Blackshear Bass On Shallow Cover
Brewton-Parker fishing coach Stephen Birchfield marks a Blackshear map with 10 locations for wintertime largemouth.
Fishy-looking cypress trees, docks, brush and grass, plus December bass that love to hold and feed in that shallow cover. What more could a bass angler ask for in December? Lake Blackshear has it all, and those shallow December bass will hit a variety of baits.
Lake Blackshear is an 8,500-acre Crisp County Power Commision reservoir on the Flint River between Cordele and Americus. It was dammed in 1930, but the dam washed out in the Tropical Storm Alberto floods of 1994 and had to be rebuilt, resulting in a renewal of the lake. Bass fishing improved in the “new” Lake Blackshear, and it now takes 20-lb. stringers to win many tournaments there.
The lower lake features the more open reservoir habitat on Blackshear, with many sloughs and creeks filled with cypress trees and grassbeds. The upper lake above the Highway 280 causeway is very shallow with extensive cypress swamps. The river muddies up from fall rains, but creeks on the lower lake remain clearer most of the time.
Stephen Birchfield is an assistant basketball coach at Brewton-Parker College, and he also coaches the bass team at the private Christian school, which is located in Mount Vernon in Montgomery County. Stephen’s parents have owned a house in Swift Creek for the past six years, and he spends a lot of time there, fishing the lake and learning about the bass and how they respond during different months of the year.
“The kids say I put the bass in basketball,” Steven said, adding that he enjoys working with both teams. And he’s excited the college is going to start offering fishing scholarships next year. They hope to have 20 members on the team for next year.
For catching Blackshear bass in December, Stephen recommends starting with topwater.
“Early in the morning, bass chase shad into shallow water and feed on them,” Stephen said.
In the mornings, Stephen will throw an Alabama Rig, fluke and Spook early around schooling fish.
As the sun gets bright, the bass move to shade under docks and cypress trees, and then you need to slow down to catch them. His go-to bait is a Texas-rigged worm, but he will throw a spinnerbait and Shad Rap, too. He keeps a frog ready for any green grass he comes across.
No matter where you go on Blackshear, it looks “fishy.” Every cypress tree looks like a lunker bass would be holding under it. Almost all the docks are set on wooden posts, rather than floating on pontoons, and many docks also have brushpiles under and around them. The grassbeds also seem like the perfect places where bass would be feeding. The problem with a lake like Blackshear where everywhere looks fishy is that bass tend to concentrate in some areas while not using others.
Stephen and I fished the following 10 places in early November. These are tried-and-true spots where Stephen knows bass feed in December.
No. 1: N 31º 50.574 – W 83º 54.269 — Upstream of the Highway 300 bridge in Swift Creek, there’s an old railroad trestle that comes off the north bank. The channel runs near the south bank at the end of it, and bass move out of the channel and chase shad between the channel and the bank in the mornings. This is an early topwater spot.
Stephen likes to throw a Flash Mob A-Rig in this area in the morning. Swirling fish indicate feeding fish, but they will often hit the rig even when not surfacing. Keep your boat in the channel, and make long casts toward the bank, working the rig back to the boat.
He will also work a Spook over this area, but floating grass often makes it hard to work it effectively. Fish from the old railroad downstream. Some wind blowing in here will make the fishing better and will move the grass to the bank, keeping it more open.
Before you leave this area, fish around the old pilings with a Texas-rigged worm. There is some brush between the third and fourth pilings from the end, and it is often a key place for bass to hold, so work it carefully.
No. 2: N 31º 50.707 – W 83º 54.264 — The shallow docks downstream of the railroad causeway on your right going downstream are a good place where fish move to get out of the sun and feed later in the day. Go to the first long dock on the upstream side of this line of docks, and then fish downstream to the red boathouse that has a blue dock in front of it.
Skip a worm under the docks, concentrating on all the dock posts. Stephen likes a Zoom curly tail worm in junebug, and he Texas rigs it with as small a sinker as he can get away with based on wind. Let the worm fall on slack line, so it falls straight down. Watch carefully for any line movement indicating a bite. Also feel for brush around the front of the docks, and fish the worm through any brushpiles you find.
No. 3: N 31º 51.022 – W 83º 55.510 — Downstream of the Swift Creek Bridge, the creek swings to the left. Straight ahead there is long flat bank that is lined with docks. A gray boathouse has a “Charles Greer” sign on it, and it has rod holders and lights on it. Start at this dock, and work upstream.
There is one cypress tree well off the bank near that dock. Never pass an isolated tree like this—they really attract bass. Cast a spinnerbait past the tree, and run it right by the trunk. Stephen likes a KVD white-and-chartreuse spinnerbait. Fish it at different angles by the tree.
After fishing the tree with a spinnerbait, drop your worm around the tree. Try to hit the trunk, and let it fall silently into the water, but remember cypress roots extend out in a donut-shaped ball, so fish all around cypress trees.
The seawall behind the tree is very shallow, but bass will feed right against it, especially early in the morning. Cast as close to the wall as possible, and run the bait back to the boat. Be ready for a bite as soon as the bait hits the water. We lost a solid 2 1/2-pounder here that sucked in the bait when it hit the water and jumped immediately before we could set the hook.
Fish the docks all along this bank all the way to the cove on the upstream end of the bank. There’s a group of cypress trees at the mouth of the cove that Stephen says often holds several bass. Work the bases and roots of all of these trees.
