Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Trying To Catch Bass at Clarks Hill

August 10 and 11th, nine members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fish a miserably hot two-day tournament at Clarks Hill. At least the fishing was tough. In 18 hours of casting we landed 41 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 65 pounds.

There were three limits and one fisherman didn’t catch a keeper in two days. But there were some good fish, five weighed more than three pounds each.

Raymond English, fishing as Niles Murray’ guest, won with ten weighing 17.11 pounds. Niles placed second with nine keepers weighing 14.51 pounds, Travis Weatherly was third with seven at 10.24 pounds and Chuck Croft came in fourth with six weighing 6.66 pounds. Jerry Ragen had big fish with a 4.39 pound largemouth.

I thought I had found some fish on deep rock piles and caught two Saturday, including one close to three pounds, and lost another one that felt as big as the three pounder. But that was it, two fish all day. And Sunday I missed one bite and had another good fish pull off the dropshot worm. No fish for me after eight hot hours of trying Sunday.

How Good Is Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Virginia?

Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Virginia
By Alex McCrickard, Virginia DGIF Aquatic Education Coordinator
from The Fishing Wire

Summer Smallmouth


During the dog days of summer, many anglers put their rods and reels down and are content to wait until later in the fall for cooler weather. Unfortunately, these anglers end up missing some of the most exciting warm water fishing conditions of the year. During this time frame, I tend to focus my efforts on one species of fish in Virginia, smallmouth bass. Pound for pound and inch for inch, these fish fight harder than most other freshwater fish in the state.

Smallmouth Bass in Virginia

Smallmouth bass, frequently referred to as smallies or bronzebacks, are a freshwater member of the sunfish family: Centrarchidae. Their green and brown sides are often marked with vertical black bars. Some of these fish have war paint like markings extending horizontally and diagonally behind their eyes and across their gill plates. Smallmouth bass are native to the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River Basin including the Tennessee and Big Sandy River Drainages of Southwest Virginia. However, these game fish have been introduced all across the Piedmont of Virginia and are truly a worthy opponent on rod and reel. Because of the smallmouth’s widespread range in Virginia, they are readily available to anglers fishing west of the coastal plains above the fall lines of our major river systems. This allows anglers who reside in cities and large metropolitan areas to fish local as smallmouth opportunities are plentiful. The James River in Lynchburg and Richmond, Rappahannock Riverin Fredericksburg, Rivanna River in Charlottesville, Maury River near Lexington, and the New River in Blacksburg are fine examples of local opportunities.

The mainstem and larger tributaries of these rivers are full of smallmouth. Anglers in Northern Virginia can focus efforts on the Upper Potomac River as well as the Shenandoah mainstem, North Fork, and South Fork. The North Fork of the Holston River and the Clinch River provide excellent smallmouth opportunities in Southwest Virginia. Floating these larger rivers in a canoe or raft can be a great way to cover water, just remember to wear your life jacket. You can also wade fish these rivers and their tributaries, especially in the lower flows of late summer.

Summer Conditions

My favorite conditions to fish for smallmouth are from mid-summer into early fall. During this time of the year our rivers and streams are typically at lower flows with fantastic water clarity. These conditions provide for some incredible sight fishing opportunities for smallmouth bass. Look for fish to be holding against steep banks with overhanging trees and vegetation. During the middle of hot summer days it can pay off huge when you find a shady bank with depth and current. It can also be productive to target riffles and pocket water during this time of the year. Smallmouth will often be in the faster and more oxygenated water when river temperatures get hot.

It’s important to think about structure when locating summer smallmouth. These fish will often be found along a rock ledge or drop off. Log jams, underwater grass beds, and emergent water willow also provide structure that these fish can use for cover. Smallmouth can be found along current seams where fast water meets slow water. Fishing a quiet pocket behind a mid-river boulder or targeting the tailout of an island where two current seams come together is a good idea.

During hot, bright, summer days the fishing can be most productive early in the morning and again in the evening. I try to fish during these times as smallmouth will often be active during low light conditions and can get sluggish during the middle of a hot bright afternoon. That being said, these fish can be caught in the middle of bright sunny days as well. Also, afternoon cloud cover and a light shower can turn the fishing on in a matter of moments.

Summer Feeding Habits

Smallmouth bass are piscivores, they feed primarily on other fish. Various species of shiners, darters, dace, and sunfish are bass favorites. These fish also prefer large aquatic insects like hellgrammite nymphs and crayfish. However, the abundance of other aquatic and terrestrial insects allow smallmouth to diversify their menu in the summertime. It is not uncommon for these fish to target damselflies and dragonflies during summer hatches. I’ve seen summer smallmouth feeding on the surface with reckless abandon as damselflies hovered along a water willow island on the James River. These fish are happy to eat large cicadas, grasshoppers, or crickets that find their way into the water. These seasonal food sources allow for exciting topwater action.

One time during a mid-August float on the James River I found a long bank with overhanging sycamore trees providing shade along the edge of the river. I had been fishing a subsurface Clouser Minnow without a strike for nearly an hour. Because it was a windy afternoon I figured I would try my luck with a small green Boogle Bug popper on my 6 wt fly rod. A few casts later I had a fine smallmouth explode on the popper underneath the overhanging tree limbs. I landed the fish and held it up for a photo just in time to see it regurgitate a half dozen large Japanese beetles. The fish had been utilizing the windy conditions to snack on beetles as they got blown into the water. It can really pay off to change patterns based on water and weather conditions.

Medium to medium light spinning and baitcasting rods in the 7 foot range are great for late summer smallmouth. It can pay off to scale down in low clear water. You may want to consider fishing 6-8 lb test instead of 10-12 lb. Soft plastics work well for smallmouth and favorites include swim baits and tubes. Various spinnerbaits can be a great way to cover water in the larger rivers during this time of the year. Sometimes you can be surprised at how well a simple Mepps spinner or Rooster tail will produce. Topwater baits are a late summer “go to” with low and clear water. Try fishing buzzbaits, the smaller Whopper Plopper 90, Zara Spooks, and Heddon Tiny Torpedos. Buzzbaits and Whopper Ploppers can be retrieved quickly across the surface enticing explosive takes. The rotating tail of the Whopper Plopper acts like a propeller and creates lots of noise and attention.

For fly fishing, 9 to 10 foot rods in the 6 to 8 wt range are best. A 9ft 5wt may work well on the smaller rivers across Virginia but you will want a heavier rod on our larger rivers. Heavier rods in the 7 to 8 wt range will also turn over some of the bigger bugs we tend to throw this time of year on floating fly lines. A 9ft tapered leader in the 0x to 3x range will work well depending on water clarity and flows. Fishing large poppers like Boogle Bugs or Walt Cary’s “Walt’s Bass Popper” will get the smallmouth going. The Surface Seducer Double Barrel popper by Martin Bawden pushes lots of water. Large foam cicada patterns, Japanese beetle patterns, and western style Chernoyble Ants are fun when fished tight to the bank. Don’t forget to include a few damselfly and dragonfly patterns in your summer smallmouth fly box.

