Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Lake Martin Tournament

Lake Martin produced a lot of fish, as always. Although it was very hot and the lake was full, the first time I have seen it full in October since I started going over there in 1975, we still had a lot of fun.

In the two-day tournament 25 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters, Flint River Bass Club and Spalding County Sportsman Club landed 194 keeper bass longer than 12 inches that weighed a total of 268 pounds. There were 31 five fish limits and everyone caught at least one keeper.

Raymond English won with ten weighing 21.58 pounds, I placed second with ten at 18.46 pounds, Lee Hancock caught ten at 17.64 for third and Kwong Yu was fourth with ten at 17.33 pounds. Gary Hattaway had big fish with a 3.16 pounder.

I went over on Wednesday and set up camp in my van in my usual spot at Wind Creek State Park, got my boat in the water and relaxed. That night I had to run a fan blowing on me all night but still did not sleep well due to the heat. I should have taken my air conditioner.

Before daylight Thursday morning I was on the water and landed three nice spots on a spinnerbait just as it got light. Then I caught a few more trying different things, but it got tough with the bright sun. I was afraid that was an indication of things to come, and it was. The lake was totally different with the full water.

Friday morning, I slept in and then tried a pattern a guide had told me was working. I landed six fish throwing a rattletrap but they were all small so I did not think it would be worth fishing in the tournament. That afternoon I took up money and we drew boat numbers for take-off.

I went out first Saturday morning and ran to the point where I had caught three on Thursday, but did not get a bite. On another point nearby I watched as a six pound plus bass followed my spinnerbait to the boat then turned away. I guess he could identify my bait as fake in the very clear water.

By then I was already frustrated. My pattern was not working so I went to things that had worked in the past, fishing brush piles and docks, and landed my first small keeper at 9:00. Fishing hard for the next eight hours I managed to land ten keepers on a jig and pig and a shaky head worm, but my best five weighed only 7.5 pounds. Raymond shocked us all with five weighing 13.15 pounds that day.

Sunday I was last going out and ran to another point where I had caught fish in the past. Within minutes I had landed three good spots, two on a spinnerbait and one on a jig and pig. I have no idea why it was so different. As the sun came up I kept throwing a jig and pig and landed five more bass, the biggest a 2.69 pound largemouth.

My best five weighed 10.99 pounds and I won for the day, and my largemouth was second biggest fish, missing big fish by only .05 of a pound. It had gotten very tough after 10:00 and all my best fish hit before 8:30 that morning.

I was so worn out after not sleeping good for several nights that I decided to stay another night and woke to rain Monday morning. I went out and bass were easy to catch, just like in the past. I swear those bass know when it is the weekend and quit biting!

I’m already looking forward to the trip next October!

Georgia Bass Nation Top Six At Lake Lanier

Unfortunately, my biggest catch at Lanier in the Georgia Bass Nation Top Six last week was a cold that just won’t seem to go away. In five days on the water the weather went from windy and cool to pouring rain to very cold with strong winds. And fishing was tough.

I met fellow club and team member Dan Phillips at the ramp Wednesday morning after camping out the night before in my van. We stood around for more than an hour waiting to register the team, then went fishing. The wind blew and it was cool all day.

Dan showed me a good hump in the mouth of Wahoo
Creek he liked to fish but we got no bites there. By 3:00 PM we had fished many places we both liked, working down the lake to Browns Bridge. As we fished around a shallow secondary point I noticed some rocks out in 12 to 14 feet of water. They showed up on my Humminbird 360 Scan depthfinder.

A cast to them with a jig and pig produced a three pound spotted bass, our first keeper of the day. I went looking for similar places and a nearby point with rocks at a similar depth produced another keeper. By then it was time to head back to the ramp. I hoped I had found a little pattern that would work in the tournament.

Thursday morning was cooler and foggy. I launched alone and started fishing up the river, finding it very muddy not far about Clarks Bridge. One small creek was full of shad flipping on the surface but all
I caught there was a 13-inch spot, too small to keep, that hit a spinnerbait.

