Eufaula May Bass In The Grass
Coach Les Bratcher marks a milk run for action in the grassbeds this month.
Lake Eufaula is on fire this spring, and 4- to 6-pounders are feeding in grass right now, gorging on shad and bream. Some Eufaula bass are getting ready to move deeper, but May is a month when you can catch a lot of quality bass in shallow water.
Tournament weights have been amazing for the past few months at Lake Eufaula. It has been taking well over 25 pounds to win and more than 20 pounds for a check. The first day of the Ray Scott Open on April 4, the leader had 26.46 pounds, and it took 19.99 to be in 18th place.
Go to Eufaula now to get in on this resurgence of great fishing at this storied bass fishery.
Eufaula is called “The Bass Capitol of the World” for a good reason. Its huge flats full of lily pads and grass are the perfect bass factory, giving them great bedding areas and protection for fry. For when some of the bass move offshore, there are miles of ledges. Those ledges combined with good current give adult bass easy feeding opportunities, allowing Eufaula bass to grow thick and healthy.
The shad spawn started a little in early April and reached its peak by the middle of the month. This gets the bass feeding in the grassbeds and rocks where the shad spawn, and the bass then hang around those areas feeding on the late spawning shad and bream.
Les Bratcher agreed to help set up a good May pattern and mark a map with 10 locations for Eufaula bass this month. Les coached high school football in Ashford, where he won four state championships. He was elected to the Wire Grass Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, and many of his friends still call him Coach.
Les always loved bass fishing and fished as many tournaments as his job allowed. Eufaula is his favorite lake, and he has a house on the water, as well as one in Ashford.
When Les retired seven years ago, he went to work for Big Bite Baits as the pro staff manager. This job puts him in contact with some of the best fishermen in the country, and he gets to fish more than in the past.
For seven years, Les ran the Eufaula Bass Trail. He also fishes tournaments, including the Boyd’s Marine Trail and many pot tournaments on Eufaula.
The last weekend in March, Les had a 22.5-lb. sack in the Albany Bass Club Charity Tournament, which is the biggest tournament on the lake each year. That awesome sack gave him 14th place, showing the kind of excellent bass fishing that’s going on at Eufaula year.
“Bass are eating good around grass in May, and it is some of the best and most fun fishing of the year,” Les said.
The weather is usually stable, the bass are easy to pattern, and great-looking and productive places to fish are all over the lake.
For May, Les will have several baits ready to cast. He ties on a Big Bite Power Toad, a Pro Popping Frog and a Suicide Shad buzzbait for topwater fishing. After the sun gets up, he fishes the grass with a 5-inch Trick Stick, a Texas-rigged Fighting Frog and a Davis Swim Jig to fish the grass.
For some places, he also rigs a Davis X Wire spinnerbait, a Lucky Craft squarebill, a Rico Popper and both Texas- and Carolina-rigged worms.
With so many good-looking places to fish right now, where do you start? Les showed me the following spots during a trip to Eufaula in April. He was already catching bass on them, and several of them produced fish he weighed during the charity tournament. These all hold bass in May.
No. 1: N 31º 52 174 – W 85º 06.786 — We put in at Cool Branch. If you leave from there, you can hit the spots marked by Les in order for a good milk run that’s a big circle. The lake needs to be at 188 to 189 for most of these places to have enough water on them.
Go up the lake until you see a big, flat point downstream of Tobannee Creek. It’s on the Georgia side across from Rabbit Island. Go to the point where it has some bushes and lots of grass on it. Lily pads grow out from the grass.
Start fishing downstream, casting topwater to cover the grass. A Power Toad is a good choice to start with. It comes over and through the grass and pads well, and it draws explosive hits. Les casts a black or white frog, choosing white if shad are flickering and black if they are not.
Cast well back into the grass, and fish the bait back with a steady retrieve. Also try a Popping Frog later in the month when the bream are in here bedding. A Suicide Buzz can also be run though more open grass and pads, especially if you are getting most of your bites on the outside edges of the cover.
Fish all the way around this big bay. There are some old duck blinds made of reeds in the area—make multiple casts to them. This area is called Grays Pond, and the old pond is shown on maps downstream of the upstream point. Fish to the old pond dam.
No. 2: N 31º 52.502 – W 85º 06.885 — Go way out around the shallow upstream point where you started, and go into the mouth of Tobannee Creek. Stop just inside the upstream point and start fishing into the creek. The left bank from this point to the wooded one about 200 yards upstream with a snag off its end is the outside bend of the creek and a little deeper.
There are primrose beds along this bank, as well as other grass. Your topwater will catch fish, but Les likes to slow-roll a white 3/8-oz. Davis X Wire spinnerbait with gold willowleaf blades in the deeper water on this bank. Cast it into any cuts in the grass, and also run it along the front edge of the grass. Fish it with a slow, steady retrieve.
No. 3: N 31º 53.028 – W 85º 07.876 — Go up under the railroad bridge. The left upstream corner is what Les calls an overlooked place that holds some good fish. There are reeds and grass in this small pocket where shad spawn and bass feed on the shad and bluegill.
Stop on the rip-rap where the reeds first start, and fish around the pocket. Here, Les keeps his boat out in about 13 feet of water and casts straight to the bank. A frog, buzzbait and swim jig are all good. Use a white swim jig when the shad are spawning, but if the bass are feeding on bluegill, he casts a black-and-blue swim jig or a Rain Forest Blue Pro Popping frog.
Cast all three baits right on the bank and work them out over the grass and beside the reeds. Try different speeds of retrieve with them. With the swim jig, run it very shallow first, but also slow it down and slow-roll it with twitches a little deeper, especially if you see bass following but not taking it.