Don’t let the dog days of summer keep you from missing some of the most exciting warm water fishing conditions of the year!
When fishing these surface flies and lures, the takes can be very visual. Sometimes during a strip and pause retrieve, the smallmouth will slowly approach the fly from 5 feet away to gently sip it like a trout. Other times a fast strip retrieve will generate explosive takes. These visual late summer takes are hard to beat!

If the fish aren’t looking up you can do well stripping streamers. Bob Clouser’s Clouser Minnow was developed for smallmouth bass and a variety of colors can be productive this time of the year. My favorite color combinations for this fly are chartreuse and white, olive and white, as well as a more natural brown and white. The dumbbell eyes on this fly make it swim up and down through the water column as you retrieve. Lefty Kreh’s Deceiver is another fine smallmouth fly along with the famous Half & Half which is a combination of the Clouser Minnow and Deceiver. Chuck Kraft’s Kreelex has become a favorite amongst fly anglers in Virginia and the smallmouth can’t seem to ignore it. The flashy profile of this fly attracts fish in clear and stained water. Another popular smallmouth streamer is the Gamechanger developed by Blane Chocklett. The Gamechanger is multi-sectioned allowing it to swim naturally through the water column. Most other articulated streamers developed for trout fishing will also be productive on smallmouth bass as well. All of these streamers come in a variety of sizes. When choosing fly size, it’s essential to match the size of the forage fish the smallmouth are keying in on. This can vary from larger rivers to smaller tributaries but typically sizes 2-6 will work well with larger patterns being in the 1, 1/0, and 2/0 sizes.

Crayfish and Hellgrammite patterns can be productive during the heat of the day in late summer. Harry Murray’s Hellgrammite and Strymph can be fished with success lower in the water column closer to the bottom of the river. Chuck Kraft’s Clawdad and Crittermite are two other go to patterns. Its best to try numerous different approaches and techniques until you can find out what the fish are keyed in on each day.

In all, late summer smallmouth should be on your angling to do list. The conditions during this time of the year are excellent for sight fishing and cater to a topwater approach. From the smaller tributaries to the larger rivers, smallmouth opportunities are diverse across the state. Make time to get out this summer and fish local in Virginia.

October Bass at High Falls Lake

October Bass at High Falls
with Wayne Glaze

Georgia has an abundance of smaller public lakes that bass fishermen often overlook. Many of them have excellent populations of keeper bass, and some harbor good numbers of big bass. High Falls Lake is one of them that has both.

Located just off I-75 north of Forsyth, High Falls is a 660 acre Georgia Power Lake and Georgia State Park. It is a very old lake, ringed by cabins and docks. Boat motors are limited to 10 horsepower, eliminating skiers and jet skis. All boats must be off the lake at night, so you can not launch until just before sunrise. And you must come in at sunset.

The lake is on the Towaliga River and has three main creeks entering it. Buck and Brushy Creek enter close together on the west side about half way up the lake and Watkins Bottom enters from the east across from them. Two ramps serve the lake, both State Park ramps so you will need a parking permit. One is right at the dam and the other is just off High Falls Road where it crosses Buck Creek.

High Falls is a fertile lake and the water is usually tinted green. Bass grow fast and fat there, and eight pounders are caught regularly. The lake gets a fair amount of fishing pressure on weekends, but on many week days, especially this time of year, you can go hours without seeing another fisherman on the water.

Wayne Glaze lives less than an hour from High Falls and likes to fish it. He fishes with four different jon boat trails and some of them fish tournaments there regularly. He has studied the lake and learned where and how to catch bass on it from his hours tournament fishing there and practicing for tournaments.

Wayne really likes the jon boat trails and fishes one just about every weekend. The first week of September he told me he had already competed in 32 tournaments during 2004, and was planning on fishing many more. He qualified for the end of the year Top Ten Tournament in three of the four trails. He also fished the BFL as a co-angler for three years, but prefers the smaller waters.

The four jon boat trails are the Southern Jon Boat Anglers, headquartered in Walton County, a group Wayne has fished with for 10 years, the Jon Boat Association (JBA), out of Logansville, the Hi Voltage Anglers, from Athens and Lil Waters Anglers out of Griffin. These four trails are each sending their top 10 teams to an end of the year classic this year.

Boats for these trails are specially set up for fishing smaller lakes. Some lakes like High Falls allow small gas motors, others are electric only. So it is not unusual to see a 16 foot jon boat with three to five electric motors on the back and another one up front. The day we fished High Falls Wayne had replaced his back middle electric motor with a small gas motor for a little more speed.

High Falls is so old most of the old channels are nothing but depressions now. Silt has filled them in and covered most of the deep wood and rock that bass like. The shoreline is full of wood cover, though, and the docks offer even more. Grass has grown thick in many areas of the lake, filling the shallows out to five feet deep in some places.

Wayne likes to fish the bank and works a variety of lures along them, probing all the cover. The bass hold and feed in the shoreline cover all day and can be found there in October. Some schooling activity on open water is worth checking out, but many big hybrids are in High Falls and you are more likely to catch them out away from the bank.

Wayne starts each morning with topwater and will fish a Lucky Craft buzzbait or a Pop-R. The Lucky Craft buzzbait does not have a skirt, just a minnow shaped body, and Wayne likes a gold blade. A silver Pop-R is good here. Fish both baits around all wood cover and over the grass and you should draw some early strikes.

If the water is open enough, usually out past 5 feet deep or so, Wayne will throw a big crankbait to attract bass. A Mann’s 20+ or a DD22N by Norman is his choice and he makes long casts with both. He wants to get the crankbait down to the bottom where there are rocks or a clean bottom.

For pitching docks and fishing the grass beds, Wayne will Texas rig a Zoom Old Monster or Mag 2 worm with a 3/16 ounce weight. This can be fished under docks and around the post, worked through blowdowns, on rocks, and also dropped into pockets in the grass. When he fishes green pumpkin or watermelon colors he dips the tails in chartreuse JJs Magic and when using black or other colors he dips them in the clear JJs Magic to give them the garlic scent.

A spinnerbait is good around the grassbeds, too. Wayne likes a half ounce white spinnerbait with double silver blades and a split tail trailer. He will cast it over the grass and run it along the surface, then drop it into holes in the grass.

In early September Wayne took me to High Falls to show me some of his spots and explain how to fish there. We spent almost eight hours fishing the lake and looking at spots to fish, and saw only three other boats. One was a DNR employee taking inventory of shoreline structures, and he told us if we would be out on the big water where Buck Creek joins the river at 6:30 PM hybrids and largemouth would school up there.

