Bartletts Ferry Bass Tight To February Cover Near Deep Water

With spring just around the corner, Bartletts Ferry bass are beginning to feed more actively. But the water is still cold, so they’re going to be in thick cover and near deep water.

Ronnie Garrison | February 1, 2011

Chris Blair said a key to catching Bartletts Ferry bass this month is to find wood and rock cover close to a quick drop into deeper water.

By now most bass fishermen have had enough of sitting at home staying warm and are ready to venture out and defeat cabin fever. Although there is hope for warming by the end of the month and bass will begin to feed more in response to longer days, they are not always easy to catch in late January and early February. Fortunately, lakes like Bartletts Ferry will have some feeding fish this time of year.

Bartletts Ferry has a variety of structure and cover to fish, and the lake is full of spotted bass. Spots seem to feed better in cold water. Cold fronts affect them, but they don’t usually shut spotted bass down like they will largemouths.

Chris Blair has been a fisherman all his life, and his father instilled a love of competition fishing in him. He often went with his father to club tournaments and fished from the bank until he could join the Clayton County Bass Club when he turned 16. He does well in the club and made the Georgia BASS Federation Nation state team in 2008.

“Bartletts Ferry is one of my favorite lakes,” Chris said. “It has some big spots in it, and you can catch them in a variety of ways.”

There are also some good largemouths in the lake.

The bass at Bartletts Ferry are holding on their winter patterns most of the month of February. They are near deep water and hiding in heavy cover. A warm day or two will make them move a little more shallow and feed better, but they won’t venture far from a deep-water sanctuary.

Wood and rock cover near a drop-off is what you want to look for, and the depth needs to drop into at least 15 feet of water to hold bass this time of year. If even deeper water is nearby, it is even better.

Chris will fish a 3/8-oz. Edge Hardhead Mop Jig and trailer — orange and brown in clear water and black and blue in stained water. He likes a 1/2-oz. Edge spinnerbait in chartreuse and white with a gold Colorado blade and a silver willowleaf blade. A white Hellrazor blade jig with a Shadee Shad trailer is good for fish that don’t want quite as much flash as the spinnerbait shows.

A Lucky Craft or Bandit crankbait in Tennessee shad that will get down deep is a good choice for more active fish, and Chris will go to a 1/8-oz. lead head with a 6-inch pumpkin seed Trick Worm trailer for fish that are very inactive. One of these baits will attract bites most days.

The following 10 spots show the kinds of cover and structure Chris catches Bartletts Ferry bass from this time of year.

No. 1: N 32º 42 755 – W 85º 07.361 — Run down the river on the right side, and go past the mouth of Osanippa Creek. On your right will be a small point with a green pine in the water beside a dead pine in the water. They are in front of a gray-roofed house, and there is a dock just downstream of them as you start into the pocket there.

These blowdowns are on a steep drop, and there is 15 feet of water just off them when that lake is at full pool. They offer the typical kind of place Chris looks for this time of year — heavy cover dropping into deep water.

Start fishing on the upstream side of the green tree. Work a jig ’n pig through the branches of it, and then fish the dead tree. Fish this cover carefully and slowly. Winter bass are not aggressive. Give them time to hit.

As you work away from the trees, throw a crankbait and jig-head worm around the docks just inside the pocket. As the water warms more toward the end of the month, bass will move into this pocket and hold on cover around the docks.

No. 2: N 32º 41.843 – W 85º 07.104 — Down the river past the Chattahoochee Valley Rec. Park, just downstream of the second small pocket, there is a steep bluff bank. The bluff bank starts at a small point with a gray house with a long walkway going down to the dock. There is raw clay on the outside of the point, and some big rocks and wood cover are along this bank.

Start at the point, and work a crankbait and spinnerbait through the cover. Slow-roll the spinnerbait through the limbs of trees, and bump the crankbait off the ends of them. A Hellrazor blade jig worked off the ends of the wood is good, too.

Follow up with your jig ’n pig or jig-head worm. Bump them slowly from limb to limb. If the water is warming, fish from the shallow end all the way out. But if it is cold, especially early in the month, concentrate on the deeper parts of the cover.

No. 3: N 32º 41.053 – W 85º 11.066 — Run to the third bridge going up Halawakee Creek. The Highway 279 bridge is upstream of the old railroad bridge. Bridges like this one make a squeeze point on creeks where bass often stack up as they start to move toward the backs of the creeks as the water warms and the days get longer.

Fish the rip-rap and pilings from one side to the other, bumping the rocks and working along the pilings with a crankbait and spinnerbait. Also fish a jig ’n pig or jig-head worm on the rocks and beside the pilings. Even early in the month, the rocks and pilings will warm from the sun and draw baitfish and bass to them.

You will find the water is usually a little clearer in this creek than out on the main river. This can be important in cold water. Clear cold water is typically better than muddy cold water.

No. 4: N  32º 41.092 – W 85º 08.936 — Going down the creek, there is a big creek on your right just before you get to the Highway 379 bridge. A powerline crosses the mouth of the creek, jumping from one long narrow point on the upstream side to the long narrow point on the downstream side.

