Bartletts Ferry Bass Mapped For October

Adam Byrd sets a fall pattern for a good bite on Bartletts Ferry.

Ronnie Garrison | September 25, 2020

Bartletts Ferry is often overlooked by fishermen heading to bigger lakes, but it is full of hungry spotted bass and largemouth. In October, expect to find these bass feeding in grassbeds, on seawalls and on bluff banks. You can catch them on topwater, jigs, crankbaits and other baits you like to throw.

Located on the Chattahoochee River north of Columbus/Phenix City, the small 5,850-acre Georgia Power reservoir is lined with docks and rocky banks, with many grassbeds scattered throughout it. Spotted bass have increased to consist of more than half the population of black bass here, but largemouth seem to have come back in numbers recently, mostly it seems due to the introduction of hydrilla in the lake.

There is an active spraying program on the main lake, eliminating hydrilla as soon as it starts, but there are still vast beds of it up the river, and that is where largemouth predominate. You can catch quality largemouth in the river, but bites are very scattered. For numbers of bass, the main lake and creeks are better, but most of your catch down the lake will usually be spotted bass.

Adam Byrd grew up in Smith Station, just 10 minutes from the Long Bridge ramp on Halawakee Creek. He fished all his life with his grandad and buddies, and some of his friends got him into tournament fishing when he was about 17 years old. For the past 15 years Adam has honed his skills on Bartletts Ferry to the point he is a threat to win any tournament there.

Currently Adam fishes almost every pot tournament on Bartletts Ferry and also fishes the Alabama Bass Trail, which is super competitive, attracting top anglers from Alabama and west Georgia. He plans on fishing bigger tournament trails in the next few years. Adam also works with a new bait and tackle shop in Columbus, Georgia called Summerland Outdoors. He helps make sure they stock the right baits for bass fishermen. You can check them out on Facebook.

Largemouth on Bartletts Ferry? Adam Byrd caught seven bass during a trip with the author to mark an October map, and all seven bass were largemouth. Some anglers feel largemouth are making a bit of a comeback in this spotted bass dominated lake.

“Deep on this lake is 6 feet to me,” Adam said with a laugh.

He said he likes to fish shallow water year-round on the lake, and that shallow bite gets better and better in the fall. By late September and October, the bass are following shad shallow, which means they are moving into creeks, and the bass are feeding more often in the cooling water.

Adam’s favorite bait is a frog, and he will throw it all day if he can get bit on it. But he will also have a buzzbait, spinnerbait, squarebill crankbait, jig, weightless worm and a shaky head ready. Some specific situations call for one of those baits, so he is adaptable to changing conditions.

We fished the following 10 locations when our schedules would allow at the end of August. We put in at Long Bridge at 4 p.m., primarily to run the spots fast to let me get GPS and pictures while taking notes about the locations. Threatening thunderstorms made us hurry, so I could put up my notes before it rained. Then we fished them in reverse, working our way back toward the ramp and dodging the rain.

No. 1: N 32º 41.437 – W 85º 08.982 — Long Bridge, the Wacoocklee Valley Road bridge that crosses over Hawalakee Creek, always holds bass. You can fish all the rip-rap, but Adam keys on the upstream side at the small marina. The rip-rap there has some grass on it, and the dock and seawall at the marina offer a variety of cover for fish.

Start out fishing on the corner of the rip-rap, and work toward the marina. Adam will work a frog on the rocks and grass early in the morning and under other low-light conditions, but his go-to bait here is a Dirty Jigs 1/4-oz. Molton Craw jig with a blackberry-colored Zoom Speed Craw trailer.

Adam casts the jig to the rocks and grass, working it back to about 6 feet deep. The light jig helps keep it from getting hung in the rocks. When you get to the marina, cast under the dock and right against the seawall. Released tournament bass often stay here and feed.

Also watch for a brushpile out from the dock and work it with your jig. There is a good bit of brush out from the gas dock that holds fish.

No. 2: N 32º 41.380 – W 85º 09.181 — Upstream of the bridge a small island is near the right bank. The point behind it is a good one in October. It has a rip-rap seawall where bass push and ambush shad, and it drops off quickly into deep water.

Start inside the small cove on the downstream side, and work around the point to the brown dock on the upstream side. If you are here early, cast a spinnerbait, bladed jig or squarebill right against the rocks, and run your lure parallel to the rocks and the seawall.

Adam likes a 3/8-oz. white ChatterBait with a white trailer. Try to bump the rocks with it, and with a spinnerbait and the squarebill. Wind blowing into the rocks and seawall will improve the bite. Later in the day, fish your jig, casting to the rocks and working out to about 6 feet deep.

No. 3: N 32º 41.240 – W 85º 09.987 — Going up the creek, it narrows down before an old railroad crossing. The first cove on your left where it narrows down has a good seawall on the upstream side to fish. Stop on the creek side of the seawall at the dock, and work around it to past the seawall where’s there grass in the yard. It drops off fast here, and bass move up to the seawall to feed.

Start with a frog or buzzbait, and parallel the seawall. Adam fishes his shad-colored Spro Popping Frog fast, making it pop and gurgle like a bass chasing bait. Twitch it constantly as you reel it along. Run a buzzbait along the wall, keeping it close to the wall as you can. Some days bass prefer a frog, some days they want a buzzbait—so be ready to change depending on conditions.

Fish the point into the cove, fishing the first two docks inside the cove. Follow up your topwater with a squarebill and a jig. When the sun is up, you’ll want to skip your jig under the docks. Bump the dock posts with your squarebill, too, making it bump and dart away.

