Dodge PFA Bass Looking For Company
A November deer rut generally means quiet bass fishing waters.
If you can’t find something to shoot or catch in the state of Georgia during the month of November, then you may want to turn in the old sportsman’s license and try another hobby.
Never are there so many options available to outdoorsmen as now. Deer, ducks, hogs and a host of other furry critters can be had this month.
Shift gears to the H20, and you will find a red-hot trout bite in the salt, crappie schools starting to stack up like Christmas trees and bass gorging on shad in the backs of creeks on most any of our major reservoirs.
In south-central Georgia, there’s a shad bite going on that may rival that of any you’ll find on our major reservoirs this month. The great news is that you don’t have to have a big fancy bass boat to get in on the action. Sound too good to be true? Look no further than Dodge County PFA near Eastman.
This 104-acre lake has an impressive population of quality largemouth in the 3- to 5-lb. range that are moving up shallow to eat shad, even as I’m typing the words of this story.
I don’t know of anyone who knows the fall bite at Dodge better than Corey Solomon, of Hazlehurst. When I asked him about sharing his tactics with GON readers, he was excited to share some of his experience on the lake.
“It’s a great fall lake,” said Corey. “Dodge gets pounded hard all summer, then anglers leave to chase deer, the shad move up, and man it’s on. There are nice quality-size bass in the lake.”
Corey, who has fished the lake for nearly 20 years, says the shad bite on this PFA is hard to beat in November, and there aren’t a lot of other anglers to contend with.
“I usually fish Sunday mornings before church, and I might see two or three boats, and those guys are usually targeting crappie. It’s like I have the bass all to myself,” Corey said.
I jumped in Corey’s boat a few weeks before GON was scheduled to go to press, and though the conditions weren’t right for the shad to start moving up, we managed to get bit as Corey showed me his simple but effective method for putting bass in the boat during November.
I quickly learned you won’t need the latest electronics and a fancy boat to catch these fish. Cooler days and nights, particularly toward the end of the month, will send the bass shallow all around the lake.
“I can’t tell you the magic water temperature when the shad move up. Honestly, I usually never even turn on my electronics here during the fall,” said Corey. “The shad schools will be spread around the lake in shallow water trying to move up from the cooler depths.”
To work the lake’s perimeter, a small jonboat or a kayak are just the right size to explore the roughly 100-acre lake. Anglers can also fish out of larger bass boats, but just keep in mind the boat may only be operated at idle speed.
“One thing I often do that helps me work the perimeter of the lake faster is I fish parallel to the bank. When I come by myself, this enables me to keep my lure in the strike zone for my entire cast,” Corey added.
Corey fishes very quickly to maximize his time on the water and rarely will fish a slow-moving lure.
“You’re either in them or you ain’t,” said Corey. “The only time I like to let off the trolling motor is when I get bit, or if I see shad busting on top. Once you locate bass that are schooling on shad, you can often catch several fish in a hurry.”
A good bite can be found anywhere on the lake, but Corey did say the shoreline directly across from the boat ramp has been really good to him during November.
“If you stand on the boat ramp and look directly across the lake at the shoreline and then fish that stretch to your left, it will take you to the end of the lake that’s basically a shallow flat. Schools of shad will pile up there as the temperature drops late in the month,” said Corey.
Corey recommends leaving the big tackle box at home and says that only a handful of lures are needed for a successful day on the lake.
“Anything that looks like a shad will get your pole bent in a hurry,” said Corey. “Buzzbaits, ChatterBaits, Rat-L-Traps and swimbaits are all good selections,” said Corey. “If the water is heavily stained, a squarebill crankbait can also be effective. You can fish a lot of ways, but just make sure that what you are fishing looks like a shad.”
Corey likes to fish topwater offerings when the sun comes up and doesn’t change unless the fish refuse to bite.
“You can usually catch them all morning on top if you stick with it and cover a bunch of water,” said Corey.
His go-to lure for this kind of fishing is a white buzzbait with a silver blade and a shad-colored swimbait on the back. He uses a wide-spool reel loaded with 65-lb. Power Pro braid to launch the lure as far as he can in an effort to cover as much water as possible with each cast.
He starts out with a fast retrieve and will try speeding up or slowing down until he can figure out what the fish are keying on that day.
“The white buzzbait is hard to beat this time of year, especially for covering water to find fish,” said Corey. “If you can put some trust in it, it’ll very rarely let you down.”
Corey does like to keep another topwater offering on the deck and ready to go.
“If fish start busting the water nearby, you need to have a Zara Spook ready to throw at them,” said Corey. “You can launch it a mile, and if you bring it through a shad feeding frenzy, it’s gonna get hit every time.”
If the topwater bite doesn’t produce, Corey switches gears to a Z-Man ChatterBait tipped with a pearl-colored Zoom Swimming Super Fluke. He continues to work his way around the lake and uses a steady retrieve to tempt hungry fish.
“Don’t try to over-fish it,” said Corey. “That ChatterBait has plenty of action on it’s on, especially with a swimbait on the back. It’s a really easy lure to fish, and it mimics a shad perfectly.”
Corey works the ChatterBait along the lake’s edges, fishing it in and around cover and continues to fish it all the way back to the boat with a steady retrieve.
“You want to make sure you fish it the whole way back because the shad school can be anywhere. It’s all about keeping your lure in the strike zone as long as you possibly can,” said Corey.
If he’s dealing with heavily stained water, Corey will throw a squarebill crankbait in an effort to trigger a reaction strike from fish. This can be an effective way to target shad that are bunched up around thick cover.
To fish the squarebill, Corey will use a fast retrieve to bang his squarebill into shallow cover in an effort to look like a fleeing shad.
“If you get to the lake and rain or recent fertilization have got the water a really murky green color, you can almost bet a squarebill is going to be the ticket,” said Corey. “Throw one that looks like a shad, and if the water is heavily stained, a crankbait with some chartreuse color to it can be great.”
If the fish have a case of lockjaw, Corey’s go to is the old but faithful Rat-L-Trap.
“I’ve turned some bad days around slinging a Rat-L-Trap at Dodge,” said Corey. “It’s a really great bait to throw when you don’t know what else to do.”
Corey uses a slow, steady retrieve and likes to target the mouths of the pockets around the lake and will fish it much like a ChatterBait. He says when he hangs the Rat-L-Trap on some structure or grass, he likes to rip it free causing it to dart and flutter. Oftentimes this will cause a reaction strike from a nearby bass.
Anglers visiting Dodge need to keep in mind as stated earlier, the lake is idle speed only for outboard motors. Anglers may keep five largemouth bass of any length (no minimum size) per day, but each angler is only allowed to possess one bass longer than 16 inches.
The area is a beautiful area for a weekend trip and has a fishing pier, concrete boat ramps, restrooms and a primitive camping area.
“I love Dodge PFA. It’s a great place to catch some quality fish, and the topwater bite in November is awesome. I hope everyone will give this place a try,” said Corey.
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