Summer Nights Are Right For Carters Spotted Bass

Mitch Morrison sets a nighttime summer pattern with 10 GPS locations.

Ronnie Garrison | July 17, 2006

Mitch Morrison, of Dalton, with a Carters spotted bass caught at night, his preferred time to fish during the heat of summer.

All across north Georgia, there has been an explosion of big spotted bass in lakes where blueback herring have been introduced. The spots have taken to these open-water baitfish and have grown fat and heavy. Carters Lake was one of the first to see this change, and it is still one of our best lakes for catching big spots.

Carters is a 3,220-acre, deep lake with scenic high hills surrounding it. There is no shoreline development, so don’t plan on fishing docks. Built for flood control and power generation, Carters has a pumpback facility. The water level changes a lot from season to season and many times from morning to night. There is often current there from power generation and pumpback that affects the bass fishing. A lot of natural cover was left in the lake, and many brushpiles have been added to key spots by fishermen and the Corps of Engineers.

Carters is a popular lake and gets very busy this time of year on the weekends. Night fishing is the way to go to avoid the crowds churning the water during the day, and it is much more comfortable while fishing. The icing is big spots feed good at night, too. If you like tournaments, there are nighttime pot tournaments on Carters Lake every Monday and Friday this time of year.

Mitch Morrison moved to Dalton as a teenager and has been fishing Carters since the mid 1980s. His first love is smallmouth bass, and he was in a smallmouth club for years, but recently he has returned to fishing for Carters’ spots. He knows the lake well and has seen the changes it has gone through over the past 20 years. So far this year Mitch has caught three largemouths over six pounds and many big spots at Carters, too. His best spot ever from the lake was a 5-lb., 2-oz. fish.

In July Mitch likes to start fishing late in the afternoon and fish until midnight or later. He will often go after work, getting on the lake around 6 p.m. and fish until after the pumpback changes, which often makes the bass start biting. The beginning or end of the pumpback is often a good time to be on the water.

Before dark Mitch likes to fish deep cover, looking for brush and stumps in the 22- to 27-foot range. The bass hold in this cover during the day and often will hit while holding in it. The cover can be on points, on drops or even back in coves. The depth is the key, and on Carters there is usually even deeper water nearby.

As it gets dark Mitch will start fishing more shallow, throwing a topwater bait to shoreline cover like rocks, stumps and blowdowns. He will work the same cover with a crankbait, spinnerbait or a jig ’n pig, too. Although he is fishing the shoreline, he likes to stay in the areas where the fish hold deep, and he is still not fishing shallow. The shoreline cover he is working may be 10 to 15 feet deep.

Mitch will have a Sammy or Spook rigged for topwater, a white and chartreuse spinnerbait with a gold and a silver blade for before dark, a black spinnerbait with a big Colorado blade for after dark, and a crankbait like a Norman’s Deep Little N or DD22. He also likes a hair jig ’n pig, sticking with a smaller bait in the 1/4-oz. range.

When fishing deep cover, Mitch will first run a crankbait over it for active fish, then fish a spinnerbait down around the brush. After that he will try the jig ’n pig and even a drop shot if the fish are there but very inactive. On the drop shot Mitch likes a Zoom Meathead or Reaction Innovation Flirt in redbug or green-pumpkin colors.

When fishing the shoreline, Mitch keeps his boat over the depth the fish are holding and makes parallel casts to the bank. He starts by angling the casts so they cover water from 10 to 20 feet deep, but once the fish show him what level they are holding he will keep his boat over that depth and keep his bait at their level. He may change to a deeper-running crankbait if he needs to cover deeper water and will slow-roll his spinnerbait at the depth they are holding.

Mitch showed me the following spots in June, and bass were on them then. They will be even better now. (GPS coordinates marked with WGS-84 Datum.)

No. 1 on the map: N34° 36.255-W 84° 39.374—If you put in at the Damsite South area, the creek the ramp is in is good. It is constantly restocked by tournaments held there and has two good fish attractors in it. Since this creek is often off limits during tournaments, it does not get fished as heavily as some other areas.

Idle toward the back of the creek, and you will see a picnic table on the left bank right where a clay point comes out. There is a blowdown pine on it, too. Across the creek there is a steep bank with another blowdown on it. In a line between the picnic table and the log from the blowdown, in 25 to 27 feet of water at full pool, you will find cover. It is right in the middle of the creek. Mitch says this place is deep enough to hold bass year-round.

Idle around until you find the cover. This attractor is listed as one PVC cube and 14 PVC trees. Mitch calls the cubes “chicken coops” since  they have wire on them, giving baitfish a place to hide from the bass. Bass hold around both kinds of cover. It may help to put out a marker near the cover to help you stay on it.

Back off and make a long cast across the cover with a crankbait, trying to get it down right to the top of the cover. Run it across it several times, then do the same with a spinnerbait. Try a jig ’n pig around it, too. If you have not drawn a strike, you might want to get on top of it and fish it with a drop shot, especially if you have seen fishing holding on it.

No. 2: N 34° 37.217-W 84° 39.293 — Across the lake in Fisher Creek, the first point on the left after you enter the mouth of the creek is good day and night. It is a long tapering point that is “rough as a cob” on top, according to Mitch. It has good deep water on both sides with chunk rock on the point. The point has clay banks leading out to it, and there is a lone pine on the point.

Keep your boat way out from the point, and make long casts across it with a crankbait, trying to bump bottom. Fish all the way around it, covering it from all angles. Then try a spinnerbait and jig ’n pig. During daylight try deeper out on the point, and after dark fish the more shallow parts hard- er. Mitch got a good 4-lb. spot off this point the week before I fished with him. It is a good place to get a big spot right now. Fish up the banks a short way after dark, too, for bass moving along them feeding. Wind blowing across this point in any direction makes it better.

