Category Archives: Where To Fish

How To Catch June Bass at Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake June Bass with Mike York

The bass at Jackson Lake are moving off their spawning areas and stacking up on summer time holes in June You can go to Jackson and catch a bunch of bass sitting on one hole when you find the right spot. They are hungry, hitting good and have not moved real deep yet.

Although Jackson is a fairly small lake it has very varied structure and cover. Fed by three main rivers and several creeks, it is full of main river and creek points that are magnets to bass after the spawn. Many have log jams, brush piles and rock cover that are perfect hiding spots for bass.

Recently the population of spotted bass at Jackson has exploded and those aggressive fish can be found in the same places as largemouth. Although the smaller spots may have replaced bigger largemouth, they seem to cooperate better with fishermen and give a great fight.

If there is a drawback at Jackson this time of year, it is the boat traffic. During the day it can be almost impossible to sit on a main lake point and fish. Skidoos will buzz you and bigger boats with skiers also ignore state law and will sometimes even run between you and the bank you are fishing. Go early in the morning or during the week if possible.

Mike York lives in Jackson and works for the Butts County Sheriff’s Department. Although he has been fishing all his life, he has been fishing with the Butts Bass Busters Bass Club for the past three years and made the state team last year at the Top Six. This year he finished 24 at the Top Six. He also qualified for the Stratos National Championships by finishing 24th in the state tournament.

This year Mike is also fishing the BFL and Everstart trails when possible. He catches a lot of bass and knows most Georgia lakes well, but knows Jackson better than others. He fishes a lot of the Berry’s Boat Dock night tournaments as well as their trail, and does well at Jackson, especially after the bass move out to the summer patterns.

Mike took me to Jackson in mid May to show me some patterns and places to fish for June bass. Due to the strange weather we have had this year, bass were still bedding in the middle of May and we saw many fresh beds. There were some bass on their summer holes already, and we caught about 8 or 9 fish off one spot that day.

This is Mike’s favorite time of year to fish for bass. They are settling down off their post spawn pattern and becoming more consistent in their behavior. For June fishing Mike looks for main lake points that drop into deep water. If they are on the outside bend of the creeks or rivers, they are even better. But the key is shallow feeding areas that drop fast into deep water.

He expects to find fish feeding in 12 to 16 feet of water in June, and concentrates on this range of depth. The bass will be a little more shallow the first of the month, moving deep as the water gets hotter.

Early each morning Mike will start with a top water plug like a Pop-R and a Zoom Fluke and fish it till the sun gets up. Topwater baits will catch fish that have been up feeding shallow at night, as well as bass that are still in a post spawn pattern. Not only can you move fast and cover a lot of water, getting bites on a top water plug is exciting.

Seawalls on points near deep water are good top water spots. Mike will cast right against the wall and fish the bait back out to the boat. Wood, riprap and concrete walls are all good. If you see bait fish flipping around them, they are even better. Seawalls in the area of the lake where Tussahaw Creek and the Alcovy River come together are the best.

After the sun is high, Mike moves out onto the points and throws crankbaits and Carolina rigs. He likes the Mann’s 15+ and Norman’s DD-22Ns with chartreuse sides and a blue back or the blue back with white or pearl sides.

On his Carolina rig Mike will stick with a half-ounce sinker if the wind and current will allow, going to a ¾ ounce only if necessary. Mike likes a lighter sinker and says he hardly ever fishes a one ounce sinker. He ties a 2 ½ to 3 ½ foot leader and uses a 1/0 or 2/0 hook in a Zoom Trick or Finesse worm. Junebug and green pumpkin are his favorite colors in both baits.
The following 11 places at Jackson are some of Mike’s favorite June holes. They will hold fish and give you an idea of the kinds of spots Mike looks for this month. You can check them out then use the information here to find many others like them.

1. This point was called “Snoopy’s Point” for many years because of the cutout of Snoopy on the bank. After you leave the island at Martin’s Marina, it is the upstream point of the third big cove on the right going upstream. The cove itself has two jug lines across its mouth, and the point has some big rocks on it.

Running off this point there is a ridge that runs out downstream and comes up to 17 feet deep on top well out from the bank. You want to locate this high spot and fish all around it, casting across it with both crankbait and Carolina rig from all directions.

There are big rocks under the water here and bass will hold on them. Start with your big crankbait since you can fish faster then come back with a Carolina rig. If there is any current or wind blowing across the point, make extra casts that move your bait with the current and wind since bass will relate to the moving water.

2. Straight across the lake you will see a small cove with a point on the upstream side. There are two big dead pines on the point and one leans to the left when you are facing the point. There is a wooden sea wall here with a small gap and beach on the upstream side of the point.

There are some rocks and stumps on this point. You can see some of the rocks up real shallow and more run out from them, as well as another group out from the edge of the beach. Stay out from this point and cast in toward it, fishing a crankbait and Carolina rig all around the rocks and stumps.

Then work up the bank toward the overhanging trees. There are more rocks under the water where the seawall dips in and trees hang over it. Fish them good. We caught our first keeper here and it was a spot. Mike says fish this place several times during the day since bass move in to feed at all times.

3. Head up the river and go into Tillman’s Cove, the creek that enters on the right just before the lake narrows down. The left bank will curve but have no pockets until you get about half way back. There are no houses or docks on it. Stop when you pass the first pocket. There are three points to fish here, the one on the upstream side of the first pocket, the one on the upstream side of the second pocket and the one directly across the creek from them.

Keep your boat out from the bank and cast toward the point. Bass hold in 10 to 12 feet of water on these points, especially early this month. Fish your crankbaits and Carolina rigs from the bank out to that depth, probing for stumps and brush.

4. Run up to where Tussahaw Creek splits off from the river and go the big point between them. On the creek side, look for a brown house with a stone chimney in the middle of the front of it. Out from the dock in front of that house a ridge runs out toward the creek channel. There are old logs and trash that has washed up on it and become waterlogged.

Stay well out from the ridge and cast across if from all directions. Work with the current or wind if there is any. This spot is just upstream of the hump where the old state brush pile is located. You can fish it, too, but don’t get the two confused. The ridge is in closer to the bank and the hump more out toward the middle of the creek on the big flat.

