Blackshear Bass Shallow In July

Even in the heat of July, there’s a good shallow bite in all that great looking cover on Lake Blackshear.

Ronnie Garrison | June 27, 2019

There is not a more beautiful lake in Georgia than Blackshear, and right now it is full of quality largemouth feeding around grassbeds, lily pads and cypress trees. Catching shallow bass in July is fun, and Blackshear is a lake where anglers can do it.

Lake Blackshear is an 8,500-acre Crisp County Power reservoir on the Flint River between Cordele and Americus. There are several good ramps, but the most popular launch is at Veterans State Park.

Blackshear is shallow, with miles of grassbeds, cypress trees and docks.

Until the dam washed out during the flood of 1994, Lake Blackshear was covered with standing timber and stumps. Now, the lower lake below the Highway 280 bridge and railroad causeway is mostly open, but the lake above the bridges is still dangerous to run if you’re new to the water.

In local tournaments, 15- to 20-lb. stringers are brought in, and some limits approaching 30 pounds are caught every year at Blackshear. The bass are there, but there is so much perfect-looking cover that it is hard to know where to fish.

Travis Branch grew up in and still lives in Leesburg. He owns and operates Buck’s Deer Processing & Taxidermy in Cuthbert. When Travis was about 15 years old, he met local angler Bubba Smith, who took him fishing and taught Travis many secrets of the lake. He has fished Blackshear all his life, and Travis knows it well.

For years, Travis fished tournaments, including those with the Sowega Bass Club, the big Blackshear Easterseals Tournament and local pot tournaments. Now Travis concentrates on fun fishing with his wife, son and daughter. He still keeps up with the fishing and catches good fish on Blackshear.

“You can always catch shallow bass on Blackshear, even on the hottest days in July,” Travis said.

Blackshear is a shallow lake full of awesome-looking bass cover. Travis Branch said you can catch bass shallow in the heat of July.

He said there will always be some Blackshear bass feeding in shallow cover all day long. Grass and lily pad beds are active early and late in the day, and thick hyacinth beds offer total cover all day. The cypress trees all over the lake offer shade and ambush points for the bass.

Travis says he is “old school” when it comes to baits, but he does add some modern baits and rigs to his Blackshear arsenal. A Lunker Lure buzzbait, a Pop-R, paddle tail worm and swim jig will catch bass in the weeds. A Texas-rigged worm and wacky-rigged worm will get bit around cypress trees. There are thick hyacinth beds in many coves and creeks where he punches the mats.

“In July, many bass move to the river ledges, but they will still run in to nearby shallow cover to feed,” Travis said.

You can fish shallow all day or hit the deeper ledges when the sun is high. There are lots of choices on Blackshear.

A Carolina rig, Texas rig and crankbait will catch fish on channel drops.

Travis showed me the following 10 spots in late May. Bass were feeding shallow, and we did not spend any time on ledges, but his electronics showed some bass were already on them.

No. 1: N 31º 58.581 – W 83º 56.468 — Going up the river above the bridges, stay in the marked channel. It runs along the left bank. Not far above the bridge, a small island sits right on the edge of the channel. The upstream point runs parallel to the bank along the channel and has stumps and brush on it that hold bass.

Behind the point and island are grassbeds and cypress trees to fish, especially early and late. The bass holding on the ledge will run in to feed. Work your shallow baits around the grass and trees.

During the day, sit in the river channel in 25 feet of water. Start at the island, and then fish out the point about 150 feet. Cast a Carolina rig up on the shallow point, and slowly drag it off the ledge, feeling for brush and stumps.

Travis rigs a green-pumpkin or black with blue flake lizard or Trick Worm about 3 feet behind a 1/2-oz. sinker. The heavier weight will help find cover. Travis drags the Carolina rig along slowly, bumping the bottom. When he hits cover, he lets the bait soak, letting it sit there for a short time before moving it again.

