Ambush Spots For Winter Bass On Lake Jackson

Ronnie Garrison | December 1, 2023

Willie McMullen with a keeper spotted bass from Lake Jackson.

During the late fall and early winter, bass at Lake Jackson are feeding on seawalls early and then moving to deeper rocks when the sun gets bright. Follow them and fish with a variety of baits, from topwater to jigs, to catch numbers and quality of bass this month.

Dammed in 1910, Jackson is one of the oldest reservoirs in Georgia.  The 4,750-acre Georgia Power Co. lake is fed by the Alcovy, Yellow and South rivers, along with Tussahaw Creek, and the tailwaters at the Jackson Dam form the beginning of the Ocmulgee River. Jackson’s 135 miles of shoreline are covered with docks, rocks, blowdowns and washed-in wood. All make good cover for bass.

Spotted bass became the dominant species in the lake about 25 years ago, and they make up most of the catch there these days. There are some decent-sized spots, but spots better than 3 pounds are not common.

Many Jackson tournaments are now won with five-bass limits weighing around 10 pounds, as was an ABA tournament the first weekend in November and a separate club tournament that same weekend.

Willie McMullen grew up in a house on Jackson not far from the old Walker Harris Marina in the South River. He has been fishing the lake all his life, and the name McMullen is familiar to anyone who has fished Jackson over the years. From Willie’s father and uncle to his son Taylor, the McMullens all have done well on Jackson.

Wayne, Willie’s dad, was a founding member of the Butts Bass Buster Bass Club. Willie’s first tournament was a club youth tournament he fished with his dad when Willie was 9 years old, and they won it. Before he passed away, Wayne trained Willie well and he has not stopped tournament fishing since then.

Willie has fished several tournament trails and qualified for the BFL regional this year. He fishes most Berry’s tournaments, as well as ABA tournaments on Jackson and on other area lakes. He and his partner Chad Stahl won the Berry’s point standings back-to-back a few years ago. Next year Willie plans to fish the Boating Atlanta trail, some BFLs, ABAs, the Berry’s trails and local tournaments.

“December is a transition month,” Willie said.

He said shad are moving into the creeks and coves and the bass follow them. By the end of the month, the shad will also start moving out. Fishing ambush places where bass hold and eat the migrating shad are the key.

Spots love rocks, but largemouth use them, too.  Although you will catch mostly spots, you can sometimes get a kicker largemouth mixed in with them.  But the bite can be tough, with very clear water on most of the lake.  Finding stained water after a rain can help.

Willie loves crankbait fishing, and they are his go-to baits. But in gin-clear water and bright sun, other baits will probably work better. Right now he will have a buzzbait, jerkbait, jig, crankbait and shaky head ready to cast.

We fished a few weeks ago and fishing was tough. The extremely clear water meant the fish were not eating the baits very good, and several came unbuttoned. But fish were on these locations then, and they will still be there. With the right baits and methods, you should be able to land them.

No. 1: N 33º 22.944 – W 83º 50.797 — Going down the Alcovy from Berry’s and the Highway 212 bridge, watch for the third big creek entering on your right. It is named “Pope Neck,” and the downstream point has a dock with a yellow slide on it. The point is shallow but has rock on it and is a good place to start before the sun comes above the trees across the lake.

Willie will get in close enough to cast a topwater like a 1/4-oz. white/white or black/black buzzbait right against the seawall. Run it back to the boat quickly. You want to hit several places like this before the sun gets on the water.

Willie caught several short spots on topwater and had a solid 2.5-lb. largemouth suck his bait under, roll and come off. There were also several short strikes here and at other similar places. Willie commented that if he had been quick enough to follow up with a finesse bait like a weightless Senko, those fish would probably have hit it.

After the sun gets on the water, move off the bank and look for bass out on the rocks on the point. There were a good many suspended fish here, but they either followed Willie’s jerkbait and would not hit or ignored it completely. Forward-facing sonar (FFS) can help you catch fish, but it can also be very frustrating and make you waste time on fish that will not hit.

With or without FFS, try a jerkbait over the point, and then drag a jig or shaky head on the rocks. Cover water from 5 to 20 feet deep, depending on how bright the sun. Cloudy days will also make the fish feed a little shallower than in bright sun.

No. 2: N 33º 22.596 – W 83º 50.754 — Go across the river and downstream a little to the last big cove on that side before the powerlines. The cove is named “Leverette Neck” on some maps. The upstream point is shallow with rock running out deep, and it has a good cement seawall around it.

Fish it like hole 1—it is very similar. Both are at the mouths of small creeks, so bass hold on them and ambush shad moving into the creek. The rocks provide good cover for the bass. This point stays in the shade longer since it is on the east side of the lake.

Start with topwater and then try a jerkbait. A Jackall, Pointer or Megabass +1 are all good choices in jerkbaits. Choose a natural color like ghost or shad. Willie likes the 78 size since bass are feeding on smaller threadfin shad. Work your jerkbait with different cadences until the bass show you what they want.

Fish may hold right on the bottom later in the morning, so drag your bottom baits like a jig or shaky head here, too. Willie will keep his boat in 20 to 25 feet of water and fish all the way around points like this, hitting the cover from different angles.

No. 3: N 33º 22.993 – W 83º 50.425 — Going upstream, the next small cove on your right has a good rocky point on the downstream side. There is a yellow house on the point, a white cross in the yard right on the seawall and a white dock in the upstream cove. The ditch coming out makes sharp drop on the upstream side, and there are big boulders under the water.

Start in close with topwater, and then back off and fish your other baits. This is another place that stays shady longer, but the point is smaller. Bass hold here just like on the others.

Watch your electronics for balls of baitfish. Shad in the area makes it much better, and you are more likely to catch multiple fish if bait is nearby. Fish more carefully if bait is around the area.

