Bass On Beautiful Burton

The spotted bass and largemouth grow big and fat on this little gem of a reservoir in the northeast Georgia mountains.

Ronnie Garrison | December 3, 2014

When you think about world-class spotted bass fishing, Lake Lanier probably instantly comes to mind. Just a little farther north is Lake Burton, a beautiful, much less crowded lake that is full of big spots. Burton boasts the current state-record spot, an 8-lb., 2-oz. beauty caught by Wayne Holland in 2005. Burton has some huge largemouth, too.

Lake Burton is a 2,775-acre Georgia Power Co. lake not far from Clayton. There is a state park on the lake and a few other public ramps, but mostly it is ringed by very, very nice houses, including huge homes owned by Alabama football coach Nick Saban and country music star Alan Jackson. This mountain lake is quite scenic, to say the least.

The scenery and nice houses are just a minor distraction when fishing, however. When you are catching quality largemouth and spots, it tends to take your attention away from everything else.

Burton has a state fish hatchery located on its shores, and trout are stocked regularly in the lake. The bass very much appreciate the protein mega-meals these stocked trout provide. In fact, big spots and largemouth feed so heavily on the trout that the bass can be tough to catch at times. Bass also feed on blueback herring in the lake, so they have plenty of food to grow fat and healthy.

Joe Thompson grew up and still lives 5 miles from the lake. He graduated from Young Harris College this past spring where he was on the competitive bass-fishing team.

Joe likes to fish Burton. He and his father have done well in many tournaments on the lake, and now he fishes pot and benefit tournaments in the area. Joe also plans on fishing the BFLs next year.

Joe Thompson with a pretty spotted bass that hit an under-spin during a trip to Lake Burton last month.

“By December, the bass are moving deep, setting up for their winter holding areas,” Joe said.

Coves and banks on the main lake are the best places to catch both largemouth and spots this month, and the fishing pattern is fairly simple.

First, Joe finds a cove with a ditch leading to the deep water. He starts fishing where it is 40 feet deep, and he works up the cove to more shallow water until he finds the bass. Baitfish need to be in the area, and you can sometimes see the bass under them. But at times they are right on the bottom and hard to see on a depthfinder.

“Three baits will cover all the fishing you will do, but others work, too,” Joe said.

He’s always ready with a Super Spin, which is a new under-spin bait like a Fishhead Spin, a jig ’n pig and a drop shot. Early in the morning, he will sometimes fish a jerkbait in the backs of the pockets. If the fishing is tough, he will also throw a jig-head worm.

The Super Spin is made by Superfish Baits and Rods. Joe likes the 1/2-oz. bait with a Crazy Chrome Swimming Fluke on it. He likes the Super Spin because the blade spins well as it falls. When fishing deep, he will use a small blade on it. But he will go to a bigger blade for lift in more shallow water, rather than using a lighter bait.

A brown or green 1/2- or 3/4-oz. Jewell football-head jig with a green-pumpkin Rage Craw, Creepy Craw or Fat Albert twin-tail trailer works well for Joe, and he always dips the tails in chartreuse JJ’s Magic. He says the spots really like that chartreuse flash.

The drop shot is rigged with a 1/4-oz. tear-drop shaped sinker to come through brush better. He rigs a 6-inch Robo Spot Tail Shad about 16 to 18 inches above the weight. He likes braid main line with a 10-foot Segar fluorocarbon leader.

For slow fishing, a 3/16-oz. Spot Sticker jig head with a 6-inch green pumpkin, watermelon or watermelon candy Trick Worm or Swamp Crawler worm works well. He will dip their tails in chartreuse, too. And, any jerkbait about the size of the Megabass Vision 110 works well in blueback colors on Lake Burton this time of year.

Joe has landed several 6- to 8-lb. largemouth at Burton, with one topping 9 pounds. He’s also caught a Burton spot that weighed 7.8 pounds, and he’s had five-fish limits weighing more than 25 pounds in tournaments.

There are quality bass in Burton!