No. 4: N 31º 55.001 – W 83º 55.953 — Run up the river toward the causeway. About halfway to it, Cedar Creek enters on your right. Across the river from Cedar Creek—on your left—the bank is shallow, and there are scattered cypress trees that dot the water way off the bank. Stop on this bank out from a small cove that has a red-roof dock on the upstream side and a silver-roof dock with a flag on the downstream side.
A ditch runs from near the biggest cypress tree out from the mouth of the cove back into the cove. Start fishing at that big tree, working into the cove along the ditch. This is the path the bass use moving in and out. Fish all the trees on both sides of the ditch.
In the cove, fish the docks, working the posts and any brush you find. There is also a good grassbed on the upstream side of the cove. Stephen says bass will feed in it as long as it is green. Cast your frog all over this grassbed and others like it.
No. 5: N 31º 55.405 – W 83º 55.131 — Go across the river upstream of Cedar Creek, and watch for a small ditch about halfway between the mouth of the creek and Lincoln Pinch. There is a brown-roof dock with a flag on it on the upstream side, and there’s a screened dock on the downstream side.
Fish all the docks and seawalls on both sides and all the way back into this ditch. There is also a small private boat ramp in it that often holds a bass. On the docks, pay attention to where you get bit. Sometimes bass seem to set up on one particular post on all the docks, so if you get bit consistently on a front post, hit those posts first.
Especially later in the month, bass tend to hold in the mouths of these kinds of ditches, so fish your A-Rig all over it. Also run a No. 5 Shad Rap in shad colors along the fronts of docks. We lost a decent bass here that hit a worm under a dock. The bass came straight toward the boat, making it hard to set the hook.
No. 6: N 31º 54.734 – W 83º 55.306 — The upstream point of Cedar Creek has deep water close to it. This attracts bass all month long that like to hold deep and then move shallow to feed. There are big cypress trees on the point offering a lot of shade, and docks go around the point, with grassbeds between them.
Fish the docks and trees with a worm. Get the worm as far back under the overhanging limbs of the trees as possible. Spanish moss on the limbs may tangle your line, and the cypress cones will cut it, but it is worth the trouble to get back into the darkest places under the cypress trees.
Start at the small yellow dock on the river that is upstream of the mouth of the creek, and work around the point into the creek. The dock at the mouth of the creek is a double decker with a huge cypress tree beside it, and both the dock and the tree hold fish. Cast your frog to the grass and around the trees as you work into the creek.
No. 7: N 31º 54.610 – W 83º 54.508 — Go up Cedar Creek past the long point on the left. Just upstream of it, the creek opens on the right and has scattered cypress trees out from the bank. One is well off the bank and is a tall, bare snag. Start at this snag, and fish all the trees and docks in this area.
The channel runs along the outside of this area, and there is a big flat running to the bank from the channel. The flat is an ideal feeding area this time of year. Shad move into the creek to this area when the water cools this month, and bass follow them and concentrate around the bait. Shad dimpling the surface or balls of them on your depthfinder are good signs that bass are in the area.
Try topwater and an A-Rig in the open water, especially if shad are moving around near the surface. Bass follow them and will come up to hit baits higher in the water column. Bass will also hold in the shade of docks and tree to ambush the shad.
No. 8: N 31º 54.113 – W 83º 55.368 — Going down the river, the next cove opens up on your left and splits into three fingers. Go to the second one, straight ahead as you go in. It goes back to the left. The bank ahead of you has a good seawall on it, and there are scattered trees out from it.
Fish the seawall and all the trees as you go back into the arm of the cove. It runs way back, and bass chase shad into it and feed on them. Work both sides of the ditch going in until you get to the back. Run a spinnerbait out from the sides of the ditch, and also fish your worm here.
No. 9: N 31º 50.629 – W 83º 55.748 — Back in Swift Creek, a fork splits off to the right. Upstream of it the bank swings to the right, and the docks along here are excellent this time of year. Stephen starts at the gray double-deck dock with a pallet flag on the upstream side of it.
This is one of the first areas shad move to as the water cools, and bass follow and feed on the bait. These docks are a good place to run a spinnerbait along the sides and let if fall at the end posts. Also run a Shad Rap beside the docks for bass holding under them and ambushing shad moving by.
Some of the docks have brushpiles. Rod holders on the dock are a good indication of brushpiles, and you can often tell its location by the position of the holders. Fish the posts and probe around the docks for brush with your worm.
No. 10: N 31º 50.731 – W 83º 54.414 — Going up Swift Creek on your left, about halfway between the Highway 300 bridge and the old trestle at hole No. 1, before you get to hole No. 2, there is a small opening on your left. There are two white PVC poles at the mouth of the opening on the downstream side.
Start at the mouth of this ditch, and fish the trees around it. Then ease into the ditch—it runs a long way back and has seawalls on both sides. It is narrow enough to fish both sides as you go in. Bass move into this ditch and feed along the seawall and docks back in it.
Pitch your worm right against the seawall, and let if fall. There are overhanging bushes and docks to fish, too. Stephen says it is surprising how many bass you can catch back in this confined area on some days. Fish all the way to the back.
All these places are holding Blackshear bass right now. Give them a try, use Stephen’s baits, and try your own favorites. You can find similar places that hold December bass.
For more information about Brewton-Parker college, visit www.bpc.edu. Stephen is recruiting bass anglers for next year’s fishing team.
Editor’s Note: Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful? Visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/ to purchase an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.
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