Category Archives: Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing Information

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Guntersville Winter Bass


Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 4/17/2021


Extremely weird year for Guntersville as we are back below normal temperatures pushing the
fish back out some from their normal patterns. Not all bad as fishing is good the activity has
been great, but the fish have relocated once again as the temperature change always put
them out off the drops as we try to gain stability again in where they are located.


We have stuck to typical plastic baits in most cases fishing Missile Bait 48 stick baits, DBombs, and some traditional lizards off the edges. In most cases the bite requires you to fish
slow bite as always there are fish in many stages and we did catch some fish on Picasso
spinner baits, Picasso chatter baits, and Tight-Line jigs and swim jigs every day.


Come fish with me I have days and guides available to fish with you no one will treat you
better or work harder to see you have a great day on the water. We fish with great sponsor
products Ranger Boats, Dawson Boat Center, Mercury Motors, Boat Logix mounts, Vicious
Fishing, Duckett Fishing, SPRO, Lews Fishing, Power Pole and more.


Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
www.fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com
www.facebook.com/FishGuntersville
Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Call: 256 759 2270
Capt. Mike Gerry

St Croix Victory Rods and the Koza Family

St. Croix Voices of Victory: Lee Rose and Carter Koza

PARK FALLS, Wisc. – Carter Koza is senior at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. His sister, Lee Rose Koza, is a sophomore at Carson-Newman University in Knoxville, Tennessee. Both siblings have fished competitively for the past several years, and credit their father, Jamie, for their love of fishing and drive to compete.

“My dad fished tournaments ever since he was a little kid, so he got us involved early,” says Carter, adding that their dad also runs a tackle shop. “We were surrounded by fishing all the time. We’d go to school, then to the shop, and the rest of the time we were fishing,” adds Lee Rose, who admits that her decision to fish competitively did not come without challenges.

SEE THE VIDEO HERE

“I really had to get over my fears of jumping into the sport. Carter was already fishing and having success on our high school team, but I didn’t join until my junior year,” Lee Rose says. “It took a lot for me to make that leap of being one of the only girls in high school bass angling in the State of Georgia. But I’m proud and grateful that I did. Putting myself in that boat and fishing in a male-dominated sport turned out to be a great decision and I consider that my first personal fishing victory. My second was when Carter and I fished together and won Angler of the Year in 2019 – our last year fishing together as a team. When we got handed that Angler of the Year trophy for the whole entire State of Georgia, that moment was victorious; it was indescribable.”

Carter agrees, and dives deeper into what it takes to earn consistent success as a tournament angler. “We fish all over the place. Showing up to a new lake at a certain time of year, you’ve got to figure it out. It’s like a puzzle,” he says. “Being able to not only catch fish, but also have a good finish and cash a check in any tournament… that’s victory.”

Carter and Lee Rose have been partners with St. Croix for almost five years now. “Being able to work with a company that stands behind me, not only providing support but treating me like I’m a member of the family is another great victory,” says Carter. “My tournament career is still relatively young, but I know and appreciate how special St. Croix is as a company and am truly grateful to be a part of their team.”

Both Lee Rose and Carter were among the St, Croix pros who had early access to the new Victory Series rods for beta testing and input. “I’m really excited to see where this series goes,” Lee Rose says. “Being college and high school anglers, we are definitely on a budget. We can’t go spend $500 for a single rod, and a lot of other anglers can’t either. Seeing these American-made technique-specific high-performance rods being offered at such an affordable price with a 15-year warranty is a really big deal. For the weekend angler or someone striving to fish the Bassmaster Classic, these rods are attainable for almost anyone and will definitely help give anglers the upper hand on the water.”

St. Croix’s all-new made-in-the-USA Victory Series rods were conceived and designed to deliver bass anglers more victories on the water – no matter how they’re defined. Featuring technique-specific lengths, powers and actions that yield lightweight performance with extreme sensitivity, durability and balance via an all-new SCIII+ material, eight new Victory rods are available right now at select St. Croix dealers and online retailer. Angler-friendly retail prices for these new, American-crafted Victory rods range from $180 to $200.
#stcroixrods #stcroixvoiceofvictoryLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel.