Fishing around another small creek up the river I cast a jig and pig to some brush out in front of a dock and caught a 15-inch keeper spotted bass. A little further another one that size hit the jig in a tree top, then I caught a two-pound largemouth beside a shallow dock on a shaky head worm. By then it was time to head in to get ready to go to the meeting to draw partners.

I drew boat #11 out of 77 meaning I would go out near the first on Friday morning but near the end on Saturday. Order of take-off is reversed on the second day. My first day partner was a first time Top Six fisherman from Clayton County and my second day partner was from north Georgia. I had met him and been on a state team with him in the past.

That night my chest started feeling congested but the next morning I was ok. I met my partner early since we were going out early and there were also 40 boats in the College division fishing and I was afraid it would take a long time to launch.

I should not have worried. We were in the boat ready to go by 6:45, expecting to take off around 7:25. Due to a fog delay we finally blasted off at 9:38! We ran 15 minutes to the two points where I had caught fish on Wednesday but got no bites. That was the pattern.

At noon I finally caught a keeper, and my partner lost a nice bass that hit a topwater plug. At two o’clock we decided to go back up river to Wahoo Creek since he had caught some fish there, and I got my second keeper on the hump Dan had showed me. We stayed in that creek the rest of the day and my partner broke his line on one big fish and landed a three-pound spot, but I never hooked another one.

Saturday morning I woke to rain drumming on the van roof. We took off on time and my partner and I decided to make the short trip to Wahoo Creek and stay there all day since he liked to fish it. The first stop on the hump Dan had showed me produced a three-pound spot for me on a spinnerbait.

My partner caught a keeper spot on a nearby point, and I landed three more keepers on a jig and pig on rocky banks by noon, but neither of us hooked a fish the last three hours we had to fish. I came in 32 out of 77 boaters with six weighing 11.47 pounds, not as good as had hoped. It took ten bass weighing 21.44 pounds to win.

The only bad thing I saw with the pro-am format that I had been worried about was some of the boaters bragging that their no-boaters did not catch a keeper all day. That was stupid. Boaters did not compete with no boaters and I wanted my no boaters to do good each day.

Sunday morning I met “Lanier Jim” at a ramp. He spent about an hour on the water fine tuning my deptfinders, making them show much better results. The wind was howling and it was very cold. I was glad he did it quickly. By the time I got home that afternoon my chest was very congested and I had a runny nose, that is still bothering me on Friday!

Lake Wedowee Fishing

I fished with Jay Gazaway, a club fisherman from Georgia. I met him when we drew each other two years in a row at the Federation Nation Top Six. Although he lives about 45 minutes from Lake Wedowee, he has a house on the lake.

We caught about 15 spotted bass and a couple of largemouth the day we fished but the biggest one weighed less than two pounds. They were fun to catch; those spots pull hard. And they are good to eat. There is no size limit on them at Wedowee but you have to release all largemouth between 13 and 16 inches long.

Getting to Wedowee takes a lot longer than it should based on the distance. Highway 18 and 109 to Lagrange are not bad, but once you cross into Alabama there are several miles of lower quality road.
Highway 431 north is good but when you turn off it to go to the lake, unless you want to put in way up the river, the roads to the ramps have sharp bends and turns. And there are not a lot of good ramps on the lake.

It is still worth the drive to fish Wedowee.

Technology Helps Palaniuk

Technology Helps Palaniuk Earn B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Title

The young champion says he depends heavily on his Humminbird electronics and LakeMaster charts to find and catch bass all over the nation.

By Greg Arens
from The Fishing Wire

When a kid dreams of hitting the home run that wins the World Series, then grows up and actually does it, where is “up” from there?

The same question applies to Brandon Palaniuk in the world of professional bass fishing. As an 8-year old boy catching trout in his home state of Idaho, young Brandon had a very specific quest: To rise to highest ranks in B.A.S.S. and become the best-of-the-best.

