Backs Of Creeks For West Point Bass
April is time to run-and-gun the backs of the pockets to find aggressive bass.
April may well be the best month for bass fishing, and West Point may be the best lake in Georgia to catch bass this month. The lake has great spawning coves that attract bass to predictable places, and some simple pat- terns will catch them from late March through the end of April.
West Point is a 25,900-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake that was filled in 1974. It runs for 35 miles on the Chattahoochee River along the state line between Alabama and Georgia. A 14-inch size limit on large- mouths helps maintain quality size for them, and an increase in spot- ted bass over the past 10 years offers anglers plenty of keeper-sized fish to eat. There is no size limit on spots (in either state) but there is a 10-fish total creel limit on bass.
Charlie Williams grew up on Maple Creek just upstream of the lake and caught his first bass ever on the rip- rap while fishing under the bridge for crappie. He fished for bass with his grandfather and also his best friend and father, Randy “Rock Man” Williams, who was a member of the LaGrange Bass Club and helped found the West Georgia Bass Club with Rickey Childs.
Living so close to the lake gave Charlie a chance to spend a lot of time on it. He started fishing tournaments on the lake with his dad when he was 12 years old. Charlie now works for an auto dealership in Columbus and at State Line Marine on some of his days off. At State Line he talks with lots of bass fishermen and that, along with all his fishing friends and contacts, helps him keep up with what is going on at West Point throughout the year.
Charlie fished the BFL and other trails until two children blessed his marriage. He has slowed down fishing tournaments the past few years, although he still fishes with West Georgia Bass Club and in some BFLs and pot tournaments on West Point. And many afternoons he hits the lake for a few hours after work.
By late March most West Point bass have moved back into the creeks and are looking for bedding areas. Charlie will run and gun, hitting a lot of places back in the creeks, and he covers a lot of water. He says too many bass are willing to hit this time of year to fool around in one area trying to make a bass bite.
“Don’t even fool with the first half of creeks this time of year,” Charlie said.
When the bass go on the bed, Charlie will do some sight fishing, but the water is often stained, so it’s hard to spot them. Many times a better plan is to run a Rat-L-Trap across gravel where the fish spawn, then follow it up with a Carolina-rigged lizard. This will get bites from fish that are spawning too deep to see.
The one exception to fishing back in creeks this time of year is the shad spawn. Charlie says it will start when the water surface temperature hits 68 degrees, usually around the second weekend in April. A full moon around that time helps. When the shad spawn is on, there will be 15 to 20 minutes of fast and furious action right at daylight if you are in the right spot.
For fishing this month Charlie will have several baits rigged. For prespawn fish he likes a pearl Bandit 200 crankbait with red eyes. If the water is stained, he will go with the same crankbait in spring craw. A chrome- and-blue 1/2-oz. Rat-L-Trap will be on one rod, and he will have a white spinnerbait with two small willowleaf blades ready for the shad spawn.
A Carolina-rigged 6-inch lizard in green pumpkin or black will be rigged on a 30-inch leader and 1/4-oz. sinker unless the wind is strong, then he will go with a heavier lead. He keeps a 3/8- oz. All Terrain Tackle jig ’n pig ready to flip into heavy cover. He likes a black-and-blue jig and trailer in stained water and a Texas-craw color in clear water.
Charlie keys on several kinds of structure and cover this time of year. He especially likes rocks and likes to hit “hidden” rip-rap and boat ramps. Many creeks and coves have patches of rip-rap back in them that hold bass now and during the shad spawn, and unused boat ramps built by the corps but never opened are very good spots to find bass, since they have concrete and rocks that attract spawning shad.
For prespawn fish, banks that drop fairly fast are best. Clay banks with some rock on them are good, and Charlie will often put his trolling motor on high and hit every little bit of cover back in creeks and coves. He says he doesn’t mess with wood that doesn’t stick above the water, but will run his crankbait by every stick of wood he sees, even small pencil-sized stickups. Thick cover will draw a flip of his jig.
When some fish start spawning, Charlie looks for flatter banks in coves and creeks and wants a bottom with gravel on it. If he knows where the gravel is, he will run a Trap across it, then drag a Carolina rig on it. A Carolina rig is a good way to find gravel and see how far it runs out.
