Updated: Aug 24, 2019
With a conclusion to the Dog Days of Summer, the days now herald the arrival of Autumn in all of its glory. We may anticipate some cooler weather for the next couple of weeks with some nice nights in the 60's and even daytime highs in the 70's here and there. Currently forecasted rain should help to keep a steady lake level and possibly contribute to a rise. We are currently at ~838 ft. (2ft below full pool of 840 ft.). http://allatoona.uslakes.info/. Weather models show us we have a 50% chance of rain on Allatoona and/or within your daily travels for this weekend and next, but if it rains all day we'll just quack like a duck. Current overall surface temps taken from Sweetwater and downstream to the Dam average in at 88 degrees.
These past 2 weeks have us very excited as the topwater bite is on! The water is boiling, and we don't mean the temperatures.
While this fantastic phenomenon has been prevalently witnessed and enjoyed around the morning and evening 'golden hours', the topwater bite is occurring at intervals throughout the nights and days. Being on the water can only increase your chances of being present during some topwater eruptions. We have seen sustained topwater boiling of hybrids, stripers and white bass lasting up to a full hour these past 2 weeks, though intervals of a few seconds to a few minutes here and there could easily be enjoyed.
This is the herald of good things still to come- That great topwater bite is ON and may be expected to last through September and beyond when the big girls come back to the main lake.
Here's what you may do to prepare for such action: Have a rod ready to cast that has a topwater lure or smaller spoon attached. While they are in a feeding frenzy, most any artificial you can get in front of them may produce. A lot of these fish are chasing and devouring small threadfin shad that are in the 1"-3" range, though they do not seem to hesitate on striking a 5" spoon being pulled across the top or worked subsurface through the school. It should be noted that any of the 'larger' topwaters worked slowly may be ignored by the smaller schoolies, even when in a frenzy. If you are frustrated by fish breaking on everything but your artificial, size it down. If you are targeting the bigger hybrids and stripers in these mixed schools, just keep grinding the larger offering. Sometimes the trade-off is just not hooking up with 10 of those 1-3 pounders but the reward may be the beast travelling in that school. All that stated, our best striper hooked this week was maybe just under 10 lbs. (a great summer lake fish around here) and hit a small 3" spoon and then ran like a freight train with it. A quick-release at the boat was performed by said fish before we could, but it was likely for the best. Still brings a smile.
While I may be a huge fan of light-line fluorocarbon presentations, this topwater targeting is where I personally step up to a braid (I have had great results from a Spiderwire stealth 30# braid these past years, but there are so many options here). My reasoning is multi-faceted, but includes the facts that it is incredibly durable and forgiving.
In this application, you are casting into actively feeding fish. You are possibly running your line (while maybe even fighting a fish) through a multitude of other fish. If I could only have ONE lure on ONE rod for these topwater times, it might just be a small but fairly heavy spoon that I can reach out to 30 yards+ with to reach a distant boil. In this application, try your best to cast beyond the boiling where possible, and immediately start reeling, being set for a strike, and 'skimming' the top. Now, let's say you have just hooked a 1-2 pound fish 40 yards out- Great! Now you have the time consuming task of getting your fish and lure back to the boat. Maybe this topwater activity is increasing and you can only hope that the next one to hit is a 5 pounder. Maybe the fish are suddenly everywhere and now they are even boiling around your boat and there you are still 30 yards out feeling like you may have hooked the smallest of the fish in the school... While 6-8# fluorocarbon might have given that great casting distance, so will a comparable diameter braid that may be rated for 30#. This means you have more drag and muscle to get that fish in, get it off and try it all again. Make sure any smaller lures' hooks are rated to withstand the increased drag and muscle being used without bending/straightening out. That can be a heartbreak you can avoid. A couple of years ago I picked up some nice looking (that's what almost always gets us) topwaters made by a major mfg. Took them to the water that night knowing they would be the ticket. It took losing one good fish (heartbreak) to realize I was behind the curve in replacing every sub-par hook (and maybe even split rings). Spend enough time on the water and all those "maybes" do become fact at some point.I keep an assortment of topwater arsenal at my fingertips. I like to slow twitch and wait for the targeted swirl, too. While one may not be able to cast a topwater/floating lure out as far as a spoon due to physics and conditions, when you can reach them on one, that bite may be the most exciting. The floater let's you stay in the strike zone much longer than a 1/2 oz. spoon, too. Mix it up as needed and find what works best for you. --Spoon 'em up! We talked about spoons a little, but