As summer hits us Georgians in full force this month, you can bet anywhere you decide to fish it’s going to be hot, and I mean hot.
About the only thing in the northern portion of our state that you can expect to be hotter than the sweltering daytime highs is the striper fishing.
As many other species of fish begin to slow done into a sluggish summer pattern, the stripers come alive and make for some summertime fishing like no other.
To give you the breakdown on where to get bit, GON reached out to some of its regular fishing report advisors, who just happen to be some of the best guides on Georgia’s top striper lakes. These experts all agreed that regardless of where you decide to fish, the action is going to be red hot in July.
We’ll kick things off at Lake Allatoona with guide Robert Eidson, of First Bite Guide Service (770-827-6282).
“I’ve been striper fishing the lake for the last 26 years, and I can tell you, I haven’t seen a bite this good in 15-plus years. It’s absolutely phenomenal right now,” said Robert.
At only 11,800 acres, Allatoona is roughly one-third the size of Lake Lanier, and this can cause some poor water quality during the hotter, summer months, especially in July and August as daytime temps often soar to nearly 100 degrees. That stacks the stripers in the thermocline.
“I like Lowrance electronics, but whatever unit you use needs to be a good one. You can turn your sensitivity up and see the thermocline on your depthfinder,” said Robert.
For your best chance at success, Robert recommends keying in on areas 22 to 26 feet deep off of channel edges and around points and humps. Kellogg Creek and Tanyard Creek are both great areas to start your search.
“The biggest key to having a good day on the lake in July is setting your alarm clock extra early. You need to be on the water fishing at sunup because the best bite is only going to last until 8 a.m.,” said Robert.
To tempt Allatoona’s hungry stripers, Robert recommends using a threadfin or gizzard shad on a No. 2 hook Carolina-rigged with a 6-foot leader of 10- to 12-lb. fluorocarbon.
Robert said as far as bait goes, you shouldn’t have much trouble locating some to toss a net on, but for those who don’t have a cast net, or just don’t want to fool with getting their own bait, the Striper Soup Bait & Tackle (stripersoup.com) in Acworth keeps plenty on hand, so you can swing by and grab some in the early morning hours.
Robert also will troll two umbrella rigs through schools of hungry fish, both loaded with nine chartreuse bucktails. He says this will often result in multiple hook-ups when the fish are aggressive.
“July striper fishing on Allatoona is like a big red tomato on the vine—you better get it now because next month it won’t be any good,” said Robert.
Though often less mentioned than other north Georgia striper lakes, Carters Lake is a great place to put some linesides in the boat this month, and some trophy-sized ones at that.
Robert Eidson also guides on Carters and was quick to say that if a trophy striper is what you’re after, then Carters is where you need to wet a line this month.
“You’re not going to come here usually and catch 20 or 30 fish, but of the 10 to 12 you put in the boat, don’t be surprised if four or five are over the 20-lb. mark,” said Robert.
Due to the dam constantly pumping water in and pumping water out of the lake, the oxygen levels are much higher than other striper fisheries, resulting in much better water quality that big linesides can really thrive in.
Due to the oxygen-rich waters, you can expect the stripers to be holding in 40 to 90 feet of water near the bottom, and according to Robert, they can be tough to make out on your electronics.
“That’s why I really like my Lowrance depthfinder. I can fine tune the settings and really zoom in on what appears to be brush on the bottom. Oftentimes these are stripers holding right on the bottom that many anglers don’t see,” said Robert.
Robert said a really good place to start your search for stripers is in the mouth of Wurley Creek, as schools of bigger fish will often congregate there, especially in the mornings.
Jeremy Seabolt, of Lake Nottely Fishing Charters (706-994-8649), says he expects nothing less than some spectacular striper fishing this month.
“I’ve been guiding on the lake for over 15 years, and boy can I tell you this summer has been great. We’re catching a pile of fish each trip, and there are some quality fish in the mix,” said Jeremy.
