Fishing Brooks Lake In Rockdale County
This 50-acre lake just down the road from Black Shoals offers some good fishing and big bass.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.
With all the praise and positive publicity that’s been given to Rockdale County’s 650-acre Black Shoals reservoir, many anglers have overlooked the better-than-average chance to get your arm broke just a few miles west at Brooks Lake. It’s public, it’s cheap, it’s very accessible, and if you’ve got the patience, you may go head-to-head with a sure-enough lunker.
Winfield Creek flows strongly through 50-acre Brooks Lake before traveling several miles downstream and dumping into the southwestern corner of Black Shoals. I first heard about Brooks after “Georgia’s Biggest Bass of All-Time” chart was published in the February issue of GON. Ted Rainey of Duluth called and told me that there’d been a 17-pounder caught from Brooks Lake in the early 1970s. Although this particular bass couldn’t be tracked down for verification, the lake does boast good numbers of fish over eight pounds. I saw this myself from the photo album that Roger Paul, the owner of Brooks Lake, keeps at the lake office.
Roger handed me a stack of recent pictures. There were dozens of people holding bass in the 8- to 11-lb. range that had all been caught in the last two or three years.
Brooks Lake was built and stocked by Bud Brooks in the mid 50s, and it’s believed the lake hasn’t been stocked since. Roger purchased the lake in 1980 and has done very little to encourage big-bass growth, but it hasn’t seemed to matter. Every few years Roger will have DNR come out and do a fish analysis to make sure everything is fine, and all reports have been good.
“The only fish we’ve put in the lake are grass carp,” said Roger. “The only other thing I do is put out some fish structure, like Christmas trees.”
After speaking with Ted over the phone, he agreed to take me fishing. I met him at the ramp early on the morning of March 29, one day after the full moon and one day before a storm front was supposed to roll through Georgia. We were pumped. It seemed there could be no better day for fishing.
Ted doesn’t claim to be a bass-fishing pro, but he enjoys fishing the smaller lakes like Brooks, and he’s also a regular on Varner and Black Shoals.
When Ted’s not on the water he works at Shumate Mechanical in Duluth, and he calls himself the president of the Shumate Mechanical Service Department Amateur Bass Club. Basically, this group of 10 or 12 guys sit around on coffee breaks and talk fishing. Many spend their Saturday mornings together fishing these smaller lakes.
“I’m really the only one from our group that fishes Brooks,” Ted said. “Most folks just don’t want to fool with all the corporate parties and picnics out here.”
The main business that Roger Paul and his wife Jackie cater to on their 106-acre park is corporate outings. The pay-fishing aspect is an added benefit to their business.
“We just charge $6 a day (Update: 2018 price is $10) for fishing,” said Roger. “We offer bass, bream, crappie and catfish fishing. We’re open seven days a week from sunup to sundown, and we allow any size boat and motor in the lake. We ask that fishermen use an electric-trolling motor to get around the lake, and that they please don’t crank their gas engines.”
Ted and I didn’t have to worry about filling the air with gas fumes — our adventure began in his 11-foot jon boat powered by a single, hand-controlled trolling motor.
“The lake doesn’t get much pressure,” said Ted. “It has got some regulars who come out and do well, but it doesn’t get the folks you see at Black Shoals.”
After all the big-bass talk over the phone, I had dreams of setting my hooks into a real trophy, so I tied on one of my favorite big-fish baits, a Zoom watermelon-colored Brush Hog. We began fishing south down the length of the dam. There are several areas along here where some brush sits in the water. On just my third cast, I felt a solid bump but a quick hookset resulted in a solid miss.
The dam area is deep and has some brush scattered out along its bank. It’s a great place to find a bass any time of the year, especially in the summer when fish will come up to feed early and late and retreat to deeper water when it gets hot.
This area sits just south of the boat ramp and is also a good crappie-fishing spot. Ted and I spoke with two crappie fishermen later in the day who had only caught one fish. However, they bragged about filling the boat several days earlier fishing in the same area. We also spoke with a bank fisherman who was fishing from the dam. He was catching crappie and bass while using minnows. Brooks offers excellent bank-fishing access to those non boaters.
As we moved on down below the dam I’d picked up a white/chartreuse spinnerbait. I threw it up by a stump, and a fish hammered it just as soon as the blade hit the water. After a short battle, a 1-pounder was jumping at the boat.
We were both excited to have the first bass of the day. However, our spirits sunk low, and lower, and when the sun was high in the sky and afternoon shadows began to fall, our spirits had fallen out of the boat and hit the lake floor. We hadn’t had a bite in six hours. We couldn’t figure it out. The southern bank was slap full of beds, but they were all deserted. The only thing we could figure was since the last few mornings had been in the 30s, those fish that had been ready to spawn backed off.
Ted and I began to strategize about a new tactic. We had beat the banks most of the day with plastics and spinnerbaits, so we decided that a slower presentation was worth a try.
On the southwestern bank there’s an area several hundred yards long of blowdowns that are the result of a tornado several years ago. The lake doesn’t offer much structure, so this one bank concentrates a bunch of fish.
Using 17-lb. test line, I tied on a 3/8-oz., black/blue jig ’n pig with a black Zoom chunk. I began pitching my jig as far back into the blowdowns as I could. When I finally got my bait within inches of the bank at the base of a big blowdown, a solid 2-pounder took the jig. We thought we had found the bass shallow, but my next bite came 30 minutes later in seven feet of water on the end of a blowdown.
When I set the hook I told Ted I had a little better fish, but I didn’t realize just how much better. When she came up to do her first of three tailwalks, Ted’s 11-foot jon boat nearly became an aluminum fish attractor. After several surges toward deep water and a few self-proclaimed whoops and hollers, Ted gently lipped the sow and brought her in the boat. On two different scales, the spawned-out female weighed a solid eight pounds.
We only caught three fish all day, but what a way to end a day of fishing. Jackie warned me before I fished, “there’s some big fish here, but it’s a challenging lake.”
It is. We fished our tails off and had only four bites, but we sure had one big kicker by the day’s end.
Donnie Ferrell of Monroe can testify to the toughness of Brooks. “Some days you can go out there and it’s tough as it can be, and other days it can make you feel like a professional.”
Donnie has been fishing the lake for 15 years and says his best fish went about 8 1/4 pounds. He fishes the lake with his wife Tracie and some other buddies, and every year between his group of fishing buddies they’ll catch two or three 8-pounders. Part of the reason Donnie believes the lake continues to produce is because catch-and-release is practiced so heavily.
“When I was 19 years old I caught my first 8-pounder out of Brooks, and I kept that fish,” said Donnie. “But every other one since then I’ve returned to the lake.”
If you’re going to Brooks from I-20, take the Sigman Road exit. Head north for four miles to Ga. 20. Turn left and proceed about six miles until you see Bethel Road on the right. Turn right and go two miles until you see Gate 1 on the right.
The office sits behind Gate 1 which is where you first must pay to fish. Then you can drive a hundred yards south on Bethel Road and hit Gate 2 and the boat ramp. If for some reason Gate 1 is closed, there’s instructions on what you need to do before fishing.
If you have any questions, check out their Facebook page.
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