Want to catch some bass this year? What fisherman doesn’t? But those of us in Georgia can get confused. We can go after numbers of bass or try for a trophy. And there are several of the eight subspecies of black bass in our state. We have a lot of choices. But most of us are happy to do a lot of bass fishing in Georgia, and maybe have a chance of putting one on the wall.
Do you want to fish big reservoirs? There are lots of choices. Prefer river fishing? No problem. Or would you like to go to some smaller lakes managed for fishing where there are no pleasure boaters and it is much more peaceful? Our public fishing areas are all over the state.
Choose one of the following near you for the type bass fishing you like, or try them all for variety.
The Flint River starts just south of the Atlanta Airport, tumbles its way through shoals to Lake Blackshear, continues for miles south of there through shoals and deep channels all the way to Lake Seminole. It is known for its shoal bass that resemble smallmouth in many ways and are plentiful throughout its length.
You can wade the shoals on the upper river near Griffin, but a great trip is to put a canoe, kayak or johnboat in just below the Blackshear Dam and float and wade down to the State Route 32 bridge. This is a full day trip if you stop and wade the many shoals along this section of river, and that is where you catch most of the shoal bass.
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In the shoals cast a small crankbait in crawfish colors, a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait with gold willowleaf blade and a chartreuse and white skirt, or a Texas-rigged worm. Rig the worm with a 1/16- to 1/4-ounce sinker and try green pumpkin curly tail worms in clear water or black in stained water.
Fish with the current, casting to anything that breaks the current like big rocks, logs and cuts with an eddy in the shoals. Also try the heads of deeper pools where the shoals dump into them and the water just above the shoals where the deeper water comes up to shallow water.
Along deeper sections of the river you can catch shoalies but there are good largemouth here, too. Use the same baits and fish blow-downs and cuts in the bank with them. A small topwater popper can also draw exciting strikes in these areas.
Lake Seminole, right in the corner of Georgia, Florida and Alabama, is fed by the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers. Its huge grass flats and channel drops are full of fat largemouth and you have a good chance of catching big fish. The lake has been on fire for the past couple of years, with tournament stringers of five bass weighing over 25 pounds common.
Try topwater frogs early in the morning on the hydrilla beds, working them near the channels. As the sun gets up run a rattle bait like a Redeye Shad in shad colors through the scattered grass on the edges of the mats and in deeper water. When your bait hits the grass jerk it loose and expect a strike as it darts away.
Also work the drops on creek channels and the river where they make bends. A big, deep running crankbait fished from shallow to deep is good. Also try a worm like the Zoom Mag 2 in green pumpkin or redbug on a Carolina rig fished the same way. If there is grass on top of the ledge cast to the edge of it and fish down to deeper water.
The Savannah River between Georgia and South Carolina near the coast is an interesting place to catch largemouth. Put in at Millstone Landing north of I-95 and fish up the river. The current is strong so you need a powerful trolling motor much of the time.
First try the many sloughs and creeks along the river. They are full of cypress trees, logs and stumps and bass bed and feed in them. A white buzzbait or spinnerbait fished by the cypress knees and over logs in the water draws the bass out of the heavy cover.
Also try fishing a Texas-rigged worm around the cover. A Zoom U-Tail in green pumpkin rigged behind a 1/8-ounce sinker, fished slowly through the cover, is a good choice. Fish from the mouth of the slough or creek as far back in it as you can go, working all the cover as you come to it.
In hotter weather get out on the main river channel and fish upstream, casting crankbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater under the overhanging willow trees. Also try a heavy jig and pig around the willows where they lay in the water or through any blown down trees along the bank. Cast your bait past the cover and let the current wash it to the wood, then drop down into the thickest part of the cover.
Lake Thurmond always has been known as Clarks Hill Lake to Georgians. It is our biggest lake and is just north of Augusta. It has a well-earned reputation for numbers of largemouth and spotted bass are showing up more and more each year.
A jig head worm catches large numbers of bass year round. Fish a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce jig with a Zoom watermelon seed Trick worm on it in clear water or a June bug color in stained water. Both catch more fish if the tail is dipped in JJ’s Magic chartreuse dip and dye.
Work the jig head worm around rocks and clay bottoms on creek and cove points, jiggling it when it hits bottom then hopping it and jiggling again. Fish from a couple of feet deep out to 15 feet deep until you find where the bass are holding.