Jeremy likes to use his electronics to locate areas in river channels approximately 40 feet
deep and focuses on the 20-foot mark where he expects the striper schools to be holding.
As far as a good area to try, Jeremy favors fishing the portion of the lake all the way from Point 6 to the dam.
“It usually doesn’t take long to ride around to find a school of fish. Once you do, it’s just a matter of dropping some downlines baited with herring, and get ready to hang on,” said Jeremy.
Jeremy also mentioned that pulling umbrella rigs in the afternoon hours is an effective way to put some fish on ice. He recommends trolling approximately 3 mph along channels and over schools of fish and says most any swimbait or curly tail will work on the rig as long as it mimics a school of herring.
Guide Ron Mullins, of The Striper Experience (678-300-4865), says Lanier is another prime place for anglers wanting to tangle with linesides this month.
“If you focus your efforts south of Browns Bridge on 369, you shouldn’t have any trouble locating stripers. This time of year, 85 percent of the fish are going to be in that portion of the lake,” says Ron.
Ron says he finds most of his fish in the 60- to 100-foot range, and he relies heavily on his Humminbird depthfinder to decipher fact from fiction as stripers can be difficult to make out at times.
Ron also likes trolling to locate some of the hungry stripers.
“You can’t go wrong trolling a few big bucktails behind the boat. Keep the boat moving around 3 mph, and work through those areas, and stay ready for a big bite,” said Ron.
Ron uses a white-and-chartreuse bucktail made by Capt. Mack in the 1- to 2-oz. size range.
Once the bucktail rig loads up with a fish, Ron says it’s just a matter of positioning the boat over the school and dropping downlines to the fish.
For downlining, Ron recommends a Carolina-rig setup with a 2-oz. weight, a 6- to 8-foot fluorocarbon leader, and a 1/0 circle hook baited with a lively blueback herring.
“Lively bait is crucial when striper fishing. You need to make sure your livewell is well oxygenated, and the water temperature in it stays under 70 degrees. In Georgia’s summer heat, it’s a lot of extra work, but well worth it when it comes to getting bit,” said Ron.
Last and certainly not least, Lake Hartwell is also a real powerhouse when it comes to Georgia striper fishing.
When I spoke with Preston Harden, of Bucktail Guide Service (706-255-5622), he said now is the time to come.
“We have had a great summer so far, and July should be on fire on Hartwell. As an added bonus, the hybrid fishing should be excellent, as well,” said Preston.
On Hartwell, Preston says the majority of the fish are going to be in the mid to lower lake this month, and they are often scattered.
“Sometimes they will be 100 to 120 feet deep, and other times they will be in 60 feet. The most important piece of equipment in your boat is the depthfinder. I don’t care what brand you like, but it needs to be a good one, and you need to know how to use it,” said Preston.
Preston fine tunes his settings to locate the thermocline, which often appears fuzzy on the screen, and then he looks for stripers holding just above that line.
Once fish are located, Preston recommends power reeling a big jig up and down through the school, or ripping a big spoon vertically to trigger reaction strikes.
If artificials fail to produce, Preston will drop Carolina-rigged downlines with live blueback herring in an effort to get bit.
Topwater action can also be great, and Preston mentioned he keeps a Lucky Craft Sammy tied on in case fish begin busting the surface.
Preston says another unique thing about Hartwell is the bite will often continue throughout the day, unlike many striper lakes where the fish quit biting as the sun starts to climb into the sky.
“You can expect to catch a pile of hybrids on Hartwell this month, as well,” said Preston. “The lake is slam full of them. For the past several years, the DNR has been stocking around 2 million stripers and hybrids in the lake each year, and it’s really starting to pay off.
“The Bassmaster Classic has been held here three times in the past nine years, and that in itself says a whole lot about the lake. It’s an all-around excellent bass fishery, regardless of what species you choose to target.”
Hopefully, as you finish this article, you’re already making plans to visit one of our top Peach State striper lakes. Whether you use one of the guides mentioned in the story, or decide to go at it on your on, bent rods and cooler fulls of fish are waiting in north Georgia.