September Plan For Carters Lake Spots

Hunter Hoek marks a map to set your later summer, early fall pattern.

Ronnie Garrison | August 28, 2020

Carters Lake is arguably Georgia’s prettiest reservoir, with undeveloped shorelines, steep hills surrounding the pristine water, rocky shorelines and clear, deep water. But more important for anglers than the beauty are the spotted bass swimming in Carters. As we transition into September, the Carters Lake bass feed more heavily as the water cools, and they begin to move more shallow and follow baitfish into the coves.

Carters is our deepest lake, with an average depth of 200 feet, and it is 450 feet deep near the dam. Carters is small at 3,200 acres and 62 miles of shoreline, but there is no development other than a marina and a few parks to mar its natural beauty. There is a pumpback system at the dam that recycles water to keep the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ turbines running when there is little rain.

Spotted bass thrive at Carters with the deep, clear water and threadfin and gizzard shad, blueback herring and alewives to eat. The spots grow big and fat, but the deep water can make them hard to pattern and catch. Knowing key feeding areas where they frequent as they roam following baitfish helps find and catch Carters spotted bass in September.

Hunter Hoek grew up in Ellijay and has fished Carters all his life. He caught his first bass when he was just 3 years old, and he has fished tournaments with his dad from the time he was able to hold a rod. He now fishes the ABA and local trails and plans on fishing the BASS Opens next year. He also does videos for Fish North Georgia and reports on the fishing at Carters.

Guide and tournament angler Hunter Hoek with a Carters Lake spotted bass. The baitfish and bass begin to move into creeks and coves this month.

“Spots on Carters follow the bait, and in September that means they are moving into creeks, feeding on shad,” Hunter said.

He pointed out that spotted bass are more transient, not holding in one area if the bait moves. That means you have to pattern them each day in the fall. Knowing the places they usually set up gives you an idea of where to start.

Hunter keeps a variety of baits ready for September fishing, and he’s ready to tackle a variety of depths and conditions. A walking bait, spinnerbait and crankbait are ready for active fish. A shaky head, drop shot and underspin are rigged for slower, more probing-type fishing.

When the corps is pulling water, bass are more active. But Hunter says during pumpback, the fishing is usually terrible for him. The sun moves spots deeper if they are following shad, but they will come up and hit herring that come to the surface on bright days. Wind always helps the fishing as long as it does not interfere with boat control.

We fished the following places in early August and caught bass on most of them. Many of the spots we caught were small, but we could see bigger fish on Hunter’s electronics. It was hard to get them to bite in the hot, still water, but in September they are much more active.

No. 1: N 34º 35.388 – W 84º 37.530 — I met Hunter at daylight at the Doll Mountain ramp, and we quickly ran to the back of Camp Branch. Hunter said he had been seeing schools of shad back in here early this year and had already been catching some good spots here.

Go back past the last big cove on your right going in. Stop of the first of the series of three small, rocky points on the right bank. Bass set up on these points to ambush shad that are moving back in here. Bass feed here, especially early in the morning before the sun hits the water.

Keep your boat out in 30 feet of water, and cast your walking bait to the edge of the rocks, working it back to the boat with a walk-the-dog action that mimics a feeding fish. Hunter likes a Sammy in the green-back gizzard pattern, and he works it fast to draw the attention of fish.

Fish the three points on your right. Watch your electronics for fish and bait near the bottom. If you see them, work your drop shot on them. Also watch for surface activity and cast your walking bait to them.

If bait is in here, work the opposite bank, too. There is brush on some of the points to fish with slower-moving baits later in the day, but fish it fast early to cover all of it before the sun hits the water. Work out to the big rocky point on the downstream point of first big cove on that side going out.

No. 2: N 34º 35.635 – W 84º 37.697 — Going out of Camp Creek, watch for a section of sloping clay bank with scattered chunk rock near the water on the downstream end on your left. There is a big brushpile straight out from it in 20 to 30 feet of water, and bass hold in the brush, feeding on deep schools of shad and ready to ambush passing schools of herring.

Sit in about 40 feet of water, and cast a shaky head and drop shot to 20 feet of water, working both back to about 30 feet deep. Hunter likes a Fish North Georgia green pumpkin-green or regular green pumpkin shaky head worm fished on a 1/4-oz. head.  He lets it settle to the bottom, and then drags it until he contacts cover. He then shakes it some before moving it to then next contact.

Fish the brushpile carefully before moving on. It might take several casts with different baits to get a bite, especially if there is no current or wind.

No. 3: N 34º 35.867 – W 84º 37.768 — Look for the upstream point of the first big cove on your left as you’re going out of the back of Camp Creek. There is a hump that comes up to about 28 feet deep. There is a big brushpile on the downstream side of this hump. Ride the hump until you find it and mark it.

The brushpile is in about 30 feet of water and right on the drop, creating an ideal place for the spotted bass to hold and feed. Keep your boat in 40 feet of water and work around the brush, hitting it from all angles. Fish both a drop shot and shaky head.

Hunter rigs a KVD Dream Shot worm 18 to 24 inches above a 1/4-oz. sinker and works it slowly. Cast past the brushpile, let it hit bottom, and then drag it slowly along the bottom, shaking the rod tip a little to make the worm dance.

Also watch for fish on your electronics and drop straight down to them under the boat. Keep the lead on the bottom when fishing vertically and shake the worm in front of the fish’s face. Hunter says the boat may spook the fish if they are in less than 20 feet of water, and they may be moving following the bait, so keep moving if the fish disappear when you are over them.