At the 2017 AOY Championship on Lake Mille Lacs, Palaniuk achieved his boyhood dream. His 62+ pounds of Minnesota smallmouth secured him as the points leader to make Brandon the Toyota Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year.

So where is “up” from here? For Palaniuk, the answer is as simple as an answer can be. “My approach is still the same, in fact it’s strengthened, and that’s to fish the Elites a tournament at a time, a day at a time, a cast at a time, with the belief that I can win it.”

Concentrating his winning attitude down to each individual cast is what keeps Brandon Palaniuk focused on the moment. “You can’t win by blind casting. When I’m out there, it’s about locating bass that I KNOW are there, positioning my boat for a perfect presentation, and making a precise cast to trigger strikes from the fish I’ve targeted.”

Palaniuk taps technology to its fullest extent to execute this strategy. “It all starts by investigating my LakeMaster chart for the water we’re fishing, and identifying key structures,” he explains. “From there, my Humminbird HELIX 12 shows me if there are bass on the spots, how big they are, how they’re relating to the structure, everything. I won’t make a cast until I see the fish I want to catch.”

Brandon attributes MEGA Imaging for making it possible to target ideal structure, specific schools or even individual fish. His performance at Mille Lacs is a clear example of this. With MEGA Side Imaging and Humminbird 360 Imaging he was able to locate big boulders and see the quality and exact locations of fish using the boulders for cover. “I knew that on every cast I was putting the bait right in a smallmouth’s face.”

Palaniuk’s 2017 victory at Sam Rayburn is a another case study. “My HELIX 12s found brush piles that other guys drove right past with their sonar units. During practice I stacked up tons of waypoints on brush that held good fish, and during the tournament I was able to go back, see where the bass were on the piles, and smash them.”

After using technology to find fish, Palaniuk credits another technological innovation for helping him catch them. “Boat control is critical for picking a school apart after I find them, and the trolling motor I ran in 2017 was a huge part of my AOY success for the year.”

Brandon’s trolling motor is the Minn Kota Ultrex, and the control he references is the feature that virtually every bass angler is talking about: Spot-Lock. “Whether it was on Mille Lacs boulders or Sam Rayburn brush piles, hitting Spot-Lock to keep me automatically glued in one position was the key to making cast after cast to active bass.”

Spot-Lock allows Palaniuk to fight fish, land them and cull without having to operate the trolling motor to stay in position. “I almost felt sorry for the guys not running an Ultrex. I’d see them hook up and then get blown 100 yards off while they dealt with the fish. Then they’d have to fire up the big motor to get back to the waypoint. That’s a lot of time spent NOT fishing. Like I said, I almost felt sorry for them.”

Another way Ultrex helped Brandon control his boat toward an AOY victory was through power steering. “The ease of driving this Minn Kota is such a big contributor to efficient and productive fishing. First of all, that leg and muscle fatigue after a long day on the foot control is gone because you’re not fighting the motor anymore. You set it on a line and the prop torque doesn’t affect it and twist you off course. Even when navigating through heavy grass – it just chops right through and doesn’t fight the pedal. You combine that with the big power and fast turning response and nothing gives you more control in the thick stuff like an Ultrex.”

With AOY checked off his bucket list, Brandon is the first to admit that defending the title is his goal. To do so, he believes he’ll need to win at Lake Martin, Ala. in February. His game plan? Study the LakeMaster chart, find fish with his SOLIX 12s, stay on them with the Minn Kota Ultrex, and catch them one cast at a time.

Fishing Lake Blackshear

My magazine articles took me to two lakes as different as two can be in Georgia and Alabama. Both are about two hours from Griffin but that is just about all they have in common, other than both being great places to catch bass in December.

Lake Blackshear is south of us between Americus and Cordele on the Flint River. Most of it is shallow, with miles of cypress trees growing in the water. There are grassbeds and old docks with wooden post and brush piles. Up the river hundreds of acres of cypress swamp have four or five feet of water around them where it would be easy to get lost.

