Blue Ridge Mountain Bass In November
Bass anglers have the chance for largemouth, spots and maybe even a smallmouth. Blue Ridge has it all in a beautiful mountain setting.
If you’ve never headed to the mountains to fish Blue Ridge, the scenery this month is well worth the trip. The fishing is great, too. Fish the herring migration pattern this month at Blue Ridge, and you’ll catch big spotted bass, and throw in some largemouth and maybe a smallmouth. Herring imitations fished on rocky points going into creeks and coves can produce the trifecta of black bass species, the only Georgia lake where that’s likely.
Blue Ridge is a 3,300-acre TVA reservoir just south of the Tennessee/North Carolina line. Long known as a haven for smallmouth, spotted bass have reduced the smallmouth population dramatically, but you can still catch some smallmouth in the deep, clear water, especially this month.
Blue Ridge is drawn down drastically each year, starting in September. It was already about 6 feet low on Oct. 1 and will be about 15 to 20 feet low in November. This year the TVA has scheduled an extreme draw-down of 60 feet in January to work on the dam’s penstock, so go now before the lake is reduced to just the old river channel and the only place to launch a boat is at the marina.
Jonathan Farmer grew up fishing Blue Ridge with his father and grandfather, catching walleye, bluegill and bass and learning the structure and cover of the lake. His grandparents had a house on the lake, and he fished it every weekend. He bought his first bass boat in 2004 and got into tournament fishing, entering local pot night tournaments. This year Jonathan fished the Bulldog BFL, and he also fishes the ABA District 125 and 35 trails.
“The bass are eating herring in November, and the movement of those baitfish into and out of creeks and coves sets up their patterns,” Jonathan said.
All species of bass like to relate to rocks, especially spots and smallmouth, so a rocky point in the mouth of a creek or cove that drops fast into deep water is the kind of place to fish. Flats around the point make it even better, giving the fish a feeding “tabletop.”
Even on this small lake, there are many of those kinds of places to fish. With the lake down, you can see the rocks on the bank, which signals more are under the water. Since the like is drawn down so much each year, waves have cleared sand and soil off the rocks much deeper than most lakes, providing lots of rock cover.
Many baits will catch bass in November. Jonathan always has ready a topwater walking bait, jerkbait, hard and soft swimbaits, an underspin, rattle bait, crankbait, jig ’n pig and a shaky head. He prefers faster-moving baits for active fish, but if fishing is slow he will go to the bottom bumpers.
We fished the following 10 spots right at the end of September. The lake was 6 feet low and dropping, and the water was cooling, so some fish were beginning to set up on them. Jonathan caught several small keeper spots and largemouth and, just before we went in, he landed a spot that pushed 4 pounds.
No. 1: N 34º 51.445 – W 84º 15.159 — The rocky point on the left going into Star Creek has a hump of rock that’s visible above the water with the lake down 6 feet. There is a danger marker off the rock hump. It is where the creek narrows down coming off the main lake. Jonathan calls is “Star Creek Point.”
This point is the perfect example of the kinds of places Jonathan fishes this month. This one is good all year since it is at the mouth of a major creek. It has chunk rocks and boulders on it, a flat area on top for the bass to herd herring, and it drops fast into deep water.
Jonathan caught a big spot here on the day we fished. Although we had fished it earlier, he noticed some breeze had gotten up and went back to it on the way in and rolled the 4-pounder.
Keep your boat in 30 feet of water off the end of the point and work in toward it, covering water on both sides and out on the end, too. Fish from a couple feet deep out to 20 feet deep. Start with a topwater bait under low light conditions then try a jerkbait, swimbait and underspin.
Jonathan likes the 1/4- to 3/8-oz. Pulse Fish Spinnin’ PJ underspin with a white or albino Fluke Jr. or Kitech 3.8 swimbait on it. This is the bait that the big spot ate.