5. Just downstream of the old Kersey’s Marina site the main point between the cove at the marina site and the creek to the left is a round sand point. For years there was a sail boat tied to the dock on this point and it was called “Sailboat Point.” The sailboat is gone now but there is a white boat shed with a red door on the point.

A ridge runs off the point at the boathouse across the creek toward the cabin with the red roof on the other side of Tussahaw Creek. There is some trash on this point right where it drops on the downstream side. Keep your boat out on the downstream side and cast across the drop from deep water to shallow. You will be casting toward the old marina site.

Fish Carolina rigs and crankbaits across the ridge, working them down until you hit the trash. You want your crankbait to just tip the tops of the brush but you can work your Carolina rig through it. The crankbait will catch more active fish but you should follow it up with the slower moving Carolina rig.
6. Above the bridge in Tussahaw Creek, the creek makes a sharp turn to the right and straight ahead a smaller creek enters. As you go into the mouth of this creek a yellow cabin on the left sits on a flat bank on your left. A ridge runs off this bank straight across the cove toward the point between the small creek and the Tussahaw Creek channel. There are two rock piles on this ridge.

Line up the light pole in the yard of the yellow cabin with the right edge of the cabin and go straight out. When you are about even with the middle of the bridge, you are near one of the rock piles. You can idle back and forth across the areas to get a good idea of the way the ridge runs across the cove. It is a good idea to mark it with buoys.
Fish a Carolina rig across this ridge to locate the rock and any brush that has been put out here. Then cast a crankbait to the best areas. Fish with the wind if it is blowing across the ridge, but cover it from both sides if there is no wind.

7. Come out of Tussahaw Creek and head up the Alcovy River. There is a fairly narrow gap as you start up the river then it opens up. On the right bank of the wide area, just upstream of a swimming area and boat ramp for Turtle Cove, there is a small cove.

You will see light gray double dock with a balcony on top on the left side of the small cove. On the right side of this cove is a big three story light brown house with lots of windows and to the right of it is a big brick house. Just to the right of the house behind the gray dock you can just see and old road bed coming down to the point. It runs out across the flat point that the dock sits on.

This big flat point with the road bed is a good spot to fish. There is chunk rock and stumps on it and Mike says it is a good big fish hole. Stay way out from the point and cast up onto it with a crankbait, and then do the same with a Carolina rig. Fish all around this point with both baits.

8. Head into the mouth of the South River and go around the big point/island on the right. There will be a steep rocky bank on your right. Where the big rocks are right on the water, look to your left and start idling toward the two story house with a big deck on top. There is a flag pole in the yard behind the dock and if you line it up with the middle pole of the balcony on the house, and head toward it, you will come up on a flat in the middle of the river.

Keep your boat in 20 to 22 feet of water in the old river channel and cast toward the house. The flat comes up to 7 feet deep on top and drops off fast. Cast a crankbait up onto the flat and fish it back toward deeper water. Work up the drop all along this area then get your boat up on the flat and cast a Carolina rig out from the flat and work it up the drop, from deep to shallow.

9. Go around the bend up the South River and stay to the left, avoiding the big shallow flat out from Walker Harris Marina. When you pass the danger marker closest to the left bank, there will be a point on your left on the downstream side of a big cove. On the point is a dock with a pontoon tied to it and a For Sale sign in the yard.

The river channel swings in by this point and there is a big log jam under the water. Mike keeps his boat about 100 feet off the bank just downstream of the dock and casts upstream parallel to the bank. You can run a crankbait down this edge of the drop and cover it at several different depths, then follow it with a Carolina rig.

We caught 8 or 9 small bass here in May just after lunch. Mike says this is often a good mid-day hole because of all the cover under the water, and bigger fish will be on it by now. I caught three bass on three casts and hung up and broke my Carolina rig. Mike caught 4 while I was re-tying and then caught one or two more. He also hooked the biggest fish of the day here, a 2 pound plus fish that jumped and threw the hook.

10. Head up the Alcovy River and you will see some power lines crossing the river. There is a curving bar that runs out under these power lines fronm the left bank and there is an old state brush pile and some rocks on it.

Sit half way between the second and third balls on the line on the downstream side of the group of lines and cast up onto the point with both Carolina rigs and crankbaits. Mike says he always works this spot from the upstream side, casting up onto the bar and working his baits deeper. If you fish out until your are under the third ball you will be at the state brush pile and Mike says you will stay hung up there. Fish back toward the bank from it and you will catch bass without losing all your tackle.

11. Mike showed me one more spot that is a little hard to find. It is a ridge with a hump on it in the middle of the river above the power lines. If you head up the river you will see a point on the right bank that points upstream. All the way across the river is a light green cabin with a white dock in front of it.

This hump comes up to 12 feet deep in the best spot. If you line up the edge of the dock with the edge of the cabin, you will be in the right area. Sit on top of the hump and cast toward the bridge with your Carolina rig, fishing deep to shallow with it. Fish your crankbait in the opposite direction, working it from the top of the hump back toward deeper water to be more effective with it.

Give these 11 spots a try using Mike’s methods. They work great and you can take the things you learn and find other spots that are just as good. Jackson is a good lake this month if you can fish it for the pleasure boaters. The bass are there waiting on you.

Two Good Options for Summer Fishing

Two Good Options for Summer Fishing
Lee McClellan
from The Fishing Wire

Fun fishing in the summer


FRANKFORT, Ky. – Although this June so far is wet and soggy in the Midwest, the long-range weather forecast calls for a return to normal summer patterns. We can finally look forward to stable water levels, hot weather and predictable fishing.

Bass fishing in summer revolves around light, or the lack of it. The best times to sling a lure are pre-dawn to mid-morning, dusk and nighttime. You won’t find a better bass fishing spot during these times than a weedy farm pond.

Farm ponds make for great low-light bass fishing because they’re much easier to navigate than a huge reservoir. Target weed edges with a floating plastic frog or a Jitterbug in the pre-dawn, dusk and at night. A steady retrieve usually produces strikes, but switch speeds or pause the lure for a time if they don’t cooperate.