A Texas rig comes through the brush better, so try it when you find thick cover. Also run a crankbait the same way, bumping the shallow point until it comes off the ledge.

No. 2: N 31º 57.523 – W 83º 56.647 — Going back toward the bridge, a lone cypress tree sits way off the bank on your right, and then more trees mark a line on the edge of the channel toward the bridge. This is another good drop to fish. It runs a long way and has stumps and brush on it, too.

Stop out from the first cypress in 30 feet of water, and cast toward it up on top of the ledge. Work it like the ledge at location No. 1. Drag the Carolina rig until it falls. Also bump a crankbait off the drop, and crawl a Texas rig along the flat to the drop. Travis puts a green-pumpkin Ol’ Monster worm behind a 3/8-oz. sinker and moves it just fast enough to make the tail swim.

A shad-colored deep running crankbait—one that will bump bottom out to 10 feet deep—is a good choice to work on the ledges, too. Cast it up to 5 or 6 feet of water, and bump it along until it clears the ledge. Be ready for a strike as soon as it come off the bottom and comes out over the deeper water.

No. 3: N 31º 57.517 – W 83º 55.347 — Under the railroad bridge, Veterans State Park is on your left between Gum Branch and Boy Scout Slough. A newer “megaramp” is on the bank between the two sloughs. Go in to the ramp, and start fishing the cypress trees and grass to the left when facing it. Work all the cover to the turn into Gum Creek.

Run a buzzbait through the open grass and pads. Fish fast, but try to hit all openings. “Recycled” bass released at the ramp constantly restock this area, making it a high concentration area. Follow up your buzzbait with a Pop-R in the open area. Sometimes the slower-moving popper will get bit better than the buzzbait.

In thicker grass and pads, Travis fishes a 1/4-oz. white or black-and-blue H2O swim jig with a matching Zoom Chunk. He casts the swim jig far back into the grass and pads, and he swims it out, twitching his rod constantly to make it twitch and wiggle. If shad are in the area, use white. If you see bream, try the black-and-blue jig.

No. 4: N 31º 57.711 – W 83º 54.927 — Go into Gum Branch to the old ramp on your right, downstream of the bridge. Across from it, two islands sit out from that bank, and grassbeds, lily pad patches and cypress trees fill the area behind the island to the bank.

Fish around and behind the islands, hitting all the cover. A lone cypress tree sitting out from the others is a prime target. When the sun is not directly overhead during the morning and afternoon, concentrate on the shady side of the tree. When the sun is high, it concentrates the fish directly under the tree around the trunk, making for a smaller target.

Fish the trees with a Texas-rigged worm or wacky-rigged stick worm. Travis rigs a black-and-blue or green-pumpkin Senko or other stick worm weightless on a weedless hook, and he skips it into the shade. It is important to make your bait enter the water quietly, especially when the bass are tight on the trunk.

No. 5: N 31º 57.248 – W 83º 55.362 — The upstream point of Boy Scout Slough has some old dock posts on it. The point is flat and shallow, running a long way out. The sandy bottom here has some stumps on it for cover, and both released and resident bass hold and feed here.

Keep your boat out in about 20 feet of water, and work all the way around the point, casting a Carolina- or Texas-rigged worm to about 5 feet of water and dragging it back.

Drag both worm rigs along the bottom, probing for stumps. When you hit a stump, let the worm sit for a few seconds before moving it again. That pause will often draw a strike. You can also bump your crankbait along the bottom here to cover water more quickly.

No. 6: N 31º 54.621 – W 83º 54.707 — Go down to Cedar Creek on your left, and go back into the creek. Three quarters of the way back in it, the channel makes a swing in by points with cypress trees on both sides. Travis starts on the left point, fishing all the grass and pads with a buzzbait, popper and swim jig.

Also fish a junebug or watermelon-red Budda Baits Paddletail Swagger Worm behind a 1/16-oz. sinker. Swim it through all the grass and pads here and in other places. Fish it fast enough to keep the tail kicking on each cast.

