Category Archives: Where To Fish

Fishing Jackson Lake With Mike York

Way back in 2004 during the first week of April I spent the day fishing Jackson Lake with Mike York, checking out the bass fishing for a June Georgia Outdoor News article. We fished all day and caught a lot of small bass, never hooking the bigger fish we hoped to catch.

Mike works for the Butts County Sheriff’s Department and fishes with the Butts Bass Busters bass club. He made the state team last year and finished 24th this year at the Top Six. There are several professional trails that he fishes, too, like the Everstart and BFL trails.

Fishing at Jackson was really enjoyable during the week. Missing were all the skiers, skidoos and cruisers that usually make you rock and roll while fishing there on the weekend. It was peaceful and calm most of the day. The water was unusually clear for this time of year and we watched many small bass come up and look at Trick worms and top water plugs early in the morning. A few of them hit.

Our best luck was fishing Carolina rigged Trick worms on main lake and river points. On one point in the South River I landed three bass on three casts, then broke off. While I was tying on a new Carolina rig, Mike landed four bass. That was our best spot by far.

We started out the morning looking for bedding bass, and saw some new beds but did not see any bass on them. The cloudy sky and low light made it difficult to see very deep, even in the clear water. Mike had gotten reports that a good many bass were bedding right now, unusually late this year.

I was impressed with Mike’s knowledge of Jackson Lake and bass fishing. He says bass fishing will get better for the next several weeks as bass move onto their summer holes and stack up on points. He likes to catch them on crankbaits and Carolina rigs, and summer is his favorite time of year for fishing that pattern. If you get a chance, head to Jackson and check out the points for bass.

White Bass Time Across Arkansas

White Bass Time Across Arkansas
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
from the Fishing Wire

LITTLE ROCK — Each spring, anglers across The Natural State start getting the fever for some fishing action. Sure, die-hard anglers and veteran bass fishermen have been on the water fishing for big fish for the last month or so, and many crappie anglers never put the boat away in winter, but by and large, the best angling action of the year is just around the corner. If there’s a kickoff to “fishing season,” it’s the fast and furious angling action brought on by the annual migration of white bass from large lakes and rivers upstream to their spawning areas each spring.

“The white bass spawn is fishing’s equivalent of the opening day of dove season,” said Chris Racey, deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “You’ll start hearing people ask, ‘Are the white bass running yet?’ beginning in late February and early March every year.”

White bass typically start concentrating near the mouths of streams feeding lakes and rivers each year as the surface water temperature begins to reach 50 degrees. When the water warms to the mid-50s, the fish will move upstream as far as they are able and spawn on sand or gravel surfaces with flowing water that will aerate their eggs.

“White bass don’t tend and fan a nest like crappie, bream or largemouth bass,” Racey, who was a fisheries biologist for the AGFC for many years, said. “Instead, their eggs settle to the bottom and stick to rocks and gravel where the current keeps them aerated until they hatch.”

The fish actually don’t bite much when they are actively spawning, but feed heavily just before and afterward.

“It’s more a matter of fish being concentrated in an area and being easier to locate that makes the white bass run such a big deal for many anglers,” Racey said. “And this is one of the few times of the year that these fish, which normally spend their time in deep water, will be available for bank anglers.”

Keeping things light is a must for walk-in angling, and Racey has narrowed down his arsenal to some specific lures for people to carry in their pack.

“I have three baits in my white bass tackle box,” Racey said. “My go-to is a white 2-inch curly shad Bass Assassin grub on a 1/16-oz. jighead. Then I’ll bring a ?- or ¼-oz. White spinner with a silver blade and a small, blue over orange belly Rapala suspending jerk bait. You can throw all of them on light spinning tackle.”

Here’s a list of some of the most popular places to try your hand at fishing for white bass this spring, according to the biologists who work and fish on these waters. There’s even one location in this list that has no limit on white bass, so anglers looking to have a family fish fry can load the boat.

Magical Millwood
Typically one of the first locations in the state to start receiving reports about the annual white bass run is Millwood Lake in Little River County. This southwestern Arkansas reservoir is known as one of the best places in the state to chase memorable-sized largemouth bass because of an intense Florida-strain largemouth stocking program that has been in place for decades and its shallow-water habitat that is the key to the strain’s success. The river that feeds this giant reservoir also is home to some incredible action during the white bass spawn if anglers know where to look. According to AGFC Regional Fisheries Biologist Supervisor Eric Brinkman, many anglers enjoy fishing the river section of the lake by boat for fiesty white bass.