Joe showed me around Burton in mid-November, and we landed about a dozen spots and one good largemouth. The fishing on the following 10 places will be even better now.

No. 1: N 34º 47.653 – W 83º 32.391 — The dam is a good place to fish, since there are always trout and other baitfish here. And bass hold on the dam wall. You can get right in on the wall and fish a Super Spin or jerkbait parallel right beside it. It is good all the way across, but the corners are the best spots.

If Georgia Power is generating, there will be a little current at the dam that helps, and there is some brush in front of the gate on top of the dam on the right side that concentrates bass. Joe had a grown bass that looked to be 8 pounds of so swirl at his jerkbait when we fished, and we saw small trout holding near the wall and dimpling the water out from it.

On your first pass across the dam, keep your Super Spin near the surface, and work your jerkbait fairly shallow, too. Joe says these suspended bass will come up to hit, but they’re not likely to go down for a bait. Make another pass fishing your baits a little deeper.

No. 2: N 34º 47.647 – W 83º 32.606 — To the right side of the dam is a cove with three fingers. Go into the one to the left, the first one from the dam. A double boat house is on the right bank, while there are no houses or docks on the left.

This spot offers an excellent example of the main pattern Joe fishes this month. There is a ditch running out of this cove. Stop with your boat in the middle of the cove in 40 feet of water. Fan-cast your Super Spin all around the ditch, letting it sink to the bottom, and then slowly reeling it back just off the bottom. Watch for little breaks in the ditch edge. Those breaks are where there are rocks on it, and the bass are concentrated on them.

Also drag your football-head jig along the bottom in this cove. When you get to about 15 feet deep, try your jerkbait around the back of the cover. Fish move into the shallow brush in the morning to feed, and this cove stays shady longer than most other spots, offering a longer shallow bite.

No. 3: N 34º 47.743 – W 83º 32.586 — Skip by the middle pocket to head to the pocket on the far side of this cove. It splits a little in the back, and the point between the two ditches has rip-rap around it that is high and dry with the lake level down. Look for a light-brown double boat house on the right ditch.

Bass move up the main ditch and stop and hold on the end of the point where it steps down into the ditches on either side. Start fishing here in 40 feet of water, and fish toward the point. When you are close enough to cast to the point, cover the end and both sides with Super Spin and jig.

Watch your depthfinder here and in other places. When you see baitfish with fish under them, or even if you don’t see fish under them, make several casts to cover the bottom under the baitfish. Sometimes bass are right on the bottom, so you will not see them.

No. 4: N 34º 47.909 – W 83º 32.462 — Go across the lake and upstream a little. On your right is a pocket with a rock seawall on the upstream point and a small wooden dock down from the point. It’s just before a white double boat dock. Joe said this location produced a 5-lb. spot for him during a tournament.

Fish it like the other locations, starting in the back early in the morning with a jerkbait, and then going out to 40 feet of water and working up the ditch with Super Spin and jig. Joe likes to cast the Super Spin first since he can cover water faster with it than the jig. When he finds bass, he will then throw the jig to them.

No. 5: N 34º 51.872 – W 83º 32.601 — Run all the way up the Toccoa River until you see the bridge in the back. On your left is a point with a rock seawall and a small dock on it. Just inside the downstream side of the point (as you’re going into the pocket) is a green double boat house with canvas doors and street-light-type lights.

There really aren’t many long underwater points on Burton, according to Joe, but the little corners of the coves often hold fish. This one usually does. There are lots of rocks on this corner, making it more attractive.

Stop out in 30 plus feet of water, and cover the corner with all your baits. This is a good spot to use a jig head. Once it got past noon the day we fished, the bite got tough on everything but a jig head, so if you are not getting bites on other baits, try a finesse bait. You are less likely to catch bigger fish— the jig and Super Spin are better big-fish baits—but we caught several spots and a largemouth in the 3-lb. range on the jig-head worm.