Although we had seen fish schooling there that morning and tried to get on them, they went down before we got to them and did not come back up. Unfortunately we had to leave in mid-afternoon and did not get to try for the schooling fish, but keep that in mind if you go to High Falls this month.

The following ten spots will give you an idea of what Wayne fishes and a variety of places to try. Check them out and then try other places on the lake that are similar.

1. N 33 11.820 – W 84 01.871 – Going up the Towaliga River past where Buck and Brushy Creek enter, the lake will narrow down then widen back out. Watch on your left as you go upstream and you will see a point just as that bank drops back to widen the lake. It is a round point and if you are there right at sunrise you will see two lights burning on it.

The first light is on a dock and you want to start fishing just before you get to it. It is the last dock before the point drops back. Start here with topwater, casting close to the bank and working your bait back to the boat. You should be sitting a long cast out and you want to cover all the water between you and the bank.

Fish the dock when you get to it, working around the light. Some bass might still be holding here from feeding during the dark around the light. Just past the dock is a big blowdown in the water. Fish it with topwater and a spinnerbait, then work your worm through it.

Continue up the bank and right where it drops back there will be another light sticking out over the water on a pole with no dock. At that light the bottom drops off some and there are rocks along the bank as it dips back. This is really the outside bend of the old river channel.

Fish all along this bank, too. This is a good place to run a crankbait as well as topwater. If you don’t get bit on the active baits, try a worm moved slowly down the slope. There is some wood trash here as well as the rocks to hold bass.

2. N 33 11.937 W – 84 01.881 – From where you are sitting near the point in hole #1, look out toward the middle of the lake and upstream. You will see a stump and a white jug on an iron rod sticking up. Ease out to this stump and stop a long cast back from it. If you watch your depthfinder you will see the bottom rise up to a hump with the stump on top of it. A few feet upstream of the big stump you will see another iron rod sticking out of the water.

Stay back and fish all the way around this hump. Keep your boat in 11 or 12 feet of water and cast up into five feet. There is a little brush on it, and a few stumps under the water. Cast a crankbait and work it from shallow to deep, then fish a worm down that same slope. Wayne has had better luck on Texas rigged worms, but this area might also be good for Carolina rigging.

3. N 33 12.259 – W 84 02.086 – As you head upstream it looks like the lake ends, but the river swings to the left. The bank you will be facing has docks lining it and there is a small cut to the far right in the corner. The docks along this bank have 4 to 5 feet of water out on their ends, and this is a good place to pitch worms to them.

Start at the docks on the right where the small cut is, and work toward the point to your left. Stay back from the dock and pitch a worm under it. Try to drop your bait beside each post as you work the dock. Watch for cross bars supporting the dock and fish them, too.

Between the docks along here is some grass and you can fish topwater over it early then drop your worm in holes in the grass. You can also run a spinnerbait through this grass and fish the docks with it, too. Go slowly along this bank and fish all the cover carefully.

4. N 33 12.260 – W 84 02.263 – The point out past the last dock is good. There is grass up shallow on it and it has a drop to the old river channel out on its end. Stay way back and make long casts across the point with a top water bait, then try your worm. Out on the very end fan cast a crankbait across it where it runs out to the old channel, and then work a worm across it.
5. N 33 12.383 – W 84 02.300 – As you round the point the water gets shallow and there are docks on the bank past the point. The grass has grown thick all along here and you should fish topwater and spinnerbaits over it, then fish the grass with worm. Swim the worm over the grass then let it drop into holes in the grass. Wayne caught a solid 2 pound bass here by dropping his worm into a hole in the grass the day we fished.

This bank stays shady a good while in the mornings and you can fish the grass as well as the dock post. Grass is thick around all these docks. Wayne fishes all the way up to a red tin boathouse with a rusty front.

6. N 33 11.447 – W 84 01.697 – Back down the lake the upstream point between the river and Watkins Bottom is good. It runs way out shallow and the old channel from Watkins Bottom swings in near it on the downstream side. Start fishing upstream of the point, working crankbaits, spinnerbaits and worms along the bank. When you get to the point make fan casts across it with crankbaits and then rake it with worms.

7. N 33 11.353 – W 84 01.806 – Across the lake the upstream point between Brushy Creek and the river is also good. This is the area where fish were schooling in early September, and they school here often. It is a big round clay point and it runs out toward the river There is some grass and a few stick-ups on it.

Stay way off the bank and fish a spinnerbait around it, the follow up with a worm. Wayne says this is a good Carolina rig point. When you hit grass with either worm rig, pull it through the grass and let it fall.

8. 33 11.324 – W 84 01.779 – Straight across from the point in #7 is the last point in Buck Creek. There is a sand pile out on it and a mercury vapor light on a pole right on the water. This can be a good place to start in the morning while the light is still on, and bass feed here during the day, too.

There are a lot of old dock post in the water off the point. Fish them all. Then fish all the way around this point with a crankbait. The bottom is sandy and there is some brush up shallow. Fish the crankbait along this point and then follow up with a worm.

9. N 33 11.344 – W 84 02.053 – Go into Brushy Creek past the first bend and you will see power lines crossing the creek. Where they cross on the left going upstream is a small point with rocks and stumps on it. Sit well off the bank and cast up shallow, fishing crankbaits as well as Texas and Carolina rigged worms. Probe for the rocks and stumps and hit them hard with both baits.

10. N 33 11.079 – W 84 02.016 – A short distance up Buck Creek, just before you get to the boat ramp, High Falls Road crosses the creek. The bridge riprap on the downstream side is good, according to Wayne. He will sit back off it and cast his crankbait up to the rocks and fish it back to the boat. Work both ends of this side of the bridge.

Although High Falls is a small lake, these spots cover only about half of it – there are others toward the dam and up in Buck and Brushy Creek that are good. And Wayne says other spots around these also produce good bass this month. You can’t run around fast on High Falls, so spend some time fishing these and other nearby spots until you learn them. They will produce bass for you.

Find Fish

Beginner’s Guide to Finding Fish
By M.L. Anderson
from The Fishing Wire

Found Fishi


The first step to catching fish is to find them, and this isn’t always easy. Some people just get out there and start throwing various lures in random spots until they get lucky. Some seem to keep going back to the same spots over and over. If they get skunked, they say that the fishing is bad that day. Still others simply watch what other people are doing and try to copy that, whether they actually see the other guy catch a fish or not. Apparently, they assume that EVERYONE on the water is smarter than they are. There are some who spend hours on the phone, pumping their buddies for information and trying to duplicate their results. And then there are the pros.