A weightless minnow-shaped soft plastic jerkbait is a good lure choice for low-light, but not dark, conditions in a farm pond. Rig this lure on an offset worm hook to make it weedless and cast it into fallen tree tops, brush or along weed lines. You can practically work this lure in place using short, quick jerks of the rod tip, driving any nearby bass crazy. You can also reel it over the top of weeds and drop it into holes in the vegetation that often hold some of the bigger bass in a pond.

The lack of weight and weedless nature of this rig make it easy to work in a shallow, weedy farm pond. Light lures are the way to go, leave the Carolina rigs and ½-ounce jigs at home. A medium-power spinning rod spooled with 8-pound test line works great for this presentation.

As the days turn steamy and uncomfortable, fishing from mid-morning to early evening makes for a sweat-drenched, uncomfortable experience. You can catch panfish and the occasional small buck bass, but fishing in the heat of the day usually leads to frustration.

Head to the Lake Cumberland tailwater and wade for brown, rainbow, brook or the newly stocked cutthroat trout. Fishing the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam in summer feels like you are surrounded by natural air conditioning. You’ll fish in waters that stay in the 50s and 60s year round and trout bite willingly the day long, no matter how hot the air temperature.

Summer provides a reliable pattern for water releases from Wolf Creek Dam. Power generation generally peaks in the afternoon making the morning the best time to fish in the upper one-third of the river near the dam and the afternoon better in the lower river. This is not set in stone, so anglers must know the release schedule before traveling to the Cumberland River to fish.

There are a couple of ways to check the release schedule, visit the TVA generation preschedule page and consult the “WOL” column. The number 45 represents one turbine of generation. You may also log on to the Tennessee Valley Authority home page and click on the “Lake Levels” tab and scroll down to “Wolf Creek.”

Anglers can easily find access points for the Cumberland River. The Lake Cumberland Tailwater entry on the “Find a Place to Fish” page on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ website at fw.ky.gov details these access points.

Anglers will likely need waders to wade the river because of the cold water temperatures, but many hardy souls wet leg the Cumberland for short periods during summer. You do not need fly fishing gear to catch trout. A light-power spinning rod armed with small shad-colored suspending jerkbaits, a few in-line spinners dressed in white or red along with a couple of small silver casting spoons will put trout in hand.

Fish suspending jerkbaits over a rocky or pebble bottom across the current with a strong, erratic retrieve. If this retrieve does not produce strikes, slow way down. After reeling to get the lure down, let the suspending jerkbait float downstream and gently twitch your rod tip occasionally. Trout that ignored your lure earlier often hit this presentation, especially brown trout.

Cast in-line spinners and spoons at a 45-degree angle upstream and simply reel them back, making sure they give off lots of flash. Keep them up off the bottom on the retrieve. These lures score on all four species of trout in the tailwater, but especially draw rainbow trout.

Head to a farm pond at dark or the Cumberland tailwater on a weekend morning to escape this summer’s heat and enjoy bountiful fishing.

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.

Summer Bream at High Falls Lake

Summer Bream at High Falls Lake

It has often been said that if bream got much bigger, our tackle would not hold them. Few other fish offer as much as bream – a good fight, excellent eating and memories for most of us of our first fish. High Falls Lake offers good bream fishing where you can enjoy all of their great qualities.

High Falls is a 660 acre lake located just off I-75 between Macon and Atlanta. The main lake is on the Towaliga River and there are three main arms, Buck Creek, Watkins Bottom and Brushy Creek running off it. The lake is lined with private cabins and there are two good boat ramps, one at the dam and one on Buck Creek.

It is a state park with special regulations. Boats are limited to 10 horsepower or less and all boats must be off the lake at night. Don’t get into a guessing game about the legal definition of dark – check out sunrise and sunset times and plan on launching at sunrise and coming in at sunset.

State regulations apply in other cases, so you need a Georgia fishing license and you can keep up to 50 bream each day. That includes all species and you may catch bluegill, shellcracker, warmouth and redbreast at High Falls. You will have to pay a $2 daily fee to launch your boat and park, except on Wednesdays which are free. An annual permit is available.

High falls is a fertile lake and has good populations of all game fish. The waters are not polluted, though, and there are no restrictions on eating fish from the lake. The lake is fairly shallow and is very silted in, with old channels mostly depressions and backs of creeks filled in with sand and mud.

Keith Weaver is the state fisheries biologists in charge of High Falls. He says the lake is an overlooked resource for all species of fish, and that there is a good population of bluegill in the lake. Their sampling shows you should catch a lot of bluegill in the half-pound range, fish 7 to 9 inches are there in good numbers. Shellcracker are not as numerous, but there are some big ones in the lake.

This has been a strange year for bedding fish of all species, and it may have made the bream bed at odd times at High Falls, according to Keith. Although the full moon is a prime time for bream bedding, the unstable weather we have had this spring has thrown them off. Bluegill will bed every month from April thorough September at High Falls, but the shellcracker will do almost all their bedding in April.

There is a full moon the July 16, 2019, so that week should be excellent for bluegill at High Falls. Keith says bigger bream usually are found toward the dam, so look for bedding fish in the small pockets and behind docks in that area.

After bedding is done, Keith suggests moving out to deeper water. Find stumps in 5 to 6 feet of water, especially along the old creek and river channels, and fish for bream there. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for bigger fish, and Keith said, without hesitation, that crickets as your best bait.

Shady areas also hold bream. Look for banks where tall trees keep the sun off the water longer, and find areas where the trees and bushes hang out over the water and provide shade. Boat docks also provide shade, and most have brush around them, making bream fishing even better. Be careful when fishing around docks to not disturb the dock owners poles left out to catch fish.

For shellcracker Keith suggest Watkins Bottom. The fish will hold on the stumps along the old creek channel there and hit crickets in 5 or 6 feet of water. The channel is deep enough to offer a thermal refuge of cooler water when the sun gets hot in June. If you catch one you can anchor and fish the area carefully, there should be others nearby.

Jim Berry owns Berry’s Sporting Goods in Griffin and has fished High Falls all his life. An mount of an 11 pound bass at the store shows the kind of bass he has caught there. Jim also likes to fish for bream at High Falls, and had a cabin on the lake for years. Add that to the fact he talks to fishermen every day that are buying bait and tackle will give you an idea of his knowledge of the bream fishing on the lake.

