Lake Burton Crowned King For Bruiser Spots

A new state-record spotted bass came out of Burton last February. This is a great month to hook a magnum spot on the mountain lake.

Ronnie Garrison | February 7, 2006

In February 2005, Lake Burton produced a new Georgia state-record spotted bass, a fat 8-lb., 2-oz. fish. Burton is full of big spots, and a surprising number of largemouths, and the bass are on a pattern this month that can produce some outstanding catches.

Burton is a small Georgia Power Co. reservoir just off Highway 76 between Clayton and Hiawassee. The mountain lake was created in 1919 by damming the Tallulah River and has 2,775 acres of water and 62 miles of shoreline. Although the lake waters are fairly infertile, blueback herring were illegally introduced, and for now the bass are getting fat on the new forage.

Blueback herring may create some long-term problems for bass fishing at Burton because they eat bass fry, but right now the bass are fat and plentiful. Since the lake does not have much cover, the bass key on the herring in open water and stay deep. Even though the lake level drops a lot during the winter, Burton stays clear, so fishing can be good all winter long.

The steep hills around Burton are not only beautiful, they mean the shoreline drops off fast into deep water. The lake is ringed by cabins and boathouses, but most of them are out of the water during the winter drawdown.There are a lot of points and humps, but most have little natural cover, and there are fewer rocks then you would expect for a mountain lake. Most of the fishable cover is brushpiles put out by fishermen.

Daniel Workman holds a fat, 4-lb. spotted bass caught at Lake Burton while showing the author 10 locations that are good for February bass fishing.

Access is limited to a few boat ramps and one state park, but the lake gets crowded in the summer. February is the best time to fish the lake during the day, and the spots are aggressive in the cold water. No matter where you put in, you won’t have to run too far to find good fishing.

Daniel Workman works for Mark’s Marine and fishes Burton a lot. He fishes many of the Johnny Brooks night tournaments on the lake and also fishes with some clubs there. His best catch on the lake was a few summers ago in a night tournament where he weighed in five bass weighing 22 pounds — and came in third!

A 6-lb. spot is Daniel’s best from Burton, also caught during a tournament. Most tournaments at Burton will have at least one 5-lb. spot, he says. Daniel has also caught a 9-lb. largemouth out of the lake, and he says there are a lot of good largemouths at Burton. All five of his 22-lb. catch were largemouths.

“During the winter, largemouths and spots school up on points and humps in deep water,” Daniel said.

He says they follow the herring and stay deep, holding around any cover they can find until moving in to feed on herring. To find the bass you need to find the herring, then look for cover on nearby points and humps.

Daniel uses a variety of lures for February fishing at Burton. He likes spinnerbaits, crankbaits and worms, as well as jerkbaits. All will produce fish this month. A jerkbait is good if there is some wind blowing across a point or hump. Clear water makes them more effective, and Daniel likes a Staysee or Pointer in chartreuse-shad or Tennessee-shad color patterns. He makes long casts with the plugs on light line, so they will work deep. He says to jerk the baits down, let them sit and suspend for as long as you can stand it, then wait a little longer.

A deep-running crankbait is also a good choice, and Daniel makes long casts with them and works them back steadily, trying to reach the plug’s greatest depth. Shad-colored baits are good, and they need to run at least 15-feet deep to be effective.

Both Texas- and Carolina-rigged worms work well on Burton, and Daniel likes Zoom Finesse worms in green pumpkin. He sometimes dips the tails in JJ’s Magic to color them chartreuse, and he will dip them in the clear formula to give them a good strong garlic smell when he does not want the tail colored. Daniel thinks the garlic smell definitely helps.

Daniel will also throw the same worm on a 1/8-oz. jig head, fishing it on the bottom on the points and humps. The Texas-rigged worm is best in brush, but on cleaner bottoms he likes the jig head worm for the way it moves and the way it stands up when the bait is stopped.