Fishing the Potato Creek Bassmasters Club Classic at Lake Wedowee

Last Saturday 16 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our club classic at Lake Wedowee.  To qualify for the classic, a member must either finish in the top 8 in point standings for the previous year or fish at least eight tournaments of the 12 the club holds.

After nine hours and 15 minutes of casting, we brought 64 keeper fish weighing about 98 pounds to the scales.  Catching keepers at Wedowee is complicated.  All largemouth from 13 to 16 inches long must be released immediately so can not be weighed in.  Spots over 12 inches long are legal.  We had two illegal largemouth brough to the scales.  They were thrown out and a three-pound penalty assessed for each illegal fish.  That hurts!

 There were ten five-fish limits weighed in and two people did not have a limit.  Most folks had a mixture of spots and largemouth in their catch. All fish weighed in were released alive, as required in club rules. Fish not released alive draw a penalty, too, so it pays to take care of your fish.

Mitch Cardell had a great catch of five bass weighing 13.22 pounds for first and a 5.66 pound largemouth for big fish.  Drew Naramore came in second with five weighing 9.67 pounds, Raymond English was third with five at 9.46 pounds, Donnie Willis placed fourth with five weighing 9.33 pounds and Evan Skipper was fifth with five at 8.96 pounds.

I went over on Wednesday and camped at Gold Mine Camp about 15 minutes from the lake.  Gold Mine Camp is an interesting place, you can actually pan for gold and gems there.  The campsites are rustic but there is a bathroom and shower available, a requirement for me.  The lake was off limits for us until Thursday.

I had probably the most frustrating three days fishing in my life.  Thursday I thought I had found a pattern and caught some nice largemouth and spots, but Friday I got only one bite all day.

In the tournament I did not get a bite until 11:00, then caught five small spotted bass weighing just over 5 pounds in the next two hours.  After that I did not get another bite.

I guess I should be thankful. The tornado that did so much damage in Newnan started just a few miles from where I was camped in my slide in pick up camper!

Learning Drop Shot Secrets with James “LJ” Harmon

Nine years ago I met James “LJ” Harmon at Lake Lanier to do a “Map of the Month” article.  Since then I have kept up with him and his fishing at Lanier.  The “LJ” in his name is for “Lanier Jim,” his nickname around the lake.  He lives on the lake in a house back in a cove not far from Browns Bridge.

When I got in his boat for that trip, I was surprised to see he had only two rods out, and both had drop shot rigs on them.  I found out that day how good he is with that rig and his Humminbird electronics.  We caught many big spotted bass that day out of a few of the 1100 brush piles he had marked in his GPS.

LJ not only shares his tips and techniques online, he and his son Cory own Lanier Baits https://lanierbaits.com/ where sells his drop shot “Fruity Worms,“ worms he designed and has special colors just for drop shotting at Lanier. They work!  I use them at Lanier and other lakes. He also sells other tackle there.

One big problem with drop shotting is line twist.  The way the worm hangs on the line almost guarantees line twist each time you reel in.  This past week he showed me a new rig he and his buddy and co-worker “Big Earl” developed.

Rather than tying his hook to the main line as usual, LJ puts a bobber stopper on his line, then the hook followed by a second bobber stopper.  The tiny, clear bobber stoppers he uses does not bother the fish but hold the hook in place. They will slide on the line so you can adjust the length of leader quickly without retying everything. When you set the hook they will slide down to the swivel but LJ says this does not interfere with hooking the fish.

At the end of his main line he ties a tiny, strong swivel, then a short light leader to the other end of it.  The leader is tied to a drop shot sinker with another swivel at the top. The light leader above the lead allows him to break off the sinker when it gets hung without breaking off hook and bait, and the two swivels also help prevent line twist.

He sells the kits with six bobber stoppers, sinker, hook and swivel on his web site.  It seems complicated, but tying a drop shot rig the usual way is just as complicated and this one allows a lot more options without a lot of effort.