When fishing your boat will seldom be in more than five feet of water. Largemouth abound in the lake and the water is often murky to muddy. Even when clear it has a brownish tannic tint.

I fished with Stephen Birchfield, a basketball and fishing team coach at nearby Bruton Parker College. His family has a house in Swift Creek on the lake and he fishes it a lot. We had a good day, hooking several largemouth in the two-pound range.

Bruton Parker is a small Baptist College. With only about 350 students, everyone knows everyone there and there is a good sense of community among the students. Stephen told me they are planning on giving some fishing scholarships next year and hope to have 20 fishermen on the bass team.

If you are a high school senior and love to fish, and a small college appeals to you, check out their web site at http://www.bpc.edu/. And you will get to fish Lake Blackshear a lot!

Getting to Blackshear is easy on I-75 or
Highway 19. Veterans State Park is about half way up the river from the dam and has great facilities. There are several smaller ramps scattered around the lake, too.

Lake Wedowee is west of us past Lagrange on the Tallapoosa and Little Tallapoosa Rivers. Highway 431 crosses the upper end of the Little Tallapoosa north of Wedowee, Alabama. Filled in 1983, it is one of Alabama Power Company’s newest lake. Several people from Griffin built houses on the lake when it first filled.
Prices of lots and houses there have dramatically increased over the past 20 years, with many huge mansions on the water now.

The rivers and some of the lower lake, as well as the creeks, have bluff rock banks that drop into 30 plus feet of water. There is standing timber along many of them. Your boat will usually be sitting over water more than 30 feet deep when you are casting to the bank. The docks there may have a few posts but in the winter they are out of the water due to the drawdown. All have a floating platform in front that goes up and down with the water.

Although the lower lake remains very clear most of the year, the rivers do get muddy after heavy rains. Spotted bass abound but average about a pound each. There are big ones there, tournament stringers often have several over three pounds each. And there are some big largemouth, Tom Tanner landed one over eight pounds in a Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament there last March.

Lake Oconee September Tournament

Last Sunday (in September) 10 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our September tournament at Lake Oconee. We landed 14 keepers over the 14-inch minimum limit weighing about 33 pounds. There were no limits and four people did not have a keeper.

I made three lucky casts and won with three weighing 10.39 pounds and my 4.18 pound largemouth was big fish. Raymond English placed second with three at 7.18 pounds, Russell Prevatt came in third with three at 7.19 pounds and Randall Sharpton was fourth with three weighing 4.81 pounds.

JR Proctor met me at the ramp and we blasted off behind everyone else at 7:00 AM since I was acting tournament director. We stopped at a lighted boat dock and JR caught a hybrid on a crankbait but that was the only bite. Our next stop was another lighted dock but we got no bites.

At the third stop, a riprap bank on the main lake, I caught two short fish on a topwater plug. We then went to a dock that I knew had some brush in front of it but got no bites, but I saw brush down 22 feet deep, further out than I thought, on my depthfinder, as we fished the more shallow brush.

After working past the dock with no bites I hooked another bass on top but it came off as I swung it into the boat. It would have been close to a keeper. After fishing to the back of the cove, we cranked up to leave, but I decided to idle to the dock with brush and fish the deep stuff I had been directly over the first time.

My first cast to it with a jig head worm resulted in a thump. I knew it was a good fish when I set the hook since my drag slipped and that was the 4.18 I caught, landing it at 8:20. We wore that brush out with a variety of baits but got no more hits.

Our next stop was at another dock with deep brush but we got no hits. Then we went to a narrow rocky point that drops into the old river channel. On a cast with my jig head worm a fish almost pulled the rod out of my hand when it hit the bait as it sank and took off. Somehow, I hooked and landed that three pounder at 9:40.

We fished several more places, catching some short fish but no keepers. Then, on a fairly shallow rocky point I got a thump and landed a third keeper, another three pounder, just before noon.

