Flat Creek PFA Ready For Summer Anglers
Lots of good stuff on this middle GA PFA—GPS hot spots, clean banks and a fish-cleaning station.
Flat Creek PFA continues to be one of the more popular PFAs in Georgia. According to Brandon Baker, WRD fisheries biologist in the Fort Valley office, Flat Creek is ranked fourth in PFA usage, behind Rocky Mountain, Marben and Paradise PFAs. Its popularity could be due to its location close to I-75 in Perry and the clean bank fishing areas, including a large dock. There’s also a fish-cleaning station to use on the way out.
Flat Creek PFA is on an 850-acre state-owned tract and includes the 108-acre Lonice Barrett Lake. It’s open 24 hours a day year-round for fishing. The PFA is only a few miles from my house, so I visit it often. In late March, I jumped in the boat of Steve Watson, a retired Warner Robins fireman, who often fishes during his off days. Steve is a very knowledgeable big-bass angler and estimates that he has caught 100 bass in the 10-lb. range or bigger! His best-ever bass fishing day was about 10 years ago when he was fishing Lake Varner in Newton County and pulled in 10 bass that weighed 10 pounds or slightly better. For more on Lake Varner, click the link below.
Steve has caught and released numerous bass in the 5- to 9-lb. range in recent months from Flat Creek. His biggest Flat Creek bass weighed 9-lbs., 2-ozs. and was caught on a Bomber Model A crankbait in Tennessee shad color. He recently hooked and lost, at the boat, a bass that hit a deep-diving crankbait that he said was in the 13-lb. range.
Brandon Baker says there have been recent reports of anglers catching bass in the 2- to 9-lb. range. The lake record stands at 11-lbs., 5.7-ozs. and was pulled in by Norman Moneypenny back in 2018. Brandon says the lake bass population has very good genetics, with a recent DNA examination showing the bass with 78% F1 genes—a cross between Northern and Florida laregemouth bass subspecies known for enhanced growth rates and aggressive feeding.
After we launched the boat, we fished the big water about 50 yards out from the ramp, which Steve says holds some good bass, but we did not get a strike there. We had to deal with a 25-mph wind, which made the fishing very challenging.
Moving to the back of the lake, we tried the shallow area that leads back to the standing willow trees, but it was too shallow for us to get in there without running aground. If we get some rain, that area will be fishable, so try around all the willow trees and the old wooden fishing pier on the back west side of the lake. We fished the area for about 30 minutes, but the bass were not interested in our baits.
Moving back toward the dam, we tried casting around a submerged area of concrete blocks. They start about 25 yards north of the fishing pier and run parallel to the bank for about 75 yards. Depending on the water level, you can also cast from the bank toward this structure that is about 10 feet wide. If the water gets low, this structure will stick out of the water where it is easily seen. We ran our Bomber As all over the structure, along with a 6-inch tequila-sunrise colored worm, Steve’s favorite Texas-rigged worm, behind a light, 1/8-oz. bullet weight, but never got a bite. The fish just were not biting that day, and that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.
Moving more toward the dam area, we fished the water 35 yards out from the water discharge pipe, a popular area for bass when the well is running and water is coming into the lake. The discharge pipe is about 150 yards north of the pier on the west bank, but no water was being pumped this day. A little closer to the dam, there is a fallen oak tree that is laying in the water, which is a good place to locate bass, bream, crappie and catfish.
The main lake area, straight south of the lake spillway structure, about 75 yards out, is a good hangout for the big bass in the lake. In the summertime, there are aerators running to keep the fish in good condition. These aerators are anchored on the lake bottom, and you will see the water bubbling if they are running, which tends to attract fish to the gently moving current at the bottom. Steve recommends a deep-diving crankbait in shad or bone color in these open-water areas. These are also good locations for catfish during the summer.
Steve likes to cast the Bomber in a fan-type action all over the middle of the lake around the few stumps that are usually exposed at the surface. This is the area where he caught his biggest bass. He says the best technique is to use a stop-and-go retrieve versus a steady retrieve. His best strikes normally come when he retrieves a short distance, lets the lure stop for one second and restarts the retrieve. He believes this imitates a wounded baitfish reaction in the bass, causing a strike.