No. 4: N 32º 41.149 – W 85º 10.426 — Go under the old railroad bridge to the first point on your left just past the cove at the bridge. Start at the dock and private ramp on the downstream side at the mouth of the small cove, and work all the way around the point. Then fish the island in the middle of the big cove on that side.

Fish the rocks with your topwater, squarebill and jig. Adam throws a 1/4-oz. bleeding shad Strike King buzzbait and tries to keep it right on the rocks like a shad that has been chased into too shallow water, looking like an easy meal.

The water is usually clear in October, and Adam often sees bass holding shallow and following his baits. If he sees them and they just won’t hit his other baits, he picks up a weightless worm and fishes it along the walls. The bass will often hit it when they won’t take any other baits.

Adam ties a worm hook directly to 10-lb. braid and rigs a green-pumpkin Trick Worm on it. He casts it right to the rocks and then works it with twitches and pauses, making it dart and then sink slowly to tempt reluctant bass.

No. 5: N 32º 41.131 – W 85º 11.128 — Going up Hawalakee Creek, just before the third bridge, the Prince Road bridge, an arm splits off to the right. Going into it the left bank is deep with seawalls, rocks and overhanging limbs. It is a good place all day. Stop at the old dock in front of a white house with tall pillars supporting it in front. It is past the small pocket near the mouth of the creek.

Work it early with frog and buzzbait, then fish your jig and weightless worm on this bank. Try to skip your frog and worm under overhanging limbs in the shade. Bass will hold in small patches of shade right against the bank while waiting to ambush bait.

Here and on the other places, fish any patch of grass carefully. Work your frog through it, and swim your weightless worm to the edge of the grass and let it fall. Bass will use any grass patch to feed all over the lake, even ones that are very small.

No. 6: N 32º 41.024 – W 85º 11.106 — Go under the bridge, and you will see a shallow grass point on your right. This point is so shallow it is usually only good first thing in the morning. Stop on the side near the bridge, and work all the way around the point. You may have to trim your motor up to go around it.

Adam will cast his frog or buzzbait and run them through the grass before the sun gets on it. Most of the grass is thin enough to run your buzzbait through it. To get fish out of the grass, Adam ties his buzzbait to 40-lb. braid. The thick, floating line also helps keep his buzzbait on top when fishing it very slowly.

No. 7: N 32º 41.337 – W 85º 08.150 — Go back under the first bridge on Hawalakee Creek. The small bay on your right—just past the first big creek on the right—has a block seawall with big posts around it on the bank on the downstream side. It drops off fast and is a good feeding area.

Stop at the dock on the downstream side of the point and work around it to the dock on the other side. Run your buzzbait along the wall, and fish it with a frog. If wind is blowing in on it, fish a spinnerbait or bladed bait along it. Adam likes a 1/4-oz. Strike King white spinnerbait with willowleaf blades.

Also try your weightless worm, squarebill crankbait, jig and a shaky head here. Adam does not fish a shaky head much—he prefers to power fish—but sometimes when the bite is tough he goes to a 1/4-oz. Picasso head with a black or junebug Trick Worm on it.

We came back to this spot late in the afternoon after a thunderstorm passed while we were up the river. Adam caught two keeper largemouth on his buzzbait here. In total during our afternoon running these locations, he caught seven largemouth and not a single spotted bass. That’s a surprise on Bartletts Ferry.

No. 8: N 32º 40.678 – W 85º 07.751 — Going downstream, the second creek on your right after the river opens up to the left has powerlines crossing it. It’s the last creek with powerlines on that side. This is a good place to find bass feeding in the back. Run to a seawall that has a private ramp on it on your left near the back. Start here and work all the way around the back on the creek.

Cooling water and shorter days make shad move into creeks and coves, and schools of bait will be all the way back in this creek. Work the seawalls with a buzzbait and frog early, and then try a weightless worm on them. Also skip your worm under docks, especially when the sun is bright.

No. 9: N 32º 43.267 – W 85º 07.624 — Go up the river, staying to the left bank, and go into Osanippa Creek around the first bend. The right bank ahead of you is an outside bend of the creek that has steep rocky walls, wood and docks to fish.

Go up to the block boathouse on the upper end of the bend and fish downstream. Parallel the rocks with your squarebill, bumping the rocks with it as deep as it will run. Adam likes a shad-colored Strike King 1.0 plug, since its small size imitates the threadfin shad the bass are eating.

Fish all the way down to the end of the band hitting all wood cover and docks as well as the docks. Also work your jig through the wood cover and down the rocks on this bank. If wind is blowing in on this bank, try your spinnerbait here, too.

No. 10: N 32º 44.524 – W 85º 07.594 — Going up the river past Blanton Creek on the right, the river bends a little to the left then back to the right. Just before it turns to the right, houses sit up on the bluff bank and docks are along the water on the left. Go to the dock on the left that has a staircase coming down to a small dock with a big U.S. flag on the wooden wall behind it. It is just past a new double level seawall and a bigger dock.

Start at this small dock and fish upstream. The bank is rocky and drops off fast. Current coming down the river hits this bank, which makes this a feeding location for the bass. Adam says this is a very current-oriented spot. Generation at the West Point dam had current so strong when we fished here that it was hard to fish.

Adam casts his jig upstream at an angle and tries to keep it on the bottom on the rocks. Work it with the current, moving in a natural direction for waiting bass. Fish all the way up to the grass, and fish the grass with a frog and buzzbait.

Give these spots a try, and you will find out it is a good reason to not pass Bartletts Ferry by on the way to bigger lakes.

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