Catch Eufaula Bass In April Coming And Going

These nine spawning pockets and the ditches and channels leading to them will be clogged like Southbound I-75 on a spring afternoon, only instead of folks headed to Florida, the traffic jam will be bass.

Ronnie Garrison | April 1, 2007

Larry Gardner with a nice largemouth caught during one of the numerous tournaments he fishes every year.

Prespawn bass here, bedding bass over there and postspawn bass holding nearby. April is an amazing month on Georgia lakes with bass on most any pattern you want to fish and large numbers of them are up shallow and feeding. Lake Walter F. George, also known as Eufaula, offers one of your best bets to catch good numbers of big bass this month on any of these patterns.

Eufaula is a big, shallow lake on the Chattahoochee River and is shared by Georgia and Alabama. Its huge flats covered with grass warm quickly and pull bass up the ditches and creek channels to bedding areas from the end of March through April. After bedding, the bass follow the same paths back toward their summer holes after

This seasonal movement is one of the joys of bass fishing. You can catch large numbers of big bass in shallow water on a wide variety of baits, and you can almost pick the kind of cover you want to fish. April fishing at Eufaula is some of the best fishing anywhere.

J.J. Polak retired from the DeKalb County Police Department several years ago but didn’t slow down much. He has guided at Lanier and sold boats at Piedmont Outdoors over the past few years. He also started J.J.’s Magic, a garlic dip and dye that is very popular. Recently he and his sons acquired Ol-Nelle Lure Co. and now distribute those baits.

J.J. loves fishing and is involved in many aspects of it. He is currently president of the Flint River Bass Club and fishes club tournaments each month. He also fishes some of the BFL and BASS trails. If he is not on the water catching fish, he is out talking about tackle and how to use it.

J. J. Polak has gone from tournament fishing to running two popular bass-fishing companies- J.J.’s Magic and OL-Nelle.

Larry Gardner retired from DeKalb County Fire and Rescue and now spends most of his time fishing. He and J.J. met while they were working since their jobs sometimes overlapped, and they started fishing together years ago. Larry is a member of the Flint River Bass Club and also fishes two of the Fishers of Men Trails and some other tournament trails.

Both J.J. and Larry are on the Triton state team, and Larry works through Shaddix Marine. Larry is on J.J.’s Magic Pro Staff and the Ledgebuster Pro Staff. Both like to fish Eufaula a lot, and April is a great month for them there.

J.J., Larry and I spent a cold, windy day on Lake Eufaula a few weeks ago looking at holes that would be good in April. As we fished and talked, Larry would start telling me about a pattern or place and J.J. would finish his sentences. The way they agreed on information and ways to fish places emphasized how they work together when fishing.

Larry and J.J. like the lower lake in April since the water is more stable and there are lots of small creeks and pockets that draw in bass for the spawn. They are looking for bedding areas that are protected from wind and boat traffic that have a good channel for the fish to follow. When suitable areas are located, they identify cover the bass will hold on as they move in to bed and then back out after the spawn. Often the fish will hold on the same cover, and you can find both pre and postspawn bass on them since all the bass don’t bed at the same time.

In some areas the water is clear enough for sight fishing, but often you are probing for bedding bass without seeing them. Identifying the kinds of places the fish bed is important just like picking out the cover they will hold on moving in and out.

When fishing together, J.J. and Larry will have a variety of baits tied on to cover all possibilities. Those baits will include a small crankbait, a couple of spinnerbaits, a 3/4-oz. to fish the deeper cover and a 1/2-oz. to throw in the shallows, and a buzzbait. They will also use a jig-head worm, Carolina-rigged finesse worm or lizard and a Texas-rigged Senko. Both will have a jerkbait and a jig ’n pig tied on.

Larry tends to fish the faster baits while J.J. follows up a little slower. While Larry throws a big spinnerbait, J.J. will try a jerkbait behind him. If Larry is running a crankbait by cover, J.J. may follow up with a Carolina rig. By using different baits they can find what the fish want, and then both use those baits.

