Lake Andrews South Georgia Diamond
This small reservoir between Eufaula and Seminole on the Chattahoochee River offers good fishing and gets little attention compared to its neighboring lakes.
The waters of the Chattahoochee River begin as little more than a trickling spring high in the mountains of north Georgia. As the river flows southward toward the Gulf of Mexico, it forms some of Georgia’s most popular fishing areas. Lake Lanier, West Point Lake, Lake Eufaula and Lake Seminole are always in the headlines and are top stops for countless tournament trails. There is, however, one section of the river in southwest Georgia that receives very little pressure and could be called “a diamond in the rough.”
The George W. Andrews Lock and Dam is located on the Chattahoochee River, a little north of halfway between Lake Eufaula and Lake Seminole. The “Andrews Pool” or “Lake Andrews” is 28 miles long as it stretches north to the Walter F. George Lock and Dam and Lake Eufaula. This section of the river has almost no inhabitants, and to borrow a phrase from Jack Wingate that he enjoys repeating about his beloved Lake Seminole, “you’ve got to be coming here to get here!”
This section of the Chattahoochee is a bit out of the way, but it’s one of the prettiest areas of the river you’ll find. For most of its length, the river maintains an almost straight southerly course, though there are some kinks and slight bends, and there are two sets of “S” bends in the mid and lower sections. The banks vary from solid-rock outcroppings to wooded or brush banks with numerous creeks and cuts that dump into the river. Weekends during the summer can be busy with some river traffic and pleasure boaters from nearby Dothan, Ala., but the crowds usually don’t arrive until midday. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to fishing this stretch of the river is finding a place to launch as there are few good ramps to choose from.
The best ramp at the southern end of the lake is Coheelee Creek Park, just north of Hilton and about 12 miles southwest of Blakely. Coheelee Creek Park is about three miles north of the Andrews Dam and has two boat ramps and a nice paved parking area. The ramps are a bit steep and long, and there is no dock so loading and unloading a boat without a partner can be a chore. The creek is also a bit small, and there is only room for a few boats, but it’s only a short jaunt out to the river. There are a couple of other ramps north of Coheelee Creek, but your best bet on the northern end of the river is Franklin Landing on the Alabama side across from Fort Gaines, just south of the Walter F. George Dam.
As is the norm with all river fishing on any given day, the fishing can range from not so great to outstanding. However, I’ve never had a bad day fishing here. I, as well as my fellow members of the Bainbridge Bass Club, enjoy going to Andrews, and it’s been a regular stop on our tournament schedule for years. There are some big fish in the lake. Two of our yearly “Big Fish” honors have been caught there, one going almost nine pounds. We’ve had some great club tournaments over the years here, and word has filtered out and other clubs in the area have started to make Andrews a stop on their schedules, too.
Fishing this section of the Chattahoochee can be a challenge with a dam to the north and a dam to the south causing water conditions to change rather quickly. You may have a normal flow downstream, then all of a sudden you have no current at all. The current might resume downstream again or you may notice a current upstream, and this can all happen in the matter of an hour. Another factor than can affect the fishing is boat traffic, particularly on weekends. Unless there are extreme flood conditions, the water flowing out of Lake Eufaula tends to be rather clear, and as the day progresses, the banks gradually begin to muddy and that has an effect on both lure choices and presentation.
To get a different perspective on how to fish this section of the Chattahoochee, I asked an old friend, Donald Brinson of Bainbridge, to take me along and share with me some of his tactics for catching Andrews bass. Donald is a former member of the Bainbridge Bass Club and one of the top anglers in southwest Georgia. He is known for his knowledge of Lake Seminole, particularly in the spring.
Donald won the May 7 BFL Bulldog Division tournament on Eufaula with a catch over 19 pounds on a tough day when six pounds took home a check. Donald was happy to oblige, and I met him at his diesel repair business in Colquitt for the trip over to the river.
When we arrived at Coheelee Creek Park, we could hear the sound of turkeys off in the distance. The ramp at Coheelee is long and steep with no place to tie off a boat other than tree branches and roots, so care must be taken to not damage your boat on the rocks lining the ramp edges. The recent rains had the water up several feet. The water color looked rather stained to me, but Donald said the color looked perfect to him.
