Fishing Clayton County’s Lake Blalock
Just south of Atlanta, buried in 4,000 acres of hardwood bottoms and planted pines, sits an almost untouched piece of wilderness that is just slap loaded with deer, big Pope & Young- type deer that you can hunt. Did I forget to mention that the property also has two lakes on it that can be decent for fishing?
The property is called the Clayton County Water Authority. Its main purpose is to run water to Clayton County residents, but since it takes so much land to do that in such an urban-sprawled area, the county has hunting and fishing opportunities on the property as well.
I wanted to see the property myself, so I hooked up with Clayton County Recreational Coordinator Jep Palmer at 7 a.m. on July 17, 2002. I wanted to fish the area’s biggest lake, Lake Blalock.
“Blalock was built in 1989, and it opened to the public in 1992,” said Jep. “They caught some really nice fish when it first opened. Over the years it has been a pretty good bass lake. This year it has been a little bit off.”
Blalock isn’t the only reservoir on the property. Lake Shamrock, a 68-acre lake on the property, is also open to fishing. Six miles away on another tract of land, the 250-acre J.W. Smith Reservoir is also owned by the CCWA and is open for fishing.
Other than bass, the 260-acre Blalock reservoir, which is fed by two creeks, offers bluegill, shellcracker, catfish and crappie fishing. Thousands of threadfin shad, a favorite meal for hungry bass, also reside in Blalock’s waters.
Jep was kind enough take me fishing in his jon boat powered by a pair of strong trolling motors, one up front and one in the back. You don’t have to have a jon boat to fish a CCWA lake, you can also launch your Ranger or Triton, as long as your boat size doesn’t exceed 20 feet in length. You just can’t crank the big motor. No sailboats or inflatables are allowed.
There are two boat ramps, both located on the western end of the lake. If you just don’t have a boat, that’s fine too.
“There’s good bank fishing around the boat ramps,” said Jep. “Early in the year, folks will catch crappie, and in the summer they catch channel and brown bullhead cats. We’ve weighed channel cats between seven and 10 pounds over the years. From the bank, bass are hit and miss.”
Despite being an off-year for largemouths, I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to try and hook one. We put both trolling motors in high gear and puttered the entire length of the lake, never stopping until I was within bow range of the dam’s rip-rap.
Jep started fishing his favorite bait — a Trick Worm. It was still early enough that it seemed like some fish should be up cruising for breakfast. While Jep worked his black Trick Worm around the pump station at the dam, he got bit, but missed.
Just south of the pump station, I was slowly crawling a Texas-rigged worm back to the boat. I got bit, and I also missed.
It was obvious there were fish holding in this area. Jep said there is a good drop-off that comes down the rip-rap of the dam. We saw water anywhere from 10- to 23-feet deep, the depth Jep likes to target during the hot months.
“In August, most people Carolina rig down at the dam, in the main creek channel or on the points,” said Jep. “If I’m Carolina rigging, I like a leader about 18- to 20-inches long, and I like a junebug-colored worm on a 2/0 hook and a 1/2-oz. weight. My favorite worm is either a Zoom Dead Ringer or a Finesse worm.”
One of Jep’s favorite spots near the dam is located south of a grassy bank that sits below the rip-rap. It’s an eight-foot hole that can be found easily by locating a small area of blowdowns on the bank. The hole sits just south of those blowdowns.
Heading back up the lake, along the south bank, look for the first creek on your left. The powerline crosses right over it. You’ll see some rocks on the western bank, along with some more blowdowns. Fish here, because it’s a deep summertime bank for bass.
Jep said that many fishermen that bass fish target the main creek channel. This is easily defined by the standing timber that lines the old creek bank.
Jep took me to another of his favorite areas on the lake to drag a worm along the channel ledge. In the mid-lake area, you’ll find an island and directly south of it several hundred yards is an osprey’s nest. Line your boat up between the two and watch your depthfinder for the drop. You’ll see a patch of standing timber within casting distance. Fish here.
When Jep isn’t dragging a rig in August, he’ll crank these same areas. His favorite plug is a Rapala Fat Rap in black and silver. He also throws a deep-diving Mann’s crankbait.
Jep and I baked our brains out in the hot summer sun, and other than just a few hits, not one bass made it to the boat. You can’t really blame the fish. As hot as it was, I didn’t feel much like eating either.
If you want to try catfishing, Jep mentioned a fellow named Benny Brown who has been doing very well this summer fishing creek channels in his jon boat. “Benny has been doing real well where the two creeks come together, just above the boat ramps,” said Jep. “The catfish this time of year will run up in those creeks on each side. The creek channels there are between three- and seven-feet deep. Different times of the year, they’ll run out in that deeper water.”
For more information on fishing any CCWA lake, click here.
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