LJ showed me this rig before installing a new Humminbird Helix 15 on my boat. As well as selling tackle, he guides on Lanier and installs electronics.  He got me a good deal on this huge new depthfinder and did a very neat install, with all wires covered.

This unit with a 15-inch screen may help show bottom details better to my old eyes. And it may show me fish. LJ tried to show me how to read it, but using the demonstration mode is not like getting on the lake.  He does trips on the water where he will tune up your electronics and teach you how to use them, too. I plan on going with him and doing that soon.

A trip with LJ will keep you entertained, too, if you have a thick skin. The better he knows you the harder he is on you, but he takes as good as he gives so it is in fun!

Captain Mack’s Lake Hartwell Fishing Report

Thanks to Nathan Key, Shad Slinger Charters, for updating the Striper side of the report. On the Bass side,
Randy at Lake Hartwell Fishing and Marine provided the Bass fishing report.!

No surprise that the lake level
rose with recent rains, up .93 feet from last week to 658.14 as of Wednesday Evening, 1.86 Feet below full
pool. The Hartwell Lake level as of Wed was 657.21, 2.79 feet below full pool.


Striper/Hybrid Fishing


The Striper/Hybrid bite overall has been fair, the turbulent weather has spread the fish out, and will most likely
continue to keep the fish scattered out until our next period of good weather. Speaking of good weather, it’s on
the horizon(see the Bass Report for the weather report) so watch the forecast and plan accordingly.

The bite
this week has been a little bit of a grind with frequent moves being the rule and putting together singles to
make a good string of fish. Down lines and free lines are effective, and the smaller baits seem to be preferred.
Many of the fish are roaming in the middle parts of the creeks, generally over a 40 to 50 feet bottom. Place the
down lines 30 to 35, adjusting levels based on what the sonar shows. Start the free lines at 80 feet back, and
use a very small Split with the wind makes speed control and issue. With the fish being so scattered do not be
concerned if you are not seeing big groups of fish. Finding the good bait concentrations is a big part of finding
the fish, and even if you do not mark lots of fish, deploy the spread when you see the bait and let the fish come
to you.


As always keep an eye on the birds, most of this week they were not much help as they seemed to be focused
on being on the leeward side of something and avoiding being blown back to the coast. Nonetheless, they can
be very beneficial in locating fish and use them accordingly. Watch them closely, and you’ll learn when they
are on fish, or spending you on a Goose chase They also do not have to be right on the water to signify fish.
Often, high Flying Gulls see fish down in the water, they are just waiting for them to push the bait up to the
surface.

Bass Fishing


Bass Fishing has been fair and last week’s return to winter seems to have set the fish on their heels somewhat.
Deeper structures have been the best producer, with a few shots at shallow fish responding to the sun warmed
rocks and bridge pillars. We have plenty of stained water now, and that will probably be very beneficial with
some warming weather.

The long term forecast indicates a period of warmer temps beginning in the middle of
next week! Expect the fish to react quickly and pull up onto shallow structures. Until then, Ditches, drains,
long flat points, and deeper docks will produce some good catches. Football Head jigs tipped with chunks and
twin tails, blade baits and Fish Heads are all good choices for these structures. Finesse worms on the drop shot,
and Weedless Wonders tipped with Small Senkos and Roboworm Alive Shads are effective, particular in post
frontal conditions.


Good Fishing!
Capt Mack

Fishing Alabama Lakes

I love fishing Alabama Lakes.  I am constantly amazed how different they are from our lakes in middle Georgia.  Coosa River lakes are full of big, hard fighting spotted bass and the water is often full of grassbeds, something we just do not see here. And the current makes a big difference in the bite, and it runs most of the time.

Tennessee River lakes are big and full of grass, too.  And they have smallmouth, some of them excellent smallmouth fishing.  The tailraces below the dams provide fishing that is just not available here.

Lakes in south Alabama are similar to our Eufaula and Seminole.  Their tannic water is covered in the shallows by grass and cypress trees and largemouth are king. 