The real pros know that you have to find your own fish. “It’s really hard to catch someone else’s fish,” insists Gary Dobyns. “If you weren’t there to find them and figure out what it took to catch them, it’s almost impossible for someone else to send you to that spot and have you catch fish.” A pro like Dobyns, who is able to find and catch bass consistently, has learned the secrets to patterning bass. Bass are animals with certain needs and instincts. They all respond alike to biological stimulus. This is certainly to the advantage of a bass fisherman: learn how bass behave under certain conditions, and you’ll know where to look for them. Years ago, legendary bass angler Rick Clunn told me his three-step process for patterning bass, and since then many other excellent fishermen have told me how they do it.

RICK CLUNN STEP ONE: SEASONAL PATTERNS

Even before you get to the lake you should be able to eliminate quite a bit of water. Take a map of the lake and divide it into sections. The deepest, clearest parts can be section one, midrange depths are section two, and shallow coves and river inlets are section three. Clunn also divides coves into those same sections – deep, such as a channel, midrange like humps between feeder channels, and shallow – backs of coves, flats, etc. You can add a section four if there is a river or a creek you can run the boat up.

Where do you start? You can make general assumptions based on the time of year. Generally speaking, bass will be deeper in winter and summer, shallower in spring and fall. Not all the bass in the lake will deep at one time, of course, but seasonal patterns give you a general idea of where to start.

CURRENT PATTERN

Once you have a seasonal pattern established, pick an area to fish. You may want to focus on a single large cove, especially if it has a lot of different depths and structures. Fish that cove as though it were a pond. Identify what kinds of objects are in the area: channels, humps, vegetation, rock piles, rip rap, man-made structures like bridges, etc., and work every kind of object until you feel like you’ve really checked it out thoroughly. Use a couple of different baits. It will soon become clear which kinds of objects are holding fish, and you can stop wasting time on the stuff that isn’t holding fish right now.

There are actually two kinds of patterns you can find this way. An individual pattern is when a certain kind of object is holding bass – say you’ve fished everything in your cove and have only caught fish on submerged logs in five feet of water. Now you can leave and visit other areas of the lake and fish other submerged logs at around the same depth with a pretty good chance of catching more fish. A concentration pattern is usually something like an expanse of submerged brush or vegetation that has a whole school in it. If you find one of these, stay there. The individual pattern is the most common, and if you put a bunch of those similar spots together, it’s usually referred to as a “milk run”. Fishing stuff between the pattern is a waste of time, says Clunn. Just go from object to object as quickly as possible. One of these patterns can last days or just minutes. If it fails, start over and figure out what the new pattern is.

SPECIFIC PATTERN

According to Clunn, a small percentage of elite anglers will be able to get to step three, which is identifying a specific pattern. It is something that very good fishermen do subconsciously for the most part. For instance, say our submerged logs are the current pattern. You go from log to log and fish them all. An elite angler will soon know an even more specific pattern — he will know exactly where on the log the fish will be.

LURES FOR ESTABLISHING A PATTERN

The only reason to pick a lure is confidence. A lure is first of all for finding fish. Clunn’s top three lures for finding fish are spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastic worms or jigs. He usually starts with a spinnerbait or a crankbait – choose whichever one you can keep in the strike zone for longer. In warmer water the strike zone is bigger. In colder water it is smaller. He doesn’t worry too much about color. Fishermen think about color more than they do about sex, he says. Your confidence in your fishing is in total control of your success, so pick a lure you feel confident that you can fish well. Pick any color you want as long as you believe in it. He usually picks natural colors. If you don’t feel good about it, you won’t fish it well.

OVERNIGHT CHANGES

Things like a cold front, a storm, a rising barometer, or weekend pressure and traffic can change things overnight. Let the fish tell you what’s going on. Try the pattern you established the day before, and if it isn’t working, you have to change. Cold fronts will move the fish either deeper or tighter to cover. The strike zone shrinks. Maybe you need to flip those logs today instead of running a spinnerbait past them. Maybe you need to go just a little deeper to the next structure. Clunn says that if you’re a beginner you shouldn’t worry that you don’t have a lot of years in the boat. Some anglers pay more attention and get more out of a year than others do in a lifetime. The biggest thing is to pay attention. Keep a log that you can refer back to.

JOHN MURRAY’S METHOD

John Murray started out bass fishing as a kid in Arizona, and is still considered to be one of the best bass fishermen Arizona has ever produced. His advice? “Don’t discount any part of the lake” is Murray’s first rule. “Fish all over, starting shallow.” Narrow your focus to your strengths at first–use lures you are proficient with and have confidence in. When you first start fishing and don’t really have a lot of confidence in any one lure yet, Murray says to try fishing just one lure all day until you know how it reacts to different retrieves and speeds, and you are confident of at least your ability to cast the lure accurately and fish it properly. Every angler should be able to fish spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms, and jigs with confidence.

“First of all, look for how deep the shad are,” says Murray. “Wherever the shad are, that’s where the bass are.” He uses his electronics to find balls of shad and pinpoint their depth. (The first time I ever fished with Murray, he was using a flasher and a paper graph, and he was kicking butt back then.)

MURRAY’S FIVE KEY AREAS

Once he has determined the depth of the bait fish, choosing which of the five key areas to try first is easier. Points are first on the list, and can hold bass at any depth. Murray will make several different presentations on a point using different lures, favoring spinnerbaits and crankbaits. The key to fishing a spinnerbait is the retrieve, says Murray. He usually keeps the lure one or two feet off the bottom and works it slowly, concentrating on the feel of the blades turning. If the “thumping” stops, he sets the hook.

Second on the location list is backs of coves. Topwater lures and spinnerbaits are prime choices here, and Murray likes Ricos, Zara Spooks, buzzbaits, and jerkbaits for shallow fish. For fish with lockjaw, flipping a plastic worm or lizard can be a better method. For shallow fishing (less than ten feet), Murray says to use a couple of baits and keep casting. Cover lots of water and look for bites, especially if you’re pre-fishing. If you know the fish are shallow but you can’t get them to take a fast-moving lure, make sure you flip into a few bushes or rockpiles before you move on.

If the fish aren’t in the backs of the coves, the next area Murray will try is a windy bank. He’ll throw crankbaits and spinnerbaits up into the brush, or pitch a lizard or jig to shore, looking for active bass that are foraging for shad and crawdads whipped up by wind and waves.

Steep banks, walls, and cliffs are fourth on our list of bass holding locations. These structures hold fish at different depths at different times. A worm or a tube bait is usually Murray’s first lure choice for steep shorelines like this. Getting the boat close to the bank, he casts the lure parallel to the cliffs and bounces it down the wall, feeling and watching the line to see if it moves differently than it should or stops where it shouldn’t.

If he still hasn’t found fish, Murray moves out to location five: outside structure. These submerged islands, rockpiles, underwater ridges, etc., often hold large concentrations of quality fish, especially in heavily fished lakes. Many anglers ignore this structure either because they don’t know it’s there or they don’t know how to fish it. The best structure is the stuff that isn’t marked – no buoy on it, in other words.