Crappie are very abundant in the lake, says Brandon, and 2022 was a banner year with two trophy-size slabs being caught, with the anglers being awarded with WRD Angler Award Certificates. The top-two black crappie form the lake came from Michael Turk (2-lbs., 3-ozs.) and Larry Brudnicki (2-lbs., 2-ozs.), both caught in 2022.
Trolling Jiffy Jigs or putting a minnow or jig under a cork is a winning strategy in the spring. For summer crappie, take a look at the WRD’s online fish structure map and locate those areas with your depthfinder in deeper water. Then you can twitch a jig or small silver spoon down in the structures. Some of the tops of these attractors stick out above the surface of the water, so they can be easy to find. However, you definitely want to utilize WRD’s online map. There are dozens of fish attractors on an interactive map with GPS coordinates. Plug them in before you go to the lake, and it will keep you busy fishing from one to the next.
Catfish are a popular draw for anglers, and in the fall of 2022, Brandon says that 7,500 catfish were stocked in the lake. Those fish are up into the 1.5-lb. size now, so they will make some great fried catfish for dinner. Catfish stocked in previous years are still present in the lake, and a few years ago, Mathew Seeger, of Perry, the grandson of James and Wanda Fletcher, pulled in a catfish weighing 16 pounds, but it was not officially recorded. The current lake record is 7-lbs., 3-ozs., caught by Dietrich Thompson in 2022.
Brandon says that if you believe you have caught a potential PFA lake record and are in possession of the fish, please contact the Fisheries region office during business hours.After hours, get the fish weighed on certified scales. A listing of some of the state’s certified scales are at georgiawildlife.com. Afterward, get in touch with your local Fisheries office during business hours to report the catch.
Regardless of where you catch a nice fish in Georgia, WRD’s Angler Award program has adult and youth categories. More info and applications are available online at georgiawildlife.com/fishing/anglerawards.
The lake at Flat Creek has a very good population of bluegill and shellcracker that will gobble up your worms and crickets. It’s managed with a focus on good bream fishing. The upper one third of the lake is the best area to find them, and with the bream spawn now underway, cruise the shoreline and look for the saucer-shaped beds in about 2 to 3 feet of water.
Archery hunting for deer is allowed on Flat Creek PFA during state seasons. If you look at WRD’s proposed hunting regs for the next two seasons, WRD is looking to add a youth turkey hunt in addition to their existing open turkey hunt. They also offer small-game hunting. The area has a very nice archery range located behind the lake dam
Max Wood is the PFA’s area manager and does an excellent job keeping Flat Creek in great shape. The PFA also has a small pond used for special events. If you have an organized group, you can call the Fort Valley Fisheries office at 478.825.6151 to reserve a fishing date for your organized group.
When the PFA opened back on June 5, 2009, hundreds of anglers showed up to fish and enjoy the area. By June 17, Ted Will, now the WRD Director, estimated that 17,000 anglers and 350 boats had visited Flat Creek. Flat Creek PFA almost didn’t happen due to the difficulty in finding the appropriate location with willing sellers to build a PFA.
Special thanks to Rep. Larry Walker, of Perry, now retired, for his leadership on getting Flat Creek established, along with the strong support of past Gov. Sonny Perdue and past DNR Commissioner Lonice Barrett. Rep Walker formed a “PFA Land Search Committee” that met periodically over many years to move the project forward. The landowners were Judge Bob Richardson and Henry Andel, who sold the property to the state; thus, their support was critical.
Land Search Committee members were Les Ager, Jack Smith, Dozier Blackstock, Steve Carter, Don Meck, Sandy-Spicer Lee, Bobby Tuggle and John Trussell.
Take notice of the granite historical marker on the ground next to the restroom building that was donated by Tommy and Janice Spires. I had the honor of working closely with Henry Andel. The old white house and silos you see when you enter the PFA are the old Andel home and farm. Henry said he had a strong desire to leave his old farm place to the people of Georgia as a Public Fishing Area, so they could fish often and enjoy the natural setting for as long as the sun rises and the wind blows. Henry is now fishing in Heaven, but I’m sure that every time a kid pulls in a fish, he is smiling!
Whether you like bass, bream, crappie or catfish, Flat Creek is worth a look this summer. Load the rods and some ice-cold water and give it a try. It’s located at 2340 Highway 41 South, Perry, GA 31069.
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