Last week on Tuesday I fished Logan Martin on the Coosa River near Pell City. I-20 crosses its upper end and it is usually a great lake. Unfortunately, I was staying in a motel near I-20 about 40 miles from Birmingham where a tornado killed someone in a motel there. Strong storms came through the area with thunder keeping me awake most of the night, then the morning dawned bright and cold, something not good for fishing.

We had about five hours on the lake and caught some small bass, but nothing like what I had hoped.

I was on Lake Weiss last Saturday, a cold, cloudy day. Fishing was tough and disappointing.  We did not catch a fish in the 43-degree water.  After noon, we were fishing an area with several other bass boats nearby.  They were in a local tournament.  We heard two of the teams talking and both said they had not caught a fish that day. Another team we talked to said they had one little keeper.  So it was not just us.

Fishing should get better soon, with longer days affecting the bass and making them want to spawn. They will start their annual movement toward spawning areas but will stay deep and not feed much until the water starts to warm.  With lows most nights in the 20s and highs only in the 40s “forecast” most days for the next ten days, it will take a while.

I put forecast in quotations since it seems it is at best a guess.  I call meteorologists “Weather Guessers” since that seems to describe their forecast.  Last week I kept watching the guess as what the weather would be at Lake Lanier this Sunday for the Flint River Tournament and my four-night camping trip to Don Carter State Park on the lake.

It started last Monday saying lows Saturday night would be in the low 20s with snow Sunday morning, and a high Sunday of 43 and clouds all day.   By Tuesday night the forecast was low of 34 Saturday night and a high of 56 Sunday with mostly sunny skies.

    A few years ago we postponed a club tournament at Sinclair the following Sunday due to the forecast at meeting Tuesday night.  By Sunday it was a beautiful, warm day and I went to the lake and caught several bass, including a five pounder.  The next Sunday, the day we postponed the tournament to, was windy, cold and miserable.  And the whole club caught fewer fish than I had caught the Sunday before!

    I never make my plans based on weather guesses a few days in advance and encourage my clubs to wait to the last minute to cancel a tournament if we have to do so, and only for dangerous conditions.

Spalding County Sportsman Club at Lake Sinclair in January

Last Sunday 15 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our January tournament at Lake Sinclair.  After eight hours of cold casting, we brought 28 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 45 pounds to the scales.  Two people caught five fish for a limit but seven people did not land a keeper.

    Wayne Teal won with four bass weighing 9.89 pounds and had a 3.81 pound largemouth for big fish.  Jay Gerson had five weighing 7.46 pounds for second, Chris Davies five at 6.41 pounds was third and Niles Murray had three weighing 6.33 pounds for fourth.

    Chris fished with me and we started where I caught my two the weekend before but never had a bite.  After

two hours I decided to do what I thought I should have done last weekend and went to clearer water. 

    The first place we stopped Chris caught a small keeper on a rattle bait.  I kept casting a bladed jig to grass and docks, thinking that would attract a decent fish.  A little later Chris caught another keeper on a crankbait, then one on a jig head worm.

    Down three to nothing I decided to go to a jig head worm just to try to catch a keeper and landed two.  Chris then lost two keepers, the first one the biggest we saw all day.  I caught my third keeper and we were tied.

    With a little over an hour left to fish, I caught my fourth keeper on the worm then, before I could get it in the livewell, Chris got his fourth one.  A few minutes later he got his fifth to fill his limit.

    I tried hard to catch another one but did not. My four weighing 5.16 pounds was good for fifth.

    I don’t know if we got to the right area after lunch when we had almost all our bites, or if it was the time of day.  Whatever it was, I am glad it happened.

    After weigh-in Wayne said he caught all his fish in the muddy water on a bladed jig.  It drives me crazier to find out the winning pattern was something I tried but never head a bite!

Where and How To Catch February Logan Martin Bass, with GPS Coordinates

        Although winter still has a firm grip on fishermen, bass are responding to longer days.  They are starting to feed up for the coming spawn and venture from deep water to nearby shallows to eat. At Logan Martin this means they are on deep rocky banks that have shallow cover and on shallow points that drop into channels.

