Chase The Shade For Jackson Topwater Bass

John Duvall marks a map with 10 August locations.

Ronnie Garrison | July 18, 2016

Instead of fishing slow to catch deep-water bass at Lake Jackson this month, John Duvall chases shade for a morning topwater bite.

The Dog Days are here. It’s miserably hot when you go fishing, the water temperature is as high as it gets, and the oxygen content is low. All indicators just point to staying at home under the air conditioner. But for us die-hard bass fishermen, staying home is not an option. The good news is you can go to Lake Jackson early in the morning and catch some bass on topwater lures before it gets too hot.

Jackson is a very old Georgia Power Lake in the middle of the state. Its shore is lined with rocks, docks, seawalls and wood that has floated down the rivers and lodged on the bank. All that cover makes shallow fishing good early in the morning, no matter how hot it gets.

If you have fished tournaments in central Georgia over the years, the name Duvall is familiar to you. Billy Duvall did well in everything from club and pot tournaments to the Berry’s trail over the years. More recently John Duvall is the name you hear. John is Billy’s son, and he taught him well. John is likely to be at or near the top of any tournament he fishes.

John’s first tournament was with his dad in the Morgan County Bass Club when he was 7 years old. This past year, John made the BFL All American by winning the regional tournament at Lake Sinclair. He fishes the Costa Southeastern Tournament trail, three of the BFL trails, including Bulldog and Savannah River, and he fishes other trails like Berry’s, the ABA Ram 100 Percent Trail, and John and his dad fish the Skeeter Bass Challenge trail.

“Bass go deep in August at Jackson, but I hate fishing deep water,” John said.

Rather than dredge the depths, he looks for scattered single bass that have moved shallow to feed, especially early in the morning. With all the cover to fish on Jackson, it is not hard to find some bass, and you can find shady banks that keep the bass shallow until at least noon every day.

John does not have a lot of baits out for August fishing at Jackson. He likes to catch them on top, so his main two baits are a Whopper Flopper in shad color and a Spro Bronze Eye Popping Frog in black. He likes the popping frog better than a walking frog, since he can skip it better and fish it more ways.

He will also fish a 1.5 crankbait in cream-soda color around cover. A 3/4-oz. Mann’s spinnerbait in chartreuse and white with two gold willowleaf blades, and a 1/2-oz. Shooter Lures Rob Crawl jig with a green-pumpkin Zoom Super Chunk on it round out his lineup.

The ideal time to go to Jackson is near a full moon like we will have around Aug. 18. Two good things happen on the full moon—crawfish molt and bream bed. Both of these good things attract bass to the shallows to feed. John prefers to find an area with a hard clay and rock bottom where the crayfish live, since bigger bass love them. But bream will be around all shallow cover, even when not bedding, and these shallow bream give bass a good reason to come shallow even when there’s not a full moon.

John took me to Jackson in mid-July to show me 10 of his favorite spots for August. I was amazed at his skill skipping a frog under overhanging brush and docks and right on cover.

No. 1: N 33º 23.894 – W 83º 50.590 – Going downstream from Berry’s Boat Dock, the first creek on your right is Connally Neck. There is a bridge in the back, and John often starts tournaments here, stopping on the left bank downstream of the bridge. The bottom along this bank is hard clay, and crawfish live in this hard clay and in the rip-rap on the bridge.

Fish to the bridge and around it. John casts his topwater lure or frog right to the edge of the water and fishes them back with twitches to make them look like a bream hitting on top. When he gets to the rip-rap, he will run his crankbait or spinnerbait parallel to the rocks. The corners of the bridge are key spots to catch a bass or two, but fish both sides of the rip-rap all the way to the bank on the upstream and downstream sides of the bridge.

No. 2: N 33º 23.840 – W 83º 49.305 — Run up past the bridge, and stay to the right. The river goes to the left, but straight ahead on the right side is where Rocky Creek enters the lake. Run into Rocky Creek until just before it splits. Stop on the point on the left before the split.

There is a good concrete seawall on the point past the last dock, and a low one-story house sits on the point. The water is shallow, and there is red clay around this point. There are some chunk rock and scattered stumps on it, too.

Fish from the dock around the point and to the end of the seawall. Always cast right to the edge of the water, and work your topwater bait back to the boat. For this shallow fishing, John likes the smallest Whopper Flopper and he fishes it with twitches, like a prop bait. He varies the way he fishes his frog, from walking it to popping it, until the bass show what they want.

No. 3: N 33º 23.899 – W 83º 49.136 — Go across to the left arm of the split, and start fishing right where it joins the main creek on the left side. This side is a channel swing, and it drops off fast, with a hard bottom and scattered rocks. Crayfish live here and will molt on the full moon. Bass love to eat these soft-shelled critters while they start growing new shells.

Fish up this bank until you stop getting bites. John will fish it for at least 100 yards with all his fast-moving baits. When he gets to a dock or wood in the water, like a blowdown, he will pick it apart with his jig ’n pig.