Not only does Daniel watch his depthfinder for schools of herring, he keeps an eye out for bass. He says he can usually see the bass holding near the bottom or on brush and always fishes where he sees them. Look for them from 15- to 22-feet deep, then back off and cast to them.

The week after Christmas Daniel showed me some of his best spots for February fishing. The following 10 Lake Burton locations, with GPS coordinates, are all places where Daniel fishes for Burton bass in February.

No. 1 (Map available in GON print edition, February, 2006): N 34º 48.743 – W 83º 32.462 — If you put in at the Murray Cove ramp, go straight across to the other side, and ease upstream toward the back of the cove. Not far up, there is a small pocket with two boat houses on it, and the upstream one is brown with two portholes facing the lake. There is a cabin with big pines in front of it on the upstream side of the cove. Out from this dock and the upstream point of the little cove is a hump out 100 feet or so off the bank.

When we were there, the lake was down 10 to 12 feet, and the hump was only two-feet deep on top. When you find the hump, start by casting up toward the shallow water and fishing back. Try a jerkbait and crankbait first, then cast a spinnerbait from deep to shallow.

Daniel likes to throw his spinnerbait as far as he can cast, then he’ll engage the reel and let the bait sink to the bottom on a tight line. He says he often gets violent strikes as the bait sinks. When it hits bottom, he works it back to the boat slowly, keeping it near the bottom.

If nothing hits with your boat out in deep water, move on top of the hump and cast a Texas- or Carolina-rigged worm out toward the opposite bank. There is good rock, brush and some grass on this side, and this is usually the best side, but work all the way around this hump before leaving.

No. 2: N 34º 48.681 – W 83º 32.716 — Head out of Murray Cove, and watch for the sandy point on your right near the mouth of the cove. It is the first big point downstream of the ramp on the same side as the ramp. There is a boathouse with a green roof on the upstream side of the point, and the house on the point has a green roof.
Daniel says there is a lot of brush on this point. He keeps his boat way off the bank in 25 to 30 feet of water and casts up to more shallow water, fishing the 15- to 25-foot depths. You can also keep your boat in 20 feet of water and make casts parallel to the bank, keeping your bait in the same depth of water. This works best if you have found the fish holding at a consistent depth. Fish this point all the way around to the rocks on the downstream side near the white boathouse. If you catch a fish here, slow down and fish back around the point. Daniel says bass school up here, and if you find one, you usually find more this time of year.

No. 3: N 34º 48.775 – W 93º 32.934 — Out toward the main lake you will see a hump about even with the point in hole No. 2. This hump is way out of the water at winter-pool lake levels, and there is a shoal marker on it for when the lake is full. The hump is on a very long point running off the right bank that extends out of the cove.
Fish all the way around this hump including the saddle between it and the bank. Daniel says there is a lot of brush here, and he watches his depthfinder for it and for bass holding near it. Try all your lures here, but a Texas-rigged worm will work best in the brush. Try to hit the brush, and shake the worm in one place before pulling it out of the brush.

The end of this point splits into what Daniel calls a wishbone. One point runs straight out toward the mouth of the cove, and another runs out toward the river channel. Fish both of these points before leaving.

No. 4: N 34º 48.759 – W 83º 33.311 — Run straight across the river to the big, round, main-lake point.  There is a big two-story dock with white lattice work paneling on it on the upstream side of this point, and there is a model of the Statue of Liberty on top of the dock. Daniel says this is a good point year round. It is on an outside bend of the old river channel where fish congregate.

Stay way off the point, and start on the end of it and work upstream. There is a shelf that comes off the bank then drops off fast, and wood washing down the lake hangs on it. You can fish all your baits here, but probe the wood for fish holding in it with your worms. We landed a 4-lb., 1-oz. spot here the day we fished.

No. 5: N 34º 48.547 – W 83º 33.210 — Down the lake on the same side as point No. 4 is Billy Goat Island. This big island has several good places to fish on it, and you could spend most of your day working around it. Most of the small points have some rocks on them, and there is also brush on many of them.