“Little River anywhere upstream of Yarborough Landing on Millwood is a good place to fish,” Brinkman said.

According to the AGFC Weekly Fishing Report, Millwood Lake Guide Service points out McGuire Oxbow and the entrance to Cemetery Slough as likely staging areas, but when the fish move upstream of the U.S. Highway 71 bridge, the spawn is in full force.

Other areas on Brinkman’s short list for the white bass spawn include Star of the West Recreation Area and Self Creek on Lake Greeson in Pike County and the Saline River upstream of Dierks Lake in Sevier County, although a boat is required for Self Creek and Dierks.

Bust ‘em at Beaver Lake
In the far northwestern corner of the state, Beaver Lake offers one of the best white bass runs for Arkansans. It also has the distinction of being one of the few places in the state where you may find a trophy-class striper working its way up the same tributaries as the white bass. Fisheries Supervisor Jon Stein says this year has already gotten off to an excellent start, with many anglers reporting 100-fish days. And keeping those white bass is no issue because Beaver Lake and its tributaries have no daily limit for white bass. The prolific nature of the species and relatively light pressure on the resource have made limits on the fish unnecessary in this corner of the state.

“The fish move into the river arms to spawn,” Stein said. “The best locations are out of the Highway 45 Access, called Twin Bridges, on the White River and War Eagle Creek below War Eagle Mill. You don’t have to get too technical with it, either. A Mister Twister Sassy Shad on a jighead works just fine for me to catch whites on the run.”

Find the flow at Lake Conway
White bass also make a spawning run around Lake Conway, but the hot bite may be in different locations depending on water flow. AGFC Regional Fisheries Supervisor Tom Bly and Fisheries Biologist Matt Schroeder both agree that the upstream end of Gold Creek beyond Wilhelmena Cove, a popular crappie-fishing location, in the northwest portion of the lake has a good run of white bass. Another place where anglers can look for some action is below the dam where the lake flows into Palarm Creek.

“We will get reports of white bass and some stripers from the Arkansas River running up to as far as the Conway Dam, but there won’t be much action unless the gates of the dam are open to maintain water levels during rain events,” Bly said. But you can catch them on white or shad-colored curly tailed grubs on jigheads, smaller crankbaits or shad imitations on a fly rod.”

Bly notes the weir on Palarm Creek at Cadron Settlement Park on the Arkansas River sees a similar migration of white bass where the fish moving from the river are concentrated into a small area.

Greers Ferry a good bet
Another good white bass run occurs in the river arms on the northern section of Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs. The lake is known as the site of the former world-record walleye, and that species also is known to make spawning runs within the Devil’s Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork of the Little Red River. Chasing white bass on this lake usually means having a boat, but one of the most popular destinations can be found at the Johnson Hole Access of the South Fork arm north of Clinton. Boaters can access the area from the lake or can launch at this access, but the creek has many shallow areas between the main lake and where the whites run, making it a better prospect for small boats, kayaks and walk-in access. According to Bly, many anglers will catch their limits in this section of the river during the annual spawning run.

Maumelle mainstay
It seems like every year, one location sees more attention than the rest in the state from white bass anglers. Perhaps it is because of its close proximity to Little Rock, or perhaps it is because the white bass run here is just that good. Either way, the upstream end of Lake Maumelle is so popular with white bass anglers and creek fishermen that the AGFC and Central Arkansas Water worked together to enhance access at the west end of the lake. Sleepy Hollow Access was enhanced with a campground, two boat ramps for boats with motors 25 horsepower and less and a courtesy dock. A parking area also was constructed for a special walk-in only area called Bringle Creek Access. Both of these access points can be found with a few miles of where Arkansas Highway 10 crosses the lake’s upstream end. You’d be hard pressed to find either of the parking lots of these areas empty from March through May each year as anglers tote their favorite spinning rod and curly-tailed grubs to fool the fish as they feed along the shoals before spawning. The stream is part of Lake Maumelle, so no wading is allowed, but there is plenty of shoreline to walk and fish.

Spring White Bass Runs

Decoding Spring White Bass Runs
from The Fishing Wire

FRANKFORT, Ky. – With all of the rain we received early this year, many anglers are wondering when the white bass run will begin this spring.

“We are about there, 60 degrees is the magic number for water temperature,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The redbud blooms are as good an indicator as anything.”