Several weeks ago Charlie and I fished West Point on a bitterly cold, windy day. We even had snow flurries that morning. Yet under almost impossible conditions, Charlie caught bass. His best five keepers weighed 15 pounds. The bass were already beginning to move to the outer points on the spots he marked for our map, and these spots will be much better now. The following 10 locations give you a variety of kinds of places to fish right now.
No. 1: N 32° 55.705 – W 85° 10.327 — R. Sheafer Heard Park sits between the mouth of Maple Creek and the dam. The middle point of the park has rip-rap and is an excellent place to find shad spawning in mid-April. Some bass also hold on it in late March and early April as they move into the pockets on either side to spawn, then they feed on it again as they move back to deep water after the spawn.
The middle point is the big point upstream going toward Maple Creek past the corps work area. It has a picnic shelter on it and a boat ramp on the upstream side back in the pocket. Start fishing at one end of the rip-rap, and fish all the way to the other end.
Before the shad spawn and after it, fish a crankbait from the rocks out. There is good deep water just off this point, so bass feed here. Keep your boat out in 10 to 15 feet of water so your crankbait covers the water down several feet off the rocks.
During the shad spawn, get right on the rocks and run your spinnerbait parallel to them as close to the rocks as you can get. Charlie says a few inches make a big difference. If you are more than a few inches from the rocks, you are less likely to get bit. Charlie likes a spinnerbait since it has a single hook. He says the action it too fast and short to mess with removing treble hooks.
No. 2: N 32° 57.118 – W 85° 11.957 — Another rocky point that holds bass all month, but is especially good during the shad spawn, is the entrance to Southern Harbor Marina. The rip-rap on the lighthouse side is especially good, and shad spawn here because it is close to deep water. Tournaments constantly restock bass into the area, too. Charlie caught a solid 3-lb. bass here the day we fished.
Start where the rip-rap begins on the outside of the point, and fish around it to about even with the light- house on the back side. Charlie says he hardly ever catches bass farther down the back side of the rocks. Before and after the shad spawn, thoroughly fish the blowdowns near the point on the outside. During the shad spawn, the bass will be right on the rocks, and you are wasting precious seconds trying to fish the trees when the bass are concentrating on easy meals in inches of water.
Corners of rip-rap are especially good during the spawn. It seems bass hold right where the rocks make a turn and ambush shad as they come down the rocks to where they change directions. Charlie often sets up right on the corners and makes constant casts to them even if there is not a school of shad passing the corner. If they are coming down the rocks, they will be there soon.
No. 3: N 32° 58.032 – W 85° 11.417 — Run up and across the lake to the cove just downstream of channel marker 16. This cove is easy to find because the woods around this cove were burned not too long ago, and it is open under the big pines.
This is an excellent example of the type of place where Charlie looks for bass during April. Bass will bed in every little pocket in this cove. It is near deep water, and it is protected and has the flat gravel banks that Charlie likes. He seldom fishes the right bank since it drops off faster.
Run in to the white pea-gravel point on the left about two–thirds of the way back. Start throwing a Rat-L-Trap, and work around the left side of cove, covering it fairly fast. Run the Trap over all the gravel banks you see. If the water is up or if you don’t know where the rocks are, drag a Carolina-rigged 6- inch lizard until you feel the rocks. When the bass start bedding, they will often be on these rocks and will hit the lizard when they won’t chase the Trap. Charlie likes green colors like water- melon and green pumpkin in clearer water and black in stained water. Drag the worm slowly along the rocks, and bass will hit it.
If you are catching fish in an area, any time you see brush or thicker cover flip a jig into it. Charlie likes the All Terrain jig in black and blue and will also pitch it to bass he sees that are on the bed. Work it slowly in the cover even if you don’t see a bass holding there. Some of the big bass have to be tempted to bite this time of year.
No. 4: N 32° 58.519 – W 85° 11.350 — Go in Bird Creek, and you will see a big, rocky point in the middle where the creek splits. Start on the big rocks on the left side of the point, and work to your right. Fish to the right, and the bottom will change to gravel. Work out to the next small point.