The following nine holes will give you a variety of places to catch bass as they move in, spawn and move back out this month. If you use the ramp in Thomas Mill Creek, you will be near them and won’t have a long run.

No. 1 on the map: N 31º 42.210– W 85º 09.155 — If you put in at the Thomas Mill Creek ramp, don’t leave before fishing the rip-rap on the bridge. Rip-rap on bridges like this one, which is back in a creek, is a natural holding area for bass as they move in and out. The highway bridge over the creek and the other rip-rap above it will both hold bass right now.

Start by using a crankbait or heavy spinnerbait. Stay out from the rip-rap, and work at a right angle to it, covering different depths of water on each cast. The heavier 3/4-oz. spinnerbait will get down deeper on a cast. Once you find the depth the bass are holding, you can move in and cast parallel with either bait to keep it in the strike depth longer.

Also try an unweighted Texas-rigged Senko or jig-head worm on the rocks. Sometimes the bass want a slow-moving bait, and either of these will work without getting hung in the rocks too bad. Stick with 1/16- to 1/8-oz. jig heads rigged with a green-pumpkin finesse worm to fish the rip-rap.

No. 2: N 31º 42-040 – W 85º 08-709 — The right bank below the bridge as you start out of the creek is one of Larry’s favorite spots. The channel is on this side, and the bass move up the channel, easing in and holding on cover, waiting on the ideal time to spawn. They will fan out on both sides of the creek when the time is right to spawn, then move back along this creek channel after they spawn, again holding on the same cover as they work out.

Start just below the bridge, and keep your boat a short cast out. The bank drops off fast to 7 feet deep, and you want to use a heavier spinnerbait or crankbait to get down to the bottom and stay there back to the boat. Hit every log and brush top you see along this bank. If you catch a fish, slow down and try some of your plastics in
the same area.

There are some small, sandy patches along this bank where a ditch or two enters the water. Bass will bed on these spots, so watch for them if the water is clear — often you can sight fish for bedding fish here. If you can’t see the beds, drag your Carolina-rigged lizard or jig ’n pig slowly across the sand. If a bass is bedding there but is not visible, you can drag a lizard along and hit the bed and get them to bite.

J.J. and Larry will fish a couple of hundred yards along this bank, all the way out to a metal-topped dock facing the river just past a small point near the last no-wake buoy going out. Fish will hold all along this bank, so work it carefully. If you catch one, there should be several nearby.

No. 3: N 31º 41.999 – W 85º 08.423 — Across the creek and downstream is a big, flat, sandy point with a rip-rap seawall around it. A sandbar runs off this point and comes way out to the channel. It is four to five feet deep on top and drops off on both sides to 15 to 20 feet deep. Bass hold on this sandbar when they are moving in and out of the creek.

Start by keeping your boat in the deeper water and casting a crankbait or spinnerbait up on top of the sandbar. Follow the contour — the sandbar runs out about 100 yards to the middle of the creek. If the fish don’t hit from that angle, get up on top in the shallow water and fan cast a Carolina-rigged finesse worm or lizard to the deep water, bringing it up the drop. Concentrate on any area where you hit cover or where you catch a fish.

No. 4: N 31º 42.012 – W 85º 08.150 — Back across the creek — and downstream — you will see a couple of long walkways coming down the bluff to docks. One has a white guard rail, and you want to watch for some blowdowns and a sandy bank near it. Fish the blowdowns and shadows on the sand for bedding bass around the small pocket on this side. Also watch your depthfinder for another long sandbar that runs way out from this pocket. Fish it like the one above.

No. 5: N 31º 42.531 – W 85º 07.702 — Come out of Thomas Mill Creek, and go upstream to the next small creek on the same side. As you go into the creek, there is a sandbar on your left that is actually two small points. There is an old work barge grounded behind the point. One point goes out toward the middle of the creek, and the other points into the creek. The saddle between the two points and the points themselves are places bass move up and hold as they move into the creek to bed.