Redbud trees began displaying buds in parts of central Kentucky over the past 10 days and will pop out across the South soon. “We haven’t missed anything yet and the run may arrive on time this year,” Hardin said. “Last year was spotty, starts and stops with the fish as confused as the anglers. We had up and down weather and water levels.”

Reports surfaced last week of a few white bass making a headwater run in the Salt River above Taylorsville Lake, but nighttime temperatures in the 20s this week blunted that movement a bit.

“This week, the night temperatures are increasing, so you won’t get those big cool downs as much now,” Hardin said. “It will be warmer compared to what it was.”

Lakes are dropping dramatically, allaying concerns expressed by anglers about the impact on the white bass runs from the record or near record water levels in some of our major reservoirs in February. Nolin River Lake is now just below summer pool, while Taylorsville Lake is still just above summer pool, but dropping rapidly.

“Knowing when to fish is always a mystery, especially for white bass,” Hardin said. “It’s temperature, light and flow with temperature being the main thing. All you need is that trigger. If you have everything right and you get that flow, it is time to go. If you have the correct water temperature, but no flow, you still should go. You can’t catch them at home.”

Hardin explained white bass runs can occur anywhere from 54 to 68 degrees. Water temperatures in major reservoirs now hover just below 50 degrees. The sunny days and huge warm up expected over the coming weekend and into next week should push water temperatures into the 50s.

“It can happen over the course of one day,” Hardin said. “Someone is going to discover they are running soon.”

The headwaters of Taylorsville Lake and up into the Salt River make one of the best bank fishing spots for white bass in central Kentucky. The best access is via a parking lot on Palmer Road.

It is a matter of walking, casting and then walking a bit more until you find fish. A 1/16-ounce in-line spinner in combinations of silver, white, chartreuse or pink are hard to beat for the Salt River. A pink or chartuese 1/32-ounce feather jig suspended under a bobber and allowed to gently float in the current also scores white bass.

The Nolin River above Bacon Creek boat ramp and upstream to Wheeler’s Mill Road (KY 694) is arguably the best white bass run in the state. The white bass in the Nolin River Lake earned an “excellent” rating in the Fishery Division’s 2019 Kentucky Fishing Forecast.

A white 2 1/2-inch boot-tailed grub or 3-inch swimbait is a deadly lure for Nolin River white bass. Rig them on a 1/8-ounce head for good casting distance. Broad Ford offers good bank access at the bridge over the Nolin River on KY 1214. Boaters using Bacon Creek Ramp to travel upstream must watch the rocky shoals to prevent motor damage.

The headwaters of Green River Lake produce good numbers of white bass up to 14 inches long as does the headwaters of Herrington Lake. Bank anglers may access the Dix River just above the lake at Dix River Voluntary Public Access Area, off Rankin Road via KY 52 between Danville and Lancaster. This area drips with fishing history as Herrington Lake was a white bass mecca in the era after World War II. These waters still produce trophy white bass 14 inches and longer.

Small shad-colored topwater propeller baits make great choices for fishing both Green River Lake headwaters and Dix River.

The Kentucky River below locks and dams produces surprising white bass action. A 3-inch white curly tailed grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead makes a great lure choice for the Kentucky River. Keep probing the water column until you find fish. Lock and Dam 2 at Lockport in Henry County grants excellent bank fishing access for white bass.

All of the ingredients are now here for the white bass runs to commence. Running white bass, once located, provide as much action as any form of fishing.

Remember to buy your fishing license if you have not already. The new license year began March 1.

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.

High Falls Lake

Every time I go to High Falls Lake, I am reminded of what a great fishing spot we have close to Griffin. The lake is very quiet since motors are limited to 10 horse power and there are no skiers, skidoos or run-abouts there. And the fishing is excellent.

Jim Berry and I went there last week to try to find some bedding bream. We were disappointed, the few beds we found had only small bream on them. We caught a good many fish, but most were not at big as what we were looking for.

On Friday I talked with Keith Weaver, the state fisheries biologist that keeps up with High Falls. He told me this was a strange bedding year for all species of fish because of the unstable weather. Bream usually bed on the full moon but the cool mornings last week may have delayed them some. They might be in full bed right now.

Keith said High Falls has an excellent population of bluegill and you should be able to catch a lot of fish in the half-pound range. That is a good size for lake fish. I have been spoiled catching 12 to 14 ounce bream in my pond, but I feed them every day. Lake fish don’t have it that easy.

