July Bass On Clarks Hill
Main-lake humps are key, but you need to fish the right ones to catch summertime bass on Clarks Hill.
Bass at Clarks Hill are feeding on main-lake humps all summer, but you have to find the right humps and the right depths to catch these bass consistently.
When you find the right places, fat 2- and 3-pounders are common, with a few 4s and an occasional 5-pounder in the mix.
Clarks Hill is our biggest lake with 72,000 acres of water and 1,100 miles of shoreline. Bass have a lot of places to dodge the lures of anglers. The lake continues to change evolve, however. Almost all of the hydrilla that provided a good shallow bite during the summer in years past is now again, so fishing offshore is your best bet in July. The blueback herring also draw bass to deeper offshore structure, so deep is a double shot of bassing goodness.
Tanner Hadden grew up in Evans and learned bass fishing on Clarks Hill from his dad D.J. Tanner fished with the Greenbriar High School team for four years and now starts at Emanuel College this fall as a freshman, and he will fish on the college team there.
Tanner has done well in many tournaments fishing with his dad and in other tournaments, too. This year he and Carter Koza teamed up to place 22nd in the Clarks Hill Classic tournament. That legendary local tournament had 200 boats, and as usual most of the best fishermen in the area fished it.
“By early July, bass have moved to their summer holes and will get deeper and deeper on them as the water gets hotter,” Tanner said.
Deep structure like humps and long points are key, and cover on them like rocks and brush make them more attractive to bass.
Bass on these deep holes will come up to feed near and on the surface when light is low, and you should be ready for them with a topwater lure like a Gunfish. For bass that are feeding near the bottom in July, Tanner will have a jig ’n pig, a drop shot and a shaky head ready. There is also a shallow pattern that works some days that is worth checking with buzzbait and fluke.
We fished the following 10 spots on Memorial Day, and the fish were just starting to set up on them. To show the importance of running and gunning—hitting as many spots as possible to find feeding fish—Tanner caught three on hole 10 as soon as we pulled up on it. They were schooling on top. There was little action on the other spots.
While we fished, Tanner’s dad D.J. ran and fished a pot tournament. It took five weighing 18.5 pounds for first, 17 pounds for second, 14.7 pounds for third and fourth was 13.12 pounds. D.J. and his partner came in fifth with 13 pounds. Big fish honors was a tie with matching 5.8-pounders. We saw some of the anglers fishing these 10 places, including Tanner’s dad, D.J. They caught about 20 keepers!
These locations will hold fish better now. These humps and long points stood out on Tanner’s Lowrance CMap chip. They will be shown on any good map chip, and that is a great help in getting on them correctly and seeing how to fish them.
No. 1: N 33º 40.816 – W 82º 13.518 — A shoal off the last island on the right going out of Keg Creek is a good summer hole. It used to have a marker on it, but it is gone for now. The shoal is on the creek side of the island about 200 yards from and a little upstream of the island. It comes up to about 15 feet deep, offering a shallow feeding area near deep water. Here, the bass can push shad and herring up on top and group them up to make feeding easier.
Keep your boat 20 to 25 feet deep and circle the hump, casting to the top in 15 feet of water with a jig, shaky head and drop shot. Tanner casts his drop shot if he is not seeing fish directly under the front of the boat. If he does see bass, he drops straight down to them.
A morning-dawn colored Roboworm drop-shot rigged about 12 inches above 3/16-oz. sinker works well both for casting and fishing straight down for Tanner. He fishes it on a Dobyns 732 drop-shot rod, which is a 7-foot 3-inch spinning rod.
No. 2: N 33º 41.776 – W 82º 13.519 — Across the river on the South Carolina side of the lake, a narrow rocky point runs out to the river channel near marker 13. It is on the upstream point of a big dogleg cove that has a public boat ramp in it.
Keep your boat in 25 feet of water and fish across the point from all angles, casting to 15 feet of water and covering the bottom out to 25 feet deep. Work your bottom baits but also keep a topwater ready. Tanner likes a chrome or white Gunfish, since it looks like a big herring being chased when walking the dog with it. And a Gunfish is big enough to cast a long way when you see fish hitting on top.
No. 3: N 33º 41.103 – W 82º 15.606 — Go up the Georgia Little River past the gaps and islands between the river and Keg Creek. Look for the first long point on your left past the last gap. This point runs out about 150 yards to the channel and has a rocky bottom, something summer bass like.
Stop out on the end of the point in about 20 feet of water and work up both sides, keeping your boat in 17 to 18 feet of water and fishing both sides and the top of the point. There are a lot of rocks to hold bass, and there’s some brush here that attracts them, too. Probe for it with all your baits.
You are likely to catch some spotted bass on places like this—unfortunately their numbers are increasing fast at Clarks Hill. A 3-pounder was weighed in at D.J.’s tournament, but that size spot is not the norm. Smaller ones are much more usual, and it is a good idea to keep them for the frying pan.
No. 4: N 33º 41.757 – W 82º 17.612 — Run up to the small island on your right that is off Bussey Point. Way out from the island is a deep hump that comes up to 20 feet on top with 30 plus feet of water around it. If you line up the small island off the Ft. Gordon Rec area point with the center of the Highway 47 causeway on the right side of the bridge, and idle even with the island, you will cross this deep hump.