After fishing the corner, work to the back of the cove, fishing the ditch until you get to 15 feet or so of water. Then try your jerkbait around the back. Joe says the fish in December will be anywhere from the back in 10 feet or so of water out to 40 feet, but the key range seems to be 18 to 30 feet deep, so cover those depths carefully.

No. 6: N 34º 51.879 – W 83º 32.417 —
Across the lake, a narrow cove goes back in from the open water. There are houses and docks on the left side going in, but none on the right side. The downstream point has a rock seawall around it.

Joe will fish all his baits here, but he said this spot is particularly good with a drop shot. Start on the corner of the point, and fish in, watching your electronics for baitfish and bass under the bait. Usually Joe fishes his drop shot straight down under the boat, but if the fish are spooky, he will cast it ahead of the boat and fish it back.

Back in this cut is a good area to fish a jerkbait. There is less of a channel here, and the back is flatter. Bass moving up feed on the flat. There is good rock on the corner to hold fish and some cover in the cut to attract them.

No. 7: N 34º 51.623 – W 83º 32.911 —
Run back downstream, and the river starts a dogleg to the right. Ahead of you on the bank is a gray boathouse with octagonal windows. It sits on a very steep bank that is a rounded point. The stairs leading up to the house have white pickets on the fence along it, and you can see power poles and lights in front of the house.

Stop just downstream of this dock in 30 to 40 foot deep water. This bank drops off very fast, and you won’t be far off the bank. The big rocks here hold bass. Joe says this is good place to get in fairly close and make 45-degree angle casts to the bank with a shaky head and drop shot. You have to fish slowly to keep your bait on the bottom, so those baits are best since it is hard to keep a Super Spin near the bottom.

Fish downstream to the next dock and the small pocket downstream of it. Fish the pocket, and try your baits in the middle of it, too. Fish them from 15 feet deep out to at least 30 feet deep.

No. 8: N 34º 51.385 – W 83º 33.194 — Downstream and across the lake, after it turns back to the left and starts to straighten out, you will see two big blowdowns on the bank. A pocket is upstream of them, and it has a brown wooden dock in it. Big rocks along the bank and the wood cover hold bass here.

Start fishing just upstream of the first blowdown on the upstream side, and fish down the bank with a shaky head. We got a nice largemouth and spot off this bank. All these places hold a mixture of both species. Cast up to fairly shallow water, and work your bait back to 30 feet deep. Cast around the wood cover, too.

No. 9: N 34º 50.436 – W 83º 33.796 — Downstream past the mouth of Dick’s Creek, there is a round bank where the lake is wide. It leads around to where the lake narrows way down. Up on the hill you can see tree stubs where a tornado hit a few years ago. The storm blew a lot of brush and debris into the lake.

Start fishing about even with the brown boathouse that has a white picket railing around the top and bottom. Fish a drop shot or jig head around the brush. It is on the bottom from the bank out to 40 feet deep, which is about as deep as Joe wants to fish.

Fish slowly, watching for brush under the boat as you fan-cast ahead of you. Joe says this is a good place to spend all day because there is so much brush to fish. Fish all the way down this bank to the small cove.

When we fished, water visibility was about 10 feet, but Joe says it is usually 20 feet by December, so make long casts. For fishing straight under the boat, water 30 to 40 feet deep is best.

No. 10: N 34º 49.777 – W 83º 33.076 — Downstream on your left and across the lake, across from the upstream point of Moccasin Creek, is a rock seawall on a rounded point. It is downstream of a white dock that has a brown screened-in room on top. Start just downstream of the dock, and fish down this point with drop shot and shaky head.

Stay out in 40 feet of water, and cast toward the seawall, covering water from 10 to 40 feet deep. Big rocks under the water here hold bass. A small point of rock comes off the seawall near where it goes into a small pocket. Cover it carefully.

These are 10 good places to catch spots and largemouth this month. Bass were already on them a couple of weeks ago, and these locations will get better all month long.

Oakwood Bait and Tackle carries the Super Spin, or you can order them by calling (770) 654-2892.

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