There are a good many shellcracker in High Falls, too. Keith says they are probably done bedding by now and you could catch them along the old creek channels in 5 or 6 feet of water, especially in Watkins Bottom. He also told me the bigger bream would probably come from the deeper water nearer the dam and up in Buck Creek.

Jim and I met Tommy Lance at the boat ramp as we loaded my bass boat back on the trailer. He said he did not know you could put a big boat in the lake, but we told him it was ok if you did not crank the big engine and used only the trolling motor. If you put a boat in with a motor over 10 horse power and crank it, you can just about bet a game warden will be waiting on you with his ticket book before you leave.

Tommy said he caught a lot of big bream up the river near the area called the Duck Pond, and in Buck Creek. He said those were good bedding areas. All this information will be used in a June Georgia Outdoor News article I am working on.

Bream should be bedding now at High Falls. Grab a bucket of crickets, a tub of worms and your light fishing stuff and head to High Falls to catch some fine eating, hard pulling bream.

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas
Places To Go
from the Fishing Wire

Some of the best white bass fishing in the spring can be done from the bank and while wading in the upper reaches of tributaries. County road maps available from the Texas Department of Transportation, or “The Roads of Texas” (Shearer Publishing, Fredericksburg, Texas (800)458-3808) are invaluable for locating some of the access points described. Always get permission from the landowner if you cross private land to enter a river or stream. Topographical reservoir maps are often available from controlling authorities or at retail fishing stores. White bass in Texas are currently managed with a statewide 10-inch minimum length and 25-fish daily bag limit.

Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake, an 8,308-acre reservoir located just north of San Antonio, has a strong spring white bass run in the Guadalupe River above the reservoir. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is located in the river, and anglers with small boats can easily access the area without crossing open water. Off State Highway (SH) 306 (past the lake) turn south on Eagle Rock Drive which becomes Tanglewood Trail. Go 2.3 miles, and take the first road on the right past “Chapel in the Cove”. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is at the end of this road. Most anglers head upstream to an area called “the rapids” but other areas can be good and less crowded. Look for high spots in the river channel that concentrate fish as they move upstream. The area around Cranes Mill Park is legendary in the winter and early spring as white bass school up, staged for the spawning run up the river. In late spring check the mouth of major creeks. Main lake fishing can also be quite good. The island near Comal Park and humps near the dam are good during the summer. There are many good boat ramps available. For those without a boat, a fishing pier at Crane’s Mill Park is a good option. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (830)964-3341 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Georgetown
Lake Georgetown is a 1,297-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just west of Georgetown. White bass fishing in the spring can be excellent if water conditions are right at Tejas Camp, which is located on County Road (CR) 258 between Farm to Market (FM) 305 and SH 183. In addition, anglers can access the entire southern and most of the northern shoreline of Lake Georgetown from Tejas Camp via marked trails. Three public boat ramps are available on the main lake as well. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)863-3016 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Granger Lake
Granger Lake is a 4,009-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just east of Granger. A good place to access the upper river for spawning white bass in the spring is Parking Lot 7. From SH 95, go east about 1.5 miles on county road 347 until it T’s, then turn right. No ramp is provided, but small portable boats can be launched. Shore anglers can also access the river at a pull-off on county road 347 about ¾ mile east of SH 95. Be careful, because the bank is steep. Willis Creek is another option for anglers and can be accessed at two locations. Head east on FM 971 from SH 95 at the town of Granger. Take CR 348 south, to Parking Lot 4, which is by the bridge over Willis Creek. The second location is Willis Creek Park, which provides full-service camping, shore angling, and a boat ramp year-round. Take CR 346 east from SH 95 at the sign for the park and follow the signs. Four other public boat ramps are available on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)859-2668 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Limestone
Lake Limestone, located 50 miles east of Waco between SH 164 and SH 7, is a 13,860-acre impoundment of the Navasota River. It provides cooling water for the Houston Power and Light generating plant. In addition to opportunities for schooling white bass throughout most of the year, white bass migrating up the Navasota River to spawn are especially vulnerable in the spring. There are four public boat ramps on the main lake. For more information, contact the Brazos River Authority at (903)529-2141 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Lyndon B. Johnson
Lake LBJ, located near the town of Granite Shoals, is a 6,449-acre impoundment of the Llano and Colorado Rivers. Both rivers can be accessed from two fee boat ramps in the city of Kingsland. Riverbend Marine and Storage ramp is accessed via Harris Loop, directly across from the Llanorado Lodge just west of the CR 1431 bridge crossing. The Kingsland Lions Club also maintains a ramp. Take Euel Moore Drive off of CR 1431 (there is a sign advertising the ramp at the turn-off). Go about ½ mile and take a left on Williams street. This road ends at the ramp. The Llano River directly above Kingsland is popular with fly anglers targeting white bass. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Somerville
Lake Somerville is an 11,456-acre impoundment of Yegua Creek located about 25 miles southwest of Bryan/College Station. It provides outstanding white and hybrid striped bass action, particularly in the spring. Beginning in early to mid-February, both species migrate up reservoir tributaries, primarily Yegua Creek. The lower reaches of Yegua Creek can be accessed by boat from the main lake, but two public areas provide access for the shore angler. Newman Bottom is reached from SH 21 at Dime Box by taking FM 141 south. Turn left on FM 1697, then left on CR 125 to CR 140. Follow the signs on CR 140 to a self-pay, day use only, parking area. Irvin Bridge can be accessed by following the same directions to get on FM 1697, and then turn left on CR 124 to a primitive parking area on Yegua Creek. During the summer months, numerous “humps” and main-lake structure provide hot-spots for white and hybrid striped bass anglers. For those limited to fishing from shore, Welch Park on the main lake provides good opportunities for bank and wade fishing. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (979)596-1622 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (979)822-5067.