Start on the upstream point at the powerline and fish the bank, casting to the clay bottom that changes to rip-rap.  Throw crankbaits, the Hellrazor and a spinnerbait. When you get to the blowdown, slow down and fish it carefully with a jig ’n pig and jig-head worm.

You will be in 15 feet of water a cast off the bank near the point, but the old creek channel swings in near the blowdown. The outside tip of the blowdown is in water about 25 feet deep at full pool. It is in a perfect location to hold bass all month. The water is deep enough for early in the month, and bass moving into the creek as the days get longer will hold in the tree before moving farther back.

No. 5: N 32º 41.356 – W 85º 08.098 — Go under the bridge, and head downstream. Straight ahead the bank runs out from your right and the river makes a turn to the left. On the right bank where the turn starts is a point with some posts along a wooden seawall. The posts have lights on them.

Stop well off the point in 45 feet of water, and ease toward it. Off the tip and slightly downstream of it is a huge boulder sitting in about 15 feet of water, and there is rubble around it. Bass, especially spots, like to hold around this rock.

You can bump the top of the rock with a crankbait that runs 6 or 7 feet deep, and then slow-roll a spinnerbait on it. Work a jig ’n pig and jig-head worm all around the rock, throwing up to the seawall and fishing back past the rock. Bass will hold all around the rock and feed on shad, so seeing balls of shad here and on other spots like this really helps.

No. 6: N 32º 42.034 – W 85º 06.591 – Run out of Hawalakee Creek, and go across the mouth of the river. You can run between an island that has a house on it near the creek and an island with a cross on it near the other bank. Locals call this downstream island “Church Island.”

The bank across from Church Island is steep and drops off into deep water. There is a white house on the downstream side of this point, and it flattens out. The bluff bank along the point has big boulders on it.

Start fishing just upstream of the dock where the big rocks start, and work your way upstream all the way past the next dock. Chris will get in close to the bank and parallel it with a big crankbait, and he’ll also slow-roll a spinnerbait along the bottom here.

When the water is cold, this is also a good place to slow down and fish a jig ’n pig and jig-head worm. Chris said he will throw right on the bank, and then “creepy crawl” a jig down the rocks, barely moving the bait so it stays right on the bottom and falls only a few inches at a time. The bottom drops fast here, so you have to move your bait very slowly.

No. 7: N 32º 42.406 – W 85º 06.891 – Go up the river past the next big round point. Stop at the mouth of the narrow cove on your right. The upstream point of this cove is rock and drops off into the channel. There is a ledge across the mouth of the cove, and it is shallow going toward the downstream point. But it drops off into the river on the outside of it, too.

Fish the  upstream point early in the month, and work into the cut as the days get longer and the water starts to warm. Bass hold on the point and feed on shad then work into the cut, holding and feeding around wood cover in it.  There are usually lots of shad around the mouth of this cove so check for them.

Chris said there is lots of good brush as you go back into this cove, and this is a good place to fish later in the month. Fish your jigs around the point, and you can fish a jig head or jig ’n pig vertically if you see fish under your boat. As you go into the cove, fish all your baits around the brush and other wood cover.

No. 8: N 32º 42.946 – W 85º 07.012 — The downstream point of the cove where Idlehour Ramp is located  holds bass. This shallow point is a good place to start if you put in here or end your day before you take out, or both.

Stay well off the point, and make long casts across it with all your baits. Work your spinnerbait and blade jig along the bottom, and bump it with a crankbait. Then drag a jig ’n pig or jig-head worm along the bottom.

A lot of tournaments are held out of this ramp, and bass released here often hold on this point. There are usually shad on this point, so it is worth fishing carefully and at different angles. Work all the way around it, keeping your boat out as far as the no-wake buoy on that side, while fan casting the point.

No. 9: N 32º 44.041 – W 85º 06.662 — Up the river just before it bends back to the left at Blanton Creek is a cove. It is the last one on the right before Blanton Creek as you are heading upstream. This cove is very shallow, but the downstream point is rocky and drops off into the channel.

Stop out from the point, and work in. You will see a big pine blowdown, but it is broken off at the water level. There is brush out in front of it to fish, however. Another smaller blowdown is inside the mouth of the cove.

You will also see a log lying on the bottom out from the bank, an indication of how shallow this pocket is. Because it is so shallow, you don’t want to fish into the pocket. Instead, work your jigs in the blowdowns and brush and also down the steep rocky bank downstream of this cove. Chris said this is a very good spotted bass area.

No. 10: N 32º 44.605 – W 85º  07.901 – Run up past the bluff bank on your left to where the river turns to the right. At the end of the bluff, the bank levels out, and a creek enters the river.  On the upstream point of the creek is a big for-sale sign.

Out in front of this sign about 40 to 50 yards is a rockpile right on the lip of the old river channel. It is very rough and comes up out of 10 plus feet of water to top out at about 5 feet deep at full pool. Bass hold and feed on these rocks, especially when current is moving down the river.

Chris positions his boat downstream of the rocks and throws a crankbait to work back with the current. He wants to get it down to bump the rocks, but be prepared — you will get hung up here. Fan cast all over the top of the rocks.

These 10 spots hold bass right now, and bass will continue to be on them through the end of the month. Check them out, and you can find many more similar places to catch February bass at Bartletts Ferry.


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