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Carter Koza’s February Plan For Allatoona Bass

Here’s a map and patterns for prespawn Allatoona bass.

Ronnie Garrison | February 6, 2019

Fish Lake Allatoona in February, and you can expect to catch lots of spotted bass and the occasional largemouth feeding on gravel flats and bluff banks. Tournament limits at Allatoona consistently weigh 13 pounds these days, with some taking 18 pounds to win. 

Please don’t call Allatoona “The Dead Sea.”

Allatoona is a 12,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoir just north of Atlanta on the Etowah and Little rivers. It is a small lake with a big drainage area, so the water level is prone to big changes, especially from winter and spring rains.

Allatoona can be tough to fish, but the spots there have increased in numbers and size over the past few years. For a while it seemed like it was hard to catch a keeper bass at Allatoona, but 3-lb. spots are common now, and most tournaments have multiple limits weighed in. At a Jan. 6 Allatoona Team Trail tournament, it took 18.50 pounds for first. Their big fish was a 4.63-lb. largemouth, so their other four bass averaged 3.46 pounds.

Carter Koza is a sophomore at Mt. Parran Christian School in Kennesaw and on the fishing team. Carter grew up fishing with his dad, Jamie, who is the owner of The Dugout, which has long been the hub of Allatoona fishing. Carter started fishing high school tournaments in the 8th grade, and he won the BASS Nation High School tournament at Eufaula in 2017. He has five top-five finishes on that trail.

In 2017, Carter was Angler of the Year in the points standings on that trail and was runner up last year. He teams with his sister, Lee Rose Koza, and they qualified for the FLW High School National Championship.

Bass fishing is truly in his DNA.

Carter Koza has done very well on the high-school tournament trails. Growing up around the crew at the Dugout, he also knows Allatoona very well. Carter caught these quality spotted bass during a recent trip with the author.

“In February, bass at Allatoona are setting up in early prespawn, feeding on gravel flats and bluff banks leading into spawning areas,” Carter said. 

He concentrates on fishing those areas, looking for active feeding fish. Stained water helps the bite a lot, and it is usually stained this time of year. 

Carter’s go-to bait is a crankbait, but he will also have a Rat-L-Trap and a jig ready to try. Although he covers a lot water, Carter does not do a lot of running around, spending time on each area to fish all the good cover carefully.

We fished the following spots in mid-January on the worst possible weather conditions, the first day of a hard cold front after several days of warm rain. But in just a half day of fishing, Carter caught nine keepers, including two 3-lb. spots and one largemouth.

No. 1: N 34º 08.053 – W 84º 39.200 — Across the cove from the Galts Ferry ramp, there’s a big flat point that has a danger marker way out on it. This point is between two good spawning creeks and is typical of the type of flat Carter likes to fish for prespawn Allatoona bass in February.

Start at the pole, where there is a lot of brush around it. Stop a long cast from it, and fish a crankbait all around it. With the water low, you will see the tops of many brushpiles, and they will hold fish even when the lake is down and the water is very shallow water, so always cast to them.

Carter’s favorite crankbait is a Spro RKCrawler, and he especially likes the new model 50 in the mudbug color. It has some chartreuse in it to help the fish see it in stained water. He casts it on 12- to 15-lb. Segar High VizX fluorocarbon line and uses a St. Croix LGC61 medium-heavy crankbait rod.

Fish around the pole and then into the downstream side of it into the creek, past the Atlanta Yacht Club dock and boat ramp. Make long casts, keeping your boat in about 10 feet of water, and bump the bottom from 2 to 8 feet deep.

Fish all the way into the creek until you are across from the danger marker about halfway back on the other side. Then jump over to that side and fish around that marker, around the private ramp on that bank and out about 50 yards. Carter caught a couple of keeper spots on both sides of this creek and lost two or three more that pulled off.

If the weather has been warm and sunny for a few days, warming the water, fish farther back on both sides. Pay attention to the area where you get bites in places like this. Are the fish hitting out on the points or back in the creek? Then concentrate on those areas. Warming water will make the fish go farther back into the creeks.

No. 2: N 34º 07.751 – W 84º 37.752 — Run up to the mouth of Kellogg Creek, and stop on the right just inside the creek past the first two small coves and the sign. This bluff bank is a good example of the kinds of bluff banks that hold prespawn bass. 

Kellogg Creek can be the best creek for finding big schools of baitfish this time of year, a critical factor in catching bass. And Kellogg has many good spawning areas in it. Fish along this bluff, keeping your boat in close and making angled casts ahead of you to bump the bottom from right on the bank out to 8 feet deep or so.

Watch for any change in the rocks—bass like transition areas. A change in the kind of rock, a small point or a change from big rocks to smaller ones all should be targets of your casts.

No. 3: N 34º 07.749 – W 84º 36.579 — A little farther back, Kellogg Creek splits into two arms. The point between them is another good bluff bank with big rocks dropping fast into deep water. Stop just inside this point on the main creek arm that goes to the right, and work out and around it.

Carter says you can fish this one point and catch fish all day. Angle your casts to keep your bait in water where it is bumping bottom most of the retreive. Carter says it is critical to be bumping the bottom with your bait to catch fish. 

When you go over an area and catch some fish, go back and fish it again. Try slowing down with a jig the next pass to catch bass that might be less active. Carter likes a black-and-blue Chattahoochee Jig in dirty water but goes to a green jig in clearer water. Match your jig color with a Zoom Chunk or Rage Craw trailer.