The key to fishing deeper water, says Murray, is learning to use your electronics. Murray makes sure he has good depthfinders on the console as well as the bow. The depthfinder on the console is the one to watch while you’re idling around inspecting structure, and the one on the bow is the one you keep your eyes on while you fish. If you know how to interpret what you see, you can position yourself right over deep fish and present your lure to them effectively.

A good depthfinder is invaluable for locating and fishing these underwater treasure troves. In the old days, fishermen would take years to study a lake, actually using a weighted string to map underwater depths, but with modern graphs you can do it in a day, especially if you have a topo map of the lake to get you started. Again, Murray says to look for the depth of the baitfish, then look for submerged structure that intersects this depth. Any lure that you have confidence in and can fish at the proper depth can be used to probe this structure: Ned rigs, split-shot rigs, drop shots, jigs, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits can all be effective.

Even on a strange lake or in unusual conditions, thoroughly fishing the five key holding areas with a combination of baits chosen from the top basic lures will help you find fish. Once you’ve determined where the active bass are, concentrate on that type of location only–don’t waste time fishing backs of coves after you’ve already discovered that the fish are on points. Cover the area thoroughly with a variety of lures. You have to find fish to catch them, and following this system is a proven way to begin.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO

Pick a process: Clunn or Murray. Fish methodically and eliminate areas and structure until you start catching fish. Then pass over everything but the stuff you have determined to be productive. Sounds too easy to be true, doesn’t it? The old adage says that doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Next time you’re at a loss, don’t keep going around and around doing the same thing. Remember Clunn and Murray. Find the fish.

How and Where to Catch September Lake Eufaula Bass

September Bass at Eufaula
with Dwayne Smith

September is one of the worst months for bass fishing in many of our Georgia lakes. The water is at its hottest and bass are deep and hard to find. But at Lake Eufaula the numerous ledges are full of bass and the grassbeds all over the lake entice some bass to feed shallow. You can take advantage of both patterns and catch bass there this month.

With 45,180 acres of water, there are lots of places to fish at Eufaula. Stretching 85 miles from the dam to Columbus, this long lake is mostly river bottom with lots of shallow areas and good drops into channels. Those are perfect places for bass to hold and feed this month.

Eufaula is a shallow lake with big flats everywhere. Grass grows on many of these flats and points leading to the channels, and willow bushes grow all over the lake, even on some mid-lake ledges. Bass like to feed around this shallow cover and can be found there all year long, but this pattern gets even better in late September when the water begins go cool.

Dwayne Smith won the Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Top Six tournament at Eufaula last April. He won it early, catching a limit of bass on spinnerbaits first thing each morning. Fishing with the Blackshear Bass Club for the past six years has taught Dwayne a lot about the lake since they fish it about four times a year, and he put his knowledge to good use in the Top Six.

Making the Top Six team each year that he has been in the club is something Dwayne is proud of doing, and he likes fishing the Top Six. He also likes Eufaula and can catch fish there most of the year. He says September can be a good month if you know were to fish.

“Start early in the grassbeds, then move to the drops as the sun gets on the water,” Dwayne said. That is a simple pattern but it works well for him most of the year, and September is no exception.

Dwayne will start each morning throwing a half-ounce white Terminator spinnerbait with a gold willowleaf and a silver Colorado blade. He likes a split tail white trailer and says the bait looks so good in the water sometimes he wants to eat it himself! The spinnerbait is fished in the shallows all over the lake, anywhere there is grass or willows.

Dwayne may start out on the main lake on humps but the sun hits those areas early. As the sun comes over the trees he will often move to the shady bank to get some more time with his spinnerbait. But when the sun gets bright, it is time to move to deeper water.

“Look for shallow water near deep water,” Dwayne said. A drop from the shallows to the channel is going to hold bass, and the steeper the drop the better it usually will be. Dwayne will fish a Carolina rig on these places, casting up shallow and working his bait down to deeper water.

A black Trick worm rigged behind a one ounce sinker on a 24 to 30 inch leader is Dwayne’s standard Carolina rig. He likes heavy line on both spinnerbait and Carolina rig, and uses 15 pound Trilene Big Game line on everything, including his leader.

You will often see bass busting shad on top during September, so Dwayne also keeps a chrome half-ounce Rat-L-Trap rigged and ready to cast toward them. And he will have a big Fat Free Shad on another rod to run across shallow drops in case the bass want something moving a little faster than a Carolina rig. He likes shad colored crankbaits if the water is clear and something with some chartruese in it if the water is stained.

I fished with Dwayne in early August to get a look at the way he fishes Eufaula. He showed me ten of his favorite places to fish in September to share here, and he explained how he fishes each. The following ten spots will give you some grassbeds and shallows to fish this month as well as drops to move to when the sun gets bright.

1. N 32 03.171 – W 85 03.321 – The bank straight across from the mouth of Little Barbour Creek has a good grassbed and is on the east side of the lake, so it stays shady for a good while each morning. Dwayne will start right across from the mouth of the creek and fish upstream all the way to the small creek.

Keep your boat out and easy cast from the bank and throw your spinnerbait back into the edge of the grass. Fish it back out, running it by any clumps of grass or any wood cover out from the bank. Dwayne fishes the spinnerbait fast, keeping is down under the water but running it back quickly at a steady speed. Making a lot of cast as fast as possible is important since this pattern does not last long.

2. N 32 01.997 – W 85 03.413 – Head downstream and the channel will make a sharp bend to the Georgia bank, then swing out toward the Alabama side. Right where the channel leaves the east bank there is a small island. A point runs off this island and follows the edge of the channel as it cuts across the lake. There is a red channel marker just off the island.

Dwayne likes to keep his boat upstream of the drop running off the island and casts up onto the flat formed by the point. He will work his Carolina rig or crankbait back to the boat, fishing some of the top of the flat and then covering the edge of the drop.

If there is current moving the lip of the drop is probalby the best spot. If the current is not moving Dwayne will work the Carolina rig down the drop and probe for any wood stuck there. He will work from the island out to the channel marker, fishing the edge all along there.

3. N 32 01.546 – W 85 02.876 – Head on downstream and the channel goes to the Alabama bank then makes a sharp turn back to the Georgia side. The mouth of Rood Creek is where the channel hits the Georgia bank, but just upstream is a small creek with a split near the mouth. The river channel runs near the mouth of it and the double opening has deep water in it.

The point on the split in the mouth of this creek has a hump off it that has stumps on it. It is only four feet deep on top and drops off to 25 feet or deeper all around. Keep your boat out in the deeper water and fish around the hump, making casts up on top of it and fishing down the slope.