Hit the cypress trees with both a Texas-rigged and wacky-rigged worm. Remember the big root balls around each cypress tree. The roots usually extend out as far as the limb line of tree. Work the baits slowly through the roots. Bass hold and feed in the roots that are in the shade of the tree.

No. 7: N 31º 53.758 – W 83º 55.605 — Downstream of Cedar Creek, on the same side, the second slough is named Wolfs Thick. A narrow opening goes back to a pond, and the ditch from it runs across a shallow flat. There is a small island in the mouth of it. Downstream of the island there is a green-roofed dock, then three silver-topped ones, and then a red one.

Stop out from the island in about 10 feet of water, and fish the grass in the mouth of the slough, working all your baits through it. Travis says there is a different kind of grass growing here that attracts bass, so watch for something that looks different. Fish it thoroughly.

Work the trees in the mouth, too. You can also fish back into the pond. Some July bass may move into the very shallow water off the river, but the outside grass and trees are usually better here.

No. 8: N 31º 52.933 – W 83º 55.642 — Going downstream, a small creek enters on your left at Fort Early. Upstream of the small creek, a long shallow point runs out with three cypress trees marking the end of the point. Stop out in 15 feet of water, and fish all the way around this point, fishing your two worm rigs and crankbait.

Fish the pockets on either side of the point, too. Bass use the point to hold on and as a highway to the shallow feeding areas. Work all the grass and trees in both the pockets and on the point. Fish the trees with wacky-rigged and Texas-rigged worms.

Travis rigs a black-and-blue or watermelon-red Zoom U-Tail Worm with a 1/8-oz. Gambler rattle weight, and he skips it quietly to the bases of the trees. A big splash will often spook the bass. You can also cast to the trunk above the water, hit it and let the worm drop quietly into the water.

Work the worm through the root ball all around the trees, shaking your rod tip to make the weight rattle. Concentrate on shady areas under the trees. Work the worm slowly, crawling it up a root, shaking it, and then letting it fall back.

No. 9: N 31º 51.838 – W 83º 56.600 — For a different pattern, run across the lake to Duck Blind Slough, the last creek on that side before the dam. Idle in—there is standing timber and stumps in the mouth of it. A danger marker sits way off the bank.

In the slough, hyacinth beds line both sides. They are thick and run out from the bank, with water up to 4 feet deep under the outer edges. Bass hold in the protected shade under them and feed all day.

Travis rigs a Havoc bait in the October craw color behind a 1-oz.  tungsten weight for the thick mats. He also has one rigged behind a 3/4-oz. weight for thinner places where it will drop through. The slower fall of the lighter weight will often draw more strikes and is easier to fish than the heavier weight.

Flip your baits so they hit and go through the mat. Let them sink to the bottom, jiggle them a couple of times, and then raise it out for your next punch. Sometimes the bass hold right under the mat, so stop it before bringing it out and jiggle it there, too, trying to mimic a feeding bream just under the grass mat.

Work as far back into this slough as the grass allows. Punch all the mats, but watch for isolated patches out from the main mat, too. The isolated patches often hold big bass. Also watch for any changes in the mat—a cut or opening, a change of thickness or any other transition that may concentrate bass.

No. 10: N 31º 51.238 – W 83º 56.478 — Go to the dam where Goat Island is on the right end of it. Early in the morning, Travis will start fishing on the rip-rap on the dam, fishing it with a Pop-R and buzzbait. Shad are often on the rocks early, so use a white buzzbait or a silver with black back Pop-R.

Then fish the grass and trees around Goat Island. After feeding on the rocks, bass will move to the cover and shade of grass and trees, but they will continue to feed. Fish all around the front of the island, hitting every tree.

All these places are holding bass right now. Fish them and similar places, fishing the method that fits the area, and you can catch some quality largemouth on Blackshear during the summer.

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