No. 3: N 34° 36.897-W 84° 39.321 — Come out of Fisher Creek around the long point where people camp, and start up the river. On your left is a shoal marker on a shallow area way off the bank. It is the first of a series of shoal markers going up the lake on this side, and all can be good. There is deep water all around this shoal marker where big bass hold then run up into the shallows to feed. Circle the shoal marker with a crankbait, spinnerbait and jig ’n pig. Keep your boat out in deep water and cast up shallow for active fish. Mitch says you can catch bass here day and night on crankbaits as well as the other baits.

No. 4: N 34° 36.220-W 84° 38.635 — Across the lake and upstream, the second big main-lake point upstream of the marina is the longest point on the lake, according to Mitch. It runs way out downstream and has very deep water on both sides. It has the added attraction of being even better when boat traffic is making waves in the area.

If you idle across this point out 100 yards offshore, you will be in more than 60 feet of water coming up to about 15 feet on top. Fish all around this point from all directions with all your baits. The bass are more likely to hold off the sides of the point rather than right on top, so make some casts parallel to the sides of it, too. It is a very good point both before and after dark. There is some cover on the point, and you will often see fish suspended off it, waiting to run in and feed. Mitch says if you catch one here, you are likely to catch several more.

After fishing the point, you can work upstream of it, fishing the bluff wall on your right with a jig ’n pig. This is a good place to find bass holding at night. You have to fish it slowly, making your jig hit the small ledges and cracks as it falls down the steep wall.

No. 5: N 34° 37.210-W 84° 38.573 — Back across the lake, head into Woodring Branch and go around the long point on your right. Behind it is a deep pocket that has a corps fish attractor in it. Idle back into the pocket to the middle until you hit 25 feet of water, and start looking for the cover with your depthfinder. You will see a big pine on your left and across the creek a big stump on the right. The cover is between these to points.

Fish all the way around this cover, hitting it with all your baits. The corps list shows 154 Christmas trees here, so there is a lot of cover to work. This is a good, protected area to fish if the wind is blowing hard or if the boat traffic is especially bad. After fishing the deep trees, fish around the bank in a little more shallow water, especially if fishing this area after dark.

No. 6: N 34° 37.848 – W 84° 37.649 — Run up the lake to where it makes a sharp bend to the right and go into Goble Branch. This short branch is very deep, and there is a corps’ brush- pile in the back in 25 feet of water made up of 110 plastic pallets. Fish the pallets before dark, then work the steep banks on both sides of the branch. This is one of Mitch’s favorite spots. He keeps his boat out in 20 feet of water and fishing parallel to the bank, working the 15 to 20 foot range. He will often spend four hours at night fishing this one cove. You will lose a lot of jigs here because of the rocks, but you will catch fish here, too. On the right is a small pocket with standing timber off the bank that holds bass. Fish it care- fully at night because your boat can hit the top of one of the trees right at the surface and throw you out. Fish it, but be careful.

No. 7: N 34° 37.614-W 84° 38.020 — The big point on the creek side of Goble Branch, going up Wurley Creek, is good. Mitch got a small keep- er spot here on a spinnerbait the night we fished. Go around the point, and just upstream of it is a little dent or cove on the bank. For some reason this little cove holds good bass most of the time, Mitch says. Fish it with all your baits.When fishing a spinnerbait at night, Mitch likes one with a rattle on it. If it does not come with a rattle, he will attach one. He also likes the Pro Lures Wobble Head spinnerbait at night because he thinks it adds some extra noise to the bait that the bass like.

No. 8: N 34° 37.079 – W 84° 37.676 — Across the lake the long point coming out of the downstream side of Doll Mountain Recreation Area is good at night. This bluff bank holds fish year-round, and Mitch will spend a good bit of time on it. There are two islands off the end of the point, and Mitch goes past them to the snag sticking out of the water off the bank.

Start at the big snag, and work into the creek. Wind blowing on it makes it even better. You can fish this bank all the way to the Doll Mountain ramp, throwing a spinnerbait parallel to the bank, especially if there is wind or cur- rent, or working a jig ’n pig down it if there is not any water movement. Be careful to hit every little point on this bank, too. Look for a pattern. Are the fish holding on one side of the little point or the other? Are they right on the point? Once you find a pattern, it should hold up all along this bluff.

No. 9: N 34° 37.154 – W 84° 37.131 — Coming out of Crump Creek at Doll Mountain past Coley Branch you will see a shoal marker right in the mouth of a small cove on your right. It is only three feet deep on top at full pool but drops off fast around it. Fish all around this hump working all your baits from shallow to deep. Try sitting up shallow and casting your jig ’n pig out to deeper water, working from deep to shallow before leaving, too. It is easier to keep in contact with the bottom with a light bait working it like this.

No. 10: N 34° 38.437-W 84° 36.622 — Run up the river past the islands in the big bend to the right, and watch for a small cove on your right just downstream of the mouth of Taile Creek at Ridgeway Recreation Area. You will be downstream of the big rocky point across the creek, and you will not see the mouth of the creek until you round this point. It is very deep right in front of this little pocket and more shallow on both sides. Fish all the way around the little pocket, working a jig ’n pig down the slope and a spinnerbait and crank bait parallel to the bank. Fish stack up in this little cove this time of year.

These are all places Mitch likes to fish in July. Hit them before dark to get a feel for them while you can see them then stay and work them after dark. You can find many similar spots all over the lake, too. Head to Carters this summer for some hot action late in the afternoon and at night.

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