Lake Travis
Lake Travis is an 18,622-acre impoundment of the Colorado and Pedernales Rivers located just west of Austin. Traditionally, strong white bass runs have occurred on the Pedernales River. Travis County Milton Reimer’s Park provides bank, boat, and wade fishing opportunities to the public. The park is located on Hamilton Pool Road (CR 3238), about 11.5 miles west of the intersection of Hamilton Pool road and SH 71 and 1.3 miles east of the low-water bridge over the Pedernales River. Anglers should contact Travis County Parks for more information on this park (512-854-7275). The area near Pace Bend Park, where the Pedernales River enters the lake, is always a good bet for early season deep water jigging spoon fishing. The area upstream from The Narrows boat ramp, located on the upper reaches of the reservoir, as well as the area directly below the Lake Marble Falls dam can be very good during the spring, if there is adequate water. This area should be boated with caution especially if the reservoir is below normal pool. The Narrows boat ramp is located west of Austin, near the town of Spicewood on County Road 411. Some of the bigger creeks in the lake also have good white bass fishing. These include Sandy, Cypress and Cow creeks. The main body of Lake Travis is good during the winter for fishing lighted boat docks. At least nine public boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Waco
Lake Waco is a 7,173-acre impoundment of the Bosque River located in the city of Waco. White bass migrate up the North, South, and Middle Bosque Rivers in the spring, resulting in dense concentrations and excellent opportunities for anglers. Six boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)756-5359, or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Whitney
Lake Whitney is a 22,180-acre impoundment of the Brazos River located approximately midway between the cities of Fort Worth and Waco. White bass run up the Brazos and Nolan rivers, with best angler catches below sand and gravel bars and along sandy shorelines. Sixteen public ramps provide access on the main lake. A popular spot for white bass anglers is Kimbell Bend Park, which has a 2-lane boat ramp and is located just off of SH 174. For more information, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)694-3189 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254) 666-5190.

Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is a 22,211 acre reservoir located in Burnet and Llano Counties near the town of Burnet. It is the uppermost reservoir in the Highland Lakes Chain and has excellent white bass and striped bass populations. The Colorado River above the lake has one of the strongest white bass runs in Central Texas. For wade or bank fishing Colorado Bend State Park, near the town of Bend, is a great place to try your luck when water conditions are right. This portion of the Colorado River is popular with fly anglers. Bend is located about 20 miles out of Lampasas on SH 580. Call the park (325-628-3240) to check on conditions before going. Several private fishing camps in the Bend area also have bank access. Signs in the town of Bend will direct you to the camps. The area from Silver Creek (also called Beaver Creek) to the town of Tow is an excellent choice from winter to late spring. Buchanan has lots of main lake structure to try during the summer months. Public and private boat ramps are located on the lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

The authors wish to thank Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries employees Floyd Teat and Mark Webb for contributing to this report.

Lake Mitchell In January

Two years ago I went to Mitchell Lake and fished with Auburn Bass Team member Cameron Mercer for my January Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month article. Mitchell is a small Coosa River lake just northeast of
Montgomery and is between its more famous sister lakes, Jordan and Lay.

