Clarks Hill Postspawn Bass Patterns And Places
10 GPS locations to set your May pattern for Clarks Hill bass.
Clarks Hill bass are eating up the last of the herring spawn as they transition to their summer holes, but bass are still going back up shallow to feed around bream beds, too. In both cases you can catch Clarks Hill bass on a variety of baits this month, with five-fish 15-lb. stringers common.
Clarks Hill, officially named J. Strom Thurman Reservoir, is the largest lake in Georgia. It is the last of the chain on the Savannah River along the South Carolina border. Clarks Hill is full of humps, long shallow points and gravel pockets where bass feed on herring and bream.
May is a transition month. With the herring spawn winding down, many bass are going deeper, feeding as they migrate hump to hump and point to point toward main river and creek channels. But there will also be Clarks Hill bass hanging around the bream bedding pockets where they find easy prey.
DJ Hadden grew up on the south side of Augusta and now lives in Evans. He has fished Clarks Hill all his life and started fishing tournaments with his father at 13 years old. His dad and mom were charter members of the “His and Hers” couples club in Augusta.
DJ is president of the Augusta Bass Club and fishes club and pot tournaments regularly, but most of his fishing time is spent coaching the Greenbriar High School bass team. His son Tanner has been on the team since fifth grade, and he and his partner won the state classic last June on Clarks Hill and finished third in the points standings in the Georgia BASS Nation Angler of the Year race.
“Bass have mostly finished spawning by the end of April and are moving to deep summer holes,” DJ said.
They move to the first deeper hump or point out from the spawning areas and feed on the last of the herring spawn for a period, usually until about mid May. Then many bass make a move deeper to main lake and major creek stuff. By late May, most of the Clarks Hill bass will be holding and feeding 15 to 25 feet deep.
Early in the month, when the bass are still feeding 10 feet deep or less, DJ will cast a topwater plug and fluke a lot. He will also have a drop shot and Creeper jig rigged and ready.
For deeper fish later in the month, DJ is ready with the Creeper jig, jig ’n pig, drop shot and Carolina rig. When the bream are bedding, mostly around the full moon on May 7, he will be ready with a buzzbait to run bedding areas.
DJ warns that the bass feed on these places for a short time, and then they get hard to catch. You may hit a hump and not get a bite, and then come back 30 minutes later and catch quality fish. He proved that Easter Weekend. He and I fished on Friday, a windy, cold day. The next day he fished a club tournament and a “Smot” pot tournament.
The day we fished, we started on a point, and DJ said he knew the fish were there. We did not get a bite. And we ended the day there, too, without a bite. The next morning in the tournament he started there and got a 5-pounder, and then came back at 2 p.m. and got another 5-pounder. That demonstrates how the bass can be where you think they are and not bite one day—or one hour—but then they can turn on.
The 5-lb., 8-oz, bass off that point was big fish in the tournament, and DJ’s five weighing 18-13 gave he and his partner third out of 41 teams. It took just over 19 for first and second. On Friday, we caught two spots and a largemouth. What a difference a day makes!
Some of the following places are holding feeding fish right now, some will be better later in the month, and the bream bedding spot is similar to what you want to find in other areas of the lake around the May full moon.
No. 1: N 33º 40.099 – W 82º 13.551 — The “Volleyball Point” is a great early May, early morning spot. At Lake Springs Park there is a long sandy point with a wooden seawall around it where volleyball nets are set up. Go here first thing in the morning for bass feeding on herring.
Stop out from the point and ease in on the upstream side. Stop when your boat is in 5 to 7 feet of water, a long cast off the seawall. Cast a topwater plug and fluke right to the seawall, working them back fast. The upstream side is the best, but work the end of the point, too.
DJ likes a chrome Gunfish or Ima Stick for topwater. He makes a long cast and works it with constant twitches to make it “walk the dog” back to the boat. The strike may come as soon as the plug hits the water, or anywhere on the way back to the boat, so be ready.
No. 2: N 33º 41.369 – W 82º 12.895 — Across the lake on the South Carolina side, there is a small sandy beach DJ called “Aruba” because of a party crowd usually there. It is on a bluff bank. There are some blue words painted on rocks near it. A long point comes out and rises to a hump about 10 feet deep on top near red channel marker 12.
DJ says the bottom goes from 100 to 10 feet deep in a short distance. Sit in 30 to 40 feet of water, and cast dragging baits on top and along the sides and end.
DJ drags a Carolina rig, jig ’n pig or Creeper Rig along the bottom. He rigs a green-pumpkin Speed Craw on a 3/4-oz. Greenfish Tackle Creeper Head and drags it along the bottom, letting the tails wiggle to entice bass.
Cover the area quickly. DJ says if the bass are active, they will hit within 15 minutes. If he does not get a bite in that time, he will move to the next spot, but he may come back to this and other places a few hours later.
No. 3: N 33º 42.557 – W 82º 14.131 — Out in front of Modock campground in the middle of the river near red marker 18 (it shows as marker 20 on my paper map), there is a hump that rises to 15 feet deep on top. There is deep water all around it, and this is a later May hole.
