Bartletts Ferry November Bass With Kyle Welcher

The BASS Elite Series Angler of the Year marks a map and sets a fall pattern for Bartletts Ferry largemouth and spotted bass.

Ronnie Garrison | October 26, 2023

Kyle Welcher sits at the pinnacle of pro bass fishing, and he honed his skills on his home lake—Bartletts Ferry. Kyle caught this largemouth at hole 10 on his map to set your November patterns.

Bass are following shad into creeks and coves right now on Bartletts Ferry. In late October and November, you can catch all the keeper-size spotted bass you want to eat by finding them suspended under balls of baitfish. But if you want quality fish and more largemouth, stick with shallow structure and cover like seawalls, rocks, wood and docks.

Bartletts Ferry is an old Georgia Power lake on the Chattahoochee River north of Columbus and downstream of the West Point Dam. Shoreline rocks have been exposed by years of wave erosion, and docks line the banks. A lot of wood cover—both blowdowns and logs that float in and lodge on the bank—offer bass even more cover.

Bartletts Ferry produced many quality largemouth back in the 1970s and 80s, much like West Point, until water fertility was lowered by diverting Atlanta sewage from the Chattahoochee River. About the same time, spotted bass started infesting the lake. For years it was hard to catch a largemouth, and many tournaments were won with five spotted bass weighing less than 10 pounds.

The good news for largemouth bass is that hydrilla got started a few years ago, especially up the river. Although there is an active spraying program to kill this invasive water plant, what is left helps the largemouth by giving them a place to hide and feed when young. Now, 4-lb. largemouth are caught in most tournaments, so the quality is improving.

Kyle Welcher is the current Angler of the Year for the BASS Elite Series trail this year. That is arguably the highest honor of the most competitive tournament trail. To win the point standings for the year, an angler must be consistently good all year in tournaments ranging from Florida to New York, while fishing against the best bass fishermen in the world.

Kyle grew up near Bartletts Ferry and now lives “two minutes” from the Long Bridge Ramp. When he is home, he often fishes local pot tournaments and is on Bartletts many other days, too. He constantly hones his fishing skills.

Jason Williamson, his travel partner on the Elite Trail, said Kyle is the most intense fisherman he knows. I saw his intensity in September while practicing for a club tournament on Bartletts Ferry.

I was up the river near Blanton Creek and saw a boat in the distance. It ran in on plane, and by the time the front of the boat settled, the fisherman had his trolling motor in the water and was casting. When I got closer, I saw it was Kyle. His “13 Fishing” wrapped Caymas boat is unmistakable. Kyle said he was “just fishing” that day but was still very intense, concentrating on every cast.

Kyle’s parents were not into fishing, but a friend got started in the Bi-City Bass Club. Kyle says he does not know where his intensity and focus on bass fishing started or came from, it is just natural for him. He has fished the Elite Trail for the past four years and has qualified for three BASS Classics, including the one next year.

Kyle says bass, both spots and largemouth, follow shad into coves and creeks in November, so he concentrates on the biggest secondary point in the coves and creeks. He also scans ditches and channels for baitfish with suspended fish under them.

On deck he will have a buzzbait, jig and small crankbait for casting to shoreline cover. For suspended fish, he keeps a Damiki rig and a spoon ready to catch those bass.

Kyle took time from his hectic schedule to show me how he catches Bartletts Ferry bass. He fished the following 10 locations quickly, while I took notes. He caught one nice largemouth and a few smaller fish on a buzzbait and several keeper spots casting a Dimiki jig to suspended spots he saw on his Garmin Panoptix Livescope.

No. 1: N 32º 41.105 – W 85º 05.718 ­­— Going down the river, there is a big island covered with kudzu on your left. Past the island, a big creek with the boat club in it opens up, and an arm runs to the upstream side of the main creek. Go into that cove to the main point on your left, about halfway back in it. A gray house with a cement seawall is on the point. Rip-rap is at the bottom of the seawall, and natural-rock veins are running out.

Keep your boat out in 12 to 14 feet of water, and fish all the way around the point. Early in the day and if there are any shady patches, throw your buzzbait right against the seawall. If the sun is out, bump a small crankbait on the rocks. Kyle’s favorite is a Rapala OG Tiny 4 in shad colors to match the shad the bass are eating.

No. 2: N 32º 41.178 – W 85º 05.181 ­— Go into the boat club creek and stop out from the boat club ramp on the big main point dividing the two arms of the creek. There are scattered rocks on this point that offer bass good ambush spots for baitfish moving in the creek.

On a cloudy day, Kyle will throw his buzzbait all day. He likes a 1/4-oz. Lost River bait and puts a toad on it, not a skirt. This bait skips under docks easily, and Kyle fishes it with a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy, extra-fast 13 Fishing Envy rod. That length and action helps him make long casts and skip it, too.

Fish all the way around the point with a crankbait if the sun is out. Kyle also fished up the left bank of the point since it was in the shade, and he caught the biggest largemouth of the day here. Hit docks and seawalls along it.

Out on the point, Kyle watches for suspended fish on his forward-facing sonar and casts to them when he sees them. Also fish your jig ’n pig on the rocks on the point. And you may find a little brush to hit, too. Work it carefully, especially on bright days.

No. 3: N 32º 41.455 – W 85º 05.400 — Across the left arm of the creek and about even with the boat club point, a small creek enters. It has two no-wake buoys in the mouth of it. Stop out in the mouth of the small creek about even with the gray double-door boathouse on the right.

Forward-facing sonar is invaluable for this kind of fishing. Kyle says he has found several schools of spotted bass, some with more than 100 fish in them, in similar places. The spots constantly move under the baitfish and are hard to target without good electronics.