The lake is basically a river with its dam on the headwaters of Jordan and ends at the Lay dam. There are several big creeks feeding it and its shoreline is lined with rocks, docks, grassbeds and wood cover. Big Coosa River spots live in it as do big largemouth and it is a fun lake to fish.

Auburn has 42 members on its team and is one of the best teams in the nation, producing several pros, including a Bassmasters Classic winner, over the past few years. Cameron has finished high enough within the team to make the top 12 travel team.

We had a good day, catching a few spots although the big ones we hoped for did not hit. The skills and knowledge of college fishermen constantly amaze me.
I have been bass fishing all my life and competing in clubs for 43 years, but many of them are much better fishermen than I am.

Mitchell is about three hours from Griffin, but it would be a good weekend trip. There are several motels about ten miles from the lake on I-65 and plenty of places to eat in the area.

Fishing Lake Hartwell with Matt Justice

A couple years ago, I met Matt Justice at Lake Hartwell to get information and pictures for my October 2016 Map of the Month article in Georgia Outdoor News. Between trips there I often forget it is only a little over two hours away, depending on traffic, and it is a beautiful lake with clear water and full of largemouth and spotted bass.

I left at 3:30 AM to meet Matt at 6:30 AM since I hate to be late. It was a good thing I did. I made it about 40 miles up I 85 north of Atlanta quickly since there was fairly light traffic that time of night. I was surprised at the number of vehicles headed north toward Atlanta, even at 4:00 AM. I guess they were trying to get to work ahead of traffic.

Suddenly I saw blue flashing lights and red tail lights a mile or so ahead of me. As I came to a stop traffic was trying to get to the right lane. When I got close enough a police officer had his car blocking the road and was routing traffic off the interstate.

I followed my GPS and some 18 wheelers through a couple of small towns to the next exit, about 10 miles north, where we got back on the interstate. That added over 30 minutes to my trip. I found out later there was a wreck with fatalities and the interstate was blocked for a long time. I am glad I was able to exit before the accident site.

I met Matt and we started fishing at daylight, casting topwater baits in a shallow cove. Matt caught a solid 2.5 pound largemouth on a topwater frog. The second place we stopped I caught 1.5 pound spot on a topwater plug back in a creek. Topwater fishing is fun and the strike is the most exciting one to me.

After fishing two more shallow areas to put on the map we started hitting main lake points, using topwater baits and drop shot worms to try to catch some spotted bass. Those points are usually good but there was no wind and no power was being generated, so there was no current. That made fishing tough!

On one of the holes, marked #3 on the map but actually the last one we fished, we both caught keeper spots on drop shot worms. But that was it for the day. I was in the car headed home by 10:30, which was great since it got me off the water before it got too hot.

The trip home was uneventful although the traffic was much heavier. But there were not wrecks so I was at home and napping shortly after 2:00PM.

Fish Are Biting On the Alabama River and Clarks Hill

Based on a couple of trips in November, fish are biting on the Alabama River and Clarks Hill. Based on time of year and weather, they are probably biting everywhere in-between too.

I met Peyton McCord and Cole Burdeshaw, two Auburn fishing team members, last Tuesday at Cooters Landing on the river just outside Montgomery to get information for my Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month article. They won a team trail tournament there the end of September with ten bass weighing just under 30 pounds. They fish the river a lot, know it well, and are very good bass fishermen.

The River, as it is called locally, runs from the Lake Jordan dams near Wetumpka north of Montgomery for 80 miles to its lock and dam. It is not well known since it does not get the publicity of other nearby lakes. But it is a fantastic fishery.

Coosa spotted bass grow big and fight hard, and the River is full of them. It also has a good population of largemouth. They live in different places, with spots mostly on the main river channel and largemouth back in creeks and coves. Spots love current and live near it.

I stayed in Prattville at a Baymont Inn only 10 minutes from the ramp. Although we fished for only a few hours, we caught some nice spots in the 2.5 to three-pound range. Winter is a great time to fish it since spots are more active in colder water.

Peyton and Cole caught their fish in September on topwater baits, but that bite is about over since the water is cooler. They switch to jerk baits, crankbaits and a jig and pig for winter fishing.

It would be a fun winter trip to the River. There are good places to stay and eat nearby. And the bluff banks and points are easy structure to find and fish when you get on the water.

Last Friday I went to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill and fished for three days. On Sunday I met Joshua Rockefeller to get information for my Georgia Outdoor News Map of the Month article. Joshua is a student at Augusta College and on the fishing team. He grew up in nearby Harlem, only four miles from where I grew up in Dearing.

