Bartletts Ferry’s September Bass
Map-of-the-Month article with 10 locations to find bass on the structure.
Bartletts Ferry is one of the best lakes around for fishing deep structure in September. The lake is full of shallow points that border deep water, a prime place to find fall bass. If you like probing points for bass, Bartletts is the place.
Also known as Lake Harding, Bartletts Ferry is an old lake on the Chattahoochee River along the Georgia/Alabama line with some small creeks on the Georgia side and a main tributary, Halawakee Creek, on the Alabama side.
The lake is lined with docks and houses and gets very crowded in warm weather. Skidoos get into every little pocket of the lake, making it difficult to fish. Fortunately, in September activity begins to decrease some, and you can usually fish the lake even on weekends, especially before lunch. If the lake is crowded, don’t expect any enforcement of the 100-foot regulation, either.
From the dam to the mouth of Halawakee Creek and up that creek, the points where they enter the main lake form structure that give bass a deep-water holding area, and fish stack up on them. Fishing these points is an excellent way to catch September bass here. In early September, bass are holding deep on the sides and ends of main-lake points, and they move up on them to feed. As the water starts to cool toward the end of the month, they hold a little more shallow but are in the same areas they have been all summer. And they continue to feed in the same shallow places on the point.
To catch them this month, find a school in deep water and then stick with them. They should feed all month in the same places and hold nearby. Unless the water cools faster then normal this year, they will not move far the whole month.
I started fishing Bartletts in the mid-1970s. Although the lake has changed over the years and bass have gotten more difficult to catch there just like everywhere else, Bartletts still produces some excellent stringers.
To fish effectively during the day you need to get out on the main-lake Bartletts Ferry’s September Bass points, so it is important that boat traffic begins to die down. Fish seem to bite better in the afternoon, moving up onto the points and feeding, and it is easier to fish the main points if you are not being rocked and almost run over by other boats.
I always have four outfits rigged and ready when fishing Bartletts in September. A big crankbait like a Fat- Free Shad or a Mann’s 20 Plus, a Texas-rigged worm, a Carolina-rigged worm and a spoon allow me to cover a point and find the fish.
Since I want to try big worms and small ones until I find a pattern, I usually have more than one Texas rig and Carolina rig. One Texas rig will have a big worm like a Mag 2 on a 4/0 hook behind a 1/4-oz. lead. The other will have a smaller worm like a six-inch UTail or a Trick Worm on a 2/0 hook behind a 3/16-oz. lead. Junebug, watermelon and green pumpkin are the best colors.
On the Carolina rigs I usually have an Old Monster rigged on a 6/0 hook tied to an 18- to 24-inch leader with a 1/2-oz. lead. On another I will rig a Finesse worm on a 1/0 hook and a 36-inch leader. They will usually be the same colors as the Texas-rigged worms.
Texas rigs are fished on 15-lb. PLine and the main line on the Carolina rigs are the same, but I use a 12-lb. Berkley Vanish leader on the little worm and a 14-lb. Vanish leader on the bigger worm.
Shad colors are the choice for the big crankbaits. The water is usually clear this time of year, and the natural colors seem best. I want the plug to hit bottom in 12- to 14-feet of water, and I usually rig them on 8-lb. P-Line. A Hopkins Shorty or Cordell spoon rigged on 15-lb. line is on a jigging rod and completes my structure arsenal.
To find the fish, ride the points and look for them on your electronics. If the bass are feeding, they will usually move up on top of the point and hold in a sweet spot like a brush pile, rocks or hard bottom. If your graph shows fish or shad on top of the point, or if the bottom looks uneven, fish it.
If you see fish holding on the sides of the point, they are worth trying for, too. Bass suspended off the point over deep water means it is a good place to check later, but those bass are hard to catch. Check back, and fish for them if they move into contact with the bottom.
Once you learn the structure, you can stop and fish it without riding over it. I prefer to pull up to a point and cover the top of it with a crank bait and worm, then get on top of it and work the worms up the drop toward shallow water. Once you learn the point you can fish the holding areas on it both ways.
Anytime I see fish on the bottom on my front depthfinder, I try to drop a spoon down to them. Active fish will hit it, but so will inactive fish holding on the side of the point. Jig it up and down in front of them several times, and they will have a hard time passing up an easy meal.
The following spots are places I have found and fished over the years. They should pay off for you, and there are dozens more similar to them on the lake. GPS coordinates are shown.
The dam on the Alabama side drops off fast into deep water and has a small ridge running off it. Bass hold here year-round and feed on passing shad. Look for a huge new house with lots of windows and a turret. There is a boathouse on the upriver side of the point. Facing the point from the lake, a small ridge runs toward the dam from the center of the point. Another shallow area runs off the upstream side out from the boat house. Fish across both of these with a big crank bait and worms. Try to hit bottom with the plug from 10 to 15 feet deep all along the ridge. Start with your boat on the downstream side of the point and cast upstream across it. When you work around to the boathouse, cast back across that area working from the lake back into the pocket. Fish all around this point with worms and crank baits.
2. N 32 40.133 W 85 05.671 — Just upstream of point No. 1 a long island runs across the mouth of the second small creek on the Alabama side. It has a big water-willow bed on the downstream point, and fish will move into the grass to feed. If you ride across the end of the point out from the grassbed, it runs way out shallow.
