Allatoona Summer Spotted Bass, Mapped For Day And Night Bite

Matt Driver marks a map and sets a July spotted bass pattern.

Ronnie Garrison | June 27, 2020

If you go to Allatoona and fish topwater early and then probe brush later in the day or at night, you will find out why it lost its name “The Dead Sea.” You can catch a lot of spots with some good fish, especially on weekdays and nights when boat traffic is light.

Matt Driver’s been helping GON for years as one of our fishing report experts, providing great bassing info for Lake Allatoona. Matt’s July patterns and locations are good on weekdays and for night fishing to avoid the weekend boat traffic.

Allatoona is a 12,010-acre Corps of Engineers reservoir on the Etowah River and Allatoona Creek. Since it is just north of Atlanta, it is one of the most heavily used lakes in the country. Boat traffic is an issue on weekends, making night fishing a good choice. Spotted bass dominate the summertime sacks. Tournaments during the summer usually take about 12 pounds to win, but there are higher weights, too.

Matt Driver grew up in Douglasville and has been fishing Allatoona for bass all his life. His father and grandfather taught him how to catch bass, and he started fishing tournaments out of his grandfather’s boat when he was 15, fishing in his church club tournaments and pot tournaments on the lake.

For years he fished Allatoona three or four days a week. His job as Battalion Chief with the Atlanta Fire Department, with a few days on then a few off, has allowed him flexibility to fish often. But Matt has cut back to about one day a week now. His kids take priority over fishing right now. When they are older, he plans on fishing more, but right now he wants to spend time with them.

To show the potential of Allatoona, Matt weighed in a limit of five spots at 19 pounds in a January tournament. His best largemouth from the lake weighed just over 7 pounds. The bigger bass are there but are hard to catch in July. You can catch a lot of fish in July, but the big ones are tough.

“In July, fish have moved to brushpiles and boulders on humps and points 15 to 20 feet deep,” Matt said. “They hold and feed at that depth but will move shallow to feed at night and early in the morning.”

Matt will fish early in the morning with topwater to attract feeding fish, and then he switches to baits he can fish on the bottom or over brush and boulders. He often makes a milk run of danger poles that mark shallow water on the lake, and he says running the poles is an easy pattern to follow. You just have to run and find the ones with bait on them. The bass will be nearby.

For early morning fishing, Matt will tie on a Rico and Spook to work on top. He will also have a Spro deep-diving Little John crankbait, a Tiny Fluke, a swimbait and a Spybait for working an area where he gets bites on top and to cast to schooling fish.

In July, the bass feed on young threadfin shad, the primary bait on the lake, and small baits are often needed to get a bite. Matt will work deeper brush with the crankbait and Spybait, but he also catches fish on a Ned rig, swim bait and drop shot. The Ned rig and drop shot allow him to fish slowly to get bites from heavily pressured fish.

A couple of weeks ago Matt showed me the following 10 spots for July fishing. He caught a lot of bass, most of them keeper-size spots about 12 to 13 inches long, with one better fish. The bass had just set up on these places, and they will get better now that the water temps have risen.

No. 1: N 34º 06.257 – W 84º 42.218 — Allatoona Landing is the marina on the left going downstream from the railroad bridge and from the mouth of Clark Creek. Go around it to the downstream side of the breakwater. The point there is deep and drops fast from the upstream end at the barrel breakwater almost to the shoal marker on the downstream end.

Start at the barrels, and fish a topwater bait, keeping your boat in 30 feet of water and casting to the bank. There is brush from blowdowns on this bank, as well as rock to hold fish. Work all the way downstream until the bottom flattens out.

Matt likes the Rico popper in shad colors. It seems to have a better spitting action the fish like than other poppers its size. He will also walk the dog with a Spook for a different action.