Jim and I went to High Falls during the full moon in May expecting to find lots of bream beds. We put my bass boat in at the ramp in Buck Creek and fished from there to the mouth of Buck Creek, then across to Brushy Creek and all the way around it. We landed a lot of bream but most were small, and we found just a few beds.

Apparently the cool mornings we had put the bream off their bedding schedule. That may mean even more are bedding this month, making fishing even better there. The baits and tactics Jim suggests should help you find bream and catch as many as you want.

Jim likes all kinds of bream fishing and carried a fly rod, a cane pole and several light spinning and spin cast rods with us. He suggest using 6 to 8 pound line so you can pull your hook loose rather than breaking it off when you get hung. This also keeps you from going into and area where you are catching fish to get unhung, which would spook them.

There are three basic ways to find bream beds at High Falls. You can ride the shallows looking for the saucer shaped light colored depressions in the bottom, you can smell them when you get close, and you can often see the fish making the water ripple around beds.

A small jig or Beetle Spin type bait is a good search bait for bream. You can run the banks casting those baits while watching for bream beds and water movement. If you see the beds, or smell them, stop and make several casts. When you catch a bream, especially a good sized one, it is time to anchor and switch to live bait.

To find beds you can’t see, or to find schools of bream holding out from the bank, Jim likes to cast his Beetle Spin or jig to the bank and work it back with a rise and fall action. He says the bream usually hit the jig as it falls. His favorite colors are white or black jigs and when using just the jig he likes the Renosky jig in 1/16 to 1/32 ounce.

Fishing a fly is another good way to find bream. Jim likes a popping bug best but will use a rubber cricket or even a wet fly if that is what the fish seem to want. If you don’t have a fly rod, you can cast a fly using a clear bubble made for that purpose. It attaches to your spinning rod line and then you tie on a leader and your fly.

Sometimes it seems a bream will hit a fly or popping bug better than just about anything else. You can fish them slowly or fast, letting them sit until it drives the bream crazy. A sinking fly will also drift to the bottom so slowly that it looks irresistible. Give them a try.

We had crickets, red wigglers and meal worms from Jim’s store with us. All can be fished on cane poles or spinning outfits. Tie on a #6 or #8 hook, attach a small split shot about six inches above it and clip a cork to your line. Adjust the cork to the depth of the water, you want your bait to be near the bottom and the split shot should be at the depth below the cork to just touch the bottom.

If you can see the beds, cast to them and let the bait settle. If you don’t get hit immediately, slowly move it back toward you across the beds. It should not go far before a bream sucks it in. Jim says it is best to stay way out from the beds and make as long a cast as you can make effectively. This keeps from spooking the bream and making them move off the beds.

Jim likes a #8 hook for bream for a couple of reasons. One, it will straighten out easier if you get hung. And even more important, bream with their small mouths seem to take the smaller hook in better.

Good areas where Jim has found beds in the past include the last big cove on your right as you leave Buck Creek and enter the river. It is shallow and sandy, and bream bed all around it and even out in the middle toward the back. You can find bream beds all around Brushy Creek and the big flat in the back often has beds all over it.

In the river from the dam to the upper end, look for small pockets where the beds have some protection from the wind. Any backout can hold a few beds, and the bigger ones hold more beds. If your trolling motor is kicking up soft mud it is better to try to find a sandy area. You can check the bottom composition with a paddle, too.

The same baits work if you don’t locate a bed. You can anchor near the old river or creek channel and fish the live bait just off the bottom. There will be more and bigger bream present if there are stumps in the area. Let the bait sit longer to give them a chance to find it.

Jim likes the deeper banks in Brushy Creek as well as the channel in Buck Creek above the bridge. If you have a good depthfinder you can locate the deeper water with stumps, or you can cast a small jig until you start to get hung on them. Once you find them anchor and you can put out several rods or poles with different baits on them. If you start catching bream on one bait, switch the others to it if they are not hitting them as well.

There are a lot of old trees that have fallen from the bank and you can catch bream around them, too. Position your boat out from the tip and fish all around the trunk and limbs of the tree. A cane pole is a very effective way to do this because you can drop your bait into a hole in the limbs then pull it straight back up and out if you don’t get a bite.

Up the river above the confluence of Buck and Brushy Creek you can find a lot of overhanging willows. Stay on the deeper side and fish under them. This should give you action all day long, and you can also get out of the sun here, an important consideration as June wears on and it gets hotter.

As Jim and I loaded my boat, Tommy Lance came up and started talking to us. He was surprised we put my bass boat in the lake, but we explained it was OK as long as you don’t crank the gas engine. If you crank a big motor at High Falls you can bet someone will call and the game warden will be waiting on you with his ticket book! Your trolling motor should move you around fine on the lake.

Tommy saw some of the bream we caught and said he had fished for bream there many years. He had a cabin on the lake for a while and spent many hours catching bream on the lake. He offered a few suggestions for finding bigger bream, especially if they are bedding.

In Buck Creek if you go upstream from the landing the creek makes a bend, and the right bank is deeper. There is good bream fishing all along that bank, according to Tommy. You can fish live bait or artificials around the docks and trees in the water, and bream do bed in the shallow areas.

Tommy’s favorite area to fish for bedding bream is up the Towaliga River. There is an area where a big pond is off to the side and it is called the Duck Pond. He says head up that way and when you see the grass growing out in the middle of the river in a shallow area, fish the left side out from the boat docks and cabins there. That is a big flat and the bigger bream in the area like to bed and hold there.

Also, there is a slough on the left going upstream before getting to the Duck Pond. That is another good area to fish for bream, around the mouth of that slough and into it. There is an old boat dock there you can fish around, also.

Also, there is a slough on the left going upstream before getting to the Duck Pond. That is another good area to fish for bream, around the mouth of that slough and into it. There is an old boat dock there you can fish around, also.

Tommy’s favorite bait is a cricket fished under a cork. It can be fished around all kinds of cover and across beds, too. Crickets will catch anything in High Falls, including the bigger bluegill.

One of the best things about fishing at High Falls is the peace and quiet. Every time I go there I am reminded how nice it is to fish and not be bothered by skiers, jet skis and big cruisers. You will hear the occasional fishing boat or see folks on a pontoon out riding around, but the 10 horsepower limit means lowered noise levels. It is very enjoyable.