Start on the creek side of the point and cast across it, working toward the dam. Go parallel to the point until you can no longer hit bottom with your crankbait, then turn and move toward the lake. Watch your depth finder and stay way out, keeping your boat in at least 20 feet of water and casting up toward the point. As you come around the end of the point work upstream casting across it from the other side.
The river channel runs parallel to this island and there is a good break line down about 25 feet deep. If you work upstream casting toward the bank, keep your eye on your depthfinder and follow that break line. If you see fish, drop your spoon down to them. This is also a good place to cast a worm parallel to the bank and work the breakline with it. Several years ago in late summer Ricky Cooper caught a 5-lb. largemouth dragging a worm along this break line from the back of my boat. We were practicing for a club tournament when he landed it.
After fishing deep to shallow, move your boat into shallow water and cast out toward the lake. Drag a worm over the breakline and probe for trash. Wood often washes in here and sticks as it comes down the river, so try to locate anything that gives the fish a place to hold.
3. N 32 41.288 W 85 07.485 — As you go into the mouth of Halawakee Creek a roadbed crosses the creek, running off the first main point to your right. Watch for a very narrow point with pines on it. There are some blowdowns on the right side if you are facing it. Don’t get in very close, this point runs way out and is shallow a long way from the bank. Start on the downstream side and cast up across the point with a crank bait. Watch your depthfinder and stay out in at least 20 feet of water and work the top of the point, fishing all the way around it. Continue casting back downstream across it as you work along the upstream side. Move in more shallow and cast worms across the point and from the top of it out to deeper water. Watch your depth finder and feel with your worm for brush and rock. Stop and make several casts to any cover you locate on this point.
4. N 32 41.194 W 85 07.592 — Across the lake and upstream you will see a house-for-sale sign on the Halawakee Creek side of a point at the mouth of a creek. It is a small two-story house and there is a concrete boat dock on the left toward the inside of the creek. This point runs out downstream parallel to Halawakee Creek, and the channel swings in near the bank out from the for sale sign.
Start on the upstream side of this point and cast a plug across it. Work all the way around it, keeping a watch on your depthfinder for brush and fish but also so you won’t get in too close. After fishing it with the crank bait move up into about 10 feet of water and cast out toward the deeper water, working all the way around the point.
There is a rockpile on the outside of this point, and it is where I had one of my best catches at Bartletts. Vance Sharp and I were fishing it one Wednesday afternoon years ago and saw fish holding off the point just after lunch. We came back at 4 p.m. and they had moved into contact with the side of the point. We landed more than 20 bass in two hours, and the best 10 weighed just a little over 30 pounds. All were between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 pounds.
5. N 32 41.334 W 85 07.795 — Go around the point into the next big cove and you will see power lines crossing near the mouth of it. If you idle under the third orange airplane ball from the upstream bank you will run across a ridge. It tops out about eight feet deep here but runs out from the upstream bank almost all the way across the cove.
Start with your boat out toward the creek and cast up to this shallow water. Work all around it with crankbaits and worms, but be sure to stop your boat on top of the ridge under that third ball. Sitting there, cast out toward the main creek and you will come up the drop through some rocks and brush. Many tournaments have been won right there.
6. N 32 41.694 W 85 07.971 — Across Halawakee Creek the power lines come out on the bank on a big shallow point. Most of the point is just downstream of where they go across the shoreline. This point is big and hard to fish unless you ride it and locate fish or cover. Look for fish holding in 14 to 18 feet of water, that seems to be a good depth in September. When you spot fish or cover, work it with your crankbait if it is shallow enough to hit, or the worms if it is deeper.
7. N 32 41.276 W 85 08.546 — Running upstream just before you get to the bridge there is a creek on the left. A big round point sits just inside the mouth of this creek. It has a nice house on the point with a a couple of big rocks and juniper bushes in the yard. If you idle straight in toward the rocks you will be running up a ridge off this point. Cast a crank bait around this point but work up it in a line with the rocks and bushes until you are in 10 to 12 feet of water. Turn and cast toward the far bank, aiming at the area from the bridge to the riprap bank to the right of it. You will come up a drop and across rocks and rough bottom where fish like to hold.
8. N 32 41.346 W 85 08.917 — Go under the bridge and look to your left. A narrow point runs out parallel to the bridge and has a pine tree right on the end of it. Fish it like the others, staying out in 20-plus feet of water and casting a plug to the top as you work around the point, then get on top of the point and work a worm up from deep to shallow.
9. N 32 41.358 W 85 09.188 — Across the creek is an island sitting just off the bank. On the upriver side of the island the water drops off fast from the saddle between the bank and the island. Keep your boat on the upstream side of the island and fish a crankbait, casting up onto the saddle and bringing it back to deeper water. Work from the island to the bank. When you get to the bank move into the saddle and cast out, working up the drop with a worm. The bottom is rough and fish hold here. Be careful if the lake is busy, careless boaters mindlessly
10. N 32 41.057 W 85 09.439 — Upstream and across the lake a small creek runs parallel to the big creek. An old road bed runs off the end of this point. Out on the point you will see a yard swing and some riprap around the bank. Fish this point like the others, working around it casting from deep to shallow then moving up on it and bring your bait from deep to shallow. Be sure to sit on the inside of the small creek and cast across the point toward the main creek. run through the gap.
These are some of my favorite September holes on Bartletts Ferry. Check them out to see the kind of structure that I like to fish, then look for other similar places. You should have good luck on this pattern this month.
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