This is a good place to run a crankbait across the top of the hump, then fish a Carolina rig on it. You will get hung up on the stumps but there will often be bass holding by them, too. Fish this spot carefully, taking time to cover it from all angles.

4. N 32 00.670 – W 85 03.605 – Downstream of Rood Creek the channel swings toward the Alabama bank and then right back to the Georgia side. A little further downstream it angles across the lake to the Alabama side, and just upstream of where it hits the bank is an opening to a big flat split by an island. This big area is actually the ends of two old oxbow river runs cut off from the lake by an island. Dwayne calls the big flat grassy area behind the island “The Barn.”

This very shallow water has lilly pads and other grass along the bank. Out in the middle you will see clumps of hydrilla. Bass will feed here year round, but move in more as the water starts to cool near the end of September.

Start fishing near the mouth and cast to every cut and hole in the grass and pads. Watch for dark clumps out in the middle of the open water and fish them with your spinnerbait, too. Run your spinnerbait along and through every fishy looking spot.

5. N 31 59.003 – W 85 04.129 – Head downstream past the mouth of the Witch’s Ditch and the lake will open up. The island that runs parallel to the river on the Georgia side, the one that cuts off the Witch’s Ditch, ends and the lake will open up. Just downstream of the end of this island is a red channel marker and there is a good river ledge here where the channel makes a small turn toward the Alabama bank.

Position your boat just downstream of the marker and you will be in about 40 feet of water. You can cast up onto the top of the ledge to 12 feet of water and fish the stumps on it. Fish all long this ledge, trying a crankbait and then the Carolina rig. When you hit a stump, pause your bait and let the bass have a good look at it. If you don’t get bit, cast right back to the same place to fish that stump again.

6. N 31 58.304 – W 85 03.888 – As you go downstream the channel will swing all the way to the Georgia side just below the mouth of Bustahatchee Creek. The red channel marker 103.1 will be near the bank and just upstream of it you will see some small willows sticking up out of the water about 200 feet off the mouth of a small creek called “The Watermelon Hole.” There is a big irrigation pump in this small creek and you can usually hear it running.

This hump was the site of a house before the lake was backed up, and the old brick foundation is still there. Fish all around this hump and the willows with your spinnerbait then back off a little and fish it with your Carolina rig. The river channel is just off the outside of it and the creek channel runs by it, too. Fish the drops into each with your Carolina rig and feel for the bricks. When you hit them fish them slowly.

Watch for schooling fish here. While we were fishing it some big shad scooted out of the water and Dwayne threw his Rat-L-Trap to it. He hooked a stong fish that fought more like a bass than a hybrid, and I was ready with the net when it got close to the boat. Unfortunately, the bass made a strong run and pulled loose before we saw it.

7. N 31 58.221 – W 85 03.924 – Just downstream of this hump, right at channel marker 103.1, the channel makes a sharp bend back toward Alabama and the mouth of Cowikee Creek. The water in the channel is 58 feet deep and it comes up to a shallow flat with a small point running out on it. You can see the small point as a buldge on the bank in the grassline.

Keep your boat out in the channel and cast up onto the flat. Some wood cover sticks here at times but the main feature is the drop. Fish the lip of the drop with crankbait and Carolina rig.

Dwayne told me this was a good spot hole as we pulled up on it, and he caught a small keeper spot here on his Carolina rig. Fish all long the lip of this drop as the channel swings away from the bank.

8. N 31 58.103 – W 85 05.776 – Run into the mouth of Cowikee Creek and head upstream until you get to the island on your right just outside the channel. The channel will make a wide sweeping bend all the way across the creek from the far bank to the end of this island and then back to the far bank. Stop just outside of the red pole channel marker that has a small number 271 on it that is standing off the end of the island. Keep your boat in the channel.

The outside bend here has brushpiles and stumps all along it. Dwayne will fish from this pole all along the outside bend all the way to the next red pole marker downstream. Near the channel marker at the end of the island Dwayne hung a strong fish on his Carolina rig but it got him down in the brush. He sawed it back and forth for a short time before it broke off.

9. N 31 54.845 – W 85 07.082 – Dwayne runs the Alabama side from the mouth of Cowikee Creek all the way to Old Town Creek Park. This is very shallow water and is dangerous if the lake is down any at all, which it may be in September. You are much safer following the channel.

When you get to Old Town Creek Park swimming area, just downstream of the fishing pier, a ledge runs way out from the swimming area toward the Georgia bank. It is called the “Closeline” because it runs so straight and far. Dwayne will keep his boat on the upstream side of this drop and fish all along it, casting up onto the top of the flat and working his Carolina rig down the drop.

There is some brush on this drop and the drop runs about even with the bank at the swimming area. If you look at the bank you can tell how it continues on out in the lake. If there is any current this is an excellent place and you can fish it out 100 yards or more. Current helps here just like on all other holes where there is a drop.

10. N 31 53.025 – W 85 07.843 – The last hole Dwayne showed me is a long point with rocks on it running out from the Alabama side. It is easy to find because there is a railroad on top of this point. The point he likes to fish is the railroad causeway on the Alabama side.

Dwayne will start on the upstream side of the causeway and work around the point with a crankbait or spinnerbait, casting up near the rocks and fishing back out. If there is current running around this point the bass will stack up on the rocks to feed on shad moving downstream. It is a good place all day long and is easy to find.

Give these spots a try and then use what you see on them to find others. There are acres of grassbeds on Eufaula and many of them hold bass. And the miles of river and creek ledges hold bass this time of year. Eufaula is one of our best lakes in September. Spend some time there.

Find the Thermocline

Find the Thermocline for Productive Late Summer Bass Fishing
from The Fishing Wire

Find thermocline for summer bass


The hottest two-month stretch of the year is here and largemouth bass anglers must make adjustments if they want to continue catching fish during the challenging dog days of late July through August.

Locating the depth of the thermocline is the first priority for bass anglers fishing Kentucky’s major reservoirs in late summer, as well as elsewhere throughout the South. Longer days and the higher sun angle of late spring warms the upper layers of a reservoir. By summer, the lake stratifies by temperature. The thermocline is the zone where the warmer upper layers mix with the oxygen-depleted, colder water layers below.

There is no dissolved oxygen below the thermocline for fish to breathe, so it is a waste of time fishing below it. The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides a helpful page at https://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Water-Information/Water-Quality-Data/ that provides the location of the thermocline. Click on the lake you are interested in and select “Most Recent Lake Profile.” The right-hand column shows the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. The thermocline is the depth where the dissolved oxygen falls below five.

Water fertility and clarity play a role in the location of the thermocline. This week, the thermocline on mid-depth hill-land reservoirs with relatively clear water, such as Green River, Barren River, Rough River and Nolin River, is about 15 feet.