This is the kind of place where the bass first pull up in late March and early April. Fish your crankbait here, and try to hit every bit of cover. Bass will hold and feed around rocks and wood, so don’t miss anything. Charlie calls this “beating the bank,” and it works for bass before the spawn. Shad will spawn on these rocks, too, so watch for them in mid April.
No. 5: N 32° 59.019 – W 85° 11.355 — Go into the cove just down- stream of channel marker 24, and fish all around it. You will see an old unused bathhouse in the woods on the upstream point. This is another good spawning cove, and it has lots of little secondary points that are good places to throw Carolina rigs and Traps. The flatter bottom means it is good for spawning fish. This cove has the classic flat bottom that sits right off deep water that is perfect for April bass. Bass moving in to spawn don’t have to go far. The cove is protected from the wind and always has bait in it, too. There are two ditches in the back, and Charlie says these little channels are good places to see spawning bass. He says bass love this cove.
For spawning fish, Charlie does not look for beds on West Point. He says you hardly ever see the saucer- shaped bed like you do on some other lakes. He looks for the bass themselves. You can spot them holding by a stick or on dark patches. They may be hard on the bed without you ever seeing the bed, and you can catch those bass that you see. Watch the bass. If it runs off and does not come right back, move on. If the bass stays close and seems to concentrate on one spot, pitch a bait to that spot and work it in one place. Try a Paca Craw or All Terrain Jig worked right under the fish.
No. 6: N 32° 59.223 – W 85° 11.160 — Go around the point and into the cove between channel markers 22 and 24 just downstream of Earl Cook. There is an old, unused boat ramp back in this cove, and it is a good one to fish. You will see the unused bathhouse on your right that was on your left going into hole No. 5, and there is a white “danger” pole marker on the upstream point. Bass hold around the ramp and rocks while feeding, and the shad will spawn on them. Charlie says all ramps like this one that are “off the beaten path” are good places to fish.
Charlie says the Bandit crankbait is his No. 1 weapon this time of year. Work it and a jig on the rocks and ramp itself. If the shad are spawning, cast a spinnerbait right up on the rocks. Fish the ramp and rocks at different angles, and work it to different depths.
No. 7: N 33° 00.097 – W 85° 11.320 — Head upstream. You will pass black channel marker 27 and a hump on your left at Holiday Campground. The cove just upstream of this marker is a good spawning spot. The point on the upstream side has some picnic tables, and you will see a cedar tree right on the edge of the trees about halfway down this bank.
Start fishing on the upstream point near the picnic tables, and fish into the cove, working downstream. This is a good spawning pocket and has a flat gravel bottom. Work to the back with your Trap and Carolina rig. Charlie does not fish the downstream bank of this pocket this time of year.
No. 8: N 33° 01.833 – W 85° 09.928 — The Hwy 109 bridge is an excellent shad-spawning place with lots of rip-rap to draw them. Shad work both sides of the bridge and the pilings, but Charlie usually has his best luck on the upstream side on the left.
Watch for the shad on the rocks. If they’re spawning, you will see ripples right on the rocks and shad flipping out of the water. Get in close ahead of them as they move along the rocks, and work your spinnerbait right on the rocks.
No. 9: N 33° 02.245 – W 85° 10.064 — Above the Hwy 109 bridge you will see two islands to your left sit- ting in the mouth of a creek. Channel marker 41 sits downstream of these islands, and you want to fish the pock- et downstream of the big point at Indian Springs Group Campground straight in from the channel marker. There is a fish-attractor buoy off the upstream point. Start out on the main lake at the point with the picnic tables and buoy, and fish downstream into the pocket. Work this pea-gravel bank for spawning fish. If the wind is blowing in on this bank and others like it, the Trap will often be better than the Carolina rig. Wind usually makes the bass bite better.
No. 10: N 33° 02.571 – W 85° 10.252 — Go around the upstream point and between the islands and into the small creek. The right bank going in past the island has rock on it, and the entire area in the back of the creek is good from late March on. The banks are steeper out past the old roadbed, and they are better in late March and early April than during the middle of April when more bass are spawning. The bottom past the roadbed flattens out and has gravel, so it’s a good spawning area, making it better later in the month. This kind of transition makes a place even better.
Charlie likes all these places and will fish them in tournaments as well as when trying to locate fish. Check them out, then use the pattern to find other similar spots, and you can catch bass at West Point now.
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