Eufaula Lily Pads, Ledges Loaded With Largemouth
Scott Montgomery marks a map for lilly pads early, then a move to Eufaula’s famous ledges to catch summertime largemouth.
Lily pads and ledges are the keys to catching some big summertime bass at Lake Eufaula. Since Eufaula is known for stringers of big bass this time of year, it is the perfect place to spend some hot days pulling in bass big enough to make you forget about the heat.
Since it was dammed in 1963, Lake Eufaula has become known as a big-bass lake. Its 45,180 acres are filled with shallow cover like grass beds and lily pads while channels and ditches snake across big flats, offering some of the best ledge fishing anywhere. It is fertile, so the bass grow fast. This time of year 20-lb. stringers are not unusual in tournaments there.
Eufaula can be confusing to bass fishermen new to the lake. All the shoreline looks good, with so much cover you would think bass are everywhere. The channels and ditches that crisscross the lake have sweet spots on them that are hard to find without a lot of effort studying a map and a good depthfinder. If you take time to learn it, Eufaula can produce some catches you will never forget.
Scott Montgomery grew up in Eufaula, Ala. and now lives near the golf course at Lake Point. But you won’t catch him playing much golf. He has fished all his life and remembers his dad dropping him and his jonboat off at the lake on the way to work when Scott was in his early teens. He would fish all day until his father picked him up on the way home.
Scott’s dad worked for Mann’s Bait Co. for years pouring plastic baits. In 1997 Scott and his dad started Big Bite Bait Co. just south of Georgetown, and it has become one of the biggest plastic-bait companies around. They often run 24 hours a day, six days a week and pour 800,000 baits a week.
At Big Bite Baits they package plastic baits for many companies. You have probably used some of their baits. Now they are packaging and selling their baits under their own name. You can find Big Bite Baits at many stores in the area like Young’s Bigmouth in Eufaula, and you can see and order their baits online at www.bigbitebaits.com.
Scott fishes as much as possible on Eufaula and talks fishing every day. It’s his business. His company sponsors pro bass fishermen Jeff Kriet and Mike McClelland, so Scott gets information from the pro trails, too. You will see him in his distinctive Big Bite Baits wrapped Ranger in most of the local pot and charity tournaments. He also fishes the local Eufaula Bass Trail, a series of tournaments on Eufaula that is almost like a club.
Scott’s biggest Eufaula largemouth was a 9-lb. hog, and his best tournament stringer was a five-fish limit weighing 21.5 pounds. He does not get to fish as many tournaments as he would like but hopes to fish the BFL trail next year. One of his favorite tournament memories is placing second in the Lee King Benefit Tournament with a 150-boat field on Eufaula.
According to Scott, the bass on Eufaula are set up in their summertime patterns in August, and you can count on catching them in two basic ways. The fish are holding on the ledges in 12 to 15 feet of water. They will move in under lily pads to feed early in the morning, and some will hold under them later in the day for the shade if the water is at least 4 feet deep.
For pad fishing Scott looks for places where the creek and river channels make an outside bend at a pad field. The fish hold in the deeper water and move up to feed, so they are active when in the pads. They need that deeper water nearby, though.
Ledges require the same thing, a change in direction or a ditch running across them. Scott looks for bass holding on ledges where the channel makes a bend or where a ditch breaks it. Brush, rocks and other cover help, but the change in depth is the most important aspect.
Scott’s choice of baits is fairly simple. In the pads he likes a topwater frog like their Top Toad or Floatin’ Toad the first 30 minutes of daylight. He will also use them later in the afternoon when the sun gets bright. He will fish a spinnerbait or jig ’n pig in the pads, especially if he is getting bites and wants to slow down and work an area more carefully.
Out on the ledges Scott uses a big crankbait like a Bomber Fat Free Shad or Norman’s DD22 that will get down 18 feet deep as a search bait. When he finds fish, he then switches to a big worm rigged Texas or Carolina style. His choice is one of their Kriet Tails in the 10-inch Magnum worm or a Kriet Creature bait. He especially likes their tilapia color, a green-pumpkin worm with blue-and-purple flakes in it. Watermelon red is another good color this time of year.
Scott showed me the following places he catches August bass on Eufaula. Check them out and see the kinds of places that hold bass, then you can find others like them.
