Allatoona Crappie From The Bank

Lake Allatoona offers plenty of bank-fishing access, and April is the time for crappie to move shallow.

GON Staff | April 2, 2002

Not everyone can afford to buy and maintain a boat. Don’t let it get you down. There’s people out there by the truckloads who don’t own a boat, and they’re not letting it stop them from catching a cooler-full of fish. They just take a bucket, plop themselves down on it and do their fishing from the bank. There’s no better bank-fishing time of the year than April if you’d like to stock-up your freezer with fresh crappie filets, and Lake Allatoona is a great place to do it.

Traditionally, the crappie start biting good in the late-winter months around the mouth of Kellogg Creek. Folks will catch them there first trolling jigs before the crappie move into shallower water, stage and then finally spawn.

According to Ted Gambrell at The Dugout, a local bait & tackle store on Hwy 41 in Cobb County, the crappie have already moved back all over the lake.

“They’re back shallow now,” said Ted. “We’ve been catching the fire out of them. Jamie (a Dugout employee) caught 300 yesterday in Tanyard Creek. They’ll be shallow from here on until the first of May. Also, guys have also been catching them up in the river. Being shallow, they’re easy to catch right now. I mean you can catch 200 or 300 a day.”

According to U.S. Army Corp of Engineers  Ranger for Lake Allatoona Robert Gentry, one of the hottest areas on the lake right now is just below the Knox Bridge ramp at Cherokee County Park.

“There’s a bunch of chunk rock there, along with some bushes and brush,” Robert said. “There is a road that comes in off Hwy 20 that folks can park. There’s a boat ramp there too.

“I imagine they’re also catching a lot at Sweetwater Campground. There’s a back road that comes in there that’s gated, but there’s a pedestrian gate where people can walk through. Sweetwater Campground lies just south of Cherokee County Park.”

Moving a little farther south, the Little River boat ramp has some single-vehicle parking, and there’s some rip-rap there that will be holding bedding crappie.

“If you’re going to park and fish at any of the boat ramps please park in the single-vehicle spaces, and don’t fish from the courtesy docks. Those are for the boaters,” Robert said.

Allatoona offers bank fishermen multiple day-use areas where you can fish this spring. Some of these will be gated ones and some will not, but you’ll be allowed to park outside the gated ones and walk in to fish.

“Whether these day-use areas are open or closed, they can go fish there as long as they don’t block the gates.”

As far as campgrounds go, you can fish in these too. If a campground is closed, you are still allowed to fish in it, but Robert urges anglers once again not to block the gates. However, if a campground is open, you must be a paying customer to fish there.

The only campground that was open at presstime was McKinney’s Campground, but McKasky and Victoria are scheduled to open on March 29.

“By April 12, we’ll be running in high gear, and the rest of the campgrounds, except for Payne Campground, will be open,” said Robert.

“We had a beetle infestation at Payne. The beetles killed or were killing the majority of the pine trees. The only way to stop them is you have to cut the pines and remove them. We’re trying to keep them from spreading, but it got on both sides of the creek. We don’t want people in the campground fishing because we’re in there working, and they could get hurt.”

The projected day for Payne Campground to reopen is May 23, but by then the fish will be gone from the shallows.

This may concern some of the old timers who’ve fished the banks of Allatoona for years. Payne Campground, located on the banks of Kellogg Creek between Galts and Victoria, has traditionally been a slam-dunk place to fill a stringer in April.

Don’t worry — you’ll still be able to fish Kellogg Creek, just not from the banks of the campground.

“There’s a boat ramp and a day-use area that will still be open at Payne,” said Robert.

This area of Kellogg is home to a bankful of rocks, sandy areas and blown-down trees to keep you busy. The Dugout reports that there’s already been plenty of crappie caught in that area.

Some good bank fishing also takes place in and around the Clark Creek bridge area on Glades Road.

“There’s a rock wall in there right at the bridge,” said Robert. “On that wall they usually catch some pretty decent fish. There’s a parking area there and a bunch of banking-fishing opportunities in there.”

Allatoona Creek’s Bethany Bridge in the Red Top Mountain State Park area has a sizable amount of opportunity for bank access.

There is a fishing jetty there that is open 24 hours, seven days a week for fishing. Camping is not allowed on the jetty. There’s plenty of rip-rap on that jetty and under Bethany Bridge.

Rumor was that by late March Tanyard Creek was as hot as a firecracker for shallow crappie fishing. There’s a parking lot off Tanyard Creek Road, but you’ll have to walk a pretty good ways to the shore since water levels are so low. Robert said that once anglers get there they can walk a pretty good distance up and down the banks of Tanyard Creek.

“I’ve also seen some fish come out of Proctor Park,” said Robert. This area lies in Cobb County just north of Hwy 41 and it is now open.

“Another place they’ve been catching some is at The Blockhouse,” said Ted Gambrell. “They’ve got some jettys you can walk out on where people have put Christmas trees and stuff.”

With the full moon scheduled for March 28 there should be plenty of fish on the beds. Also, Ted predicts there to be a second spawn on April 26, the next full moon.

“The water temperature is already 65 degrees,” said Ted. “I’d like to get some cool weather in here to slow it down a little bit.”

Ted said if he were going to bank fish he’d use a cork fished about 18 inches over a minnow.

“First I’d look for a tree, or a log laid down in the water,” said Ted. “Try to stay where the wind is blowing to you, pushing the bait toward the bank.

“You have to cover some territory and walk. Once you find them they tend to congregate.”

Ted’s preferred way to fish a minnow under a cork is to throw out into these brushy areas and just slowly reel it back in.

“If I didn’t get hit after two or three casts I’d move,” said Ted. “On most days every tree you fish won’t have a crappie on it, so keep moving.

“I got lucky yesterday. Every single tree we fished had crappie on it. Some days are like that. You might catch 10 or 12 on one tree and you’ll have to move again until you find some more.”

If you don’t feel like toting a minnow buck around the banks of Allatoona this month, small jigs will work when crappie go shallow this month.

The crappie have been hammering black and chartreuse recently. Also, pack some white and blue jigs for your hike around the bank. They’ll hit those better in clear water sometimes.

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