Keep your boat in 25 feet of water, and stay on the river side. Cast a Carolina rig, Creeper or jig ’n pig up on top and drag them down the side. DJ’s first choice is the Creeper jig, but he will try the other two baits. For his Carolina rig, he ties a 6/0 hook about 3 feet above a 3/4-oz. sinker and puts a plum or green-pumpkin-magic Zoom Ol’ Monster worm on it.
Some wind helps the bite here and at other humps and points, but DJ says the lake is so big and open he has not seen any generated current affect the bite. On a calm day, he may go to his drop-shot rig since fishing is tougher when there’s no wind.
No. 4: N 33º 46.550 – W 82º 16.609 — A big island sits in the mouth of Dordon Creek on the downstream side. On the upstream end of it, a marker sits on a hump only 3 to 4 feet deep. Bass will school on top here so keep your Gunfish or Ima ready and try it up shallow early, but this is mostly a dragging spot.
Since this place is in the mouth of a creek, it is one of the first places bass moving out of the creek after spawning stop. Sit on the river side in 20 to 25 feet of water, and cast up to the top, dragging your baits down the slope. A jig ’n pig, Carolina rig and Creeper will all work here. DJ throws a 3/4-oz. Greenfish Tackle football jig with a peanut butter and jelly Zoom Speed Craw on it. He drags it along the bottom like his other baits, letting the craws on the bait do the work.
No. 5: N 33º 45.726 – W 82º 16.499 — For a change of pace, go into the pocket between black markers 37 and 39. There are docks along the bank and point with rip-rap behind them and deep water in front of them. If you can get here before daylight, one of the docks has a green light underwater that attracts bait and bass. There is also brush to fish here.
Stay out from the docks and work a Texas-rigged Ol’ Monster around the light, under the docks and through the brush. DJ says if you can get on the spot before daylight, you can catch some big fish here.
No. 6: N 33º 41.399 – W 82º 17.332 — Go around to Little River and start up it. At green channel marker 13, go toward the bank. A long point comes off the bank on that side and comes up near the river channel, topping out about 16 feet deep. There are brush and rocks on it to hold bass.
Fish around it with all your dragging baits. If the water is slick, try a drop shot. This is a good example of the first place a bass stops after spawning. It has a direct connection or “highway” to the spawning coves on that side of Little River and tops out at a good depth for May fishing.
No. 7: N 33º 41.730 – W 82º 17.623 — Across the river and upstream on the bank side of red marker 14, there is a long point that comes off Bussey Point that tops out about 7 to 8 feet deep near the channel. It is a similar path from spawning to deep summer holes as you see at hole 6. Sit in 25 feet of water, and fish your dragging baits around it. This hump tops out shallow enough to attract spawning herring, so it is worth checking out early in the morning with a topwater bait for bass chasing them, too.
DJ rigs a pearl Zoom Fluke about 18 inches behind a swivel and works it with fast twitches, making it dart and jump. It will draw bites while a hard topwater bait does not at times.
No. 8: N 33º 42.994 – W 82º 20.364 — Shellcracker and bluegill bedding in May attract feeding bass. DJ likes to run bedding coves and banks with a bluegill color Greenfish buzzbait with a gold blade over shallow water to attract strikes. He sometimes puts a trailer on it, but that is not necessary. He says he runs a trailer about 50% of the time.
For a good example of a bedding area, go into Cherokee Creek. Stay to the left side and go past where the creek narrows and then opens back up. Past a cove with docks in it, there is a shallow flat area along the bank that has willow trees and button bushes on a hard bottom. That’s the perfect combination.
Keep your boat out a long cast from the bank, and run your buzzbait past any cover like a bush that might hold a bass waiting to ambush a passing bream. Work the bait fast enough to keep it gurgling on top like a hurt bream trying to escape. DJ says you can catch some big bass doing this.
No. 9: N 33º 43.301 – W 82º 19.772 — Out in the middle of Cherokee Creek, after the creek narrows then opens back up, watch for a hump. Way off the small island on the right bank going in with docks behind it, the hump rises to 19 feet on top. A dock with a red top stands out at about 1 o’clock position as you are going into the creek.
This hump is deep but has a connection to the spawning areas, and it is in a creek, so bass move to it soon after spawning. DJ says female Clarks Hill bass have learned to head to this kind of place as soon as they drop their eggs so they can eat herring. Bucks follow as soon as they finish guarding fry. Neither female or male bass hang around much in shallow water to feed after spawning like they did before herring got established in Clarks Hill.
Work all around the channel end of the hump, probing with your dragging baits for the rocks and brush on the hump. Try a drop shot, too. DJ rigs a 6-inch morning dawn colored worm about 12 inches above a 1/4-oz. sinker. He drags it more than he fishes it straight down. That is how he caught the 5-8 in the tournament.
No. 10: N 33º 41.285 – W 82º 14.031 — We fished in a big circle out of Wildwood, so this hole is near the end of our circuit. The chain of islands between Little River and Keg Creek ends in a narrow point. That point is a good herring spawn area.
The Keg Creek side is flatter, and DJ likes it best. He stays way off the bank and works a topwater and fluke over the flat on that side. He will also drag a drop shot along the bottom when the fish just seem to be inactive and don’t want to chase a bait.
Try these places for May bass. Follow them as they move, and you will have a good catch.
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