Watch your electronics here and at other places. If you see clouds of baitfish, bass are more likely to be feeding. If you see fish under the bait, try running a deep crankbait the depth they are holding or count down a Spybait or swimbait and slowly reel it through them. Also try a Ned rig, especially if you see fish holding right on the bottom. Matt caught a couple of spots here after seeing fish and switching to his Ned rig.

No. 2: N 34º 06.310 – W 84º 41.902 — Across the lake a cove goes in at McKinney Campground. It has a hump with a danger pole in the middle of its mouth, and the upstream point is rocky. Early in the month Matt will fish the point, but the fish move out to the hump as the water gets hot.

Matt will fish around the hump with a swimbait and drop shot, keeping his boat in 25 to 30 feet of water and casting to 6 to 8 feet of water. He usually casts his drop shot rather than dropping straight down, and he works it back with twitches and jiggles, making the worm move. He makes long casts in the clear water so his boat does not spook the fish.

A Big Bite Baits 3.75-inch Jerk Minnow is rigged on a 7-lb. Sun Line Shooter 15-foot leader tied to 10-lb. Sunline braid main line. He likes the Jerk Minnow because it sits neutral in the water, hanging level in the water like a minnow.

This place is good because bait gets around it in July and attracts the bass. Matt says the bass move constantly, following the bait. If he sees the bass on his electronics, he does not try to follow them. It’s just frustrating. He says to stay in the same place and keep casting. He waits on the fish to come back to him rather than chasing them.

No. 3: N 34º 05.263 – W 84º 42.787 — The Highway 293 bridge is just upstream of the I-75 bridge, and the rip-rap and pilings on it are good this month. Go to the right-side rip-rap as you go under the I-75 bridge, and stop out in 20 feet of water. Work the edge of the rip-rap with topwater early, up to about 9:30 on a typical July day, and a little later if it is cloudy.

Work all the rip-rap on the downstream side of the bridge, and then fish the upstream side on your left as you go under it, up to the powerlines. Watch your electronics, and fish a crankbait like the Spro deep-diving Little John in shad colors, a Spybait or a swimbait the depth you see the bass holding. Matt says he can get the crankbait down about 18 feet on a long cast with 10-lb. Sunline casting it on a Shimano crankbait rod and reel.

Wind can create current going under this narrow bridge, moving schools of shad to the fish. Wind helps on all the places Matt fishes this time of year. Current from the dam is not a factor on Allatoona.

Matt caught his biggest fish of the day here under weird circumstances. As he fished his plug, he hooked a 5-inch spot. When he started reeling it in, a nice spot tried to eat both. He was seeing a lot of fish down deep off the rip-rap and started paralleling it with his baits.

No. 4: N 34º 05.030 – W 84º 42.613 — Going up Allatoona Creek, danger poles mark the shallow spots. Any of them can hold fish, since they mark shallow water near deep water, and most have planted brush or other cover on them. Matt says a good July pattern is to run the poles and look for bait and cover.

Some in the forest of poles are ones where he consistently finds fish. The first place is on the right, the first two markers above the bridge on that side. Go to the pole farthest out from the bank, and stop out in the channel in 20 feet of water.

Cast your drop shot and Ned rig and to any brush. Matt fished a 3/16-oz. Picasso tungsten head with an Aaron’s magic worm on 7-lb. Sun Line Shooter fluorocarbon line. He uses that line on all his baits except topwater and a crankbait, saying light line is needed in the clear water for the pressured fish.

The tungsten head is important on Allatoona and other rocky lakes. It does not hang up in cracks like lead does, and he can almost always pop it free when it hangs. He fishes his swimbait, a shad pattern Kitech 3.8 or similar bait, on a 3/16-oz. Picasso head.

Run your swimbait, crankbait and Spybait over the tops of brushpiles, especially if you are seeing shad around them or mark fish holding on top of them. Count the Spybait and swimbait down to the depth where they will swim just over the top of the brush.

No. 5: N 34º 04.950 – W 84º 42.568 — Going upstream, a big bay opens up on the right. The pole toward the middle of its mouth has water 30 feet deep near it and comes up to about 6 feet on top.

