John's Journal...

How to Fish the Toughest Lake in America with Adam McClellan

Stripers on Deep Clear Lakes

Click to enlargeEditor's Note: Adam McClellan of Cumming, Georgia, fishes the toughest lake in America just outside Atlanta - Lake Lanier. "The water clarity on Lake Lanier during the summer months sometimes exceeds 7 feet," McClellan says. Lanier is a major recreational lake with plenty of water skiers, jet skiers, boaters and other outdoor water recreation activities that can and does interfere with fishing. This week, we'll see how McClellan not only fishes this lake, but also successfully catches fish. Adam and his father, Stokes McClellan, fish the Southern Crappie Association tournaments, as well as the Crappie USA tournaments.

Question: Don't you also catch stripers on Lake Lanier?Click to enlarge
McClellan: Yes, I do. In the middle of the summer, like right now, we use a deep-water trolling tactic for catching stripers. Most people are fishing live bait down 35 to 50 feet. However, between mid- and late-spring and in late summer, we troll umbrella rigs for stripers. We use either braided line or lead core line on an umbrella rig, which is a wire holder that will hold multiple baits. This umbrella rig is usually weighted with 1 to 3 ounces of lead. Generally the wire holder will support six to 12 jigs on each umbrella rig. I like the shad-shaped grubs that Spike-It makes. I also like the
Spike-It Boot-Tail Grubs when I'm trolling for stripers at this time of year. We typically troll over points, ledges or old river channels in water depths of 20 to 35 feet. The 4- and 6-inch shad-shaped Spike-It grubs and the 4- and 6-inch Spike-It Boot-Tail Grubs are the size we usually troll. The jigheads we use weigh 1/2- to 1-ounce each with a large hook in them.

Question: How fast are you trolling, and what are you using?Click to enlarge
McClellan: We're trolling between 2- and 2.6-miles per hour with a big motor, not a trolling motor, and we're running just above idle speed.

Question: What do you do when you get more than one striper?
McClellan: That situation happens frequently. Typically, you won't catch more than two monster fish at the same time. However, taking several 4- to 6-pound fish at the same time isn't that unusual. When you have more than one fish on an umbrella rig, expect it to take awhile to pull in those stripers. Most of the time, we're fishing braided line in the 30- to 50-pound test range. We have a stout leader going from the main line to the umbrella rig. We're using stiff-butted downrigger rods like saltwater anglers use for king mackerel. They're usually 8-1/2-feet long, and we usually put saltwater reels on them. When Lake Lanier was impounded, it wasn't cleared of trees before it was flooded. You'll often see treetops in about 45 feet of water. Therefore, if you allow a striper to run far, it will dive into those treetops and break your line, which is why we use such heavy tackle.

Question: In a day of trolling with umbrella rigs, how many stripers do you usually catch?Click to enlarge
McClellan: The number we take depends on the time of year. However, if you're trolling multiple rods with as many as four umbrella rigs, you can easily catch 10 to 15 stripers in one morning of trolling. A typical striper caught on an umbrella rig will weigh 6 to 12 pounds. However, larger fish are frequently caught.

Question: What color jigs are you using?
McClellan: I prefer the brighter colors, which are chartreuse, blue and silver. Sometimes we troll solid white colors. Sometimes we put all white grubs off the right side of the boat and colored grubs off the left side of the boat. We let the stripers tell us which colors they prefer on that particular day.

Question: What advice would you give anyone who's going to Lake Lanier to fish for crappie or stripers?
McClellan: There are guides on Lake Lanier who follow the schools of stripers around the lake all year long. Conditions change depending on the season, and anglers catch crappie and stripers all year long. My personal advice is that if you want to come to Lake Lanier to catch stripers, spend the money to hire a guide on one of your first trips to the lake to learn the techniques that produce in the areas that normally hold stripers. Learning how to fish Lake Lanier by yourself isn’t easy and may take a long time.

Question: When is the umbrella rig tactic best for stripers?
McClellan: You can catch stripers using the umbrella rig anytime except during the winter and the middle of the summer. Umbrella rig-fishing for stripers should be best in September and October.

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Fish the Toughest Lake in America with Adam McClellan "

Day 1: How to Shoot a Dock
Day 2: How to Fish the Jig
Day 3: How to Pick a Dock to Shoot and What Time to Shoot Docks
Day 4: Where Does Shooting Docks Pay Off Besides Lake Lanier?
Day 5: Stripers on Deep Clear Lakes


Entry 364, Day 4