We fished hard the rest of the day and caught several short fish but no more keepers. I ended up landing 16 bass, several close to the 14-inch limit but not over it, but only three keepers.

I have no idea why those three big fish hit my bait and not JR’s. Just lucky casts, I guess. It was strange to catch so many fish but nothing between 13.9 inches long and those three over three pounds each.

Little Spots at West Point

Maybe we should have tried bows and blowguns at West Point last Sunday. In the August Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament nine members managed to land 12 keeper spots weighing about 13 pounds at West Point. We did not weigh in even one largemouth. There were no limits and five of the nine fishermen did not have a keeper.

Randall Sharpton won with four spots weighing 4.62 pounds, my four weighing 4.35 pounds placed second and I had big fish with a 1.62-pound spot, Zane Fleck had three at 3.70 pounds for third and Russel Prevatt was fourth with one weighing .98 pounds. That was it, all the fish that were caught!

I knew it was going to be a tough day and it started wrong. I had to be tournament director since Sam did not fish. I thought I was late getting my boat in the water but when JR. Proctor and I idled out to the no-wake buoys at 6:30 for blast off everybody else was still tied up at the dock or standing around talking in the parking lot.

The first place I stopped was on a rocky point and I tried everything from topwater to shaky head worms without a bite. We next eased over to a deep bank with blow down trees and I got a bite. When I set the hook my line broke, something that should never happen. I think the jig head had bumped against the rocks and gotten a weak place in the line. I should have checked my line.

I retied and soon caught my biggest fish. Then I got a bite in a tree top and set the hook. The fish wrapped my line around a branch and I could see it but it came off before I could get to it.

I did find some fish feeding on a shallow point and landed my other keepers and several short fish there. But I had another keeper that looked bigger than my biggest jump and throw a jig and pig. It was just not meant for me to catch a limit. But several others said they also lost fish.

I can’t wait for cooler weather and, hopefully, fish biting better!

Hot, Tough Fishing At Clarks Hill

We should have used spottails or some other live bait at Clarks Hill last weekend. In the Flint River Bass Club August two day tournament, six members fished for 15 hours to land 21 keeper bass weighing about 29 pounds. There was one five-bass limit and one member did not catch a keeper in the two days. It was hot, tough fishing at Clarks Hill.

I won with seven bass weighing 10.46 pounds, Travis Weatherly was second with four weighing 8.32 pounds and big fish of 3.69 pounds, Chuck Croft was third with six weighing 6.58 pounds and Alex Gober places fourth with three at 3.31 pounds.

I made a lucky guess and started on a bridge riprap Saturday morning at 6:05. I caught my first keeper at 6:10 and had five at 6:35, all on a spinnerbait. Then, for the next 7.5 hours, I landed three more keepers. I was shocked at weigh-in that I had five, Chuck had two and nobody else had caught a keeper in eight hours.

Sunday I started at the bridge and caught keepers on back to back cast at 6:20. One of them was a good bass weighing 3.21 pounds. Although I fished hard until weigh-in I never caught another fish.

It was a better day for others. Travis caught his four on Sunday after not catching a fish on Saturday and Alex got his three after zeroing the first day. All five of the other guys stayed at a cabin at Soap Creek and I stayed 17 miles away in my mobile home at Raysville Boat Club. Maybe they shared information!

I got really frustrated Sunday. It was miserably hot, without a cloud in the sky, contrary to what the weather guessers predicted, and there was no breeze. Even worse I broke my line three times when setting the hook, something that should never happen.

The first happened when I was fishing down a shady bank and saw a big rock in about three feet of water. I pitched my shaky head worm to it, felt a thump and set the hook, breaking my line. I figured my line was over the rock and got cut.

Later out on a rock pile on an old road bed I was bouncing my bait through the rocks felt a bite and again broke my line when setting the hook. I again figured it was cut the rocks so I retied and it happened again a few minutes later.

I switched to heavier line to try to stop that from happening again but never got another bite!

