How and Where To Catch Big Bass In Georgia
Catching your limit when bass fishing is always fun. But there is something very special about catching a big bass. Landing a five pound plus largemouth or spotted bass will bring a smile to any fisherman’s face. Putting a true trophy in the boat, a spot over six pounds or a largemouth over eight pounds, is something to brag about for years.
Where you fish can make or break you when trying to land a bragging size bass. Some waters produce trophies on a regular basis, others not so much. We are lucky here in Georgia to have choices where big bass are not rare. After all, our waters produced the world record bass!
When trying to decide where to go hunt your trophy there are several things to consider. An important one is access. It does not matter how big bass get in private ponds if you can’t fish them. And some public waters have so many restrictions on boats and times you can fish that they are not good choices.
Our big lakes offer a wide variety of choices for a big bass. But how to determine which ones are best? The Georgia Bass Chapter Federation Creel Census Report compiles data from about 100 bass clubs each year. The clubs submit information from each tournament and most have 12 per year, so there is a lot of water covered. And one of the data points recorded is bass over five pounds caught.
By keeping up with the number of five pound plus bass landed and the hours fished in the tournament by the number of fishermen, a category “hours to catch a five pound bass” is produced for each lake. That can be a good guide to show you where your have your best chances of landing a big bass.
The following lakes will all give you a good shot at a bass over five pounds. Right now is a fun time to be after them with good weather and stable conditions. Make your choice, head to the lake and hook a wall hanger.
Lake Seminole is hands down the best big lake in Georgia to land a five pounder. In club tournaments it took only 85 man hours to weigh in a five pound plus fish. That may seem like a lot, but in an average club tournament lasting eight hours with at least 11 fishermen there was probably a five pounder brought to the scales.
Seminole is about as far south as you can fish in Georgia. Located right in the corner of Georgia, Florida and Alabama where the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers join to form the Apalachicola River, its waters are filled with a wide variety of kinds of water plants. Bass love things like water hyacinths, hydrilla and lily pads and they are everywhere.
All the plant life is the bottom of the food chain that produces all kinds of goodies bass love to eat and grow fat. From eels to shad, just about any kind of baitfish and other food for bass is plentiful for them. And they have lots of shallow cover so you don’t have to go dredge the depths for them.
The big water in the lower rivers and near the dam is full of shallow flats, ridges, humps and channels and they are covered with stumps, standing timber and a variety of grass. By now most bass are done spawning and have moved toward the old river channels so that is the area you want to fish.
Find a ditch or channel coming out of a shallow spawning area and follow it to the main channel. Look for flats covered with grass on both sides of it. Bass will hold and feed on the edge of the grass, right on a drop. They use grass edges for cover to ambush passing food.
Work a big bait for a big bass. On cloudy or windy days a big spinnerbait slow rolled right along the edge of the grass will produce strikes. A big vibrating bait like a one-ounce Rat-L-Trap can also be run along these edges. When it hangs on grass rip it free. That sudden surge will often draw a reaction strike.
A huge plastic worm will eliminate some smaller bass but will attract the hawgs you want. The Zoom Old Monster 10.5 inch worm and the Big Bite 10 inch Kriet Tail worm are good choices and a big worm will get big bites. Rig it on a big 5/0 hook with a light sinker to work along and through the grass line and fish it slowly. A big bass usually does not like to go far or fast for its meal.
Lake Walter F. George
Just up the Chattahoochee River Walter F. George, called Eufaula by most, also produces good catches of big largemouth. It took 156 man hours to land a five pound plus fish in club tournaments, a lot higher than Seminole but still second best in the state.
Eufaula is on the Georgia Alabama line just south of Columbus and is known for its river and creek ledge fishing. Its shallows are full of grass and stumps where largemouth grow fat in the spring and the water is fertile enough to produce lots of schools of big shad.
Big largemouth stack up on deep drops out in open water by this time of year and you can sometimes find a school and land several big bass from one spot. Cowikee Creek and the lake downstream of it contain lots of good channel ledges. It may seem strange to be sitting so far from the bank you could not hit it with a 30-06, but the bass are there.
You want to look for a sharp bend in the creek or river channel and a ditch or cut in the ledge formed by it helps. Cover like stumps, brush or rocks also are important to holding bass on the ledges, and you need some kind of hard bottom.
Current is critical on these ledges. Fish during the week when power is being generated at the dam, pulling water and bait across the drops. It is an amazing difference in the bite when the water is moving.
A big crankbait like a Mann’s 20 plus, Fat Free Shad or Norman’s DD22N are good baits to fish on the ledges. Right now look for ledges that top out 12 to 16 feet down. Position your boat downstream and down current of the ledge and make long cast upstream across them. You want your bait to bump the bottom along the ledge to draw a strike.
If you don’t want to throw a big crankbait all day, or can’t hold up to throw one that long, try a Carolina or Texas rigged worm dragged across the same ledges. Go with big worms like the Old Monster and use sinkers heavy enough to keep it on the bottom in the current. Drag the Carolina rig across the ledge and stop it when you hit cover. Hop the Texas rig and let it rise and fall, but stop it too when you hit cover.
Back in the 1970s and 80s Jackson Lake produced more big bass than just about any other lake in the state. I landed my first two eight pound plus largemouth at Jackson in club tournaments in the 70s and my best ever, a nine pound, seven ounce fish, hit in a club tournament in 1991. Although smaller spots have hurt the lake the past 20 years, you can still land a big largemouth there. Two years ago I landed an eight pound, thirteen ounce largemouth there in a club tournament.