    Logan Martin is on the Coosa River east of Birmingham and I-20 crosses it near Pell City.  It is full of fat Coosa Spots and quality largemouth. Rocky river channel shorelines with docks and points at mouths of creeks and coves line the lake and both species are feeding on them this month.

    Tim Ward grew up fishing Logan Martin. He and his family stayed at a campground in Clear Creek often and he had a small boat to explore the nearby area and learn to catch bass.  He really got into bass fishing when he was 13 and fished his first tournament when 18.  His experience club fishing led him to join the Auburn Bass Team and he fished with the team from 2011 to 2015.

    Now Tim fishes with the Marathon Bassmasters in Birmingham and is working on fishing on the pro side of big tournaments by fishing as a co-angler in BFLs.  He placed second in a Bass Nation tournament and won a couple of BFLs on the co-angler side. He also fished the ABT Southern Division.

    Logan Martin is Tim’s home lake and he fishes it often.  He knows that the bass start feeding more and more in late January and all during February, even if the water remains cold.  Toward the end of the month when the water does start warming they are even more active.

    “All during February Logan Martin bass still want to be near deep water, but will move shallow to feed,” Tim said. Rocky river channel banks with a shallow ledge along it is a good place to find them, as are points that drop into deep water. Rocks are the key but wood cover on them helps.

    To cover those kinds of places, Tim relies on a variety of baits. A jerkbait, crank bait, rattle bait and chatterbait all allow him to cover water and find feeding fish. If he is not finding active fish, a shaky head will always catch fish on Logan Martin under any conditions. 

    The water is usually a brownish stained color this time of year, with clearer water in some creeks. The water color controls his choice of colors.  Shad colors are good in clearer water but brighter colors like chartreuse are better if the water is stained. In muddy water Tim says red is hard to beat.

    We fished on a cold, cloudy windy day in early January and caught some spots and largemouth on several of these places. 

    1.  N 33 29.288 – W 86 14.998 – Going up the river from Cropwell Branch the river makes an “S” bend and Powel’s Campground is on the left bank going upstream.  The right bank across from it is an outside bend with docks on it and wood cover washes in. It is a good example of the kind of river bank he likes.

    As the river turns back to the left there is a big bay on the right with a smaller bay just upstream of it.  Start at the upstream point of the upstream bay with a dock on it.  The dock has a covered boat slip and there is a matching smaller covered deck on the bank.  There is a small private ramp on the upstream side of the dock. 

    Start at the point and fish upstream, casting to the bank and covering any wood cover and all the docks along this bank.  Your boat will be in 20 feet of water or deeper a fairly short cast off the bank, but there is a small shelf the docks sit on, and bass move up out of the channel to feed all along it.

    Tim will fish all the way up to the next pocket if he is getting bit. But if he fishes a hundred yards of this bank without a bite he will move to another place.  He does not expect to catch a bunch of fish in one spot.  He is looking for individual feeding fish holding on the cover along this bank.

    2.  N 33 30.754 – W 86 15.618 – Going back down the river there is a double creek entering on the outside bend on your right. There are two islands in the mouth of it. The downstream point runs way out to the creek and river channels and fish hold and feed on it until moving in to spawn.

    We rode over this point and Tim’s electronics lit up with baitfish holding near the bottom in 20 to 25 feet of water.  Baitfish are always a good sign that bass are in the area.  We did not stay long since the wind was blowing strong but if you can fish a place like this you should stay on it and cover it carefully.

    Keep your boat in 25 feet of water off the end of the point and fan cast all over the point. Cast toward the bank will be in eight to ten feet of water and you can cover it out to about 12 feet deep with a crankbait that dives that deep, Tim’s choice this time of year. He likes a chartreuse and cream color and wants his bait to bump the bottom from 6 to 12 feet deep.

    Also try a rattlebait in places like this.  Cast it to eight feet deep and work it out to 15 feet deep, the range Tim expects bass to hold right now.  Work it back by slow rolling it near the bottom or pumping it up and letting it fall back.

    3.  N 33 29.529 – W 86 17.354 – Going down the river past the mouth of Cropwell Creek the first opening on your right is a cove with docks in it, and there is another smaller pocked just downstream of it.  Fish stage on the points of both these pockets and spawn in them.