No. 4: N 31º 53.540 – W 85º 06.751 — Go under the Highway 82 causeway and across to the Georgia side. River Bluff Park is back in a small creek and the downstream point of it has two cypress trees on it. Downstream of this point a steel bulwark wall runs down the bank. A very good grassbed runs from the cypress trees down in front of the wall.
Les says this is an excellent area for the shad spawn, but only before the sun peeks over the trees. Stop at the point with the trees, and fish down toward the causeway, fishing a popping frog through the grass. Fish it quickly, trying to makes as many casts as possible before the sun hits the water.
If the shad are there but you are not getting bit on a fast-moving bait, try a 5-inch green-pumpkin Trick Stix rigged weightless, and move it slowly through the grass.
No. 5: N 31º 54.288 – W 85º 06.375 — Going up the river on the Georgia side, the first small slough on your right offers three patterns to fish. Les called it “No Name Slough.” It is behind the first green channel marker upstream of River Bluff Park, marking the channel swing right to the bank.
Before the sun comes over the trees, fish your grass baits around the mouth of the slough, working from the downstream point to the upstream one. Fish all the grass carefully.
The second way to fish here is to stop out on the downstream point and fish it with a Carolina rig. Les rigs a tilapia-colored 6-inch Pro Lizard about 18 inches above a 3/4-oz. weight. The point has a smooth bottom with some scattered wood cover. Fish it from near the bank out to about 12 feet deep.
The third pattern here is to fish the upstream point. It is a rocky ridge that runs out to the channel, offering a great highway from deep to shallow, as well as a good feeding ridge. Fish it with the Carolina rig, but expect to get hung in the rock. Les also fishes a 10-inch B2 plum apple worm behind a 3/8-oz. lead over and through the rocks. Sometimes the fish want the big bait.
No. 6: N 31º 54.349 – W 85º 07.657 — Across the lake, Old Town Creek Park sits on a long point. It is very shallow all across that side of the lake downstream of the park. Go to the Alabama bank about halfway down it toward the mouth of Chewalla Creek. The bank is flat downstream of the park but turns into a bluff bank where the houses start.
Stop out from the transition from flat to bluff, and you will be off a very shallow point with grass on it. Les says this is an excellent grassbed for the shad spawn, and bass hang around it through May feeding on shad and bream.
Fish from the downstream side of the grass around the point, hitting all the grass. This is a good swim jig spot. Les fishes a Davis Swim Jig with a twin-tail trailer. He chooses white if he sees shad flickering but throws black and blue if he thinks the bass are feeding on bluegill. He tips the jig with a Big Bite Baits Chunk matching colors to the jig.
No. 7: N 31º 54.035 – W 85º 08.073 — Go down to Chewalla Creek, and head about halfway up the creek. On your right are some docks, and across the lake from the docks is the old Yacht Club dock and ramp. Between two of the docks is a small concrete wall, the only one on that side of the lake.
Start at the metal-roofed dock on the upstream end of the wall. It has a small private ramp. Fish the grass down this bank to the next wooden dock. The grass along here holds bass feeding on both shad and bluegill. Try topwater and deeper-running baits like the Fighting Frog in tilapia- or hematoma-colors Texas-rigged behind a 3/16-oz. sinker.
Drag the Fighting Frog along through the grass, working it slowly if bass are not hitting faster-moving baits. Watch your line carefully when your bait gets to the outside edge of the grass and when it passes thick clumps of grass.
No. 8: N 31º 51.471 – W 85º 07.126 — Back below the causeways, on the Georgia side straight across from the water tower in Eufaula, one of the biggest community holes is about halfway between Cool Branch and location No. 1. It is a community hole because so many quality bass are caught here.
The lake needs to be at full pool for this grass to be at its best. It is on a big flat point, but a deep slough runs in to the bank on its downstream side. There is a solid reed bed on the bank along behind the grassbed, but the grass runs way out.
Fish from the upper side all the way around to the slough. Les will cover it with a buzzbait and plastics. If you miss a bite on the buzzbait, follow up with one of your other baits. If you catch a good fish on the buzzbait, it is worth slowing down and probing the grass carefully with your Fighting Frog.
No. 9: N 31º 50.906 – W 85º 09.200 — For something a little different, run into Barbour Creek to the old state docks where there are a couple of sunken barges. Just upstream of the sunken barge, going by the old dock, the bank is rip-rap, and shad spawn all along these rip-rap rocks.
The water drops off fast here—that is why the old dock was here. Les likes to try a popper like a Rico. Throw it right on the rocks, and work it back to the boat at an angle. Follow up with a squarebill crankbait run at an angle to the rocks. Les picks a Luck Craft 2.5 in shad colors. Keep it in close to the rocks on most of your cast.
No. 10: N 31º 50.577 – W 85º 07.478 – Back at Cool Branch, the upstream point has a clump of cypress trees in a good grassbed. The creek channel runs in right by it, and it is a good shad spawn area. Bass hold on it all month long.
Start outside the trees, and work around the point into the creek. Fish to the boat dock. If you are there early, look for shad around the dock and ramp. Les fishes a Toad and a Frog here, depending on how fast the fish want the bait moving and what they are eating. Also run your swim jig through the grass. Les reels it steadily with a few twitches. In the grass, keep it in sight so you can see the bites but slow it down a little at the edge.
These places and many more hold quality bass feeding all this month. Don’t miss out on the great grassbed bass bite on Eufaula that’s hot right now and throughout May.
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