Clarks Hill Bass Staged Prespawn And Postspawn
Bass are bumping into each other coming and going from spawning areas on these prime staging locations this month.
March weather is fickle, and fishing can be set back with a single front. Now, with April finally here, things have settled down, and the fishing is wide open. Bass are feeding and spawning, and they are as easy to catch right now as any time of the year. Clarks Hill is just about the best lake in the state to take advantage of April fishing.
Clarks Hill is massive. With 71,000 surface acres, it’s one of the largest reservoirs in the southeast. Because it is so big, the lake and its bass can be difficult to keep track of if you don’t fish it regularly. But you can narrow it down by fishing a small part of the lake to pattern the bass. This is especially true if you have some tips from a fisherman who knows it well.
Baylor Ronemus grew up in Augusta and has fished Clarks Hill all his life. He’s a member of the Greenbrier Bass Club, which fishes Clarks Hill a lot. He won the club’s point standings last year. As a junior in college, Baylor is in his second year on the Clemson Bass Fishing Team.
“I don’t like to sight fish for bedding bass, so I target prespawn and postspawn fish in April,” Baylor said.
He concentrates on points where the bass hold and feed while moving into and out of the spawning areas. By fishing those kinds of places, he can find feeding fish and catch several on one spot. He much prefers fishing different places rather than sitting in one place trying to catch one.
Many bass spawn at Clarks Hill in April, moving in to bed in waves and then moving back out. These bass are staging prespawn and postspawn. Just as important are the shad and herring spawns. Blueback herring have changed the lake since they became established in Clarks Hill. Bluebacks have changed the way bass live and feed there.
In April, the shad will spawn from the middle of the month to the end, and the herring spawn starts late in the month. These baitfish spawns offer the chance to catch a lot of quality bass quickly. Postspawn bass school up and concentrate on these baitfish spawns.
Baylor’s tackle selection includes a Zoom Fluke, a Sammy and a spinnerbait while searching for feeding bass. He also fishes a Carolina rig and a jig ’n pig to catch fish when he finds a group of them.
Baylor rigs a pearl-white fluke weightless on 12-lb. monofilament P-Line. It will catch fish anywhere, from points to pockets, and when fish are schooling. His white or chrome Sammy is rigged on 15-lb. monofilament line and is a good bait for casting to schooling fish. It will also catch fish that are not hitting on top but are looking for something to eat.
A True Track 3/8- to 1/2-oz. spinnerbait with a chartreuse-and-white skirt with one silver and one gold willowleaf blade is good just about anywhere on the lake. It is tied on 15-lb. test fluorocarbon line.
For slower fishing, a True Track 3/8- to 1/2-oz. jig in browns and greens is tied on 18- to 20-lb. fluorocarbon line, and a green-pumpkin Paca Chunk is added to it. On his Carolina rig, he uses a green-pumpkin lizard or Trick Worm behind a 1-oz. sinker. His 6- to 12-inch leader is 12-lb. fluorocarbon line, and his main line is 18- to 20-lb. test. Baylor often dips the tails of his plastic baits in chartreuse dip and dye.
The following 10 spots are all good right now and are in a fairly compact area of the lake from Mistletoe State Park to the mouth of Keg Creek.
No. 1: N 33º 42.056 – W 82º 22.512 — Go into the mouth of Graves Creek to the first small creek on the right. The downstream point of this creek is a combination of white rock and clay. White-rock points and banks are well-known feeding areas for bass on Clarks Hill. This is a good point for both prespawn and postspawn bass.
Start a little downstream of this point, keeping your boat out in about 18 feet of water, and cast a Sammy or Fluke right to the bank. Work your bait back out, covering water where the bottom drops off to about 12 feet deep. Those baits will get hits from bass looking for shad and herring, and also from bass holding on the point actively feeding.
When you get to the small blowdown inside the creek, turn and go back around the point with a Carolina rig or jig. Stay out in 18 feet of water. Cast these baits to about 2 feet of water, and work them all the way back to the boat.
No. 2: N 33º 41.550 – W 82º 22.499 — Go across the mouth of Graves Creek to the upstream main-lake point. Start about 50 feet down the bank from the point on the creek side, and fish around the point. The water is fairly shallow where you start, and then it drops off into a dip near the point before coming back up more shallow on the upstream side of it.
Start with topwater and a soft jerkbait over the clay and rock bottom, staying well off the bank and fishing your baits from the bank out toward deeper water. When you get around the upstream river side of the point, go back around with your bottom-bumping baits.
Also try a spinnerbait cast right to the bank. Start with a fairly fast retrieve, keeping the bait near the surface. If this doesn’t draw strikes, slow it down to the point of slow-rolling it right on the bottom. Baylor’s spinnerbait produced two 5-lb. bass on this point in April last year—no surprise this is one of his favorite points this time of year.