Give High Falls a try for bream this month. You can check with Jim at his store in Griffin for the latest fishing information on the lake, and also get anything you need for fishing there. As Keith says, High Falls is an overlooked resource. Look at it and take advantage of some good, peaceful fishing.

Camping at Lakepoint State Park on Eufaula

Camping at Lakepoint State Park on Eufaula is a mixed bag. In six days and five nights there last week, I had to fight gnats, mosquitoes and ants constantly. But I was almost the only one in the waterfront campground area, with about four of the 50 sites occupied.

The showers there are great, with some of the highest water pressure in any campground or motel I have used and plenty of hot water. That is a good thing after a hot sweaty day fishing on the lake. The only bad thing is the hard water – it seems impossible to get all the soap film off your skin.

The staff is very friendly and helpful, unlike some Alabama State Parks where I have camped. They seem very happy to have you there and do everything they can to make your stay pleasant and convenient.

As I loaded to leave Monday morning a staff member drove up to my campsite and asked if I had a good time. He asked if there was anything they could do to make my experience better in the future. We talked a long time and he said they wanted to do everything they could to make visitors have a great experience.

The wildlife is amazing. On mornings I did not get on the water early, I sat in my screen room set up over the picnic table drinking coffee and watching a constant parade of animals and birds.

Birds came right to the edge of the screen room looking for their breakfast. Adult Canada geese with their half-grown goslings chipped among themselves as they pecked at the ground. Grackles, blue jays, cardinals, bluebirds, crows and one very pretty red-headed woodpecker, with its white breast and wing tips, red head and black body visited daily.

Blue herons and white cranes glided over the lake and waded the shoreline in front of my campsite, keeping a wary eye out for the alligators that slowly eased by looking for something to eat. Those ugly prehistoric lizards added a mystique unlike most other Georgia lakes. Big signs in the campground warn “Alligators Present Swim At Own Risk.”

Squirrels scampered around, digging for hidden food and fighting with the birds. Bullfrogs serenaded me each morning and evening, and spring peepers kept up their song all night.

Fishing Eufaula is on fire right now, especially for bass. But in my four days on the water I caught a gar, bowfin and chain pickerel as well as some bass. Lots of other fishermen filled their stringers with shellcracker, bluegill an d crappie each day.

Even in the hot summer Lakepoint, about three hours away, is a great destination, if you have and air-conditioned camper, screen room, Sevin dust for ants and plenty of bug spray.

Fishing Wisconsin

For the past few years (in 2004) I spent the first couple of weeks of September fishing in Wisconsin and got home last Thursday from this years trip. The fishing in Wisconsin is quite different than what we have here and the trip is very enjoyable.

In Wisconsin bass are not fished for like they are here. There, walleye are the quarry for food and muskie and northern pike are sought for their fight. In fact, muskie fishermen say all other fish, including bass, are just bait. Since bass don’t get a lot of pressure, the fishing for them is much better in many lakes.

Weather there is very different, too. The host of our group said he had seen everything from 90 degrees to snow on the ground on September 1st, and we had a little of everything while I was there. Most mornings the temperature was in the low 40s and a jacket felt good. It warmed up to 80 a couple of days, but the humidity was low, so even that felt cool.

Water temperatures were in the mid sixties, a good range for bass to be active. Local fisherman told me that was about the normal range all during the summer. The week before I left to go up there the water temperature here at High Falls and Jackson was 87 degrees – 20 degrees warmer. Bass here were deep and not feeding very good.

Most days up there I was able to catch a good many bass by fishing shallow water. My best day I had 8 smallmouth bass up to three pounds and three big pike that all hit while fishing water just a couple of feet deep. My partner caught a 4 pound largemouth that day as well as several smallmouth, and had a 40 inch muskie follow his bait right to the boat. We both got a good look at it.

The reason I go to Wisconsin is for a small tournament set up by a group of fishermen on an internet newsgroup. We talk about fishing all year, posting messages and pictures. Then we get together in the spring in Tennessee and in the fall in Wisconsin. It is a lot of fun meeting folks and fishing with them after talking on the net all year.

We fish Boom Lake in the city of Rhinelander, a 1800 acre group of lakes on the Wisconsin river. This lake does get a good bit of fishing pressure, and bass are harder to catch. The minimum size is 14 inches and it is easy to catch a lot of 12 and 13 inch largemouth and smallmouth, but you can’t keep them.

In the tournament I weighed in 5 keepers at 8.5 pounds and placed second out of 20 people. That made me feel good since two of the fishermen are local guides and two more live in the area. I pulled my boat 1138 miles one way to fish waters I am not familiar with and still placed pretty good.

Smallmouth fight much harder than largemouth and a 13 or 14 inch smallmouth will really give you a good pull. And the waters there are not like what I am used to fishing. Shallows are filled with Lilly pads and other types of water weeds, and stumps fill them, too. A lot of the bass we caught hit topwater baits like the Zoom Horny Toad and pike would give you a thrill when they exploded on it.

Most of my fish hit a Yamamoto Senko cast to shallow cover and allowed to settle to the bottom. I had three smallmouth and two largemouth during the tournament, and three of them came on the Senko. The other two hit a 4 inch Zoom worm. I caught a lot of bass too short to bring to the scales on those baits during the tournament, too.

I am already looking forward to the trip next year.

Two Tailwater Floats for Summer Smallmouth

Two Tailwater Floats for Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing
from The Fishing Wire

Float for summer smallmouth


FRANKFORT, Ky. Anyone who loves floating streams for smallmouth bass out of a kayak, canoe or personal pontoon boat did not enjoy last year much at all. Many areas of Kentucky set annual rainfall records in 2018.

It seemed a 3-inch rain hit every third day from spring through fall. Streams flowed raucous and so muddy it seemed you could cut the water with a knife. These conditions are the absolute pits for fishing; you are better served catching up on yardwork.

After a rough start to this year, it seems weather conditions and rainfall levels are returning to normal patterns as we come into the warmer months, the best time of year to stream fish for smallmouth bass from a paddlecraft.