Jackson was a very fertile lake years ago with sewage from Atlanta fertilizing its waters. The water is much cleaner now but that means it is less fertile and bass grow slower. You might have to work harder for a five pounder now, but you will catch some.
Jackson is almost in the middle of the state about 15 miles east of I-75 and south of I-20. It is formed by a dam just downstream of where the Ocmulgee River starts. The waters of that river produced the world record bass so you know it has potential.
Bass have been feeding on the shad spawn for several weeks in April and are fat and happy now. They are still holding near the main lake seawalls and riprap where the shad spawn and will look for late spawning shad still. But they will quickly back off as the sun comes up and you will need to fish a little deeper during the day.
Start early in the morning with a big topwater bait like a Zara Spook and work it along the main lake points with seawalls and riprap. Cast right on the bank and work it all the way back to the boat with as steady, slow walk the dog action. Be ready for a hit any time.
As the sun gets higher, try a Zoom Trick worm or Fluke fished weightless in these same areas. Start with the bait just under the surface but let it go deeper and deeper as the sky gets brighter. Work both baits slowly, offering an easy meal to a fat hawg.
Bumping the bottom with a jig and pig will work well on these points, too. Use a black and blue jig and pig in stained water or a brown one in clear water and slowly hop it down the sloping bottom, working from a couple of feet deep down to 15 feet. Slow down and fish it carefully if you hit wood or rock cover.
For a big spotted bass, go where the state record eight pound two ounce bass was landed. Lake Burton has been producing big spots since blueback herring were introduced into the lake and five pounders are fairly common. The eight pounder shows what is possible.
Lake Burton is a Georgia Power lake on the Tallulah River west of Clayton. It is an old lake and has steep rocky shorelines with lots of wood cover like dock posts and blowdown trees. Seawalls and riprap line the banks with the rocks, too, and the water is very clear
The blueback herring spawn in early May in Burton and that is a key to catching a monster spotted bass. The big spots will be holding right on seawalls on the main lake, watching for the herring first thing in the mornings. Cast a white spinnerbait against the rocks and seawalls and slow roll it back out. It usually won’t go far!
As the sun get higher the bass will back off but will still hit the spinnerbait. Also try a topwater plug like a Spook worked from the bank out over deeper water. Follow up with a Fluke. Get your boat in fairly close and make angled casts since the bottom drops fast. Work the Spook and Fluke fast, drawing the bass up to hit them.
Also try swimming a Buckhead Pulse Jig with a Zoom Fluke on it just off the bottom. If the big spots won’t come up they will often eat a more subtle bait like the Pulse Jig. Use a natural colored Fluke behind the head.
Blowdowns hold big largemouth and spots on Burton, so after the sun gets high work trees in the water with a jig and pig. Find the nearest blowdown to the areas where the herring spawn and work a brown and green jig and pig through them, bouncing from limb to limb, from the bank all the way out to the tip of the tree.
In the clear water, use fluorocarbon line and make long casts. Also, be aware of the sun position and make your casts to cover the shady side of the tree trunk and limbs in the water. Use as light a jig and pig as you can work depending on wind and depth water.
Lake Lanier may produce more quality spotted bass than any other lake anywhere. With the introduction of blueback herring and the 14 inch size limit on all bass, Lanier has become a well known trophy spot lake. Five fish limits of spots weighing over 20 pounds are common in tournaments and seven pound spots are weighed in each year. Several people say they have hooked a new world record spot but only time, and landing the fish, will prove if a record spot is on Lanier.
Located just northeast of Atlanta on the Chattahoochee River, Lanier is a big Corps of Engineers lake with good access but heavy usage. It is difficult to impossible to fish the lake on warm weekend days but week days are often uncrowded this time of year. If you fish the weekend, try to be on the water at first light and fish as long as the waves will allow.
Laura Gober lives near Lanier and fishes it often with husband Trent. They fish a good many tournaments there and do well. Laura fished the Woman’s Bass Tour and did well in it during its run, too. She won one tournament and had 11 top 20 finishes on that trail. Lanier is her home lake and she loves to catch big spots there.
By late spring the bass are mostly done spawning and are moving deep on main lake humps and points. Big spots will come up to hit topwater baits like the Chug Bug, Laura’s favorite, and jerkbaits like the Staysee 90, especially early in the morning. Laura will fish both these baits over humps and points.
If your boat is in 35 feet of water and you are casting over 15 feet you are about right this time of year, according to Laura. She will work the faster moving baits as long as the bass will hit, but she then slows down and fishes a Texas rigged Senko through cover on the bottom in the same places.
Rig a green pumpkin Senko behind a one-quarter to three-eights ounce sinker and dip the tail in chartreuse JJ’s Magic to give it scent and flash. Work it slowly through rocks and stumps in 17 to 30 feet of water. Laura says she catches bigger spots by fishing deeper than most anglers do on Lanier, so back off some and fish deep for a wallhanger.
No mater which lake you choose, use quality line and equipment when fishing for big bass. On big public lakes the fish are getting more and more wary so fluorocarbon line is a good choice. Use as light line as you can depending on water clarity. Pick a reel that has smooth drag and set it so your trophy pulls drag and does not pop your line.
All of the above lakes will give you a shot at a bragging size bass this month. Decide if you want a largemouth or spot and fish the lake that offers the best of that species. Fish long and hard to increase your odds and you will get that big one.