Lake Juliette Striped Bass

Trolling is a great way to catch big stripers in the deep, clear water of this mid Georgia lake.

Lake Juliette, just a few miles north of Macon, in Monroe County, is one of those great lakes that I really like to striper fish. When you find a school of hungry stripers, you can limit out pretty quickly, but they are like roaming cows on a 3,600-acre pasture, and the clear water can make them difficult to catch, so you often have to use lighter line and smaller baits to catch them.

No one does a better job of finding the stripers than Jeff Mooney with All Seasons Guide Service. Jeff fishes the lake almost on a weekly basis and knows the most productive places to put fish in the boat. Jeff would be the first to tell you that success is a matter of keeping lively bait in the water and covering large areas of water, constantly looking for schools of fish under the boat with his Lowrance HDS5 depthfinder.

On Saturday, March 18, we hit Juliette on an iffy fishing day that promised, according to the weatherman, cold rain and winds, and to our chagrin, he got it right this time. Joining us was Alex Morrow, a Warner Robins attorney, who loves to striper fish, and Josh McKinney, fishing guide on the weekends and commercial landscaper in Locust Grove when he’s not fishing. I was also lucky to have along my grandson, Jack Trussell, 9, of Bonaire.

Jeff is always hoping to find a big school of stripers on the Lowrance. When he does, his preferred method this month will be to drop down a lively bait, but artificial baits will work, too.

To ensure the best chances of success on our fishing trip, we used both live gizzard shad and artificials because I wanted to make sure we put some fish in the boat for my grandson.

Top artificial lures are medium- to deep-diving crankbaits, like the Smithwick Pro Rogue, a Bomber Fat Free Shad, a Bomber Deep Long A, a Cotton Cordell Red Fin or a Yo-Zuri Mag Darter. Jeff said his top colors are chrome with a blue back, bone or shad iridescent colors.

When trolling artificial baits, it’s often best to troll them 100 feet behind the boat. To keep the baits from tangling, Jeff will use TX-22 Special planer boards and run lures on the right and left sides of the boat. While trolling, keep an eye out for surface-feeding fish. For breakers, Jeff will throw a Smithwick Rattlin Rogue in a chrome/blue-back color or a silver Rapala.

Jeff uses Okuma rods and Daiwa reels with the built-in line distance counters, which allows him to troll the right distance and keep his baits at the right depths.

When Jeff fishes live bait, he uses 30-lb. mono and a 2-oz. weight, followed by a 10-foot leader of 15-lb. test and then a No. 1 circle hook. The hook is run through both nostrils of the shad to keep it lively.

Jeff had several areas he wanted to mention for GON readers to try trolling this month.

First, run in the cove just south of Persons Point and look for the hill that was recently burned off. It will have lots of fresh green grass on it. Jeff was trolling this area on March 11 with Jeremy and Lyndsey Lewis, of Fort Myers, Florida, when they caught a 27-lb. striper and a 6 1/2-lb. bass from this area.

From Persons Point, troll north and across the lake into the Buzzards Bay cove, and make a loop back to Persons Point. Trolling Juliette’s big water is a good way to cover a lot of territory, and this path covers both deep water and numerous humps in the lake.

Sometimes when trolling for stripers, a big largemouth will take the bait. Such was the case when Alonzo Dunn was trolling a deep-diving plug in an area of big water in 1990 and caught a largemouth weighing 15-lbs., 6-ozs. It still stands as the lake record, according to GON’s Lake and River Records list.

Another area to troll is the big water around the four submerged dams that are located north of Hunters Point and adjacent to the cooling towers. These four dams show up on a lake map.

Also try trolling where the lake narrows just west of Treasure Point. Trolling can be difficult above this area because there is a lot of submerged timber that will break off fish and get you snagged in a heartbeat.

Another good trolling area is 200 yards out from the Dames Ferry boat ramp and then down to the eastern corner of the lake dam. Just stay out from the east bank about 200 yards, and work down to the buoy line that protects the Ocmulgee River discharge pipe.

Juliette has a 25 horsepower motor restriction limit, so Jeff mostly puts in at the Dames Ferry ramp off Highway 87, since he is usually trolling the bottom half of the lake.

Juliette is a great place to fish and relax. Anglers can pick up shad and other needs or arrange a guided trip at the All Seasons Tackle store on Highway 87 in Juliette. To speak with them, call (478) 994-8895.

 

Hybrids Stocked In Juliette

Earlier in 2017, hybrids were stocked in Juliette, which marks the first time ever.

WRD Fisheries Biologist Keith Weaver said the past droughts and low waters have stressed the stripers, and hybrids generally do better in warmer temps and provide another good opportunity for anglers to catch fish. This is good news for Juliette anglers because hybrids are strong fighters and will be a welcomed addition to the lake.

Stocked at a rate of 10 per acre, the hybrids will start showing up in the harvest in two to three years.

 

Juliette’s Smorgasbord

 Don’t overlook the other species of fish that can fill your cooler at Juliette. The below species are best found in the shallow waters in the upper end of the lake, near the Holly Grove boat landing, said Keith Weaver with WRD Fisheries.

Crappie are abundant in the lake around the standing timber, but to avoid snags while trolling, run your Hal-Fly or Jiffy Jig about 3 feet under a cork. A minnow dangled around standing timber will also catch fish.

For shellcrackers, cruise the backs of coves, and look for submerged beds in 3 to 6 feet of water. Once you locate some beds, back off and drop in a worm or cricket and hold on. Good places to try are around Billy’s Island and Fletchers Cove. Keith said Juliette is one of the best places to catch quality-sized shellcrackers.

Another bonus fish at Juliette is yellow perch, which can be found in shallow, bream-holding areas, along the grassbeds. They will hit worms and small minnows.

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