not their primary application of 'spooning' up a fish from down under. Currently, spooning has been a very effective method for hooking up with all species of linesides. A lot of good fish are being caught in the heat of the day in water around 20-25 feet deep by spooning, and in the evening on flats as shallow as 2 feet deep. Techniques vary here, but bouncing a spoon of the bottom has worked well for us overall. If you wish to gain some confidence in spoon-fishing, be on the water and near some fishy flats at 8 pm. Cast a 3/5 oz Flexi-spoon or a 2" Foley spoon, and work a slow and bouncing retrieve. They may be visibly feeding on top but if you are in 5' of water, they are going to hit this at any depth while chasing bait. A lot of strikes here and even out deeper come on the drop or down-flutterJust last week we had the opportunity to catch some deeper water fish on the spoons. We marked a school of Hybrids and Stripers hanging in 22-30' over 50'mid-lake, and had been hoping for this opportunity to test some techniques on summertime deeper-water fish. We caught 2 nice fish in the 5-6 pound class on a spoon simply being worked through the 10 foot column of water that we deemed the active zone. Both of these fish hit and were hooked on the drop. We also caught 2 more in that class on stationary down lines with live bait set at 25' - all within a 25-30 minute period before they travelled on without us keeping up. Rascals!We did not have further opportunity to stay on these deeper fish and test the 'power reeling' technique, though that is on our plate for some of those roaming schools near the dam that are spanning 20' throughout the water column in the deeper waters of 70-100'. While this technique has been effective on Lanier and Carter's as reported by others, we currently have little report to offer of practical application on Allatoona during the summer months. --Downlining: For the most part, the strike zone for downlining has been 12-15 feet down. Frisky bait can be hard to top at most times, but we have witnessed that spoons worked through these same fish produce equally well (if not better) these past 2 weeks. Live threadfins may only last minutes on the hook. They are spot on if you are dropping them into fish, but not for scouting unless you came equipped with 5-6 dozen pieces of bait or more for 2 people for a few hours (or are confident in your daytime shad catching abilities where you are fishing at). It is my contention at this point one could do better to entice a strike by actively jigging a spoon or even a dead/frozen shad than by trailing a lifeless shad at .5 mph. If the fish you are chasing are moving around a lot, keeping active with an artificial. Do not count out the effectiveness of a shiner or spot-tail minnow that may have a little more endurance in the 85+ degree waters.
--Freelining shad or minnows with a #1 or #2 hook on lighter line is almost always worth the set up. If you notice the freeline hooks up best, have at least 2 going. Try with and without a small split shot a few feet up your mainline to hit the sweet spots. We have been consistently hooking up to fish on the freelines that are reaching down <1-4 feet, depending on speed/turns, etc. The white bass in particular seem to have a special knack for just licking and picking a threadfin off the hook. If your eyes or hands are not directly on that freeline rod, you may find yourself fishing on credit when you check for your bait. --We have caught some nice Spotted Bass in the mix on most all of our adventures, and targeting them specifically on artificials for 2 hours on a recent trip last week proved fruitful with a few fish weighing in at over 3 pounds. We worked primary and secondary points with a 4" soft swimming-shad imitation in all white and gray/silver with black back produced well as did an all white fluke rigged with a light 1/8 bullet weight. The old Jitterbug did its part when there was surface action, but these fish were still being caught sub surface even when hitting the top. We had timed it well, but isn't that the real key at all times? Not even one good ol'big Bucketmouth (LMB) came aboard in August-yet.
--The Crappie bite is surely slower than we'd like right now. While we have not personally given them a fair day-after-day targeting, we are pulling very limited catches out of brush with just minnows and believe that the bulk of these fish are still channel surfing and hanging on the ledges and living the good marina life, particularly on the North end of the lake. They will not elude us for long, especially when we set our attention to targeting them.
--The Bream bite is lovely as always. Get you some worms or crickets, find you a nice little cove (shade is a bonus here) and get as close to the shore as you can to start. We like to use a size 6 aberdeen (easier to unhook with longer shank) or any J hook, a BB split shot 6 inches up and a little float for maximun sensitivity, and enjoy a lazy afternoon.
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Please continue to help us keep our waterways clean and peaceful. Take out one thing besides your own when possible. If you are out fishing, you likely even have a net to catch a floating plastic bag or bottle. Please continue to be respectful of others whatever their preferred watersport / pasttime or watercraft type. Love one another.
Tightlines! - Captain Joseph Martinelli