No. 3: N 33º 40.378 – W 82º 22.165 — Go across Little River to the downstream point at the mouth of Cliatt Creek—the creek with Mistletoe State Park on the upstream side. A small island sits off the downstream point that has a classic blow-through between the island and point. The point of the creek has mile marker 94 on it.
Start on the upstream side of the island, and fish across the blow-through toward the point with both a Sammy and a fluke. Watch for swirls indicating feeding fish. Cast to any swirls you see, but cover the water all the way across from the island to the point regardless.
Blow-throughs are shallow areas where waves have washed away dirt leaving a gravel bottom. Herring spawn in a few feet of water in places like this, and the shad will spawn right on the bank. Clarks Hill bass feed heavily on blow-throughs this time of year.
No. 4: N 33º 40.263 – W 82º 22.216 — When you get to the point across the blow-through from the island (the point with mile marker 94 on it), fish it carefully. This point is very rocky and runs way out. Bass stage and school on it all month long.
Baylor fishes all the way around the point with a jig or Carolina rig. Stay well off the point, keeping your boat in at least 15 feet of water. Make long casts to the shallow water, and slowly work your bait back to the boat.
Pull your jig or C-rig along the bottom, and feel for the rocks. Bump over them with small pulls when you hit them. Keep your bait on the bottom. Baylor does not hop his jig; he just slides it along the bottom.
No. 5: N 33º 39.518 – W 82º 22.577 — Go up Cliatt Creek toward the Mistletoe boat ramp. There are two marked humps in front of the boat ramp. Near the bank on the right side, before you get to the marked humps, is a hump with brush and dead pines on it. Stop off this hump, and fish all the way around it.
This hump is just upstream of a good spawning cove, and fish stage around the hump. There is a blow-through between the hump and bank, so it also attracts spawning baitfish. Baylor fishes this hump and blow-through with topwater and a soft jerkbait.
No. 6: N 33º 39.295 – W 82º 22.192 — Just upstream of the Mistletoe Ramp is a small island close to the point. A cabin is on the point. This island creates a shallow blow-through, and bass stage and feed around the island.
Start at the big rocks on the downstream side of the point, and fish the point, blow-through and all the way around the island. Try topwater and soft jerkbaits in this area, and also drag your jig and rig through the area, keeping your boat a long cast off the bank as you fish.
No. 7: N 33º 42.774 – W 82º 19.607 — Cherokee Creek is on the left downstream of the Highway 47 bridge. Go into Cherokee past the upstream main-lake point, and you will see a small island off the bank on your left. A long point comes out from the island on the creek side.
Fish from the island out around the point on both sides. Start with topwater and a fluke, and then drag a rig or jig on the bottom. Fish stage and school here, so it is good all month long.
No. 8: N 33º 43.116 – W 82º 19.495 — On the other side of Cherokee Creek, a point sticks out into the creek, and it has big white rocks all around it. This is an excellent place to fish a Carolina rig or jig.
Start on the downstream side of the point, and fish all the way around it. Feel for the big rocks, and make several casts to them when you hit one. Crawl both baits around the rocks, fishing slowly. Postspawn bass are often sluggish for a week or so after bedding, so try letting your bait sit for several seconds in one place to get them to bite.
No. 9: N 33º 41.073 – W 82º 15.538 — The mouth of Keg Creek is a fairly long run but well worth it. Run down the lake to green channel buoy 3. It’s on the right side not far off the bank at Ridge Road Park. You will see an island with a causeway going to it and picnic tables on the island.
Baylor says this is one of the best schooling areas on the lake. There is a lot of chunk rock off the island, and a small hump also comes up near it. Blueback and shad both spawn here, and bass feed heavily on them.
Work all around the island with topwater and a soft jerkbait, fishing from the bank out to deep water. Also drag your rig or jig along, fishing the rocks on the bottom. Watch for surface activity, and go to it immediately when you see feeding fish.
No. 10: N 33º 42.176 – W 82º 20.370 — At the mouth of the creek where Cherokee Boat Ramp is located, a small hump sits on the upstream side toward the bridge. There are big rocks on the hump, and an old roadbed runs off the point and splits it. Bass stage, school and feed around this hump and roadbed all month. Bass released from tournaments held at the ramp restock the area every weekend. It is marked with a reef pole, plus the tops of the rocks are usually above the water.
Baylor fishes all the way around this hump with all his baits. Some wind blowing in on this hump and at the other places helps as long as it is not so strong you can’t control your boat. When the wind is blowing, a spinnerbait works great. Make long casts with your spinnerbait to the bank, and fish it back just under the surface. If the wind is not blowing, try the other baits, or slow-roll your spinnerbait on the bottom.
These are typical kinds of places to catch Clarks Hill bass this month. Use Baylor’s choices of baits, or throw your favorite April baits. These holes fairly close together and are a great run to demonstrates a good pattern that works elsewhere.
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