No. 4: N 33º 25.289 – W 53º 49.776 — Run way up the Alcovy River to the no-wake buoys at the start of the “S” bend. Idle to the point on the right where the river makes the right-hand bend, just downstream of the second set of no-wake buoys. Start fishing at the point, and fish upstream along the deep bank on the right side. Fish down this deep bank to the second dock—the dock with a pontoon tied to it, not under it.

Later in the morning, John concentrates on his frog fishing, hitting shady spots near the bank and skipping it under docks. John can skip a frog all the way to the back of the dock, and he tries to stop it by a back post, then work it beside other posts coming out. Brush under the dock will make it better.

No. 5: N 33º 24.291 – W 83º 49.752 — Running back down the river, watch for a rocky bank with overhanging bushes on your left. That bank ends at a rocky point that goes back into a small pocket with an old gray boat hours and dock in it. There is a older cabin on the point with a screen porch across the front and lattice work panels under it. This rocky point is across the river from Price Neck.

The point runs out downstream of the bank, following the lay of the bank above the water. It has a rocky flat on top and drops off quickly into deep water. There is some brush on it, too. John fishes this point with his jig, probing for the brush while working the bait all over the point. This is a good spot to throw a jig-head worm or Carolina rig if you like fishing them.

No. 6: N 33º 23.309 – W 83º 50.164 — Go back downstream under the bridge, and stop on the upstream point of Will White Neck, the first small creek on your left past the bridge. This is a rocky point with scattered brush on it, and bass hold here and feed during the day, especially if there is any current moving down the lake from power generation. Current and some wind help all the places John fishes in the summer.

Keep your boat in 17 to 18 feet of water, and make long casts to the bank on the upstream side of the point. It is a gradually sloping point under the water, but it is just off the river channel, so it is very close to the deepest water in the area. Fish the upstream side of the point and around it until you are out from the ramp.

No. 7: N 33º 22.422 – W 83º 52.069 — Go downstream and into the mouth of the South River. As you start up the river, it makes a hard turn to the right. Straight ahead of you, the far bank is lined with docks. Trees on top of the point are pretty solid until you see a gap in them about halfway from the point back to the main bank.

Go to that gap in the trees. There is a little pocket there, and that’s where you want to start fishing the docks. Work to your left, going downstream. Skip your frog under the dock, and work it in the shade. Then skip a jig to each post, letting it fall to the bottom. Skipping it into the post makes noise that attracts the bass and turns them on better.

John usually concentrates on the corner posts, fishing fast and looking for aggressive bass. The more aggressive fish will set up on the corners, especially if there is a little current.

No. 8: N 33º 22.578 – W 83º 52.623 — Go upstream to the point where the river makes a sharp turn back to the left—this is at the end of the bank at hole 7, but upstream. Start at the point, and fish upstream along this bank. The river channel runs right along the bank, so it drops off fast. This bank also stays shady for much of the morning.

There is rock and wood cover along this bank, as well as docks. John likes to run a crankbait at a 45-degree angle, casting ahead of the boat right to the edge of the water. Current here helps the crankbait bite. Also, fish your frog here in the shade, and skip your jig to the docks.

This is one of John’s favorite banks, and he knows ever little stick on it since his uncle had a cabin here in the small cove at the end of the bank when John was growing up. He fished it a lot. The day we fished, he got a solid 2-lb. bass that inhaled his frog on this bank.

No. 9: N 33º 22.953 – W 83º 52.694 — Go up the river to the third cove on the left. There is a channel marker out from the mouth of it. On the downstream point there is a big, white, three-story house with a white picket railing around the second story, and a white picket fence around a swimming pool in front of it.

Start fishing in front of the house, and fish all the way around this cove. Fish all the wood cover with all your baits. John will run his spinnerbait by wood cover, especially if the water is heavily stained. Fish a frog in all the shady spots, and hit every dock post and other piece of wood with your jig. This is an especially good cove when the sun gets up since there is so much cover in it.

No. 10: N 33º 23.191 – W 83º 52.592 — A little farther upstream, the South River splits to the left and the Yellow River goes to the right. The point on the right, downstream of where the rivers come together, is deep for the area since the river channel runs close to it. This point also stays shady late in the day due to its position, steep bank and big trees.

Going upstream, on your right you will see a cream-colored dock with a roof on it on a steep, clay bank. Then there’s a dock with no roof that is along a concrete seawall. Start at the cream-colored dock, and fish upstream, casting a frog right against the seawall here. Skip your jig ’n pig to all dock posts.

Just past the second dock, the seawall makes a small point. Upstream of this small point are big rocks and logs in the water. Fish all of them carefully. Fish around the point and down that bank as long as the shade holds out.

Fishing early gives you a better chance of catching bass, and it is much cooler, too. Concentrate on shady banks as the sun gets up to improve your catch, and you can often keep your boat in the shade, too. Give John’s methods and spots a try and you can find similar places to fish this pattern on Jackson this month.

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