After fishing topwater and jerkbait, try a jig or shaky head. A jig crawling on the bottom will often catch the bigger bass in an area and is more attractive to bass that do not want to chase a moving bait. Fish jig and shaky head from 5 to 20 feet deep.

No. 4:  N 33º 23.882 – W 83º 50.573 — Go across the river and upstream into Connally Ditch, the biggest creek on that side between the powerlines and Berry’s. Go back to the Connally Ditch Road bridge and fish the rip-rap. Bridges are always pinch points where bass ambush moving shad. Work both sides upstream and down but concentrate on the corners.

A buzzbait run right against the rocks will draw strikes. Willie lost another good topwater fish here that sucked in his bait and jumped and threw it. A jerkbait worked on the rocks will get bit, too.

If rain has stained up the water, try a crankbait here. And a light shaky head or jig can be good. Fish any wood on the rip-rap carefully since it will be a key spot.

No. 5: N 33º 22.456 – W 83º 51.247 — Go under the powerlines to the downstream point of the first pocket on your right. There is a big brown wood and brick house behind a high cement seawall.  Fish will feed shallow early but there is a lot of brush out on the point to hold fish deeper when the sun gets up.

After fishing topwater, back off and cast your jerkbait over the brush.  Then crawl a jig or shaky head over and through brush on the point. Willie likes a Slideright jig made locally in Covington. In clear water, he goes with browns and green pumpkin with a matching Zoom Super Chunk Jr. For dirty water, blacks and blues work better.

Slide the jig along the bottom and find the brush, and then crawl it up and over limbs. Be ready to set the hook if your line ticks or moves at all. This jig also works on docks around posts and brush under them.

No. 6: N 33º 21.878 – W 83º 51.615 — Down the lake, the South River comes in on the right as you’re heading downstream. Across from the  mouth, a rocky point is near where the river narrows down. Go to that point and look for a private ramp upstream of the point that has bulldog statues on both sides of it.

Start at that ramp and fish downstream to the dock on the point at the first cove. There are rocks and stumps along the bank and a rock shelf runs along the bank near the point. Stay a long cast from the bank near the point to avoid getting over the shelf—try to keep your boat in 20-plus feet of water.

Fish topwater from the seawalls to your boat. Bump the bottom with a crankbait if any stained water is here. Try your jig and shaky head, probing the bottom for rocks and stumps. Also hit the dock post of the docks here.

No. 7: N 33º 22.441 – W 83º 51.863 — Go into the South River and stop where it makes its first sharp turn to the right. The bank on your right is a rock bluff bank with the channel running along it. It stays shady, so if you are chasing shade, this is a good spot later in the day.

Start at the point and work to the first docks upstream. Cast your topwater right against the rocks and fish back at a 45-degree angle. Also work your jerkbait over the same water.

A jig will catch fish, as will a shaky head, under tough conditions. Although he prefers other faster-moving baits, Willie will cast a 3/16- to 1/4-oz. shaky head, choosing one with a big hook. He puts a big bait on it like a green-pumpkin Magnum Trick Worm. Crawl and hop it from the bank down to 20 feet deep.

No. 8: N 33º 22.667 – W 83º 51.809 — On the outside bend of the river going upstream are three small creeks that enter on the right. The downstream point of the first creek has a good rocky point that runs upstream across the mouth of the creek. Stop on the river side near a dock there, and fish around the point.

Stay way out—the point runs out shallow. Fish all your baits across the point from both sides and from the end. Be careful casting to the top of the point since brush and big rocks are easy places to get hung, but they are the kinds of cover bass like.

No. 9:  N 33º 22.580 – W 83º 52.021 — Be careful going up the South River. There are big mud flats that are very shallow from the mouth of the South River on up, and most are not marked.  You have to know the river to run it on plane, especially with the water down like it is now.

Stop on the rocky point on your left where the river goes around it and then runs straight up past the old marina. This bluff-rock point is even better when current is moving down the river, and the water here is often stained. There was a definite mudline here and the water upstream was stained on the day we fished. It was also significantly cooler.

Willie would prefer to fish a crankbait when conditions are right, and the stained water will make him fish one a lot. He ties on a variety of baits that have different actions and run different depths in different colors. But he will always have a No. 7 Shad Rap, Bandit 200, Deep Wee R and a Little John tied on. Crawfish or blue-and-chartreuse are his favorite colors.

Get in close and cast topwater or jerkbait if the water is clear, or fish a crankbait if it’s stained. Cast upstream to bring your bait back with the flow of water if there is any current. Fish slowly and carefully, bumping rocks, and fish to the first dock upstream where the bottom flattens.

No. 10: N 33º 22.601 – W 83º 52.325 — Go upstream to the next point—it’s the downstream point of the next small creek. This is another good bluff bank with rocks, and the channel flows right along it. With the lake down, any shad moving up or down the river will go across this point.

Fish it with all your baits depending on water color. Willie was throwing a crawfish Bandit and the water was stained enough that it was hard to see a foot down, although the main lake was extremely clear. He hooked the biggest fish of the day and carefully worked it to the boat. As he reached for it, the 3-lb. largemouth made a lunge and pulled off.

After fishing these holes and talking about them for the article, we continued to fish hard for a couple more hours trying to get a picture fish. Fishing a dock with his jig, Willie’s rod bowed-up on the hookset, jerked for a second then went slack. A couple pitches later to the same dock, Willie set the hook and jerked a solid keeper out of the water and the jig came out of its mouth mid-air.

As any bass fisherman knows, some days on the lake are just like that.

Check out the types of places Willie catches December bass, and you should catch some. And you will probably see him in his Skeeter if there is any tournament going on the day you fish.

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