We put in at Soap Creek on the Savannah River side of the lake. My place is on the Georgia Little River, only 25 miles away by road but almost 60 miles by water. Clarks Hill is a big lake and I know little about that side of it since I have not fished it much.

The pattern Joshua showed me is fishing ditches, creek and ditch channels back in creeks. Bass move back in them as the water gets colder and he told me about the numbers and big fish he had caught out of them in the past few years.

The water was 65 degrees, about the same as it was on the Alabama River. We caught a lot of small keeper largemouth and a few small spots, but the bigger fish have not moved back yet. They will as soon as the water gets down to around 60 degrees.

Joshua fishes jigs, crankbaits and a sled, a jig head with a flat head that makes it stand up and raise the trailer to mimic baitfish feeding on the bottom. I caught several keepers on a Carolina Rig and shaky head, but he landed about twice as many as I did.

Fishing Lake Allatoona with Carter Koza

Carter with Allatoona largeamouth and spot


Bass are biting, if you do the right thing. A couple of trips in the past week proved my point that some people can catch bass, even on the worse possible conditions. On days I think they are just not biting because of one of my excuses for not catching fish, some are catching fish.

For years folks called Lake Allatoona “The Dead Sea!” After a trip a week ago, I won’t ever call it that again. I had a great trip with Carter Koza and his father Jamie Koza, owner of The Dugout, getting information for my February Georgia Outdoor News Magazine https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaOutdoorNews/ Map of the Month article.

Carter caught nine keepers in half day fishing, from 7:30 to 12:30, including a two-pound largemouth and two spots about three pounds each. All hit a Spro Rock Crawler 50 on rocks, the pattern for the article. It was what I consider the worst weather conditions possible for catching fish, first day of a strong cold front. Bright sunny skies. Windy, but that is usually a good thing. The water was very stained, but Carter said that makes for the best winter fishing at Allatoona – cold muddy water is a good thing there!

Carter is a sophomore in high school. Younger fishermen like him amaze me with their skills and knowledge. Cater had a great mentor in his father, and he learned well. He explained patterns, what the bass were doing and eating, and why he chose the bait he used, as well as any pro. His knowledge is better than mine even though I have been tournament fishing for almost 50 years!!

I would like to fish Allatoona more often, but its location up I-75 north of Atlanta means ridiculous traffic, especially pulling a boat. I avoid going inside I-285 whenever possible. Traffic is bad on I-285, but there are fewer bad merging places. The absolutely worse place, unless there is a wreck, is coming south on I-75 where it merges with I-85. I hate pulling a boat through there anytime since you have to change several lanes fairly fast to avoid exit only lanes, and with thick traffic it is dangerous with a boat.

New York’s Finger Lakes Country

A Visit to New York’s Finger Lakes Country
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from the Fishing Wire

Fall is a great time to be in Upstate New York. The cool breezes are blowing off the giant lakes, the leaves are turning, and the yard-long salmon and steelhead are pushing out of the open water and up into the tributary rivers where they provide some amazing action and draw some amazing crowds.

If that’s not enough, 40-inch muskies are coming out of their summer doldrums, and smallmouth bass are stuffing themselves into football proportions prior to getting iced in for the winter.

I had the opportunity to make a brief tour through the area thanks to an invitation from the Western New York Regional Development Council and Buffalo-based Hart Hotels to take a look at a public/private partnership being touted as a way to bring economic development, including recreational fishing and boating jobs as well as tourism, to the less-developed areas of the state. Over a week’s visit, we toured three prime fishing/tourism locations. Today, we have a look at Watkins Glen and the Seneca Lake region, southwest of Syracuse.

Watkins Glen, located on the south end of Seneca Lake, is part of the Finger Lake Country, a bear-claw scratch deep into the rolling hardwood terrain. There are lakes everywhere in this country, and most of them are stiff with fish. I met with guide Mark Moskal here, who operates not only a guide service but also a kayak rental operation on Seneca.

“We depend on visitors here for our income about 8 months a year,” he told me. “When the tourists leave in November, I look for odd jobs until spring—the hotel operation has been huge for us at bringing in more customers.”

Moskal works not only Seneca but also Cuyuga, Owasco, Waneta and Keuka lakes and the streams that feed them, depending on what’s biting where.