Start on the outside of the island on the upstream end. There are a couple of blowdowns on the bank that may still have some water under them, but off the small point running upstream from this side there are a lot of Christmas trees anchored underwater. Fish around until you find them then concentrate casts to them.

Also look for rocks on this point. You can see a few on the bank, and there are more scattered out under the water. This is typical of most points in this area. They are not solid rock, but either sand or clay with scattered rock. The spots like to hold on the rocks.

No. 6: N 34º 48.340 – W 83º 33.531 — Go between the bank and the upstream side of the island, and where it gets most narrow there is a point to your left on the island. There is a big pine tree with a rock seawall around it that is a separate island when the lake is full. There is brush on the left side of this point facing it, and this is a good feeding area, Daniel said.

Fish the brush, but also fish the saddle between the island and mainland. This narrow, shallow spot is a good place for bass to hold waiting on herring to move through, and it concentrates them for the bass to ambush. This is a good bottom to fish the jig head worm. Cast it out, let it sink to the bottom, then shake and work it back to the boat.

No. 7: N 34º 48.217 – W 83º 33.241 — Keep going downstream between the island and main bank, and watch for two small points on your left on the island. It is across from a red-roofed cabin and dock. You will see some big rock right on the water’s edge on the upstream point, and a blowdown just upstream of the point. There is rock here, and also some Christmas trees marked with floats on these points. Fish the rocks and brush with crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Take some time to work a worm through the brush. Hit the brush, and let your worm fall from top to bottom. This is the spot where Daniel caught five bass weighing 22 pounds in a tournament.

No. 8: N 34º 48.173 – W 83º 33.170 — Across and downstream from hole No. 7, on the main bank you will see a light-green dock with a black roof, and you’ll see a dock with a dark-green roof. There is a tongue-like point that runs out between these two docks, and you will see some big rocks right on the water line.

Fish this point like the others, probing for the scattered rocks and brush. Daniel does not spend a lot of time on a spot unless he catches a bass quickly. He will make a dozen casts then move on to the next spot if nothing bites.

No. 9: N 34º 48.104 – W 83º 32.592 — Run across the lake downstream of the island to the long point on the downstream side of Perrin Cove. This point runs way out, and you will see where they are building a seawall on the upstream side. There were big piles of rock there ready to be placed as a seawall when Daniel and I fished the lake.

Out from the new seawall and the small floating dock is a hump with brush and grass on it. There is also a little rock on it. There will be a low, green house with an American flag to your left if you are facing the point, and a big gray-shingle dock and house to your right on the point. This hump was five-feet deep on top when we were there.

Fish all the way around the hump, hitting it from all sides as well as fishing from deep to shallow. Daniel says the underwater grass stays green all winter long and holds baitfish and bass, so keep casting to a spot if you bring up grass on your bait.

No. 10: N 34º 47.775 – W 83º 32.391 — Go around the point at hole No. 9, and you will be looking at the dam. Head toward the dam, and watch for the little cut on your left. The bank is bluff-rock wall here. Start fishing at the last dock on your left facing the dam. There are a couple of blowdowns here, plus wood that has washed in. Fish the dock and wood, and work down the bluff wall. A Texas-rigged worm is best here. Try to keep it on the bottom, moving it just a little and letting it fall to the next step in the rocks. Also fish any wood on the bluff.

When you get to the dam, there are some rocks running out from the left side. Fish them, then get in close to the face of the dam and run a crankbait and spinnerbait along the dam. Spots and largemouths often hold on the dam waiting on herring. There were a lot of dying herring here when we fished the lake.

Is there another new state-record spot waiting on you at Burton? It might be in one of Daniel’s holes or other similar places on the lake. Fishing should be consistent and good all this month. Check out these spots, then look for similar ones all over the lake.

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