For some guys, it’s all about the fishing. Ryan Lamb of Lilburn, at 18, has bass fishing in his blood. In November, there are few places he’d rather be than ripping a buzzbait across the surface of Black Shoals Reservoir waiting for a 5-pounder to blow up on the clattering, splashing bait.
At 18, Ryan is already making a splash in the bass-tournament scene. In 2008, in his second year fishing the BFL Bulldog Division as a co-angler, he won the co-angler side. At the Lake Seminole tournament in March he placed first, his catch anchored by a 10-lb., 4-oz. largemouth. He placed fourth at the Oconee tournament and finished 13th at Sinclair. He qualified to fish the Classic at Lake Murray, S.C. on Oct. 23.
Next year, Ryan plans to fish the Stren Series as a non-boater and the BFL as a boater — if he can wrangle a bass boat.
Ryan also fishes the jonboat tournament circuit, fishing in the Southern Jonboat Association, High Voltage and Johnboat Bass Association tournaments on small reservoirs around Atlanta, including Black Shoals.
In November at Black Shoals, nothing is more fun, and produces more good-sized bass better than a buzzbait, he says.
“You won’t get as many bites with a buzzbait, but when you do, it is usually a good fish,” he said.
Ryan prefers a Lunker Lures 1/2-oz. buzzbait with a clear skirt, but he takes the lure and modifies it to make it a little less visible to a bass.
“I take the buzzbait and scratch all the paint off the head,” said Ryan. “Then I use a clear skirt. I don’t want the fish to get too good a look at it. I just want it to be a silver blur going by to trigger a reaction bite.”
Most anglers bring a buzzbait back just fast enough to keep the prop spinning on the surface. Not Ryan; he burns it — high speed.
“I used to wonder if the bass could run it down when it is going that fast,” he said. “But when they want it, you can’t reel it fast enough to keep it away from them. I don’t want them to get a good look at it; I just want a reaction bite.”
A high-speed reel helps with this high-speed retrieve.
The speed and subdued colors that keep the bass from getting too clear a view of the buzzbait are particularly important at Black Shoals, which is usually an extremely clear-water lake.
Two other factors improve the buzzbait bite: a chop on the water and overcast skies.
“You have to have wind and a pretty good chop on the water to break up the surface and keep the bass from getting too good a look at the bait,” he said. “Cloud cover helps, too. If it’s cloudy and windy, they will hit the buzzbait all day.”
On the second point we fished, a bass punched through the surface at Ryan’s speeding buzzbait but did not take it. Ryan immediately put the buzzbait in the boat and picked up a rod with a worm on it. He cast it back to the spot where the fish had hit, let the worm settle, then tightened up the line and set the hook on a small bass. A follow-up bait is important when fishing a buzzbait, says Ryan.
“You will catch the bass on a follow-up bait a high percentage of the time,” he said. “The most important thing about a follow-up is to make an accurate cast to the exact spot where the fish hit. The thing you are saying to yourself when a fish doesn’t hook up is, ‘Man, I missed him!’ That’s what the bass is thinking, too. If a worm comes falling in where the bass just missed the buzzbait, he’s not going to miss it, and you usually get a better hook-up rate with a worm.”
Ryan used an Alluring Baits Taper-Tail worm in green pumpkin as his follow-up bait, but he says a fluke is a good choice to cast in behind a missed buzzbait, too.
To improve his hook-up rate on the buzzbait, Ryan places a trailer hook on the bait’s hook.
When you are retrieving a buzzbait, work it all the way back to the boat, says Ryan.
“A lot of times the bass will stalk the bait all the way in and then blow up on it right at the boat,” he said. “It can scare you to death.”
In November at Black Shoals, Ryan’s back-up bait to the buzzbait is likely to be a another fast-moving bait, a Rat-L-Trap.
“Once the water temperature gets into the low 70s, Black Shoals is an excellent Rat-L-Trap lake,” he said. “The bait is more active and moves up shallow, and the bass are more active in the cooler water feeding up on shad, and they will run down a lipless bait.”
The day I was on Black Shoals with Ryan, the bait he threw was a 5/8-oz. Spro Aruka Shad, a bait similar to a Rat-L-Trap but with a significant difference.
“The Spro lure has a heavy nose,” he said. “It runs nose down which helps when you rip it out of grass.”
A perch-color bait works well, but Ryan picks a red bait as his year-round favorite.
Black Shoals has a reputation for producing lots of fat 3- to 5-lb. bass. The fish didn’t bite much the day I fished with Ryan, but two days earlier he fished the lake with a friend and caught eight or nine bass including four 5-pounders that made it to the boat. Another pair of 5-pounders came off early, he said, and they also caught several fish in the 2- to 3-lb. range.
Ryan’s heaviest Black Shoals bass weighed 7-lbs., 2-ozs.
Ryan targeted main-lake points and any wood structure with his buzzbait. The lake was down about 2 feet the day we fished, and as we passed one exposed bank, Ryan pointed out the stickups that would ordinarily be under water.
“That kind of bank is a good one to hit when the lake is up,” he said. “You can run the buzzbait over the stickups, or run a Rat-L-Trap into them.”
The buzzbait and Rat-L-Trap bite will hold up on Black Shoals through November before colder water makes a slower approach with a jig ’n pig or jig-head worm more effective, said Ryan.
Black Shoals, which is located in Rockdale County north of Conyers, is a trolling-motor lake only. Ryan fishes the lake from a 14-foot jonboat pushed by a pair of trolling motors. Spare batteries are a good idea for a long day of fishing on this 650-acre lake. The lake is open six days a week but closed on Wednesdays. For more information on regulations, hours and fees, call (770) 761-1611.
To get to Black Shoals, take I-20 to exit 82 (Hwy 138), go north to Sigman Road and turn left, then turn right onto Hwy 20 north. Travel 5.3 miles, and turn right on Bethel Road, then make a left on Black Shoals Road.
For a 5-lb. bass on a buzzbait in November, Ryan says Black Shoals is a great bet.