No. 4:  N 34º 36.887 – W 84º 39.310 — Go down to the upstream point of Fisher Creek near the dam. It is a round clay and rock point, and there are primitive campsites on it. A point comes off the main point straight out toward the middle of the lake and any current hits it, making it a good feeding area.

Stop out where the point comes out to about 13 feet deep, and keep your boat over 23 feet of water. There are some stumps and brush on this point to hold fish. If current is moving, sit on the down current side and cast a crankbait upstream, working it with the current.

Hunter fishes a gizzard-shad colored Strike King 5XD and cranks it down to hit the bottom, bumping it along with an erratic action. Also work your topwater over the point to draw up spots watching for herring moving over them. Always keep it ready to cast to any swirling fish.

After fishing the moving baits, try your drop shot and shaky head on the point, probing for stumps and brush. Fish the point from 13 feet deep out to 30 feet deep. Spots will hold deep even in September, especially the bigger ones.

After working the point, go to the bank and fish the points going upstream, working them quickly with a crankbait. Hunter reels the crankbait two or three fast reel turns and then pauses it before reeling again.

No. 5: N 34º 36.675 – W 84º 39.193 — Go to the downstream point of Woodring Branch to the hump marked with three poles. A point runs out and downstream of the marked hump, and it drops down and then comes back up to 15 feet deep.

Stop out in 20 feet of water, and run a crankbait over the top of the hump about 15 feet deep. Try to hit the bottom and bump it. Then try a drop shot and underspin here. You can run an underspin along the bottom without hanging up too much. Fish all around the hump before leaving.

Hunter uses a Georgia Blade underspin with a fluke on it and reels it just fast enough to keep it moving on the bottom and to keep the blade spinning. When you feel pressure on it, reel into it. Setting the hook hard on an underspin often means a missed fish.

No. 6: N 34º 37.197 – W 84º 39.646 — Go into the mouth of Fisher Creek, and go straight into the big cove on the left as the creek bends to the right. Ahead of you on the left side of the cove there is a big round clay-and-rock point with a small dip in the middle that sticks straight out.

Stop out in 45 feet of water, and cast a shaky head, drop shot and underspin up to 30 feet of water. Work the brush and bottom out to the boat. Then move in to about 30 feet of water and cover the bottom from 20 feet out to 30. Probe for any brush with the shaky head and drop shot. The bottom is clean enough to try an underspin here.

Watch for topwater action and throw your walking bait to it quickly. Try to hit the swirl left by the fish before it gets 2 feet across—these spotted bass move fast. After fishing the point, Hunter will move to the shady side of the point and work wood cover with his walking bait for any lingering shallow fish.

No. 7: N 34º 37.398 – W 84º 39.282 — Go up Fisher Creek around the bend to the left. On your left is a narrow clay point between two coves, and the downstream cove is longer. The clay point runs out and drops off fast on both sides and on the end.

Start with your boat out in 50 feet of water, and cast all your baits up on the point. Cover it early with topwater and then work the bottom with drop shot, shaky head and underspin. Work slowly toward the bank, fishing the point on all sides all the way up to the bank.

No. 8: N 34º 37.253 – W 84º 38.190 ­ Go up the river to Wurley Creek. Just downstream of the mouth there is a round rock-and-clay point that is downstream of the main downstream point of the creek. It has an old roadbed coming down to the edge of the trees. Bass hold on this point and others near the mouths of creeks to ambush schools of shad as they start moving into the creeks.

Sit in 50 feet of water, and cast up to 25 feet of water with all your baits. Topwater will draw suspended fish up to hit, and those fish holding near the bottom will hit your shaky head, drop shot and underspin. Always keep an eye on your electronics for fish directly under the boat, and let them see your drop-shot worm.

No. 9: N 34º 38.196 – W 84º 38.758 — Go up the long, straight section of Wurley Creek, and stop on the steep bluff bank on the right, downstream of the small creek on the right. The bluff bank creates a point on the downstream side of the creek, and the downstream side of the point dips in a little. Start fishing at this dip.

Your boat will be out in 50 feet of water, and you can cast to the bank, but concentrate on the 25-foot depth range with your drop shot and shaky head. After fishing the point, especially if the bank is shady, Hunter will tie on a spinnerbait and fish the wood and rock cover against the bank with it and wiht a topwater. Fish this bank up to the mouth of the small creek.

No. 10: N 34º 37.797 – W 84º 36.869 — Run up the river to the island in the middle of it where the river makes a sharp bend around it. On the right is a point where the channel hits the bank downstream of the island. The bottom drops fast on both sides of this point, and it is a good ambush place for baitfish moving up the river.

Start on the downstream side in 60 feet of water, and cast to 40 feet, and then move up to 40 and cover the water from 20 feet down to 40. Do this all the way around the point. Any current moving down the river will hit this point and create eddies, and the fish like moving water.

Give these places a try this month, and then look for similar places where bass hold this month as shad move into creeks and coves. Use Hunter’s favorite baits, or choose your own for some big hard-fighting September Carter Lake spotted bass.

You can contact Hunter for a guided trip on Carters or Blue Ridge. Call 706.889.3298, or contact him on his Hunter Hoek Facebook page. Also check out his videos at the Fish North Georgia Facebook page.

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