Fish all around this sandbar in all directions with crankbaits, spinnerbaits and then drag a Carolina rig across it. Some postspawn bass are likely to be holding here even early in April as they move back out, and some bass will still be moving in.

Work the left bank going back into this pocket with crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Watch for sandy pockets that will hold a bedding bass. The very back end is an excellent bedding area. If you see several bass on the beds on this side, fish out the other side watching for beds there, too. It is flatter and sandy, and bedding bass typically use that bank.

If you find fish in this creek, there are four more very similar to it on the same side going upstream between here and White Oak Creek. Check them all, and fish them the same way.

No. 6: N 31º 41.485 – W 85º 07.405 — The first small creek downstream of Thomas Mill is also a good bedding creek. As you go in, there is a steel seawall on your right. On your left on the downstream point there are some blowdowns that hold good bass all month as they move in and out of the creek. The downstream point runs way out, and you should fish all around it to find fish moving up and also moving back out.

Fish into this creek just like the one on the upstream side of Thomas Mill, casting for prespawn and postspawn bass — and watching for beds. There are also four more creeks similar to this one downstream of it before you get to Hardridge Creek, so if you hit on a pattern, fish them all.

No. 7: N 31º 40.207 – W 85º 03.662 — If the wind is bad, you may want to trailer to Sandy Creek and put in at Bagby State Park for these three spots. If you run across and enter the mouth of Sandy Creek, you will see a shallow, sandy point running out on your left on the downstream side of the cove with the ramp in it. There is a clump of cypress trees on it.

Start out on this point, and fish across it for prespawn and postspawn fish. Remember that postspawn fish, especially big females, are often very sluggish for a few days, so offer them something easy to eat. A Carolina-rigged lizard fished very slowly, even deadsticked on this point, may draw a strike from a big postspawn female. Start with your boat in 15 feet of water, and cast up onto the point, then work shallower. Fish into the cove at the ramp from this point, hitting everything you see sticking out of the water. Larry says even a blade of grass sticking up may be the key to a bedding fish, so don’t pass up anything. Run a spinnerbait and buzzbait by every piece of cover, and also drag a Carolina rig near cover. Watch for bedding fish that you can sight fish for, too.

No. 8: N 31º 40.250 – W 85º 03.463 — On down the left bank going
in, you will see a pod of cypress trees off the bank. They mark a hump, and bass bed on this hump all around the trees. Bass also hold on the hump while moving in and out for the spawn. You will be just past the marina on your right and the campground on your left
when you hit this spot.

This is one of the first areas to turn on in April, and you should find bedding bass here early in the month. Watch for signs of fish on the bed, but also blind cast a spinnerbait and buzzbait to every piece of cover and drag a Carolina rig across the bedding areas to find fish you don’t see.

No. 9: N 31º 40.391 – W 85º 03.213 — Across the creek just past the marina is a small pocket that runs back off the creek. Larry says this is a great spawning area, and he heard one of the BFL tournaments was won in this creek back in early March on early prespawn fish that had already moved in. Go into this pocket, and fish everything you see. Fish slowly, and work the area for bedding bass. There is a good grassline in this pocket, and bass often hold on the edge of it waiting until the exact time to start fanning beds and dropping eggs. Pitch a jig ’n pig to the grass edge, and also work a spinnerbait and buzzbait along it to find them.

These nine spots give you a variety of places to fish on the lower lake. This area will turn on first, and you will find bedding bass there now. With the warm spring we have had, you can find similar pockets and creeks farther up the lake that will just be turning on to bedding bass now, too.

Fish these spots, and then find others like them. You will be right in the middle of a bedding-bass bonanza with prespawn and postspawn fish nearby, too.

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