UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Castledine’s First Day on Lanier

Castledine’s First Day on Lanier

If you live in the state of Texas and fish tournaments, then the name Todd Castledine is all too familiar. The same goes for those who follow the Costa FLW Series, namely the Southwestern Division, where he holds three Angler of the Year titles and two victories. Now, Castledine is fishing in his rookie year on the FLW Tour and showing that he has a knack for catching bass no matter where he travels. He made it out of the Florida swing with back-to-back checks and currently sits 18th in the points – not too bad for a freshman.

Stop No. 3 of the Tour, which is presented by Ranger, on Lake Lanier is a stark contrast to Florida where magnum spotted bass are king and deep, clear water is their playground. While Castledine has never been to Lanier, he isn’t afraid to swap his braided line for fluorocarbon and try to wrestle with big spots or laregmouths. I jumped in the boat with him to see how he handles a lake he’s never been on before – something he’ll do a lot this year on Tour.

 

Castledine originally wanted to meet at the takeoff ramp at Laurel Park, but called an early-morning audible, so we met down in Flat Creek around 7:30 a.m.

“We’re staying up the river and I wanted to look at some largemouth stuff up there, but I thought it might be a better idea to launch closer to the main lake and look around for some spotted bass stuff,” Castledine says.

After splashing the Ranger and a quick screen cleaning, we’re ready to get rolling. It’s a chilly March morning on Lanier with the air temperature around 35 degrees. Castledine bundles up a bit, studies the map for a second and off we go.

 

We make a short run to the back of a pocket where Castledine realizes he may need a few more rods on the deck and begins to pull them from storage. His selection is pretty standard from crankbaits to jigs and even some topwaters.

 

He starts working a jig along the bank and numerous docks that line the pocket. He’s fishing fairly quick, while keeping his head on a swivel for any sign of life roaming the bank.

 

As he works closer to a point, his phone rings. It’s his travel partner and fellow Tour rookie Russell Cecil. Castledine puts the phone on speaker and lays it on the front deck. Cecil is having some mechanical issues and the two go over a game plan for Castledine to help tow Cecil in if need be. The two decide to keep fishing and keep each other posted.

 

After the phone call, Castledine takes a moment to root around through his pile of Strike King soft plastics. He pulls out a few extra jig trailers and gets back on the trolling motor slinging away.

He notes that he wants to hit a few more docks before we pack up. A few minutes pass without a bite, so it is time to look for greener pastures.

 

As we idle out in the pocket, Castledine pulls out his phone to check Google Maps for a reference as to where he’d like to go. The back of a nearby marina grabs his interest and off we go.

 

Coming off pad in front of the marina, Castledine begins to idle to the very back of the pocket. Once he deploys the trolling motor he starts fan casting his jig, but his primary focus is to look around with his eyes. Castledine has one of the best sets of eyes on Tour and there is no doubt he wants to find one on bed.

“The water temperature back in here is in the mid 50s,” Castledine says. “I know it feels cold outside to us, but with water temps like that you’d think you’d see some fish up cruising the shallows.”

Fifteen minutes go by with no fish sightings or bites, so Castledine says it’s time to make another move.

 

We rip across to a smaller pocket and Castledine gets back to throwing the jig around docks. As he eases to the back of the pocket he gets bit and swings away. It’s a nice, chunky spotted bass that would easily get boxed on tournament day.

You can tell it was a little unexpected, but it may be a piece to the puzzle Castledine can build from.

He fishes a little longer around that area before he cranks the Mercury up and we roll to a new spot.

 

We move just around the corner to another small pocket when Castledine notices a small bunch of fish on his electronics hunkered near bottom by a point. He quickly jumps on the front deck and begins firing away at the school with an underspin, jig and crankbait.

“At home I know how spots setup on structure,” Castledine explains. “But here, I don’t know if they like to suspend or sit near bottom. I’m pretty sure the fish I marked were bass, but I’m hoping I can catch one to make guessing a little easier.”

He slings away for several minutes with no bites. While he tries to entice a bite, I notice that there is a lack of spinning rods on the front deck. It’s a good assortment of baits, but everything is on a baitcaster – which is awesome.

 

The next spot is a long, narrow creek and as we idle into it there is a dramatic shift in water color. It is heavily stained and Castledine isn’t a big fan of it. He reluctantly starts to fish, figuring that if he spent the time idling back here he should at least make a few casts.

Not long into fishing he hooks up with a nice largemouth that makes a jump near the boat and comes off.

“That was a pretty solid fish,” says Castledine. “I’m afraid that was a random bite though. Not that there couldn’t be more in here, but I just don’t feel like there are.”

 

Castledine drops the Power-Poles and starts digging through a bag filled with Strike King Popping Perch – a bait he is very fond of and had a hand in designing. He hopes that he can get a few fish to show themselves by swiping at the Perch without having to hook them.

 

He works the pocket for about 20 more minutes without a bite and starts heading back towards the mouth. It’s clear that the Strike King Structure Jig and Popping Perch are two of his favorite baits back home and they have been two of his primary weapons so far today.

 

We depart from the dirty water and head back out to some clean water towards the main lake. Castledine wants to graph around on some structure that grabbed his interest earlier this morning, but was covered up by striper fishermen. It’s like he’s out on Kentucky Lake going back and forth over points, drains and humps. Nothing grabs his attention and he never makes a cast.

 

He wants to spend the rest of his day venturing farther down the lake, so it is time to swing by the ramp and drop me off. While it wasn’t the most action-packed morning, it went about how Castledine thought it would. He feels a lot better about how the lake sets up and has got plenty of time left to try to unravel the mystery of catching big Lanier bass – whether they be spots or largies. Good luck, Todd.

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2018-03-08-lake-lanier 

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