When is trophy season?

Big Fish season 2-5pm 2nd week of February to mid April.


Here is an article written by Tom Blackburn, Lanier Striper Tales guide service.

On a more optimistic note, some large Stripers survived poor water conditions from previous years and are living in Lanier and we have a significant number of fish in the 19 to 28 inch range which should grow about four pounds per year.  So, yeah assuming good water conditions for the next four years or so, we will soon experience good fishing/catching using large baits such as Trout and Gizzard Shad.

What is the best time to catch a 25lb Striper (or larger).  March-April- May! While Stripers can be rather lethargic when living in water that’s below 50 degrees; their metabolism increases somewhere between 50 and 53 degrees (surface water temperature).  Thus, they are ready for your big Trout and/or Gizzard Shad at that point.  Georgia’s DNR folks have stated that historically Stripers make a “run” up the rivers/creeks during the first two weeks of April.  If you like River fishing, you will thoroughly enjoy fishing the Hooch and the “Tee” (Chestatee).  You do not need a “river” boat to catch big fish; as a matter of fact, several years ago one of our former members landed a 40 pounder well downstream of the current on the Hooch!  Points of interest on the Hooch include: “the Dredge”, Lula Bridge, and Belton Bridge (ramps are available at Lula and Belton).  Many fish live in the Rivers – more specifically, those that live in some current live in the deeper holes and wait for the current to bring them both live and dead stuff to eat.  As a bonus, you can have a ton of fun catching Shoal Bass by simply pitching a live Herring anywhere close to your boat or shoreline.  The Dredge makes holes in the River and many times these holes are chock full of Stripers waiting for your bait – which can be a live one or cut dead bait.  We have caught them with both.  Once on the hook the challenge begins!

So, you have made a decision not to run your boat above the Lula Bridge – that’s okay because a good number of fish (after unsuccessfully reproducing) will move downstream and can be caught in the River from Laurel Park – Clarks Bridge – and a few miles north of the rowing venue.  Your Gizzards will work wonders; however, keep an eye on water temperatures as medium and large Trout don’t like water temps 70 or above.  The same guidelines apply to the Tee!

Many large Stripers do not make the run up the Rivers.  Some continue to live in the backs of Creeks – historically, one of the best Creeks to land a trophy is Thompson – work your large baits over the flats – use your charting software.  Our former president, Dan Saknini, caught a tremendous fish in the back of Flat Creek.  Another excellent place is “Power Alley” – Wahoo Creek – marker 4 to marker 8 – you are in the sweet spot when you see the famous “rock house”.  Example: Mothers’ Day – two Stripes over 20 pounds in two hours on Herring.  What else is there to share?  In the Spring larger fish would prefer a larger bait versus a bunch of smaller baits! 

April – May:  Best two months to boat a trophy! There’s a night bite, a good topwater bite and everyone is pulling Boards and Flat Lines with big baits.  Reef poles, points, humps, etc.  Those two humps at the mouth of Young Deer – ooooh la la!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You got your Boards and Flat Lines out from the Rivers to the south-end Creeks?  If not, you are truly missing out!

June: What happens when water temps begin to rise?  Answer: some Stripes will stay in the river (current) while most will move south.  As water temps continue to rise, they will move from the backs of the Creeks to mid-creek or possible the mouth of creeks.  When the surface temp reaches 80 degrees, the Bluebacks (if they could talk) would tell you that they would prefer temps less than 80.  This usually occurs in June.  Note: Gizzards like warm water!

July:  OK, now we are witnessing the beginning of the formation of the thermocline and as a result large Stripes are moving to deeper environs to seek cooler water temps, Herring and when available Threads.  Sounds like Down Line Fishing?  A thought: consider down-sizing your base line, leader, and sinker.  One rule to remember: on cloudy days, the Stripes like to hang out in the trees.  Bring up your Down Imaging and use it for sure! 

August – September:  Down Lines with Herring within four miles of the Dam.  A large Stripe will definitely consume your Herring!  (Herring like cooler water temps much like a Stripe!)  Fish the mouth of the creeks in the early morning and move out into the River channel by 10 or so.  When the Corps opens one or more gates, the result is current (of course) which seems to have a positive effect on bait and Stripes as well.  Stratify your sinkers in deep water and hold on because large Stripers will streak from 100 feet to your bait at 60/70/50 feet in a mili-second and literally crush your Herring; accordingly, be very cognizant of your drag!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Can you catch a big fish trolling Down Riggers and Lead Core?  Ah, yes.  You would have to agree that it’s more fun and sporting to catch them on bait.

October – early November:  Where are the big Stripes?  You will find them in schools and they could be anywhere – from Flowery Branch/Young Deer south to the Dam.  You will see them feeding on the surface (many times feeding on small Threads).  You know what to do!  Downsize your bait and your artificial lure.

Turnover.  Everyone hates the turnover because the fish are on the move attempting to find “good” water and some chow.  In the past few years however, they have been caught on Down Lines in Big Creek, the Saddle Dike, mouth of Baldridge, etc. 

The Turnover is Complete – Where are the Big Fish?  Answer: moving to the Creeks and in some cases to the back of the Creeks. 

The Cycle:  Big fish hang out in the back of the Creeks and they await the beginning of the cycle when water temps rise to 50 to 53 degrees.