No. 2: N 34º 51.041 – W 84º 14.753 — Going up Star Creek, it bends to the left. Past the bend there are some docks on the right. About 200 yards downstream of the docks, there are a couple of small, flat, rocky points on the right that drop into the channel, and the channel makes a swing into them on the upstream side.
Bass chase herring up on these flat points as they move up the creek, hemming them up to feed on them. The flat points have a gravel base, and they have some big rocks to give the bass ambush points. Stop out from the next-to-last point before the bluff bank starts with your boat in 30 feet of water. Cast topwater, jerkbait and crankbait up to a foot of water, and work them out.
Jonathan starts with a DT6 crankbait in shad colors. Throw it shallow to bump the bottom, and then parallel the bank out deeper with a DT10. If the moving baits don’t draw a bite, try bumping the bottom with a jig ’n pig or shaky head.
No. 3: N 34º 51.304 – W 84º 16.740 — Go back out of Star Creek and start up the river. It narrows down and then widens, and a big island is on your right. It is one big island with the water down, but the downstream end has trees on it and a saddle with a few bushes, and this saddle connects it to the bigger island upstream. Stop off the end of the small one in 30 feet of water and cast to the point of it.
Working upstream, a long shallow point runs out to a danger marker off the big island. As you get into the bay between the small island and the long point, move out into deeper water and cast to the upstream shallow shelf that runs off the long point, moving your boat parallel to it.
Some breeze rippling the water helps the effectiveness of baits on all these places but especially topwater and a jerkbait. Try topwater first. Cloudy days will make the topwater bite last longer, but sometimes big spots will come up and hit a topwater in the sun. Jonathan likes the smaller Gunfish or a Sammy, and he throws a chrome-blue bait when it’s sunny and a white bait on cloudy days.
Also try a jerkbait, crankbait and jig here. Normally, Jonathan crawls his jig along the bottom, but if he sees active and moving fish on his electronics, he will hop it like a startled crawfish.
Jonathan designed the “Farmers Special” True Grit Jig from Fishing North Georgia for north Georgia lakes. He went out and caught crawfish and got a color that imitated them, and that also takes on the tint of his trailer. He puts a twin-tail trailer on it and varies the color from green pumpkin to root beer, and the jig skirt will take on some of that color.
No. 4: N 34º 50.696 – W 84º 16.967 — Going upstream past the mile marker 4 sign on the right, a big creek enters on the right. Lake Blue Ridge Rec Area is on the big point between the river and creek on the right, and way off the point of the picnic area there is a small island with a sign on it with a big number 10 on it.
A sand-and-clay saddle with some rocks on it runs out to the island. Rocks big enough to hold a fish are scarce on this saddle, so you need to cover it with multiple casts with a crankbait or jerkbait. Fish all the saddle from 5 to 20 feet deep, from the point out to the island.
Jonathan casts a pearl or aurora black Lucky Craft Staysee 90 or Megabass 110 jerkbait. He makes long casts, cranks it down a couple of reel turns and then tries different cadences until he finds one the fish like.
No. 5: N 34º 50.752 – W 84º 16.613 — Going into the mouth of the river, the point on the right, the one between the river and the creek, has a big mound of rocks above the water. The rocks continue underwater and hold bass. Stop out in 40 feet of water and work around the point with a jerkbait, topwater and crankbait.
This point is on big water, so it gets a lot of wind, which helps the bite. Jonathan will fish the windy side first, positioning his boat so he can cast his baits where the waves break up the light and make his bait harder for the fish to identify as fake.
Without wind, fish all around the point, staying out in 40 feet of water and covering both sides and the end of the point. If the water is flat and calm, also try a jig or shaky head here for less-active fish.
No. 6: N 34º 50.965 – W 84º 16.072 — Going into the river, a big island is in the middle, and the channel runs to the right of it going upstream. Go to the left of the island—the big flats back here hold feeding fish all month. Watch for a very shallow point running off the left bank just before a small cove, and stop out in 20 feet of water on the end of it.