No. 1. on the map: N 31° 58.494 – W 85° 06-331 — First thing in the morning there is a good pad field near Lake Point. Head out of the boat basin and go past the second set of channel marker poles and make a hard left. You will be heading toward a point with some cypress trees on it and lily pads all around it. You will see a series of three danger “snag” markers making a line to your left. Stay well to the right of them.
The Cowikee Creek channel swings across and turns right at this point. You might want to idle across to it from the channel until you learn where the deep water and stumps are located. Start fishing at the point, and work to your left, back toward the hotel at Lake Point.
Scott starts with one of their sinking Top Frogs or Floating Toads, a bait that will float a 5/0 hook. He fishes them on 60-lb. braid to make sure he can land the big bass when it hits. He makes long casts across the pads, working the frog across them and through holes in them. The floating frog allows him to pause it and let it sit right by a pad, just like a frog stopping before climbing up on the pad.
Other topwater baits like a buzzbait will catch fish but get hung up more than the frog. Scott will also run a spinnerbait through the pads and fish a jig ’n pig under them. The jig ’n pig is especially good if the bass don’t seem to want to hit on top and are not really active.
2. N 31° 58.577 – W 85° 06.563 — Go back out to the second set of channel markers. This spot is called the “Toilet Bowl Hole” because a toilet seat used to be nailed to the pole. It is gone, but the bass are not. Scott caught a solid 6 1/2-lb. bass here the day we fished.
Keep your boat in the channel between the markers but near the green one. Just outside the channel, back toward the highway causeway is a high spot. The creek channel swings by it making a turn, and the bottom rises to about 13 feet deep on top. You will be sitting in 18 to 23 feet of water when in the creek channel.
Scott always starts fishing a ledge by positioning his boat in the deeper water and casting up to shallow water on top of ledges and humps. Active fish will be up on the hump or right on the drop feeding, and he wants to bring his bait from shallow to deep. If he does not get bit, especially if he is seeing fish on his depthfinder, he will move up on top of the shallow water and cast to the deeper water, bringing his bait from deep to shallow. Try both.
3. N 31° 58.139 – W 85° 05.877 — Running the channel downstream, the channel markers will take you to the right bank then come back across the creek, making a turn at an island. Remember that the poles don’t always follow the deeper water but show where it is safe to run. The island where the channel markers make a turn does sit on an outside bend in the channel and has lily pads all around it, making it another excellent topwater hole.
Start at the point of pads and cypress trees running out toward the channel, and work all around the island. Bass move up from the channel to feed and have a deep-water hole nearby. Work all your baits around these pads, circling the island, then fish the point running out toward the channel. The point has stumps on it and is worth some casts with your crankbait and worms.
Scott says spots like this are usually best the first 30 minutes of daylight, until the sun gets on the water. The sun will run the fish that have been feeding early back to deeper water, but don’t forget to check these places later in the afternoon. Some bass will often move back under the pads to feed in the shade if the water is at least 4 feet deep.
4. N 31° 57.616 – W 85° 05.454 — Run on down the creek, and the channel will swing in to the bank on the point just upstream of where the creek and river join. You will be in 40 feet of water a cast off the edge of the pads, and this deep pad bed runs from a gap in the trees on out almost to the point. There is water-willow grass mixed in with the pads, making it even better.
Start fishing the pads near where the bigger trees have a gap in them, and work all the way to the end of the point. Make long casts with your frog, spinnerbait or jig ’n pig and work it back under the pads. If you get hit, slow down and work the area carefully. Bass will usually school up, and you will often catch several where one hits.
Scott fishes Academy Sports Mettle H2O Reels on all his rods and says they are the best reel for the money on the market. He uses mostly Falcon rods and likes both Berkley and Power Pro braid. You need a strong reel and heavy-action rod to pull big bass out of a pad bed.
5. N 31° 57.584 – W 85° 05.222 — When you get to the end of the point between the river and Cowikee Creek, you will see the last pole channel mark- er not far from a river, a drum-type marker. The point between them drops on both sides, and fish come out of the creek and river to feed on the point. It is a good spot to find deeper bass.
Scott works his crankbaits and worms across the point from both sides, sitting in deep water and trying to cast across the point to deeper water on the other side. This allows him to fish up one side, across the narrow point and down the other in one cast. This is a long point, and you need to fish all of it.