The pop-up thunderstorms common in summer may spike the flow on an average stream or free flowing river, but a tailwater such as the Green River below Green River Lake or the Barren River below Barren River Lake offer more predictable flows in summer.

“You have controlled flow in a tailwater with more stable water conditions,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The long range forecast calls for a return to normal summer weather patterns.”

The Green River from Green River Lake Dam downstream to Greensburg holds many fat smallmouth bass and offers excellent access. The Barren River from Barren River Lake Dam downstream to Martinsville Ford is another productive stretch for smallmouth bass.

“Green River is still doing phenomenal for smallmouth bass,” said Jay Herrala, stream fisheries biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Green River and Barren River have good size structure in the smallmouth bass population and both rivers offer a chance to catch a 20-inch or longer smallmouth bass.”

Planning a float on either of these streams is simple. Log on to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at www.fw.ky.gov and visit the Stream Fisheries page by typing “stream fisheries” into the search bar on the top right of the page.

On the Stream Fisheries page, the entry for “Lower Barren River” and “Green River, Pool 6” contain a great deal of information about the good smallmouth bass sections of these rivers, none more important than the link to the “Three Day Lake Release Forecast” from the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Water releases from their respective dams control the fishing on these rivers. The best release levels for fishing on the Green and Barren are under 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) with 100 to 200 cfs ideal.

The first float on the Barren River begins at the Barren River Tailwater Recreation Area and ends roughly 13 miles downstream at the Barren River VPA No. 3 access. Paddlers planning to fish this stretch should launch their boats at daybreak and plan to take out at dusk.

This stretch holds many flowing shoals rimmed with water willow, islands and stream drops. Since this is such a long float, choose lures you can work quickly such as a floating/diving Rapala style stick bait in chrome and black, small medium-diving crawfish-colored crankbaits and 1/8-ounce white spinnerbaits.

Work these lures along the willow edges of the flowing shoals and in the moving water above and below stream drops.

The next float begins at the Barren VPA No. 3 access and ends about four miles downstream at the Claypool Ramp on the south side of the Barren at Martinsville Ford.

This section of the Barren makes many subtle turns. Anglers should probe the rocky, flowing outside bends with 4-inch skirted double-tailed grubs in green pumpkin rigged on a 3/16-ounce Shakey head.

The Barren constricts between islands and gravel bars several places in this stretch, increasing the river’s flow. Tube jigs in green pumpkin rigged on 1/8-ounce heads draw strikes when slowly worked in the seam where fast current meets slower in these areas.

The Green River offers two manageable floats for smallmouth bass anglers: one about 6 1/2-miles that begins at Roachville Ford and ends at Russell Ford and another of about four miles that starts at Russell Ford and ends at the Greensburg Ramp.

Anglers should use the south side of Roachville Ford access via Thunder Road off KY 417 from Greensburg. The shuttle is much shorter than using the north side of Roachville Ford for access.

The flowing deep runs in this float hold fat smallmouth bass. A 4-inch Senko-style soft plastic stick bait in the green pumpkin magic color rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead is tough to beat on the Green in summer. Let the lure tumble in the current and watch the line intently. Green River smallmouths often strike subtly during the warm months.

Fly rod anglers can find great sport throwing bass-sized yellow and black cork poppers in the eddies behind boulders. This presentation also attracts hefty largemouth bass.

About halfway through this float, paddlers will notice a bluff rising in the distance when Meadow Creek meets the Green on the right. The mouth of Meadow Creek to the take-out at Russell Ford is the best smallmouth bass water on this float.

The next float is popular in summer with paddlers, but does not hurt the fishing. This section of the Green is more intimate and downsizing your lures to the Finesse TRD-style soft plastic stick baits often used for the Ned Rig presentation work fantastic in this stretch when rigged weedless on 1/8-ounce bullet-style leadheads. The best colors are green pumpkin goby and blue craw.

A rocky, deep flowing pool about half way between Russell Ford and the KY 417 bridge makes a fantastic place to fish, paddle back to the head of the pool and fish again. The flowing stretch just upstream of the U.S. 68/KY 61 bridge in Greensburg is another productive area for smallmouth bass on this float.

The take-out is on the right just after the U.S. 68/KY 61 bridge in Greensburg.

Paddlers may camp at Green River Lake State Park or stay at the lodge, cottage or camp at Barren River Lake State Resort Park. The Green River Paddle Trail offers cabins for rent at the Greensburg boat ramp in downtown Greensburg.

Enjoy floating two of the best smallmouth bass rivers in Kentucky this summer with more predictable flows than many in our state.

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.

(Editors: Please email Lee.McClellan@ky.gov for photos.)

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

Hand-Grabbing for Mississippi Catfish

Hand-Grabbing for Mississippi Catfish
By Jerry Brown, Mississippi DWFP
from The Fishing Wire

Grabbing Catfish is fun


Hand grabbing for catfish has been around for centuries. Depending on where it is practiced, hand grabbing is known by an assortment of names, including noodling, hogging, and tickling. Some might refer to it as crazy, but in Mississippi, it is a time-honored tradition. I first learned of this fishing technique as a child listening to stories told by my family. They were usually based on big blue catfish or spotted catfish caught from the Homochitto River by my great-uncles, way before my time. One story that has been passed around our kitchen a time or two was when one of those uncles found a large water moccasin when grabbing in a log. They say he reached in, grabbed the snake, threw it up on the bank, and told his friends to kill it. Then, back under the water, he went for the catfish that was also in that log. I always assumed he caught the fish, but the story was more about the snake.

Hand grabbing for catfish is only legal in some states, primarily in the Southeast. Anglers enter the water and catch catfish with their hands from either natural or artificial structures. Yep, that is right—no hooks, no corks, no bait…just their hands. Because research associated with hand grabbing has been limited, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) initiated a project to learn from anglers who participate in this exciting and often misunderstood method. The project included a two-year survey of hand-grabbing anglers at Ross Barnett Reservoir.