Stop out in 30 feet of water, and cast to the shallows around the pole, working your baits down the slope. When you catch a few fish, they will tell you the depth they are holding that day, and you can concentrate on that pattern on other places.

Matt says the Ned rig will catch fish when nothing else will. He says many people give it too much action and fish it too fast. Most days he just barely crawls it along the bottom, making the 3-inch worm move like a small minnow feeding or holding there. That offers a bass a meal it can’t pass up.

No. 6: N 34º 04.647 – W 84º 42.362 — Across the lake are two poles not far apart. The upstream one is the one Matt usually finds fish using. Fish around it casting from deep to shallow first with all your baits, then try getting shallow and casting deep. That change sometimes makes a difference in the bite.

The fish will usually hold right in the brush on these places, but low-light days may make them scatter around it. Work the edges of the brush, as well as the drop, to find the bass. The sharper the drop, the better it usually is in places like this one.

No. 7: N 34º 04.469 – W 84º 42.453 — Back across the lake and upstream, a long narrow cove with boat docks in it goes off on your right. There are four pole markers on the downstream side of it. The one on the downstream point of it sits near the bank.

This pole marker is in shallow water, but the creek channel runs near it, and the cove ditch runs out and hits the channel, giving the bass two highways to follow here. Stay out from the marker, and work the channel drop side, and then try fishing shallow to deep here and on the other locations. Wind blowing on these places helps the bite. Try casting into the wind and bringing your bait back with it. A wind blowing directly into a hump or point is best, but if it blows across them the fish will often be on the up-wind side.

With the Spybait, cast into the wind and bring it back just fast enough to turn the spinners and keep it at the depth the fish are holding. Wind will usually make the fish hold on top of the brush to intercept shad moving with the wind, and that helps the Spybait and crankbait bite.

No. 8: N 34º 04.162 – W 84º 42.278 — Across the creek and upstream, Dallas Beach has a cove on the downstream side, and the channel swings in near two poles close together there. The channel runs beside them on the beach side and drops from 10 feet down to 20 plus feet. The cove channel comes in downstream of them. Fish the drop and brush here. The Picasso head Matt uses has a good weed guard that helps it come through brush. You can not fish a Ned rig head without a weed guard in brush without hanging it.

Fish all around these two markers with all your baits, paying attention to the wind direction and depth the fish hold. If you are not familiar with these spots, ride over them and mark brush, and then come back later and fish them after the fish settle down, especially the ones in more shallow water.

No. 9: N 34º 03.973 – W 84º 42.253 — Going upstream the creek narrows down before opening up and splitting into Allatoona Creek, and a short arm going to the bridge and dam of Lake Acworth. There are dozens of pole markers from the narrow gap upstream, and any of them can hold bass. The one closest to the bank at channel marker 32A on the bank has a good drop. Fish it like the others with all your baits, trying different things until the fish tell you what they want.

Matt likes to fish these places at night, especially on weekends when boat traffic is bad during the day. His go-to bait at night is a 1/2-oz. Picasso Black Blue Shower spinnerbait with a black nickel blade. He slow rolls it along the bottom and through the brush. He says this spinnerbait has a slightly different blade design that sends out strong vibrations, and the light wire increases them. He tries both a black swimbait or black straight tail trailer and always puts a trailer hook on it for short striking fish in the dark.

No. 10: N 34º 03.546 – W 84º 42.209 — The third pole out from the bank, out from the marker in hole No. 9, is on a good channel drop. It is similar to all the other places marked by poles to fish and should be fished in the same ways, both during the day and at night.

The important thing to remember is to try a lot of different places to find bait and feeding bass. They may feed on one but not the next three. Don’t get stuck fishing one place, keep moving until you catch fish. All these locations held fish a couple of weeks ago and will be even better now. Plan a trip to the “Not a Dead Sea” in July to catch some spotted bass.

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