Lake Allatoona Winter Spotted Bass
Almost everything slows down in the winter, but not spotted bass.
January’s cold temperatures reduce boat traffic, but that cold only increases spotted bass activity on Lake Allatoona. Fish rocks and brush in ditches and channel edges 25 to 30 feet deep for numbers of fish, or go deeper for bigger fish. Either way, it is a good time to be on Allatoona.
With 12,000 acres of water acres and 270 miles of shoreline, Allatoona is a small lake with a big watershed area. It drains water from a land area about as big as the area flowing into 40,000-acre Lake Lanier. For that reason, Allatoona’s water level changes fast, and it goes up and down often.
This time of year Allatoona is drawn down to prevent potential flooding from winter rains. It was 7 feet below full pool at Thanksgiving on its way to its usual 15 feet low by New Years Day. That drawdown affects where bass hold and how to fish for them, as does any sudden rise in water levels from heavy rains.
Andrew Murphy grew up fishing Allatoona with his father and lives in Canton within 15 minutes of the lake. He got started fishing the night tournaments with his dad and loved the competition. He now fishes as many pot tournaments on the lake as possible. Local Allatoona tournaments have always been very competitive and see lots of quality anglers.
A few years ago Andrew became the director of ABA Trail 31 that fishes Nottely, Blue Ridge and Chatuge. He fishes lot with Dane Hunter, who is the director of the ABA 125 Trail that fishes Allatoona, Carters and Lanier, and Andrew fishes that trail, too.
“January spots on Allatoona are set up deep on their winter holes,” Andrew said.
The key depths are 20 to 30 feet deep for numbers, but if you want bigger spots, you may have to get down to 40 feet deep. Ditches and channel ledges are the places to target, and bait on them is critical.
A ditch is simply an angler’s term for any valley or drain going off the bigger water. A channel from an old ditch or creek helps, but it is not critical. Creek ledges on the main lake also hold fish, and a channel drop near a hump or long shallow point is good. But the most important thing is the presence of shad.
For fishing deep, Andrew will tie on a Damiki jig, drop-shot worm, jig ’n pig and Carolina rig. Under some conditions he catches fish shallow, so he has a rattle bait and jerkbait ready for those days.
Andrew will ride likely places to find baitfish, and then he will look for fish under them near the bottom. The following 10 locations are typical of the kinds of places he fishes. Andrew, Dane and I hit these 10 the day after Thanksgiving. Although it was the first day of a strong cold front and still a little early, Andrew and Dane landed seven or eight keepers and had two good fish.
Note: All depths mentioned in this article are with the lake 7 feet low—adjust to the current water level.
No. 1: N 34º 05.777 – W 84º 42.543 — If you put in at Blockhouse Ramp just off I-75 and Old Sandtown Road, go downstream toward the railroad bridge. You will see the Cobb County water intake tower just off the bank on the right about halfway between the ramp and railroad. Stop out from it, and fish all around the tower.
This is a typical river-ledge place that is good this time of year. The bottom slopes off to about 15 feet deep at the shore side of the tower, but it is 25 feet deep on the lake side and continues to drop fast out from it. Andrew says there are always fish around this tower, maybe because of the current caused by the pumps.
Start by casting a jerkbait up near the bank and around the pilings and tower itself. Work it right beside the walls, like a shad feeding on the concrete. Andrew likes a shad-colored bait and says the jerkbait is best if the water is still above 50 degrees. Follow up in the shallow water with your drop-shot worm or jig.
Near the outer edge of the tower, watch for balls of bait near the bottom and fish under them. Andrew caught a couple nice spots here working his Damiki jig parallel to the ledge, swimming it just off the bottom when he saw fish down about 25 feet deep. Try your drop-shot worm here, too, and work out to 40 feet deep.
No. 2: N 34º 05.540 – W 84º 42.917 — Going back up Allatoona Creek, it makes a hard left turn around the point with Old Highway 41 Campground on it. The point out from the campground has a couple of white pole markers on it—one will be on the dry ground with the water low.
Bass stack up on this big, flat point in the winter, and tournaments out of Blockhouse Ramp constantly restock it.
Stay out in 30 to 35 feet of water, and cast your drop shot and Damiki Jig up to 20 feet of water. Work them back along the bottom slowly while watching for fish on your electronics. Andrew rigs a shad-colored Keitech 2.8 swimbait on a 1/4-oz. Damiki style head with the hook exposed.
Work all the way around the point. Fish may hold anywhere around it, but the upstream side where the creek channel hits it drops faster. Wind blowing across the point will also position fish on the windward side.
No. 3: N 34º 05.897 – W 84º 42.474 — Bridges form pinch points for current and are basically long points that run out to the channel, an ideal setup for bass. They concentrate shad, and the rip-rap and brush on them offer bass great places to ambush them. The railroad bridge on Allatoona Creek downstream of the pumping station is a good one.
Andrew starts by hitting the corners of the bridge, casting his drop shot and Damiki jig to 20 feet deep and working them back to 35 feet deep. If there is any current or wind blowing, he will use it to his advantage, fishing his baits in a natural movement with the wind or current.
Work the corners and the pilings, too, and then fish down the rip-rap until you run out of chuck rock. After trying your finesse baits, follow up with a jig ’n pig. Andrew rigs a 3/8-oz. Alabama craw or watermelon Fish North Georgia True Grit jig and tips it with a twin-tail trailer. He will often dip the jig in either clear or chartreuse JJ’s Magic for added scent and color. Crawl your jig on the rock, sliding it along, but then also giving it short hops over rocks.