    The downstream point of the downstream pocket is rocky with a dock on it. The upstream side is flatter with docks along it, too.  Tim likes to fish both sides of this pocket this time of year.  Cast a chatterbait and squarebill crankbait to the dock posts.  Try to bump the post with the squarebill.  Tim uses a Strike King 1.5 in chartreuse and black. Bump it off dock posts and any other wood cover on the bank.

    Also work a shaky head around the docks and wood cover, and probe for brush around the docks with it.

The first dock on the upstream side has a yellow bench on it and there is a good brush pile out from it. 
We missed a couple of bites in that brush pile, the wind made it hard to fish a shaky head.

    4.  N 33 26.822 – W 86 17.321 – Run down into Clear Creek to the bridge.  The riprap on the bridge holds fish all month long and more move to it as they work up the creek toward spawning areas.  Fish both side of the riprap on both ends of the bridge.

    Fish the rocks with a jerkbait and crankbait.  Tim says a Megabass 110 in sexy shad is hard to beat. The water in here is usually clearer, as the creek name implies.  A shad colored crankbait bumped along the rocks in 8 to 12 feet deep will also catch fish. Both baits allow you to cover the riprap quickly.

    Work the rocks with a shaky head, too. On the rocks a fairly light head will get hung up less. Tim uses a three sixteenths to one quarter ounce head and he puts a green pumpkin or Junebug Zoom Trick or Finesse worm on it.  He also dips the tail of the worm in chartreuse dye.  Fish it with a drag and shake action. 

    5.  N 33 26.928 –  w 86 16.688 – Going up the left arm of the creek a long point comes off the right bank and runs over half way across it. The creek channel runs along the upstream side and the end runs out to where the channel swings around it. There are big rocks and a danger marker on the end of the point.

    Keep your boat in 25 feet of water and fish the end and upstream side with a jerkbait and crankbait.  Try different cadences with the jerkbait but Tim says the typical jerk, jerk, pause works well most days.  Pause the bait longer in colder water.   Also try your shaky head here. We caught a keeper spot here on a shaky head.

    6.  N 33 26.839 – W 86 18.577 – Going down the lake from Clear Creek there is a big cove on your left. Arms run off both sides in the back. There are good channels running into them and there are a lot of docks along the banks. Bass move into this cove to spawn and hold along the channels, moving up to the shallows to feed this month.

    Tim said this is one of his favorite places and we fished all the way around it, and caught a good largemouth and two spots, as well as missing several bites.  Start on the left as you enter the pocket at the dock on your left in front of a brick boat house at the mouth of the arm that goes back to the left. There is a flag pole on the bank beside the dock and a cement boat ramp going to the boathouse.

    The water is shallow along the banks here and Tim choses chatterbait and squarebill around the docks and gravel banks.  The largemouth hit a chatterbait and the spot hit the crankbait here. Hit any cover along the bank.

    Also fish your shaky head here. Some of the docks have brush in front of them where the fish feed. Probe for the brush and work it thoroughly with your shaky head.  Fish all the way to the last dock on the right side.

    7.  N 33 26.927 – W 86 18.704 – The upstream point of this big cove has riprap around it, a white bird house on the bank and big rocks up shallow.  Rocks also run out to deep water on the point that runs across the mouth of the cove.

    There were fish and bait fish on it when we rode over it and we caught a largemouth out in 15 feet of water. Stop out in 25 feet of water off the end of the point and fan cast it with a shaky head, crankbait and rattlebait.  Then work toward the bank, covering the shallows around it with square bill and shaky head.

    8. N 33 26.659 – W 86 19.208 – A little further down the lake toward the dam a long point runs out from the left bank, drops into a saddle and comes up to a small island. There is a yellow smiley face flag on it and there are rocks all around it and a big tree off the bank on the downstream side. The river channel runs right off the outside point of it.

    Start at the saddle on the upstream side and work around the island with your jerkbait.  When you get to the outside point keep your boat in 15 feet of water and cover the point with both jerkbait and shaky head.   This point is one of the few places Tim expects bass to school up and he says you can catch a lot of fish on it.