Yet Another Tough July Sinclair Tournament

Last Sunday 12 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our July tournament at Lake Sinclair. We landed 24 keeper bass weighing about 29 pounds. There were two five-bass limits and two zeros.

Raymond English found the big one and a limit to place far out in front with 11.0 pounds and big fish of 5.81. My little limit weighing 5.15 pounds was second, third went to Jay Gerson with four keepers weighing 3.93 pounds and Robert Proctor was fourth with two at 3.92 pounds.

At least I am consistent. The weekend before I had five weighing 5.19 pounds. I caught all five of my keepers on a weightless Senko skipped under docks. The first one, my biggest, hit at the end of a dock about six feet deep at about 8:00 AM. After that I was surprised at how shallow the rest of the fish were.

At about 10:00 AM I was going between two docks along a shallow bank. The riprap dropped to about two feet deep and the water was clear enough to see the bottom where they ended. I cast the Senko to a little grass patch on the rocks and caught a short fish, then a few feet further I landed another one about 11 inches long.

At a patch of shade from the seawall I saw my line move out as the Senko sank. I figured it was another small bass and may not have set the hook hard enough. As soon as I set the hook a two pound plus bass flashed in the water. I fought it almost to the boat and it just came unhooked.

As I approached the next dock I saw a man and his dog come out of the house and head toward the dock and I figured he was going to fuss at me, so I started moving past it. But he was very friendly, asking me how I was doing and pointing to where his brush piles were underwater.

I got the far side of the dock and skipped the Senko under the walkway and caught my second keeper. Then, as I worked toward the next dock he said right where is banana plant grew on the seawall was a good place. I had passed it but threw back and landed my third keeper. It should have gotten off, as I lifted it over the side it came unhooked, hit the top of the gunnel and fell into the boat.

I caught one each on the next two docks, landing my fifth at about 11:20. That was it, I never hooked anther fish before the 2:00 weigh-in.

Hot Lake Sinclair Tournament

I didn’t think fishing could get any worse than the three tournaments in July but last Sunday West Point proved me wrong. I thought I had a really bad day until weigh-in.

At the Flint River Bass Club July tournament 10 members and guests fished from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM to land 11 keeper bass weighing about 13 pounds. There were six spotted bass longer than the 12-inch size limit and five largemouth over their 14 inch limit. No one had a limit and there two people didn’t have a keeper.

I won with two fish weighing 2.40 pounds, Wes Delay came in second with two at 2.30 pounds, third was guests Glen Holcomb with one weighing 1.86 and that was big fish. Alex Gober was fourth with one weighing 1.71 pounds.

I started with a buzzbait near the ramp, something that has worked in the past but I never got a bite. After 30 frustrating minutes I ran about five miles down the lake to some trees in the water on a steep bank, the kind of place a friend told me it was easy to catch a limit of small keepers.

At 6:40 I threw a jig head worm to a small pine top in about four feet of water and when I tightened up my line it was moving toward the boat. I set the hook and landed a 13-inch spotted bass and knew at least I would not zero.

After working more trees over the next two hours I ran back up the lake to some more blowdowns but did not get a bite. I knew there was some brush a fisherman had put out way out on a long, shallow point and I fished the point out to my waypoint on it. When I cast my jig head worm to it I got a thump but before I could set the hook the fish took off, luckily for me setting the hook himself,

That was a largemouth weighing over a pound and a half and it hit in 22 feet of water. I decided I needed to fish deep and tried a variety of places but got no bites.

At noon I stopped on another long point with some rocks out in 20 to 30 feet of water and quickly caught four short bass, all under the size limit. I ended the day fishing the brush pile where I had caught the largemouth, hoping another one had moved to it to feed, but got no more bites.

It was so hot by 9:00 I realized I was fishing places where I could sit in the shade or in the little breeze, not really fishing where I thought the fish should be. I wish we still had night tournaments when it is cooler, boat traffic is much less and the fish bite better!