We launched with no problems, and as we idled out to the river I asked Donald to show me what lures he would use and how he would use them if it were tournament morning.
“I always start with a white Super Fluke up here,” explained Donald as he stabbed the throttle on his Ranger and we headed up the river. We ran about three miles and then slowed and eased over to a spot on the Alabama bank. Donald dropped the trolling motor, grabbed his Fluke rod and began casting while heading up the bank at a pretty good clip.
“I like to cover a lot of water when I fish here, and the Fluke is a good lure to do it with,” said Donald. “They usually don’t mess around — f the fish sees it, he grabs it!”
As we headed up river, I noticed there was practically no current, and I asked Donald how he adjusted to the changing conditions that Lake Andrews could throw at an angler.
“You want some current, but too much makes for some hard fishing,” said Donald. “The opposite end of that is no current, and that makes it tough. It would be nice if the water would move a little for us today, but when it’s tournament time, you still have to figure out a way catch them.”
We worked quickly up the bank, and Donald tossed the Fluke up next to some tree roots and started working the bait when a bass nailed it.
“There he is,” he said as he reacted to set the hook, but the fish just swiped at the bait. “I saw him, he was a 2- or 3-lb. fish. That’s the second fish I’ve had do that along here. They act this way at times, and the fact there is no current doesn’t help things. I might need to make a change.”
Donald reached in his rod locker and came out with a willow-leafed 3/8-oz. white spinnerbait and started tossing in into the cover and letting it flutter down.
“I’ve done well with a spinnerbait here at times after I’ve figured out how they want the retrieve,” said Donald. “Some days they want it slow, some days they want it fast.”
We continued down the bank for a bit with no takers on the spinnerbait. I could tell Donald was getting a bit uncomfortable, and I figured he was about ready to move when he laid his rod down on the deck, hit the switch on his power retracting trolling motor and says, “let’s go!” We fired up the Ranger and headed upriver for another mile or so, and then headed over to a spot on the Georgia bank.
“This is a good bank,” Donald said. “There is lots of wood cover with rock and a small creek up here ahead of us that’s always been good for a fish or two.”
He picked up the spinnerbait and made two quick casts and then quickly laid the rod down and headed for the rod locker.
“Another one just swiped at it and I missed him — I’ve got to figure out what they want,” he said.
He pulled out one rod rigged with an eight-inch watermelon lizard with a chartreuse tail and another rod rigged with a Rattlin’ Rogue in silver and black with a yellow belly. I had seen THAT bait before; it’s the one he used to beat me in a club tournament here several years ago when he finished first and I finished second.
“I really enjoy throwing a Fluke here, but the Rogue runs a close second,” said Donald. “They just might want this bait after the way they’ve just swiped at the Fluke.”
We continued heading up the bank, and Donald began making fast casts and working the bait quickly back to boat. As we approached a small creek, a small bass finally took the Rogue and Donald swung him aboard.
“It’s about time” he said, “this high and still water is making it tough, I’m glad it isn’t a tournament day.”
We stopped long enough to get a picture of the bass and then back to casting the Rogue. Donald soon grew tired of it and then picked up the lizard and started casting and pitching it tight in the cover along the bank.
“I guess I’m going to have to go in and get them with the way they are hitting today,” said Donald. “I like the bigger lizard because it is a big bait with lots of action and bulk, and I like the watermelon and chartreuse. It has worked well for me here in the past.”
As we worked around a large rock formation that held a partially submerged tree, Donald worked every nook and cranny with the lizard. I glanced behind the boat and noticed about a three-foot-long snake swimming toward the bank. Just a minute later, Donald noticed another snake in front of the boat swimming toward the bank, but this one had a small catfish in his mouth. He was having as good a day as we were.
Fishing was tough that day, but give this lake a try. Andrews really is a diamond in the rough when you hit it right, and June is a great month to catch a big sack of largemouths. Fish the same way we did with Flukes, Rogues, lizards and spinnerbaits, and expect success.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
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