“Some clear lakes like Cave Run have a deep thermocline at about 20 feet,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The water at that depth is about 73 degrees right now, more comfortable water for bass. At a lake like Taylorsville, a shallow, fertile lake, you don’t have that cool water option as the thermocline is only 10 feet deep.”

Smart bass anglers fishing the mid-depth reservoirs should probe structures from 10 to 15 feet deep, such as points that extend out into the lake, submerged humps or channel ledges. Those fishing a shallow lake like Taylorsville should look for ambush cover just above the thermocline, such as a sunken tree-top, stump field or in flooded timber.

“Do not forget the basics of bass fishing,” Hardin said. “Bass hang out where there is food. Shad like to follow channels. Points near the channel or any cover along the channel ledge are money spots at this time of year.”

Jigs slowly crawled across the point or along the channel ledge draw strikes. Points with stumps or chunk rock hold the most fish. Jigs in the peanut butter and jelly color, black and blue or green pumpkin make good choices.

Boat positioning is important to keep a jig crawling on the bottom and across those points, channel ledges and humps. Some anglers use marker buoys to visualize the sunken structures.

Deadsticking a 7- to 10-inch straight-tailed worm rigged on a ¼-ounce Shakey head and cast on the point, channel ledge or hump is a technique to try if all else fails. After the lure reaches bottom, reel in the slack and let the worm sit there and wiggle. Occasionally squeeze the rod handle to impart a slight action to the worm. If no takers, reel it in about five feet and try again. Bass that ignored everything in your tackle box will often hit this presentation in late summer. Green pumpkin, junebug or plum glitter are productive worm colors.

Largemouth bass sometime suspend over the point, ledge or hump and ignore lures worked on bottom in late summer. A swimbait works well for suspended bass.

Pearl-colored swimbaits with shades of gray, blue and light purple work well. Fish the swimbait just above the point, ledge or hump with a swimming retrieve, stopping occasionally to let the lure fall. Bass often strike a swimbait on the fall at this time of year. Use the lightest weight you can.

It is hot and finally dry. Make the correct adjustments and continue to catch largemouth bass through the hottest stretch of the year.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife news releases are available online at fw.ky.gov

Lake Guntersville July Tournament Details

Camping for five nights at Guntersville – $196.00. Gas for truck – 100.00 – Gas for boat – 50.00 – Food – 50.00 – Club tournament fee – 35.00 – Ice – 25.00.

Winning $25.00 for third place and $35.00 for big fish – priceless!!

Sitting by the lake after fishing, grilling dinner and relaxing is also priceless. I always camp on multiday fishing trips for several reasons. It is more relaxing than a motel and I can leave stuff in and on my boat without worrying about it getting stolen. I much prefer my cooking to eating out. And it is easier to go to bed at sundown and sleep better.

Although it was very hot at Guntersville, a fan in a screen dining tent helped a lot. Fortunately, my camper has an air conditioner, so I sleep comfortably. Both fan and AC felt great after a hot day on the lake.

In our July tournament at Guntersville last weekend, seven members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished for 15 hours to land 33 keeper bass, only four of them spots, weighing about 80 pounds. There was one five-bass limit and everyone caught at least one keeper.

Raymond English won with seven bass weighing 16.75 pounds and Jay Gerson had eight, including a limit the first day, weighing 16.08 pounds for second. My four weighing 11.65 pounds was third and my 4.55 pound largemouth was big fish. Fourth was Glenn
Anderson with four weighing 11.14 pounds.

I went to the lake on Wednesday and got my camper set up. Thursday morning I went out looking for something that might work for me. I checked the backs of several creeks, isolated places where I thought I could fish in peace, but got only two bites and lost both fish. That afternoon I rode and fished ledges and grass lines, the usual summer pattern there.

Friday I spent the morning looking at the same kinds of places on the main lake. I have never fished a tournament on that area of the lake. The area I usually fish and am more familiar with is about 20 miles by water down the lake and I was not willing to make that run.

I did have the advantage of many GPS waypoints from old articles on the lake. But many of them were from other seasons, not the hot summertime. But I did have many good spots marked on ledges.

That afternoon I had not had a bite so I decided to try something with which I am more familiar. I had seen a line of docks around a deep cove that looked good. When I went to them I caught two nice spotted bass. At least I had something to fall back on if the ledges didn’t work.

I noticed a mercury vapor light over the water at one dock was on during the middle of the day, so I figured it stayed on all night and attracted fish. I filed that away as something to remember at first light.

Saturday morning I decided to start on a grassline when we took off at 6:00 AM. I quickly caught one short bass, about 14.5 inches long. Largemouth and smallmouth at Guntersville have to be 15 inches long to keep, but any size spotted bass can be kept, so we could weigh in 12-inch spots based on club rules.

At 7:20 I hooked and landed a 15.5-inch keeper largemouth and knew I would not zero so I relaxed – maybe too much. I fished a second grassline where I had marked baitfish the day before and largemouth were schooling on top, but all I caught were too short.

When I headed to my third marked spot, there was another bass boat there and they were fishing it hard. Since it was almost noon and the sun was high, I headed to the docks where I had caught the two spots, but there were three boats already fishing them.

The rest of the day I tried several things but never caught another keeper. At weigh-in I was in seventh out of seven people!

Sunday morning I ran straight to the dock with the light – and it was not on. But the fish were there. I quickly caught a 15.5-inch keeper, and six other bass just shorter than 15 inches, all on a spinnerbait. I lost what looked like a 2.5-pound keeper that just pulled off my buzzbait. That was not good.

At 9:00, after fishing the docks without another bite, I want to the ledges. I headed to the one I had not been able to fish the day before, and no one was there. It was the perfect set-up – a long creek channel wound across a huge flat to dump into the old river channel in the middle of the lake.

I got my boat in position and caught a short fish. Then on my second bite I set the hook on a good fish. I guessed it weighted about four pounds when I put it in the livewell.

A few casts later I hooked and landed a largemouth a little bigger than the first. It was the big fish in the tournament. Then, I got a bite, set the hook and my rod bowed up just like on the first two four pounders and fought like them for a few seconds, then pulled off my hook.

I stayed in that area the rest of the day but got no more keepers.

At weigh in my three weighed 10.01 pounds, the heaviest of any for the two days, and moved me to third place.

Guntersville is famous for its bass fishing, ranked as the second-best bass lake in the US this year by
BASS. But with the 15-inch limit, it can be tough to fish, with thousands of acres of grass and lily pad fields, and many miles of ledges and grasslines on the main lake, and heavy fishing pressure on all of them.

Its only 4.5 hours away – give it a try.

Dave Precht to Retire

Dave Precht to Retire at B.A.S.S.
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Dave Precht


Dave Precht, who has pretty much been the face of B.A.S.S. publications for the last 41 years, will retire at the end of July.