For bigger fish tie on a big topwater bait like a Zara Spook and fish early in the mornings over main lake humps and shoals. After the sun gets high switch to a Carolina-rigged Trick worm in the same colors as the on the jig head and fish the edges of the shoals and humps where they drop off into the channel. If you can find rocks and gravel it is even better.
HIGH FALLS LAKE
High Falls is a state park with a 660-acre lake just off I-75 west of Jackson. The lake has the highest population of 15-inch-plus largemouths of any of our bigger lakes and you can catch good numbers of quality fish. It is an old lake and most of the channels are silted in, but there is a lot of natural and man-made wood cover in it.
The lake is lined with docks outside the park area and many have brush piles have been put out around them. The dock posts and brush piles hold bass. There are also big stump flats in Buck Creek, Watkins Bottom and along some areas of the Towaliga River main channel where bass feed.
The lake is limited to 10-horsepower motors and you can only be on the lake from sunrise to sunset. Start as early as you can in the morning fishing a buzzbait or topwater popper around the stumps and docks. Also try the topwater baits around wood cover on steeper bank on the main river. Fish shady banks as long as you can.
After the sun gets higher fish the same areas with a Texas rigged worm. If you want numbers of bass try a Zoom U-Tail in June bug or green pumpkin but if you want to go after a big bass fish a Zoom Old Monster worm in the same colors. Stick with a light 1/16- to 1/8-ounce sinker and fish slowly around the cover.
Some big bass are also caught in the Towaliga River at the very upper end of the lake. You have to go across a shallow flat to get to the river channel but it drops off above the flat and overhanging bushes and trees in the water hold some big fish. Try the worms but also flip or pitch a 3/8-ounce black and blue jig with a Zoom Fat Albert blue sapphire trailer to the wood cover.
Lake Allatoona just north of Atlanta and crossed by I-75 is full of keeper-sized spotted bass. At one time it was known as “The Dead Sea,” but clubs fishing tournaments on it have the highest catch rates per hour of any lake in Georgia. You may not catch a huge bass, but the numbers you can catch make up for it.
The spots in Allatoona love a jig head worm or small jig-and-pig fished on bluff banks. Start on any steep, rocky bank, keep your boat out in 30 feet of water, and make angled casts ahead of the boat. Cast near the bank and slowly hop either bait down the rocks until you are at least 20 feet deep.
Since it is keeper-sized spots you are after, stick with smaller baits. Rig a 3/16-ounce jig head with a Zoom Finesse worm in watermelon red or green pumpkin and dip the tails of both in JJ’s Magic chartreuse. For some reason spots hate chartreuse and try to kill and eat anything with that flash on the tail. Also try a 3/16-ounce Strike King Bitsy Bug in pumpkinseed with a green pumpkin trailer on it.
Early in the morning or if the bank is shady, try a small popper like the Pop-R along these banks. Keep your boat in close to the bank and make a long cast ahead of the boat, keeping your lure a few feet from the bank. Try a small crankbait like the Bandit in shad or crawfish colors fished the same way on these banks.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN PUBLIC FISHING AREA
Rocky Mountain PFA in Floyd County north of Rome offers two lakes where you can catch largemouths. There is a $5.00 daily fee to fish or you can get an annual pass for $30.00. Antioch Lake is open daily and has a good population of bass. You can use any size gas motor, but at idle speed only.
Heath Lake is managed for bigger bass and is open only the first 10 days of each month. The limit on both lakes is five bass, but on Heath Lake all largemouths between 14 and 20 inches long must be released and you can keep only one over 20 inches long in your five-fish limit.
On Antioch fish a small topwater popper early in the morning around shallow cover then switch to a Texas-rigged or jig head worm. Fish both around rocks and wood cover, and find drops to work your bait from shallow to deep. Use a light sinker or head and fish a Trick worm on the jig head or a U-Tail on the Texas rig.
On Heath, use bigger baits. Topwater draws strikes, so use a big Zara Spook on points and over cover for quality fish. Then work a Texas-rigged Mag 2 or Old Monster worm through wood and rock cover. Fish the worms slowly and carefully in the cover.
Try fishing deep on Heath when the sun is up. Find brush or rocks near the channels, especially the end of points where they drop off into the channel. A Carolina rig allows you to fish the deeper cover easier. Stick with the bigger worms for the bigger bass in this lake.
Public Fishing Areas are great places to take kids fishing. The lakes are calm and quiet and they have a better chance of catching some fish to keep them from getting bored. And the facilities like bathrooms and picnic tables give you a chance to take a break from fishing and let them play and eat.
Give any of these waters a try. All are good.
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