WHEN TO FISH

Hand-grabbing season runs from May 1 through July 15 each year in Mississippi. This period coincides with spawning season when catfish are looking for cavities in which to spawn. Common spawning sites include hollow logs, stumps, or holes in a stream bank; however, artificial structures are also used. As with most other freshwater fish species, the male begins searching for and preparing potential spawning sites. The only parental role that a female will play is laying the eggs, and it is the male who will stay and aggressively guard the nest against predators. This aggressive behavior is what gets the adrenaline flowing for many hand-grabbing anglers.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO CATCH

Flathead catfish and blue catfish are the two most common species caught by hand grabbers, but channel catfish are also caught. Anglers tend to catch more blues earlier in the season and then start to catch flatheads as the season progresses. The most likely reasons are rising water temperatures and the preference of each species when spawning. The most sought-after catfish is the flathead (also called spotted cat, tabby cat, yellow cat, or opelousas cat). This fish has as many nicknames as the fishing technique itself. Flatheads are preferred by many anglers because they can grow to large sizes and remain great to eat, even when large. Seventy percent of the anglers interviewed during the survey said they preferred to catch flatheads.

More than 200 catfish were harvested during our survey with flathead and blue catfish accounting for 90 percent of the total catch. Hand-grabbing anglers appeared to be harvest oriented, but not size selective about their catch. Essentially, anglers harvested what they caught.

Fishing in other places may produce larger or smaller fish depending on the body of water. The fertile Big Black and Yazoo rivers are known to provide trophy-size catfish that can grow to 80 pounds or more. Fish this size are often caught and released… after a few social media photographs, of course.

This angler is wrestling with a flathead catfish, which, along with the blue catfish, are the two most common species caught by hand grabbers. Anglers tend to find more blue catfish early in the hand-grabbing season, moving on to flatheads as the season progresses. The flathead is the most sought after of the two because they can grow to large sizes and remain great to eat, even when large.

WHAT TO USE

The vast majority (95 percent) of anglers interviewed on Ross Barnett Reservoir used a probe while fishing. Probes include wooden sticks, pieces of cane, broken off fishing rods, and other items used to “poke” at the fish to make it swim toward the opening. Anglers reported that catfish were often located in the back of the box beyond arm’s length.

Some hand grabbers chose to grab barehanded, but most wore gloves. Catfish do not have actual teeth, but they have a tooth pad that is abrasive and feels like coarse sandpaper. Gloves that can provide protection to the skin and still allow the angler to feel with their hands are preferred.

Ropes can also be used when grabbing as long as they do not have an attachment. The use of grappling tongs or any hook is illegal when hand grabbing. Ropes can be used as a stringer to secure the fish before it is brought to the water’s surface.

WHERE TO FISH

Ross Barnett is a popular destination for hand grabbers, but there are many other places across the state where it is practiced with success. Pickwick Lake and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (TTW) are popular choices in northeast Mississippi, as are the “Big 4” flood control reservoirs (Arkabutla, Enid, Sardis, and Grenada) in the north-central part of the state. Delta oxbows along the Mississippi River, along with oxbows of the Pearl and Pascagoula rivers in south Mississippi, can be great choices, depending on water levels. Okatibbee Reservoir near Meridian is another popular spot for hand grabbing.

On Ross Barnett Reservoir, hand grabbers typically were found wading in water that was between 3 and 6 feet deep. A small percentage fished in deeper water and used compressed air to breathe when doing so. Anglers often wade around in small groups to locate their submerged containers. Some use physical markers to remember where boxes are located. Others mark their spots using GPS.

Fishing in natural cavities is common in rivers and oxbow lakes where hollow logs or large cypress stumps are available. A big stump can have several exit points, so having a few friends can be handy for blocking holes to keep fish from escaping.

SETTING BOXES

Anglers are allowed to place wooden, hand-grabbing boxes in public waters to imitate spawning habitat. It is unlawful to place structures such as plastic or metal barrels, hot water tanks, concrete pipe, tires, and other non-biodegradable materials in any public waters of the state. Placing artificial structures in the TTW is prohibited, and special permits might be required for other lakes or streams. Anglers must check with authorities before adding any structure to any public waters. It is unlawful to raise any part of a natural or wooden container out of the water to aid in the capture of the fish.

The size and shape of grabbing boxes can vary, but they all have common features that make acceptable sites for catfish to use. Each container requires a main opening that allows fish to enter and this is also where the person reaches in to grab the fish. The opening should allow fish to come and go freely without trapping the fish inside. The size of the catfish using the box can be dependent on the size of the box itself. The largest catfish observed during our survey was 43 inches and weighed approximately 38 pounds.

FUTURE GRABBERS

Hand grabbing for catfish appears to be a growing sport. What was once just something we heard of people doing a long time ago is now being practiced around the state. Young anglers are being taught the art of grabbing, so the tradition lives on. Several children were seen in the Ross Barnett survey learning how to grab and experiencing the excitement of being “bit” by a catfish for the first time. Hand grabbing has received wide exposure recently, including outdoor television shows, magazine articles, and videos.

Mississippi is known for having an abundant catfish population in almost any lake or stream. Anglers across the state target catfish with several different methods from rod and reels to trotlines. It is a great feeling to have a big catfish tug on your fishing line or seeing that red and white cork go under, but if you want something that will get your adrenaline pumping … then go grab you one!

Jerry Brown is the State Lake Coordinator for MDWFP.

Lake Blackshear Fishing

Lake Blackshear is the most beautiful lake in Georgia. Of all the lakes I visit, I find it the most scenic and interesting. For a fisherman, miles of shallow shoreline with grass and lily pad beds with cypress trees everywhere make it look like heaven. Its tannic stained colored water looks like it holds bass everywhere.

For pleasure boaters, skiers and seadoo riders, the lower half of the lake has big open water. The upper lake, above the highway 280 bridge, is full of standing trees and stumps, protecting fishermen from all but the most foolish pleasure boaters and skiers.

Blackshear has something for everyone.

I spent Tuesday morning on Blackshear with Travis Branch, getting information for my July Map of the Month Georgia Outdoor News article. Travis owns Bucks Deer Processing and Taxidermy in Cuthbert and lives in Leesburg, not far from the lake. He loves to bass fish and knows Blackshear well.

As we rode up the lake before the sun came up, the lake was calm and beautiful, reminding me of why I love being on the water.

We started fishing a grass and lily pad bank at daylight above the bridge, running topwater baits like buzzbaits and poppers through the cover. He caught a nice bass and another one, even bigger, blew up on it but missed his buzzbait right at the boat.