Dave Joined B.A.S.S. in 1979 as editor of Southern Outdoors Magazine after a stint as the outdoors writer at the Houston Post. In 1984, he replaced Bob Cobb as editor of Bassmaster, a role he’d maintain for nearly two decades.

During his 19 years as Bassmaster editor, the magazine grew to nearly 600,000 member/subscribers and was selected as one of the 10 “hottest properties” among magazines in America by Ad Age. Precht used the magazine to promote boating safety, conservation, sportfishing ethics and bass fishing as a family activity.

As B.A.S.S. evolved, Dave’s knowledge of the sport, company and industry helped move the organization forward with focus and perspective. He retires as Vice President of Publications and Communications as the most longstanding member of the B.A.S.S. organization.

B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin had kind words for Precht in announcing his retirement.

“We obviously know the incredible impact Dave has had on B.A.S.S., but his positive influence on the bass fishing industry has been celebrated, as well. He was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2011. And in 2018, Dave was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, as well as the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame. Dave came to B.A.S.S. because of his passion for bass fishing, and now he will have plenty of time to spend on the water. The rest of his time will likely be spent chasing grandchildren,” Akin said.

On a personal note, it’s been my pleasure to have maintained both a professional and personal relationship with Dave for pretty much all of the years he has been with B.A.S.S., starting when I was a fledgling writer for Southern Outdoorsand continuing for several decades at Bassmaster before I began to focus more on saltwater than on bass fishing.

Dave is an avid angler both for bass and for saltwater species, and when he goes on vacation, fishing is often on the agenda—he and a crew head to the marsh country of the Louisiana Delta each year for a go at the reds, trout and cobia. During my time in Florida, he joined me occasionally for snook trips on Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor, trout and reds at Apalachicola and once on an epic sojourn that started in Key West chasing snapper and wound up at Lake Okeechobee cranking in largemouths. Dave is a great angler as well as a great friend—he’s given to starting at daybreak and staying out until the last glimmer of daylight, often the mark of those who become very good on the water.

Precht and his wife Linda live in Birmingham, and will remain there during retirement. They raised a successful, loving family. I started to say that was the icing on the cake, but in fact that is the cake, isn’t it? Birmingham puts them in the middle between grandkids to the north and the south.

West Point Tournament and Guntersville Plans

Saturday, Jully 13, 24 Potato Creek Bassmasters members fished West Point from 5:30 AM to 2:00 PM in our July tournament. We started out wrong, arriving at Pyne
Park to find the boat ramp blocked for Dragon Boat races that afternoon. We quickly moved everyone to another nearby ramp.

In 8.5 hours of fishing, we landed 24 keeper bass weighing about 47 pounds. There were two five-bass limits, but 14 people did not have keeper.

Michael Cox won with four weighing 10.82 pounds and his 5.91 pound largemouth was big fish. It was very skinny and would have weighed over seven pounds in the spring, based on its head size.

Mitchell Cardell had four weighing 9.31 pounds for second, Lee Hancock placed third with five at 7.19 pounds and my five weighing 5.46 pounds was fourth. Trent Grainger had one weighing 4.62 pounds for fifth. It was another big headed skinny largemouth.

Again, I had a feeling I could catch some fish early in a certain place, but after fishing two places where I though they would feed shallow before the sun came up I had not gotten a bite. So, I started fishing deep brush, changing patterns completely.

I was on a 20-foot-deep brush pile at 9:00 and quickly caught three keeper spotted bass. I had fished it with a big crankbait and big worm, hoping for a good size largemouth since I had heard that was a good pattern, but got no bites.

My first cast to the brush with a smaller bait, a shaky head worm, produced a short spot then my next cast got my biggest of the day, a spot weighing a little over a pound. I landed several more short spots there, too, so I went to more deep brush.

At 11:00 I had not gotten another keeper, although I stuck with a shaky head and drop shot worm, small baits spots like. Then while looking for an old brush pile I saw a new one nearby on my depthfinder and caught my fourth keeper from it.

I kept trying deep brush without a bite. On some of them I could see fish suspended over them, the perfect set-up for a drop shot but could not get a bite on it. Then, with less that 30 minutes to fish, I caught my fifth keeper on the dropshot, my first bite on it all day.

Persistence pays off sometimes.

The Sportsman Club is fishing legendary Lake Guntersville this weekend. Although you hear about the fantastic catches there, based on the Alabama Bass Information Trail creel census reports from bass clubs, it is the most difficult lake in Alabama to catch a keeper bass in a club tournament.

Fishing at Guntersville is “combat fishing” in my experience. It seems folks go there based on its reputation, get frustrated by not catching fish, and lose all respect for others.

If you catch a bass there you can expect several more boats, anyone seeing you catch the fish, join you immediately. There is no consideration for others. A couple years ago I saw 17 boats fishing a small area. They were so close together some boats were bumping each other, and every one of them could have cast into every other boat.

I do not enjoy fishing like that and will be looking for a secluded area to fish. It may not produce a good catch, but I will enjoy it a lot more.

Lake Sinclair July Tournament Details

Summer’s hot days are tough times to catch big bass, or any other size many times. The hot water makes bass metabolism high, but it also makes then feed less and confines them to smaller areas of water. And they feed mostly at night, especially during a full moon.

Bass are skinny, too. Their high metabolism makes them burn energy fast and they don’t feed enough to regain body weight lost during the stress of the spawn.
A bass that might weigh seven pounds pre spawn in April might weigh only 5.5 pounds in July, with a big head but thin body.

But some can be caught, as the West Point results below show. But both it and Sinclair results show how tough fishing can be for club fishermen. Not only is it hot, boat traffic keeps you rocking from waves, and getting bites is a slow process.

At Sinclair weekend before last eight Flint River
Bass Club members faced all those things at our July tournament. In eight hours of fishing, we landed 15 keeper bass weighing about 20 pounds. There was one limit and three people did not have a fish.

Chuck Croft won with three weighing 5.50 pounds and had big fish with a 3.60 pound largemouth. Don Gober had the limit and placed second with 5.40 pounds, Doug Acree was third with three at 3.75 pounds and my two at 3.0 was fourth. Alex Gober had two weighing 2.0 pounds for fifth.

I had one of those good feelings that if I started on a certain seawall with topwater I would catch some fish. Sometimes those feelings work, but at after an hour and a half, I had not had a bite on anything.

Then I caught a keeper by a dock on a shaky head worm. It was about two feet deep. Going between docks a few minutes later I made what I thought was a useless cast right against a seawall with a weightless Senko. I could see the bottom and I just made the cast to be doing something, but my line moved to the side and I landed my second keeper.

That was it. I missed one more bite from a bass that hit on top in the shade and caught some warmouth on the Senko on other seawalls, but no more bass.