“Come at the right time and you can choose between brown and rainbow trout, lake trout, Atlantic salmon, muskies, smallmouth, largemouth and walleye,” says Moskal. “There’s outstanding fishing for all of them within 20 miles of Watkins Glen.”

He said one of his favorite fisheries occurs in October when Atlantic salmon and lunker browns run out of Cuyuga Lake into the Fall River, offering fly-rodders a shot at athletic, leg-long fish in some of the prettiest surroundings of the area, including a 100-foot waterfall that terminates their upstream journey just below the campus of Cornell University.

Muskie fishing is also impressive here—many anglers have fished for them for years without putting one in the boat, but Moskal says if you visit at prime time—late fall—on Lake Waneta, a heavily stocked 3-mile-long impoundment just west of town, you’re highly likely to get at least one fish in for a hero photo, and many are better than 40 inches long, a few over 50 inches.

New York Muskie


Monster muskies like this one are part of the angling action in the Finger Lakes Region, particularly on Lake Waneta, which is heavily stocked with the predatory pike. (Mark Moskal Photo)

“We get most of the fish trolling—we put out a spread of Rapala X-Raps, Williams Wobblers and Evil Eye Spoons, spacing them at 6 feet, 8 feet, 10 feet and 12 feet, and pull them fast enough to bring out a strong vibration. It’s a very dependable way to fish, and it doesn’t require the angler to fling those huge lures for hours.”

He said trolling is also the preferred tactic for lakers in Seneca, which typically hang at 70 feet and more and are reached via downrigger gear–the fish average 5 to 8 pounds, but 15 pounders are possible.

For more, contact Mark Moskal at www.summittostream.com.

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel here is a big part of bringing not only anglers and boaters but travelers of all interests to the Finger Lakes. The upscale 104-room hostelry, recently voted one of the top waterfront hotels in the nation by USA Today, sits at the southern tip of Lake Seneca, with al fresco dining overlooking the city harbor. It’s got all the usual amenities including an exercise room, indoor pool and a business center where road warriors will appreciate the jumbo iMac all-in-one computers.

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is the result of a public/private partnership that helped bring the upscale facility to a small upstate town where jobs are at a premium. The result is a great spot for anglers, boaters and tourists to hang their hat, as well as a big boost for the local economy.

The world-class (but pricey) Blue Pointe Restaurant offers an impressive variety–as an old waterfowler, I enjoyed the duck with andouille sausage risotto. The miso glazed salmon was also particularly good, all washed down with some good wine that not too long ago had been inside grapes growing on the surrounding hills—the area is famed as wine country.

Steelhead run into Catherine Creek at Watkins Glen in spring, providing great action for lunker fish in its narrow flow. (Mark Moskal Photo)
The hotel is within walking distance of Mark Moskal’s kayak operation, where you can rent a ‘yak to get out on the lake and have a really good shot at catching some quality smallmouths over 18 inches long, particularly during the spring spawn in May and early June when they move to the flats along the shorelines—soft plastic tubes are one of the favorite lures.

It’s also within a couple long casts of the Barge Canal, which leads spawning steelhead right into Catherine Creek in late March and early April. You can access the creek directly from State Route 14, which runs alongside it south of town for miles. Salmon egg imitations, and the real thing, do most of the damage.

It’s just over a half-mile stroll from spectacular Watkins Glen State Park, a must-see in this area, with 19 waterfalls over its 2-mile, 400-foot plunge through a gorge down to lake level.

The hotel also puts on a jumbo Ice Bar event fund raiser each winter—they carve an entire bar out of block ice, set up on the hotel patio—given the late January date of the event, thawing is not a problem—bring your long johns.

See full Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel details here: https://www.watkinsglenharborhotel.com

Other Attractions at Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen International Raceway is worth a visit if you’re an auto racing fan—many classic races have taken place here over decades. You can actually drive the family vehicle for a few hot laps on the track for a fee—I didn’t think my Pathfinder or my driving skills were up to it.

The western shore of Seneca has one of the densest wine tasting operations in the country—there are about 30 wineries and breweries with tasting facilities on the east shore, over 20 more on the west side, in the 30 plus miles from Watkins Glen to Geneva on the Lake, at the north end. Every winery has a half-dozen or more vintages they will insist you try—YOU NEED A DESIGNATED DRIVER. But that said, it’s a pleasant way to while away a rainy afternoon when you can’t fish—tasting fee is about $6 for a variety of “flights”, and most throw in some great local cheeses, as well. Learn more here: www.senecalakewine.com.