No. 4: N 34º 06.056 – W 84º 42.014 — Holiday Marina Harbor is not far downstream. Go to the downstream side of it, and idle in behind the last docks and breakwater. There is a big flat point here that runs out from the campground and drops off into the channel. The Tanyard Creek channel is on the downstream side of it.
Andrew keeps his boat in 30 feet of water and fan-casts the whole area, covering water 15 to 40 feet deep with a drop shot and Damiki jig. Fish from the walkway on the point across to where the point drops into the Tanyard Creek channel. For his drop shot, Andrew ties a Bass Captain 3/8-oz. drop-shot sinker 1 to 3 feet below a blueback herring 4 1/2-inch Softy Worm. He varies the length of his leader according to how high fish are holding off the bottom.
Drag both your baits along the bottom. Watch your electronics—if you see fish holding higher off the bottom, then lengthen your drop-shot leader and fish your Damiki jig a little higher off the bottom. Let the fish tell you what they want.
No. 5: N 34º 05.986 – W 84º 41.784 — Tanyard Creek is slightly downstream. It has two white pole markers and a sign on the downstream point. The rocky point offers a great place for bass to ambush shad moving into and out of the creek, and it is deep enough to hold them year-round.
Start just inside the creek mouth on the downstream side, and fish out to the end of the point. Then fish around the end of the point and up the lake side. A drop-shot worm and a jig ’n pig are the best baits to use here, but a Carolina-rigged worm will catch fish and you can fish it faster. Keep your boat in 40 plus feet of water, cast up to 15 feet deep, and work your baits back to the bottom under the boat. Andrew says a key spot is the area between the two poles on the point.
A jig ’n pig tends to catch bigger fish, and Andrew uses it when trying to upgrade his stringer. You can crawl or hop the jig for varying actions. On the slowest extremely cold days, try to “count every rock” on a place like this to tempt lethargic fish.
No. 6: N 34º 06.224 – W 84º 42.194 — Go to the downstream side of Allatoona Landing Marina, and start fishing near the end of the breakwater running straight out from the bank. A point runs out here and drops off fast on the lake side, holding fish all winter. Fish all the way up to the bank, and then along it. There are blowdowns and rocks under the water along this bank that also hold fish.
Cover the point from 40 feet deep up to 20 feet deep, fishing your drop shot and jig ’n pig here. With its exposed hook, it is hard to fish a Damiki jig around brush without hanging, but if you are careful and count it down to fish it just over the brush, it works great.
No. 7: N 34º 07.513 – W 84º 43.075 — Around the next turn to the left, the “Narrows” are the gap where the river cuts through a small gap at channel marker 10A and 11A. The upstream point, the one with marker 11A on it, has rocks and brush and drops fast all around. The points also make a pinch point concentrating any current.
Andrew starts with a rattlebait and a jerkbait here, working quickly around the point. He keeps his boat where he can cast both baits up to very shallow water. Some wind blowing in on this point is critical for the hard-bait bite.
Use a 1/4- to 1/2-oz. rattlebait in baitfish colors. Fish it fast for a reaction bite. Fish the jerkbait fast, too. After working those baits, go back over the same area with your drop shot, Damiki jig, Carolina rig and jig ’n pig for fish that would not chase the other baits.
No. 8: N 34º 07.873 – W 84º 43.338 — Go through the narrows and look to your left where the lake opens up. A reef marker is on a point that runs downstream parallel with the bank. There is a hump off the end of this marked reef, too. Andrew says both the point and the hump are covered with brush. Keep your boat in 45 plus feet of water, and fish the brush and rock here from 10 to 45 feet deep. Spend as much time as it takes to find the fish—they may be concentrated in one brushpile. You can fish a dozen piles without a bite and then catch a limit out of the next one. Your drop shot and jig ’n pig are the best baits here with all the brush.
No. 9: N 34º 08.755 – W 84º 43.172 — The Red Top Mountain Road bridge crosses downstream and offers a good place to catch January bass. Andrew fishes the corners and both sides but says the first two pilings and the point on the park side of the bridge are key spots.
Both sides can be good, but if wind is blowing in on one side, Andrew will concentrate on it. The same goes if there is any current from the dam. The chunk rock holds fish better than smaller rock toward the banks, but the transition areas can be key spots, too.
No. 10: N 34º 08.831 – W 84º 43.171 — Facing the ramp at Red Top Mountain, there is a danger pole off the side of the point where the parking lot is located. There is also a no-wake buoy near it. An old roadbed comes out along this point and crosses the end of the point. The drops on the roadbed offer bass good structure to move up and down quickly, and there are brushpiles on the roadbed to hold them. Sit outside the roadbed on the lake side so you can cast across it. Bring your drop shot, Damiki jig, Carolina rig or jig ’n pig down that side, across the flat bottom and up the outside edge.
Andrew rigs a blue Softy Worm about 4 feet above a 1/2- to 3/4-oz. sinker. He says the Softy Worm floats and is a good choice for the rig. Both the bridge and roadbed get refreshed with released fish often, making both even better.
These places were already holding bass the first of December and are concentrated even more now. Give them a try, check out Andrew’s favorite baits, and catch some wintertime Allatoona spotted bass.
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