Keep your boat in 30 feet of water and fish around the hump, probing for cover like brush. Watch for fish directly under the boat and drop-shot down to them. Since bass hold deeper here, the boat is less likely to disturb them if you get right on top of them and fish straight down in the clear water.
This spot is better later in July since it is deeper. Some bass will hold and feed on it in early July, but more will join them as the water gets hotter. This location, like the others, is also good at night. Tanner fishes them the same way at night with the same baits as he does during the day.
No. 5: N 33º 42.688 – W 82º 19.281 — Run up to the downstream end of the long point on the upstream point of Cherokee Creek. Some maps show a crossroads of old roadbeds out from this point. The key attraction here is that the Corps of Engineers dumped rubble from the old Highway 47 bridge here when it was replaced. The big chunks of concrete are scattered on the bottom in 26 feet of water.
Tanner gets on top of this deep rubble and fishes his drop shot on fish holding on it. It is deep enough here that fish are not scared by the boat on top of them, and they will hit the Roboworm. Tanner drops it down until his weight hits bottom, and then he raises his rod tip to keep his line tight and shakes his rod tip to make the worm dance in one place.
No. 6: N 33º 41.930 – W 82º 19.647 — More bridge rubble is straight downstream of the new Highway 47 bridge in 30 feet of water. It’s on a hump just off the river channel. The hump is on a line between the swimming area at Cherokee Access and the big building at the Fort Gordon Rec Area across the lake.
This is another place where Tanner gets right on top of the cover and uses his drop-shot worm. Deep rock cover like this concrete rubble often holds spotted bass. Tanner has caught a 4.5-lb. spot on Clarks Hill, and an 8-pounder is his best largemouth on this lake.
The rubble here and on hole 5 is scattered on the bottom, so the bass can be holding anywhere on it. Ease around with your electronics to find them, and stay on top of them when you locate the school.
No. 7: N 33º 42.972 – W 82º 18.945 — On the downstream point of Cherokee Creek is an island that sits off the bank. Go to the gap between the island and main point. It is a good blow-through for spawning herring in the spring, and in the summer some good bass hold around it and use it as a herding place to corral herring and shad. This is a good example of the special kind of place Tanner will check out early in the morning.
There are some bushes out from the bank, and these kinds of places are a good place to try a buzzbait early in the morning. Bass will move up very shallow at night and feed around the bushes and will attack a buzzbait run by them at first light.
After fishing the bushes, or if it’s later during the day when you hit this location, back off and throw a weightless Zoom Fluke all over the shallows. This shallow pattern is best in early July, but some fish will roam the shallows even in bright light later in the month looking for an easy meal. Wind blowing across these places helps a lot. Keep your boat in about 7 feet of water here and fan-cast the whole area. This pattern will also work on other shallow, flat points that have gravel and bushes.
No. 8: N 33º 41.470 – W 82º 16.188 — An old roadbed runs off the fourth point from the end of Bussey Point where it joins the Savannah River. Red channel marker 14 sits out from a shoal marker between the point and the bank. The road runs over the shoal marker area and out toward the red channel marker. Idle across this area and watch for the bottom coming up from 15 feet to 10 feet deep.
Stop on either side of the point with your boat in 15 feet of water, and cast across the roadbed, dragging a jig ’n pig, shaky head or drop shot up and over the top. Tanner likes a 1/2-oz. green-pumpkin Greenfish Tackle All Purpose Jig here, but he will go to 3/4-oz. jig in deeper holes. He adds a green-pumpkin Zoom Speed Craw on the Greenfish jig for action and bulk.
Drag the jig along the bottom like a crayfish or bream slowly moving. Bass use the bottom in deeper water to trap food, just like they use the surface as a wall to trap shad and herring. Fish up and down the roadbed to find where the fish are holding.
No. 9: N 33º 40.308 – W 82º 14.686 — Back in Keg Creek there are three shoal markers that run between the island downstream of the Tradewind Marina and the point at Petersburg Campground. They run across in front of the Tradewinds Marina dock cove. Stop out in 20 feet of water off the third marker upstream—the one closest to the point at Petersburg—and fan cast toward it, covering the 12- to 15-foot depth range.
Fish all the way around the marker with your bottom-bumping baits on this hump, but keep a topwater bait ready to cast to schooling fish. Tanner likes 3/8-oz. Greenfish Tackle jig head with a green-pumpkin Trick Worm on it.
No. 10: N 33º 40.616 – W 82º 13.939 — An island sits off the bank between Tradewinds Marina and Lake Springs Park. A long rocky point runs off the downstream side of the island. When sitting on the point, you can see the park swimming area downstream of it. Stop out on the end of it in 25 feet of water, and cast to the end and sides of the point to 15 feet of water with your bottom-bumping baits.
Although the boat traffic was getting bad about noon when we were here, the fish didn’t mind. Or maybe the waves helped, like wind does on these places. Either way, bass started schooling and Tanner got a couple on top and some on a drop shot when they were not on top. One largemouth was very fat, stuffed with baitfish. And one was a spotted bass. Both species use the same places and eat the same thing.
Check out these places for some hot fishing during hot July.
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