No. 4: N 34º 07.398 – W 84º 36.896 — Go to the Kellogg Creek Road bridge back in the main creek. Bridges are always good this time of year. They are choke points for bass moving back into creeks, and they offer a good feeding area with cover. Carter caught a largemouth and one of his two biggest spots here, both on the RKCrawler, the day we fished.

Fish all the rip-rap on both sides, keeping your boat in close for angled casts. The points on both sides, all four corners of them, are key spots. Also make a few casts to the pilings when you go under it, running your bait right beside the concrete. 

A Rat-L-Trap allows you to vary the depth you fish here and in other places. Carter casts a lemon color Trap in stained water and chrome in clearer water. The loud buzz of the rattles that this lipless crankbait emits often triggers a bite as you reel it along.

On the upstream side of the bridge, fish the boat ramp at Payne day-use area. Also fish the state brushpile around the marker pole in the middle of the creek arm. It gets very shallow fast around this brush with the water down, but the brush will hold fish. 

No. 5: N 34º 11.353 – W 84º 35.286 — Heading up the lake, Sweetwater Creek is on the left just upstream of the mouth of Little River. This is another good spawning creek and has good bluff banks on both sides. Fish both sides with all your baits, working the inside and outside area of the point and around it. Carter caught his biggest spot of the day when we fished on the upstream point here.

Wind blowing across and along these bluff banks, as well as the gravel flats, helps the bite. Carter likes to work with the wind since it makes it easier to cast and lets him cover the water faster, as long as it does not move the boat too fast. 

You can go back into Sweetwater Creek and other creeks and fish rocks and blowdowns for largemouth, but you won’t get a lot of bites. For a kicker largemouth, pick apart a blowdown with a jig ’n pig, and bump rocks with the jig and your crankbait.

No. 6: N 34º 10.440 – W 84º 35.731 — The downstream point of Little River is another good bluff bank in February. There is a good channel swing here where the Little River channel hits the bank. Bass winter on it since they can move vertically and start feeding more as the days get longer, moving into the river to spawning areas.

Start on the small rock and clay point on the downstream end of the bluff where it opens up into the main Etowah River. Fish into Little River, casting all three of your baits along the wall. Bump the bottom with the RKCrawler, and run a Trap right along the rocks.

When fishing a jig, work it slowly to follow the rocks as they drop. Carter sometimes dips the tails of his trailer in chartreuse JJ’s Magic for more flash, and spots seem to love chartreuse. Calm days may make the fish less likely to chase a moving bait, so windless days are a good time to try a jig.

No. 7: N 34º 09.814 – W 84º 34.958 — Go up Little River to the no-wake zone at the bridge. Stop on the bluff on the right with 2L channel marker on it and fish up that rock wall to the bridge, then fish the bridge rip-rap.

Sun hitting the rip-rap here and at the bridge in Kellogg Creek—and the natural rocks in other places—warms the rocks and raises the water temperature a little, something bass like. But they may be holding on the shady side, too, so fish both shade and sun on these spots.

No. 8: N 34º 09.107 – W 84º 34.347 — Heading up Little River, Rose Creek enters on the right. When you get to the mouth of Rose, slow down if you don’t know the area well. Mud flats and wood are dangers here, and you must follow the channel.

There is a big warning sign on the bank on the right. Just upstream of it, an outside bend of the river makes a good bluff wall. It is not as deep at the ones on the main lake, but as the water drops, bass move down the river to the deeper water on places like this, and it concentrates the fish.

Start on the downstream end of this bend, and fish up it until it flattens out. Big rocks are on the bank and under the water that offer the bass feeding and holding cover. Fish it like the deeper bluff walls, working all three of your baits. Carter caught a keeper spot here on his crankbait the day we fished.

There are other outside bends like this up the river. All will hold fish, but be extremely careful if you go farther up, especially if the water is 7 feet low like it was when we fished. If you try to run it and don’t know it, you will run aground.

No. 9: N 34º 10.436 – W 84º 35.324 — Back out at the mouth of Little River, the upstream point is flat with small pockets along it. Inside the point is a bulkhead wall on the bank. Just downstream of that small wall is a point that has gravel and stumps on it. Other wood cover also washes in and sticks on it. Bass get more active in February on flats like this in the afternoon from the sun.

Start at the wall, keeping your boat in 10 feet of water, and work out toward the end of the big point between Little and Etowah rivers. This big flat holds lots of prespawn bass roaming it and feeding. Make long casts toward the bank, and bump the bottom with your crankbait. Work out to the orange sign near the point. When you catch a fish, go back over that area since the bass tend to roam in schools.

No. 10: N 34º 10.064 – W 84º 36.785 — Back down on the main lake, channel marker 30E is on your left at the Boy Scout Camp. There is a small ramp on the gravel point the marker is on, and it is good one for prespawn bass.

Stay out in 10 to 12 feet of water, and bump the bottom with your baits. Be sure to make several casts to the ramp—they hold fish. Carter got bites on almost every ramp we fished, landing several keepers.

Fish around this point and the next one, too. Both hold bass that are getting ready to spawn in the pockets between them. Both are typical of gravel flats that are good this time of year. The boat ramp makes it even better.

These places and similar ones all over Lake Allatoona are holding feeding bass right now, and they will get even better as the month progresses and as the water warms.

You can follow Carter on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carter.koza.31.

Editor’s Note: Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful? If so, visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series. You can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

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