Blackshear Shallow Bass Bite Heats Up In October

There are always bass shallow on Blackshear, but the cooler fall months are prime.

Ronnie Garrison | October 1, 2021

Lake Blackshear has to be one of Georgia’s “fishiest” looking lakes. Everywhere you look, you think… “There’s a bass by that cypress tree, I could catch one out of that grass, those docks look great, and I bet fish feed on that rip-rap.” 

You will often be right. 

Blackshear is located on the Flint River between Cordele and Americus, and its 8,700 acres cover a lot of shallow water that is full of cypress trees and grassbeds. Docks line much of the main lake and big creeks, and there are good ledges for summertime fishing. But fall is the time for the shallows. 

Jonathan Martin grew up in Leesburg about 15 minutes from the lake and fished it with his father, grandfather and uncle “since old enough to hold a rod,” he said. 

They fished for anything that would bite, but his grandfather concentrated on bass. His grandfather fished the old Redman Trail, and his interest in bass and tournament fishing got Jonathan interested in both. Now Jonathan fishes some local tournaments on Blackshear and the Flint River, but most of his weekend days are spent on Blackshear just fun fishing. 

Jonathan Martin with a beautiful Lake Blackshear bass caught near hole No. 7 on the map. There’s always a shallow bite at Blackshear, and it’s very good in October.

“In October, most fish will be caught shallow,” Jonathan said. 

There is so much good-looking shallow cover that it is hard to spend the time offshore looking at ledges, and most fishermen prefer casting to visible targets. Blackshear is a target-rich environment! Jonathan’s bait choices reflect his preference for shallow water. He will have a crankbait, topwater bait, frog, weightless stick worm and a Texas-rigged ribbon-tail worm with a small sinker ready to cast. A jig ’n pig and a punch bait rounds out his arsenal. 

“There are always bass around cypress trees,” Jonathan said. But they do get heavy fishing pressure, and some trees are much better than others. Just going out and fishing every tree you see will produce some bass, but selecting the right ones will produce more fish. The same goes for grassbeds and docks. 

Jonathan likes the south end of the lake, the area downstream of the Highway 280 causeway. He said it usually stays more clear. The lower lake gets busy with pleasure boaters in the summer, but by October there are far fewer boats. 

We fished the following 10 spots on Saturday of Labor Day weekend. The water had not started cooling yet, so the fish were not as active as they are in late September and October, and the holiday boat traffic made it difficult to fish by noon. Everything is better now! 

No. 1: N 31º 50.642 – W 83º 56.378 — A good place to start first thing is the rip-rap at the dam. Go to the left side and stop at the last dock before the old power plant. Fish the dock, and then work around the boat ramp there. After fishing the ramp, continue fishing the rip-rap all the way to the danger buoy line. 

Jonathan likes topwater and a crankbait on these rocks. The Swift Creek channel swings in close to the rip-rap, giving bass a good place to hold deep but move up to push shad against the rocks. And shad moving into Swift Creek and Flournoy Branch keep baitfish in the area in October. 

Jonathan will start with a walking bait like a Stutter Step, casting it right against the rocks and working it back to the boat at a narrow angle. He keeps his boat in close in less than 5 feet of water to keep his bait in the strike zone longer. Try a crankbait and weightless stick worm here, too. We had a couple of hits on top and a couple more on plastics the day we fished. A boat with two young fishermen in the local tournament that day came down the lake from Veterans Park and stopped out at the dam and worked toward us. They said they had caught one keeper when we passed them at the basin at the old power plant. 

No. 2: N 31º 51.093 – W 83º 56.533 — Go across the dam past the buoy line, and start fishing the rip-rap about 150 yards from the west bank. Work the rocks with topwater, a crankbait and soft plastics. Fish to the small island at the end of the rocks—Goat Island—and fish the grass around it and behind it. Jonathan usually fishes to the concrete structure that’s in an opening behind the island. 

When he gets to the grass, Jonathan will try a black or white Spro Popping Frog in thin grass, and he’ll use a Snag Proof Perfect Skim Frog in thicker grass. If the bass don’t seem active and he is not getting bit on the frog, he will go to a ribbon-tail worm or a stick worm. If the sun is high and bright, Jonathan will also try a punch bait in the thickest patches of weeds. Bass will hold under the water willow here and other places, and the only way to get a bait to them is with a heavy sinker punched through it. When you leave this spot, idle out past the danger markers out from the west bank. There is a lot of standing timber and stumps along this bank. 

No. 3: N 31º 52.140 – W 83º 56.272 — Going up the river, stay outside the danger markers toward the left bank. Watch for the second slough upstream of the dam on that side—look for a line of cypress trees off the bank. Stop out from the bank and fish the outside trees. Jonathan pitches a jig ’n pig, ribbon-tail worm or stick worm to the trees, trying to hit the shadows. He says a jig will consistently catch bigger fish but produces fewer bites.

Work every offshore tree carefully with multiple casts, and then move to the ones on the bank. Fish the trees on the bank the same way, but also fish the grass around them. The bank trees are closer together so they produce more shade. Jonathan will try topwater frogs over the grass first, then he’ll go to plastics. He likes a junebug or purple Zoom Ol’ Monster Worm and puts a light bullet weight ahead of it. Start with a 1/16-oz. but go heavier in wind. 

No. 4: N 31º 52.749 – W 83º 56.090 — Going upstream, the next opening is Collins Branch. There is a house on the downstream point and an old broken-down dock in front of it. Stop at the dock and fish around it, carefully working the jagged metal in the water with a topwater bait, jig or worm. There is an old blowdown in the water beside the dock with a lot of limbs showing—fish them. If Jonathan misses a bite on topwater or a jig, he quickly follows up with a ribbon-tail worm. Sometimes a different bait and added movement will make a bass hit again—it’s worth a cast. 

