June Bass On Lake Nottley

Come for the amazing views... stay for the topwater bite for spotted bass and kicker largemouth in the backs of pockets.

Ronnie Garrison | May 26, 2023

Will Harkins says the June pattern for Nottely bass is topwater and finesse baits in the brush for spotted bass, but he also hits pockets for largemouth.

Sitting in a boat on Lake Nottely, it is easy to get lost in the natural beauty surrounding you. That bass slashing and slamming your topwater lure on a hump or point will make you ignore the pretty scenic mountains. Although many tourists flock to the mountains of north Georgia for the views, the fishing is well worth a trip this month.

Lake Nottely is a 4,180-acre TVA reservoir with 106 miles of rocky shoreline. Some areas are developed with docks, but much of the shoreline is natural and undeveloped with steep, rocky banks and points with lots of blowdowns on them.

Will Harkins grew up between Nottely and Lake Chatuge, and he fished the mountain lakes often with his grandfather, even going with him to a tournament as his “partner” as young as 4 years old. Will got the tournament bug at a young age.

After fishing with the Union County High School Bass Team, he chose to go to Young Harris College, and he and his partner were basically the fishing team there. By the time you read this, Will will be a college graduate guiding and tournament fishing full-time while also pursuing a career in economics.

Will fishes many local tournaments and has had three top-10 finishes in the Bulldog BFLs. He was third in the AOY in that trail last year. He also won the North Georgia Team Trail this year.

Jumping up to the National Professional Fishing League this year, Will has a 22nd-place finish in Texas and is 19th in the points standings. He hopes to build on this start by fishing tournaments full-time.

Will said the bass are primarily in postspawn mode at Nottely in June, but anglers might still find some baitfish spawning.

“There is still a little herring and shad spawn in early June,” Will said.

Early in the morning, he targets the tops of humps and points where baitfish spawn, and then later in the day—and later in the month—he moves out to deeper brush and other cover to catch bass.

You will catch mostly spotted bass on the lake. For a kicker largemouth, Will will run to the backs of creeks and fish topwater and a wacky rig, covering all the cover where you’d expect a big largemouth to hide. Will says he won’t get a lot of bites doing this, but he expects them to be good fish.

For fishing the humps and points when baitfish are still shallow, Will ties on a walking topwater bait, a drop-shot rig and a shaky head. Back in the creeks hoping to roll a largemouth, Will uses a topwater, a swimbait and a wacky rig.

Will showed me the following 10 locations soon after getting home from the tournament in Texas. These spots give you a choice of places to try and give you an idea of the kinds of places where Will catches June bass on Nottely.

No. 1: N 34º 55.453 – W 84º 04.661 — The river makes a big horseshoe bend just downstream of Old Nicholson Bridge Ramp, which is locally known as Deavertown Ramp.  Around this bend, just past the last cove on your left, there is a marked hump on the end of a point running off the bank. This is a good example of the kind of place Will likes to fish in June. The rocks here come within a few feet of the surface, and the deepest water in the area is around the hump. There are brushpiles on the hump to hold fish later in the day and month.

Stop out from the marker with your boat in 30 feet of water, and cast a topwater bait across the top of the hump, covering water all over it from 5 to 10 feet deep. Will likes a smaller-sized Sexy Dawg walking bait. He says the smaller bait seems to draw more bites, maybe due to the fishing pressure on the lake.

After covering the shallows with your topwater, cast a drop-shot worm and work it from 5 to 25 feet deep. Watch your electronics for brush as you fish around the hump, and concentrate on the pile when you find one. The drop shot will pick up bass that would not hit a topwater even if they were up shallow, and it will get bit all the way down to 25 feet deep.

No. 2: N 34º 55.335 – W 84º 14.492 — Out in the middle of the big area formed by the horseshoe bend, a ridge comes up to about 20 feet deep and has brushpiles on it. If you look upstream, line up the big house on the round point with rip-rap around it and watch for the 20-foot-deep range on that line.

Will fishes his drop shot around this brush. He says in his experience spotted bass at Nottely will not hold on top of brush and come up for topwater like they will on some other herring lakes. He expects to find them in the brush or around its base.

This long ridge is where the river and three creeks dump together. Will says this is important in the summer since it means lots of oxygen in the water. Fish tend to concentrate where there is more oxygen, and they are more active, too.

No. 3: N 34º 55.680 – W 84º 04.331 — Going downstream, the first big main-lake point downstream of the ramp on that side has a big flat on its downstream side. There is brush all over it, and this point is an excellent schooling area in the mornings.

Fish the brush on the flat with your drop shot. Ease around until you find and mark the piles. Will does not like to get on top of the brush with his drop shot, he says his forward-facing sonar has shown him that the boat spooks the bass. He makes short pitch casts to the brush instead.

Brush in the 15- to 25-foot depth range seems to be the best in June.  Concentrate on that depth when looking for brushpiles. If you don’t have forward-facing sonar, you can ride over the piles to mark them and fish them later.

Here and at all other places, keep your topwater ready to cast. When fish come to the top within range, you need to hit them with a fast, accurate cast. If you take time to unhook your plug before making a cast, you will be too late, so leave it hanging for an instant cast.