The point has some sand, gravel and quartz rocks and a few stumps on it. Upstream of it some small coves also have points on them. Fish this entire area, covering water out to 25 feet deep. Jonathan likes a lipless crankbait like the Lucky Craft LV 500 in ghost shad, and he fan casts to cover as much water as possible for scattered fish.
Here and other places, watch for baitfish balls and surface activity. Your lipless bait, jerkbait or topwater cast to them will draw a bite. Also slow down with your underspin and crawl it along the bottom for less active fish. If Jonathan sees fish suspending off the bottom, he will count down his underspin and then slow-roll it at the depth just above what they are holding.
No. 7: N 34º 50.239 – W 84º 15.666 — Go up past the second big island into the second creek on the left. It is across from the point with the mile marker 5 sign on it. Go back into this creek—Jonathan said it was named Little Frog—and watch for a houseboat anchored out in the middle of a cove on the right. Stop on the flat point upstream of the first houseboat. The next several coves all have them.
Jonathan says this point has “cathead” rocks on it, and it has a flat but runs out and drops off deep. It is a great ambush point. There is also some brush on the point. It is a good stopping point for bass as they wait on herring moving in and out. Try all your baits here. To show how good this place can be, Jonathan caught his best smallmouth here, a 5-lb., 2-oz. monster. Smallmouth are rare now, but there are still some big ones, and they hold and feed in the same places as the other black bass species this month.
No. 8: N 34º 49.304 – W 84º 16.390 — Going up the river, the first houses you see on the right after a gap in the buildings are on a couple of small coves. The center point has a big U.S. flag flying on a pole, and Jonathan says they call it “Flagpole Point,” for obvious reasons. It has a cement seawall around it, but the wall is way above the water this time of year.
Stop out on the end of it in 20 feet of water, and cast your crankbait, jerkbait, topwater and jig to the bank, covering the bottom out to the boat. The bottom is gravel, and it has chunk rock and a few big boulders that hold bass as they wait on herring and shad moving up and down the river this month.
No. 9: N 34º 49.254 – W 84º 15.055 — Going up the river, the channel bends to the left past Long Branch. The left bank has a narrow cove with a dock—the dock is up on the bank out of the water this time of year. Then there’s a big flat down to the next small cove. There is another dock sitting up on the bank near the small cove.
Jonathan says this area is called Ralston Flats. Stop out in 25 to 30 feet of water, and cast your crankbait, jerkbait, underspin and jig up to a couple feet of water and work them back to the boat.
This is an excellent place to catch all three species—largemouth, spots and smallmouth. And some big largemouth live and feed here. Jonathan’s grandfather caught three largemouth over 10 pounds each here, but that was long ago, before spots!
No. 10: N 34º 48.519 – W 84º 15.107 — Go up the river through the “S” bend and past the mouth of Persimmon Creek that’s on the left. Not far upstream of Persimmon on the right is a small cove with lots of wood in the back of it. Jonathan says this is a special place, with the water down at usual winter pool, it is the last 30-foot-deep water going up the river.
Bass move down the river to winter here, and they will stack up and feed in this cove. Jonathan says he has sat in one place and caught 30 bass, getting bit cast after cast. Position your boat in the middle of the cove in 30 feet of water and fan cast from the upstream to the downstream point of the cove.
Jonathan works his underspin, crankbait and jerkbait over the wood in the cove. He says lots of logs and limbs pile up here giving cover for the fish. Then bump the bottom with your jig or shaky head. When he is forced to cast a shaky head, Jonathan rigs a green-pumpkin Trick Worm on a 3/16-oz. True Grit head.
All these places give you a chance to catch spots, largemouth and smallmouth. And the scenery is beautiful on Blue Ridge. Plan a trip and try Jonathan’s lures and places to see what pattern to follow during your day.
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