Current really helps here and on other spots by moving suspended fish into contact with the break and making them feed. If current is running down the river and out of Cowikee Creek, Scott will usually concentrate on fish- ing from the river side. He will position his boat on the river side and cast up into the creek side and work his boat back with the current. Fish will position themselves facing into the current waiting on food so make your bait move naturally with the current.
6. N 31° 58.102 – W 85° 04.914 — Run up the river channel then in toward the mouth of Wylaunee Creek. Be careful when you get out of the river channel, there are stumps and high spots here. Go to the island on the left side of Wylaunee Creek when heading into the creek. It has willow trees, grass and pads around it and can be a good spot for an early bite right on the bank. There is a fish-attractor buoy on the point of the island.
Not far off the bank the water drops, and the creek channel swings in by the downstream point of the island. Back off and throw your Carolina rig up near the pads and work it back down the drop down the side of the island and across the point, too. The bottom feels like gravel here on the point, and cur- rent will eddy around it. Bass hold here and feed, especially if there is current.
The fish-attractor buoy marks brush and standing timber where the creek swings in right by the island tip. Throw a crankbait around the marker, probing for fish holding in the trees. Drag a Texas- or Carolina-rigged worm through the area, too. When you feel it coming up a tree, pause and let the worm wiggle to turn on bass holding by the tree.
7. N 31° 56.742 – W 85° 04.969 — Go back out to the river channel and head downstream past the mouth of Cowikee Creek. Watch the numbers on the markers, and stop at marker number 100.7. Idle straight down the ledge watching for a drop where a ditch cuts through it.
The ditch runs across the flat downstream of the river channel and cuts the ledge on the downstream side of the channel. You will be in 6 to 8 feet of water on the lip of the ledge, and the ditch will drop off to 18 feet deep, then come right back up.
Any cut in the ledge like this is good, but this one gets a lot of current because of its position. It is out in the middle of the big water, and current eddies around when it hits the shallow and deep water side by side. Fish both sides of the ditch, working the ledge of the ditch as well as the ledge of the river. Start by positioning your boat in the ditch, and cast up onto the ledge on both sides, but work it both ways, too.
8. N 31° 56.651 – W 85° 04.794 — Back across the river channel on the upstream side of the river watch for red channel marker 100.4. About 200 yards upstream of this drum another ditch cuts the ledge, this time coming from upstream and cutting the upstream ledge. Go to the drum, and idle upstream until you see the drop. It is like the one on the other side since it is in open water and gets a lot of current. This is an example of what Scott called a sweet spot on a good ledge. The whole ledge may hold bass, but the bigger bass, and more of them, will stack up on the corners of the ditch. They will hold here all summer.
Scott likes a short 12- to 18-inch leader on his Carolina rig and suggests a high-speed reel. He says all too often you will feel a fish hit, but it will come toward you, and you need to reel fast and take up a lot of line to catch up with it and set the hook. The shorter leader and high-speed reel both help you catch up with the fish.
9. N 31° 56.483 – W 85° 04.805 — A little farther downstream the river makes a hard right turn just upstream of channel marker 100.2, and there is a hump in the bend. Scott calls it “Sugar Hill” because of all the bass caught on it. The hump tops out at 6 to 7 feet deep, but the channel just a few feet away is more than 40 feet deep.
Fish all around this hump with crankbaits and Carolina- and Texas- rigged worms. Start with your boat in the channel casting up on top of the hump and working down. Fish it like this all the way around the bend from all sides, trying to throw all the way across the hump to pull up one side and down the other. Then move up on top of the hump, and work your baits up the drop.
10. N 31° 56.342 – W 85° 04.988 — A ditch runs downstream from near Sugar Hill and enters the river channel between channel markers 100.2 and 100.0. The point between the ditch and the river channel is an excellent place to find bass holding and feeding. Ride the channel ledge downstream until you find the ditch.
Scott emphasizes the importance of marker buoys for this type fishing. Even as familiar as he is with these spots, he will still mark places like this point with a buoy so he can be sure he is casting to the right spot. Drop a buoy on top of the point formed by the ditch and river channel, and then back off and cast all around it. You can also mark any brush or stumps you find while fishing these spots and back off and cast to them.
All these places will hold bass this month, and you can catch them. But don’t limit yourself to just these spots. Fish them, study them and find out what creates a sweet spot. Then get a map and a good depthfinder, and find more of your own.
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