You can watch for surface activity or blind cast. Even with a flasher, you can locate the schools of shad and fish around them. To the fish he sees, Kyle casts a 1/4-oz. Damili jig with a 2.5-inch shad-colored soft swimbait on it.

You can catch a bunch of spots doing this, but they will mostly be fish less than 14 inches—good to eat but not really the fish to win most tournaments. You can also catch them on a 1/4-oz. silver spoon by jigging it around fish on the bottom or letting it fall through suspended fish.

No. 4: N 32º 40.512 – W 85º 05.230 — Go downstream around the island and into the mouth of the double cove past the island on the Georgia side. The biggest point on your right, about halfway into the cove, has a gray house behind a cement seawall. There is a gray dock in the cove on the downstream side of the house.

Stop out in 15 feet of water and cover this seawall like the other places.  Fish your buzzbait from right against the wall out over the point under low-light conditions. Follow up with a crankbait and a jig. Fish all the way around the point.

A little wind blowing in on this point and others will help the bite. Waves breaking up the surface makes it harder for bass to identify your bait as fake. Wind also moves algae. Shad follow the algae feeding on it, and the bass follow and feed on the shad. Wind direction is not as important as long as it makes waves on the point, but direct wind slapping waves against the seawall seems to be best.

No. 5: N 32º 40.403 – W 85º 05.299 — A little ways toward the mouth of the same creek, an old gray mobile home is up on the hill behind an old wooden walkway that runs along the bank, and there is rip-rap under it. There are also big natural rocks out on the bottom past the rip-rap. The transition from rip-rap smaller rocks to bigger ones often attracts fish.

Fish this point with a buzzbait and crankbait, and then bump bottom with your jig, hitting every piece of wood and rock. Kyle fishes fast, keeping his Motor Guide trolling motor on high and making fast casts. He keeps his buzzbait churning across the top and runs his crankbait quickly.

Kyle says he will slow down and make casts closer together when there is a lot of cover to hit. But on open seawalls, hitting about every 15 feet along it is the way he fishes it.

No. 6: N 32º 40.197 – W 85º 05.574 — Across the river, a long narrow island parallels the banks, and the downstream end of it is a long shallow point. A water willow grassbed runs on top of the point, and there is a rockpile off the end of the point in 8 to 12 feet of water.

Kyle says in November he does not fish grassbeds like he does other times of the year. Here he works his crankbait over the rocks a couple casts, and then he bumps them with his jig. Current moving over this area when power is being generated at the nearby dam makes the bite much better.

Stop on the river side of the point and cast across it, hitting the rocks from that side. Then fish around the point, staying off the rockpile far enough to cast to it, but not getting right on top of it and potentially scaring the fish. Keep going around, and fish your bait from the bank side over it, too.

No. 7: N 32º 39.741 – W 85º 06.097 — Go into the creek on the Alabama side at the dam that has the public ramp in the back. Watch on the right for a gray-and-white house with brick columns around it supporting a porch all the way around the top story. The lot has a wooden seawall in front of it.

Start here and fish upstream, fishing every dock you come to along this bank. Kyle says these docks with posts are on water that is deep enough to bring in the bass, and rocks under most of them provide good cover. Many have brushpiles, too.

Bass use these docks to ambush shad moving up the creek just like they use points. And the docks give them shade on bright days. Kyle will skip his jig under every dock, trying to hit each post on each one.

Kyle designed his signature Ace jig head for Untamed Tackle. It is a compact jig with a strong 4/0 Gamakatsu hook and a fine silicon skirt. He rigs a 3/8-oz. Alabama craw jig with a small chunk and fishes it on 20-lb. Sunline. The strong hook and heavy line allows him to pull fish from docks and heavy cover.

Kyle says small jigs will catch big fish, and he thinks the bass see so many big jigs that the smaller jigs with thin, fine skirts will get more bites. He skips his jig along the surface to a dock post and lets it fall, then working it quickly to cover water in search of feeding fish.

No. 8: N 32º 39.600 – W 85º 06.023 — On the other side of this creek, a secondary dam blocks off the back of a cove. The upstream point is rocky and offers a good ambush point for shad going up the creek and into the cove. It has big floodlights on it that attract baitfish to the area at night, too.

Fish all the way around the point with a buzzbait early and follow up with  a crankbait and jig. Fish it at all angles, covering it from right on the bank out to 10 feet deep. Current running across this point makes it much more productive.

No. 9: N 32 40.739 – W 85 06.693 — Go up the river past the big island on your left, and head into the cove just upstream of the next small island. Go back to where there is a white dock on metal poles on your left, and start fishing everything along that bank. It will be shady most of the day and holds fish better than some other areas.

There are rocks along this bank for about 100 yards. Hit the bank with your buzzbait, and skip it under every dock. Bump poles with your squarebill. Skip a jig to each pole and let it fall to the bottom. Fish to the last dock that has rock behind or under it.

No. 10: N 32º 40.527 – W 85º 06.748 — Go around the upstream point into the next cove. It is a smaller cove, but shad move into it and bass will hold on the docks and other cover like in other places. Start at the wooden walkway along the bank that has posts supporting it and rocks under it.

Fish all the cover like you did on hole nine. It is very similar with rocks, docks and shade. Old docks seem to hold fish better, maybe because they have more algae to attract shad and bluegill.

On all these places you will catch both spots and largemouth up shallow, but your average fish, including spots, will be bigger than fishing for suspended spots.

Fish these 10 spots to see the kinds of places Kyle likes in November. They and others like them will produce bass for you.

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