Fish into the creek, casting to the shade on the seawall under the tree beside the ramp. Then work the grass and cypress trees on the bank. Fish around the cypress-tree point upstream of the dock and around the back side of it, fishing all the grass and trees here. 

Mouths of creeks and sloughs like this are key places in October. The cooling water will make shad move into them, and the bass will set up to ambush bait and follow them on back. 

No. 5: N 31º 54.996 – W 83º 55.933 — Going upstream about halfway to the causeway—not far above Cedar Creek on the east side—a small slough is on the left bank. It is the first opening on that side after the docks start on the bank, and there is a red roof dock on the upstream side of it.

Start on the trees out in the mouth, that is where the bass hold waiting on passing shad, and the trees there are more likely to hold bass. Fish each one, then move into the slough and fish the docks. Jonathan starts on the left point and fishes the seawall there with topwater, and then he skips his jig under docks working around the slough. 

If he does not get bit on the first four or five docks, Jonathan will move on to the next spot. The fish may not be back in the slough feeding, but if they are, the shade under docks is where they will be. Watch for any cover around the docks—grass or brush will sweeten them. 

No. 6: N 31º 56.921 – W 83º 56.305 — The last slough to the left before the causeway is Pecan Slough. Go into the slough, and it will swing to your left. On the outside of that swing is a spring that’s behind a small clump of cypress trees and a dock. The dock is on the upstream side of the spring. It comes out and has a walkway to the trees that blocks access to the spring. 

Stop at the second dock on the left before the spring and fish it with a jig and worm. The spring keeps the water a little cooler here, attracting shad and bass to the area. Fish up to the gap between the clump of cypress trees and bank and cast toward the spring. The gap is too shallow to go across unless you work at it, but you can cast to most of the cover back in the spring from the outside edge of it. Cast your jig, worm or stick worm back as far as you can and work them out. Jonathan likes a green-pumpkin Senko that is rigged Texas style with a 1/16-oz. bullet sinker, and he likes to add a screw-in spinner blade to the end of it. This small Colorado spinner on a shaft adds a little flash to the bait and gives the bait a different look that bass seem to like. 

Fish the dock that is blocking the spring, and then work the seawall past it, casting into the shallow square area. Work around the point, fishing the seawall and dock. Jonathan says the dock on the point is the kind he likes; it is isolated and on a point. Fish on down the bank past the dock to where there is a blowdown with several limbs sticking up out from the seawall. Jonathan lost a good fish that got him tangled in here. 

No. 7: N 31º 58.943 – W 83º 55.879 — Jonathan will venture above the Highway 280 causeway, and Cannon Branch is his usual destination.  Running upstream of the causeway, the river channel is on the left and is marked by red and green buoys. Watch for the split where another channel goes off to the right at an angle. Follow the buoys across the lake but be careful—there are a lot of stumps in this area. 

When you get near the bank, you will see cypress trees in the mouth of the branch. Go in about even with the white dock that has lattice panels. It is on the downstream point of the branch.

Start fishing the trees here. There are a lot of trees in this branch from one side to the other. All offer bass a good place to ambush shad as they move in and out of the creek. Also fish the docks and seawalls around them. Try your topwater baits in the shade, but go to worms and jigs when the sun is higher.  

Keep fishing back into the creek until you stop getting bit. Bass will often be way back in the creek, especially later in October, as shad move farther and farther back.

No. 8: N 31º 57.710 – W 83º 54.701 — Go back downstream under the causeway and into Gum Creek on the east bank. Upstream of the old ramp at Veterans Park, the Highway 230 causeway has good rip-rap on the downstream side. Start fishing on the left end where the rocks start, and work across to the other side with topwater and a crankbait. Bass released in tournaments restock this area often and stay and feed here. Jonathan likes a shad-colored DT 6 crankbait, and he tries to keep it bumping the rocks. He gets his boat in about 6 to 10 feet of water and casts ahead of the boat at an angle to keeps his baits over the rocks. 

When you get to the bridge, fish your plastic baits around the pilings after running your topwater and crankbait by them. If any current is moving, work the pilings and corners of the rip-rap thoroughly. Jonathan says there is good fishing above the bridge, but it is so low you usually have to take your seats down to go under it. 

No. 9: N 31º 57.608 – W 83º 55.174 — Go back out to the downstream point of Gum Creek. There are a few groups of cypress trees well off the bank and many more on the bank. Grass fills the area, too. Jonathan likes to start behind the big clump of cypress trees off the bank and fish all the way around the point to the new mega ramp. Fish every tree in the area, making multiple casts to each. This is a high-percentage area because of released bass at the old ramp in the creek and the newer mega ramp. 

Topwater and weightless baits are good here. There is an algae that looks like black hair called Lyngbya that is becoming more common all over the lake, and there are clumps of it in this area. It is almost impossible to work a bait through this mess without fouling wads of it. Topwater over it will work, and a weightless Senko worked fast up high will come through it, too. 

No. 10: N 31º 57.227 – W 83º 55.350 — Go downstream around the boat ramp and swimming area to the upstream point of Boy Scout Slough. There is a good drop that runs off this point, but Jonathan likes to fish it up shallow. Stop a cast out from the old cement dock remains on the bank. Fish your crankbait and topwater around the rocks and cement on the bank. Also throw your Senko or ribbon-tail worm. Use a very light sinker. Fish into the slough, working the grass and rip-rap around to the docks at the marina. 

All these places are holding bass right now and will be better as the water cools. Give them a try to find the right kinds of cover to fish on Blackshear in October.


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