    9.  N 33 26.469 – W 86 19.673 – Across the lake a big island with a causeway sits near the right bank going toward the dam. The outside bank of this island drops off fast with rocks and docks on it. There is a small pocket half way down the bank.

    Tim starts on the upstream side of the pocket at the dock in front of a house with red umbrellas by it and fishes around the pocket. Tim says this is a good place to catch a big fish this time of year.  Fish all around the pocket and docks on both sides with chatterbait, jerkbait, squarebill and shaky head. Tim uses the Z Man half ounce bait with a chartreuse and white skirt.

    10.  N 33 27.487 – W 86 17.826 – Back up the lake on your right at the mouth of Clear Creek, Clear Creek Harbor Marina has a riprap breakwater point running off the right bank.  Bass hold and feed all along this riprap on both sides, and concentrate on the end. We lost a decent fish that was right on the edge of the water.

    Fish all the way around the riprap point with crankbait and jerkbait. Get in close to the rocks and parallel them, especially if there is wind blowing in on them. There was a good chop on the water here when we fished, perfect for this time of year.

    If the wind is not blowing stay off the rocks and cast a shaky head to the edge of the rocks and work it all the way back to the boat.  This is a good spawning pocket so fish gang up along the rocks as they get ready to move in and spawn.

    All these places are excellent this month, and many similar places hold fish right now.  Check Tim’s favorites to see when he looks for and you can find many similar spots all over the lake.

Fishing South Carolina’s Lake Thurmond

It will always be Clark Hill to me! And most of the lake is in Georgia
Photo courtesy Old 96 Tourism District

By David Lucas
from The Fishing Wire

Whatever you call the lowest lake in the Savannah chain along South Carolina’s “West Coast” the fishing there is red hot, even when the weather turns cold.

Ask an old-time Sandlapper (that’s a South Carolinian for you folks “from off”) what the big lake bordering the Sumter National Forest North of Augusta is called, and like as not, they’ll tell you it’s Clarks Hill.

That was true for a long time, but both the dam and the lake impounded by it were renamed after South Carolina’s longest-serving U.S. Senator in 1987 as the “J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Dam.”  Before that, the lake was known on both sides of the border as “Clarks Hill,” though it’s official name when opened in 1954 was “Clark Hill” (a clerical error later corrected at the insistence of Senator Thurmond.)

Anyway, that’s history (and politics) for you — one lake, three names.

Today, with nearly 71,100 acres of water and 1,200 miles of shoreline at full pool, Lake Thurmond is a haven for outdoor recreation such as fishing, boating and paddling, as well as a major attraction for anglers, tourists and people looking for a nice place to retire.

Though the lake was built with the primary purposes of flood control and power generation in mind, recreation was part of the plan from the beginning. Constructed between 1944 and 1954 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project plan included numerous shoreline recreation spots for camping, picnicking and bank fishing built at the same time that have remained popular throughout the years.

Numerous private camps and marinas also sprung up around the lake in the years after it opened, and the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism maintains three beautiful state parks that all offer lakeside camping and water access via boat ramps — Hickory Knob, Baker Creek and Hamilton Branch. 

Four-Season Fishing
Lake Thurmond is sometimes referred to as an “angler’s paradise,” and it’s easy to see why; there’s a reason Bassmasters magazine and Bassmasers.com recently included it on their list of the Best Bass Fishing Lakes of the Decade in the Southeast.

The lake’s abundant underwater timber and large forage base of blueback herring, gizzard and threadfin shad provide the essentials for great fishing — food and cover. Anglers at Lake Thurmond can successfully target largemouth bass, and a large population of stocked striped and hybrid bass. Flathead and blue catfish, crappie and bream are also plentiful.

With the area’s mild weather, late fall and even into winter is a great time to get out on the lake and chase schools of stripers and hybrids. The fish are in winter prep mode and can be found loading up on schools of shad or herring. Landing a forty-plus pound fish isn’t unusual.

