water in Flowery Branch. Fish from the deep side, working all your baits across it. Fish in toward the dock on the Flowery Branch side of Aqualand Marina.

You may want to ride over these places to figure out just how they look before fishing them. If you have time, ride over each without fishing them, and then come back later and work them, probing for the hidden sweet spots your depthfinder can reveal.

No. 8: N 34º 10.464 – W 83º 59.247 — Run down to Big Creek, and go in past Holiday Marina. The creek splits, and University Yacht Club is on the big point ahead of you. To your left are two marked shoals. Laura likes to fish the hump to the left, and then she works the downstream point of it.

An old roadbed crosses the end of this hump on the downstream side, and there are stumps and rocks to hold the bass. This is an excellent transition point as bass move out of the back of the creek toward the deeper water. Fish all the way around the downstream point of the hump with all your baits.

No. 9: N 34º 11.434 – W 84º 01.645 — Run out toward the channel at the end of Lake Lanier Islands past Channel Marker 12, and you will see the water park and docks in the back of the cove. Keep going downstream, and the golf course will be on your left. An island sits in the middle of this big bay before you get to channel marker 10. Stay on the outside point of this island, and cast back toward it. It is a hard-clay point with some rocks, and bass hold on it. Try all your baits, working around the point and fishing it at different angles.

Laura says she and Trent often fish farther out than most fishermen. They think the bigger spots hold out deeper than many fishermen realize, so they don’t fish the bank. They are looking for open-water structure and cover like this point.

No. 10: N 34º 11.427 – W 84º 03.182 — Go to the mouth of Young Deer Creek. Two humps way off the bank hold big spots. You can see them on a map, and the day we fished a round orange buoy had been put on each one. If the water has come up more, those buoys may be gone. Locate the humps by running in a line from the north end of the dam rip-rap to the end of the island on the upstream side of young Deer Creek, the one with channel marker 9 on it. The GPS coordinates are for the upstream hump. The downstream hump is about 300 yards from it. Both hold good spots. Laura says it is one of their best big-fish holes this time of year. Stay on the lake side, and work that side of the hump. There are a lot of stumps on it, and you can usually locate man-made brushpiles here and on other spots. Fish all over the drop on the lake side, working a topwater bait over it, and then probing the bottom for cover.

Check out these 10 spots to get an idea of the types of structure and cover Laura likes to fish. Then study your map and GPS to find more. They are all over the lake. This month, you can catch some aggressive spotted bass from top to bottom, and you’ll likely catch one big enough to brag about.

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