No. 4: N 34º 55.957 – W 84º 04.570 — Going downstream, an island sits off the bank on your left. The downstream point of it has a danger marker on the river side where it runs out shallow. The point is rocky, and there are brushpiles on it to fish.

Stop on the river side and cast up shallow with a topwater bait early, and also watch for any schooling activity if it’s later in the day. This side of the point drops fast, and Will looks for brush out 18 to 20 feet deep. There are two or three piles on this side.

Will says to be ready when pitching to the brush. When a spot grabs your drop-shot worm, it almost always heads back into the brush. You have to stop them before they get you hung up.

A little wind is OK, but Will says he prefers a calm, slick day. Herring come up on sunny days, so bass are more likely to show themselves schooling on top. After they go down, you can still pick some off the bottom with your drop shot, too.

No. 5: N 34º 55.886 – W 84º 14.637 — Go over to the other side of the point, and fish the shallow rocks there. The slope is more gentle on the bank side. And there are good rockpiles in about 12 feet of water to hold the bass. On this side, you are looking for rock, not brush.

This side of the point is shallower, so it is better when light conditions are low—early in the morning or cloudy days. Fish your drop shot through the rocks, and then try a shaky head, too. Will rigs a 4.5-inch shad-colored Roboworm 6 to 8 inches above a 1/4-oz. lead. Any color with some blue in it is good.

No. 6: N 34º 56.642 – W 84º 04.727 — Going down the river, it will make a hard left turn, and you’ll see several islands straight ahead. Go into the big bay to the right before the turn with docks in it. The bay is square shaped. Stop out from the small, rocky point on the back side of the bay. Fish out on the round, rocky point with topwater early and a drop shot later. There is some brush on this point. Also fish the docks—largemouth and spots both spawn back in here and some will hang around feeding on the point.

After fishing the point, go to the dock to the right of it. There are many good docks on the lake like this one, and both species of bass hold under them for cover and to feed. Run your topwater along the floats, and then pitch your wacky rig in all the shady areas.

If looking for a kicker largemouth, Will will try a white, 6-inch swimbait like the Megabass MagDraft. He swims it along the floats and through shady areas from the walkways to the end of the dock.

No. 7: N 34º 56.085 – W 84º 05.220 — Going down the river, it makes a sharp turn to the left and then a hairpin turn back to the right around a big island. On your left before the river goes back to the right, a small island sits just off the bank. Stop on the upstream point of this island.

There are some blowdowns in the water when the lake is full, and they hold largemouth as well as spots. The downstream point of the island drops off fast, and it is rocky and has a couple brushpiles on it. Fish the blowdowns with topwater, and then work your wacky rig through the limbs. Will rigs a bluegill or green-pumpkin Yum Dinger stick bait weightless on a small hook and works it slowly.

Out on the end of the island, fish the brush with topwater and probe it with your drop shot. Keep your boat out in 30 feet of water and cover brush and the bottom from 15 to 25 feet deep.

No. 8: N 34º 56.548 – W 84º 05.504 — Go downstream to the Poteete Creek Recreation Area campground, and stop on the point in the mouth of the small creek before you get to the swimming area. This rocky bank drops off fast and is a good place to go if you just need to catch a fish. It is very reliable.

If you are fishing it early in the day or there are shadows on the water, work your topwater in close to the bank. Later in the morning, follow up with a drop shot, working it slowly down the slope, or do the same with a shaky head. A 3/16-oz. SpotSticker head with green-pumpkin Trick Worm or a 4-inch Max Scent Flatworm are Will’s choices for a shaky head.

Fish from the first point at the mouth of the creek down to the last point before the swimming area. Hit any wood cover on the bank, and watch your electronics for deeper brush, too.

No. 9: N 34º 56.513 – W 84º 05.040 — Go back across the river to the gap between the bank and the first island in the group you came around to get to the campground. The point on this first island is big, natural rock. The point on the bank is a round rip-rap point in front of a house. Will called this area between the island and bank Martha’s Cut.

Spots and largemouth school and feed here in this blow-through all summer. Keep your topwater ready, Will says this is the best schooling spot on the lake. While watching for schooling fish, cast your drop shot or shaky head to both points, working out to 25 feet deep. Watch for brush, too.

Even here, current really does not play a part in the fishing on Nottely.  Will says he likes a slick surface rather than any wind since that will help him see schools of shad on top and schooling activity.

No. 10: N 34º 56.224 – W 84º 02.162 — When Will wants a kicker fish in a tournament, he goes hunting big largemouth in the backs of creeks. A good example of the kind of place that holds them is the back end of Ivy Log Creek.

Run up to the Highway 19 bridge, and start fishing at the dock on your right just downstream of the bridge. Will ties on a black Whopper Flopper 90 or a 1/2-oz. black or white buzzbait and runs them by and over all the wood in the water here.

Above the bridge, the channel goes to the right. Follow it, skipping your topwater under overhanging willows and follow up with your wacky rig. Fish slowly, covering everything that might hold the big largemouth you are hunting. There is a good bit of brush in the water to hit. Fish until you run out of water.

All these places will produce some Lake Nottely bass for you in late May and June. Give them a try for both spots and largemouth.

To get a first-hand view of how Will fishes Nottely, go to to book a trip with him on Nottely or Chatuge.

Will can help you learn to catch bass on both north Georgia mountain lakes.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.