Experienced guides on the lake will advise you that the way to find winter stripers and hybrids is to find the baitfish, and one way to do that (other than using sonar equipment) is by looking for flocking gulls feeding on the surface. The birds also show up in big numbers beginning in fall, which just goes to show you – the Palmetto State’s “West Coast” is a popular stop for winter migrants of all kinds (even the two-legged type).Striped and hybrid bass stocked in the lake by SCDNR’s Freshwater Fisheries Section can be successfully targeted nearly year-round at Lake Thurmond. [photo by David Lucas, SCDNR]

In the spring, crappie on the lake begin moving into shallower water to spawn, and that’s when knowing where the lake’s well-maintained fish attractor site can work to your benefit, especially if fishing from the bank is your thing.

Visit the USACE’s Lake Thurmond Recreation pages to find maps, or the SCDNR lakes pages.

The largemouth bass bite also turns on in the spring, when water temperatures begin to rise and the fish seek coves and shallow water to spawn.  But bass can be caught on Thurmond even throughout the dog days of summer if you know where to look, and just like with the wintertime striper/hybrid bite, the key will be locating the baitfish – blueback herring in particular. When the spawn is finished and hot weather takes over, the bluebacks head for deeper, cooler water and the bass will follow.  Points and deepwater brushpiles are key spots, and topwater lures can be deadly effective in that scenario, according to a pro angler who should know – local bass fishing hero Casey Ashley.S.C.-based professional bass angler Casey Ashley knows Lake Thurmond and advises fishing deepwater structure when the weather turns hot. [photo courtesy Bassmaster]

But don’t forget about catfish during the summer months. From June, all the way into early fall, catfish in the 1-10 pound range are pulled out of the lake in large numbers. Fish fry anyone? Anchoring or drifting off of points or humps while fishing cut bait or stinkbaits close to the bottom are the tried-and-true tactics. Night fishing is also popular, and some say that’s when the bigger cats are more likely to be landed.

Whatever time of year you choose to visit, it won’t take long for you to discover why Bassmaster magazine recently included Lake Thurmond/Clarks Hill as one of the top bass lakes of the decade in the Southeast.

If You Go
For more information about the lake’s recreational fishing and camping opportunities, visit the USACE’s Lake Thurmond Recreation web pages.

For a broader look at the area’s other attractions – scenic drives, historic sites, hiking trails and local hotspots for BBQ or country cooking, try the website for the “Old 96” tourism region for help with itineraries, accommodations and travel plans.

Fishing A Lake Sinclair January Tournament

Last Saturday catching bass at Sinclair was very “hit and miss” for the 21 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters in our January tournament.  In 7.5 hours we landed 35 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 58 pounds.  There were two limits and seven people did not land a keeper.  

    Shay Smith won with five weighing 14.50 pounds and Mitch Cardell came in second with five at 12.68 pounds.  Tom Tanner had three weighing 7.65 pounds for third and Frank Anderson had one fish for fourth, but it was the right one and was also big fish at 5.65 pounds.

    There were three largemouth weighing more than five pounds each, and two more between 4.5 and five pounds weighed in.

    I thought I started my day right with a good 1.75-pound keeper on my second cast with a crankbait, but my next bite came seven hours later, on the same crankbait in a similar place as the first one.  I tried just about everything I could think to do except make a long run to clear water.  The wind was howling, and I just did not want to beat myself to pieces in the waves. And it waw cold!

    We put in up Little River at Dennis Station and the water was extremely muddy.  Downstream, if you went up the Oconee River it got a little clearer and a decent color to fish, if you could get out of the wind.  After the tournament I heard the creeks at the dam were the clearest water on the lake, as is usual this time of year, and where I should have gone, I think.

Even with just two fish I felt pretty good as the first five people weighed in. Nobody had more than three, and I hoped I might place. When Mitchell put a 5.05 pounder on the scales, then added a 4.9 pounder, my hopes sank. Then Shay showed up at the scales. 

I did place – eighth with two at 3.62 pounds!

We are fishing Sinclair this Sunday in the Spalding County club.  I hope the wind isn’t bad and I can go to clear water!