As the sun came up, we stayed on shady banks fishing that pattern and caught some small bass. Then, as the sun got higher, we moved out and started pitching Texas rigged worms and wacky rigged Senkos to the base of the scattered cypress trees.

Those trees provide shade and a great ambush point for feeding bass. When the sun is at an angle, morning and afternoon, there is a fairly big shady area. But when the sun is high the fish move right to the base of the tree where the shade is just a small area.

Each tree has a root ball shaped like a donut around it, extending out about as far as the branches on the tree, and the bass find perfect cover and comfort. You have to cast very accurately, and make your bait enter the water quietly, to get them to bite. The water is usually two feet or less deep, so it is easy to spook them.

We caught several more bass fishing the trees but by 11:00 the sun was hot, so we headed to the ramp. On the way Travis showed me another good pattern. Many small creeks and coves are lined with hyacinth beds floating on top of the water.

Those thick mats offer bass a shady porch to sit under and watch for food. Punching them with a plastic bait behind a heavy sinker to get through them works well later in the summer when the water and sun is hotter.

Another good pattern is skipping a bait under the many docks around the lake. They, too, provide a nice shady place for bass to sit and wait on food. They are best when the sun is high.

If you like sausage, stopping at Striplings is a must. I always do and buy several pounds to bring home. There are two stores, one on highway 280 near Veterans State Park, and another on highway 300 near the lower lake. Both offer a wide variety of link and patty sausage, hot sausage and ham biscuits and other delectibles.

Blackshear is about two hours south of us between Cordele and Americus on the Flint River. You can go down I-75 or highway 19 to reach it. There are several boat ramps and Veterans Park has rooms, cabins, a marina and boat ramps. It is well worth the drive from here.

Tidal Waters Bassing Tips

Tidal Waters Bassing Tips with Pro Angler Bill Lowen
from The Fishing Wire

Bill Lowen fishing tidal waters


Bill Lowen had never made a 100-mile run one-way just to find the right fishing conditions, but he did it three successive days during the recent Bassmaster® Elite tournament at South Carolina’s Winyah Bay, and it nearly paid off with a victory. In three days of competition, the Yamaha Pro put more than 600 miles on his boat, the equivalent of driving a car from Atlanta to Miami.

“It was the longest run I’ve made in my career, and I was a little hesitant, but sometimes in today’s professional tournaments, especially when you’re fishing tidal water like we were, long runs are necessary,” explains Lowen. “I never had a bit of trouble with my boat or my outboard the entire week.”

Lowen led after the second day of the tournament but fell to 12th after the third day when a weather change altered his fishing location. He and several other competitors were fishing far up the Cooper River rather than staying in Winyah Bay near the city of Georgetown. Including stops to re-fuel, the 100+ mile runs took a little over two hours each way.

“Whenever I’m fishing tidal water, I try to find an area that still has deep water even at low tide, not just at high tide, and that’s what I had on the Cooper River,” continues Lowen. “The river has a completely different ecosystem than Winyah Bay, even though it’s still affected by the tide. It’s a rich environment with abundant reeds, lily pads, hydrilla, and milfoil, and historically it has produced some of the best catches in that area.

“During the first two days of the tournament, high winds kept water from receding normally during the low tide, so all the cover and vegetation where I was fishing remained underwater. The bass did not have far to move at all, but when the wind died the third day, the places I was fishing became almost dry because the outgoing tide pulled the water back out.

“Even in my best deep water areas, the water became extremely shallow because we were competing during a full moon and the tides were stronger than usual. I still managed eight or nine bites, but I lost a three pounder, which would have made a big difference for me in the final standings.”

The basic rule of tidal fishing is that when the tide comes in, fish come in with it, and when the tide goes out, fish move out with it, explains the Yamaha Pro. Many fishermen choose to follow an incoming or outgoing tide, often described as “chasing the tide,” but locating a deep water sanctuary where cover remains under water during the outgoing tide eliminates having to do this.

“On the Cooper River, my deep water areas were cuts and creek mouths near bends in the main river,” adds Lowen, “but any type of depression or depth change can be effective if it includes cover.”

Because of the wind, Lowen fished a spinnerbait during the tournament, even though he had located the bass in practice using a soft jerkbait. When the weather changed on the third day, the mood of the bass also changed. They did not hit either lure well, which is why he lost that three-pounder. He only weighed in four bass that day and missed the cut to compete the final day.

“Tidal fishing is definitely a different type of bass fishing,” smiles the Yamaha Pro. “It’s not just about moving water but also about fish that are moving, too. That’s why I look for places where the fish don’t have to move as far.

“Sometimes you have to run a long distance just to find those types of places, too, and now that I’ve made my first 100-mile runs without any problems, I won’t hesitate to do it again.”

Columbiana Inn Bed and Breakfast

On travels around Georgia and Alabama “researching” information for Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News magazines, I get to fish most bigger lakes in both states with some really good fishermen. And on longer trips, I stay in interesting places and eat at local restaurants. Some are excellent, some not so much.

On a recent trip to Lay Lake with college fisherman Ryan Branch, we caught some good fish and had fun on a beautiful lake. I spent two nights at the charming Columbiana Inn Bed and Breakfast six miles from the Beeswax Boat Ramp. I did not have my boat, but the owners said fishermen with boats often stay there and there is good off-street parking.

I missed breakfast the first morning since I had to be on the lake before sunrise, but the next morning I was served the best omelet I have ever eaten. It was served with a fruit bowl and delicious pound cake.

The town of Columbiana is a pretty antebellum town with nice people, at least all I met were, and interesting history. There is plenty to do other than fish. DeSoto Springs are not far away and there is a covered bridge park, as well as lots to see in town.

One night I ate dinner at Paradise Point Marina restaurant and had a good, but expensive, shrimp po-boy sandwich. The view of the lake and marina was great.

I had to visit Davis Drug Store while there to get a seat cushion, mine blew out of the boat, and the lady that helped me was extremely nice. And I was told the owner was a bass fisherman!

I would recommend a trip there for fishing or sightseeing, or just a great place to relax for a few days. I was there during the week and the only guest for two nights, but there were at least six rooms reserved for the weekend, so make reservations well in advance!