Lake Chatuge Bass Mapped For September

Caz Anderson sets a winning fall pattern for big spotted bass.

Ronnie Garrison | September 11, 2018

The same reasons Lake Chatuge is a good choice for the prestigious BASS Angler of the Year Championship this month makes it a good choice for Georgia anglers in September. The deep, clear lake is ringed with mountains and is very scenic. Even better, its shallows have a good population of quality largemouth, while big spotted bass lurk in and over main-lake brushpiles waiting to torpedo blueback herring—and baits that resemble the baitfish.

There will be a variety of patterns for the BASS pros to explore when they come to town. They can run-and-gun for shallow largemouth that will hit a variety of baits, or they can study maps and electronics to find schools of spotted bass—big mountain spots that can average 3 pounds.

What should they do to win?

Caz Anderson with a solid Lake Chatuge spotted bass. He thinks the BASS AOY Championship this month will be won with limits of 3-lb. spots that Chatuge produces in September.

We asked Caz Anderson, who has lived on Lake Chatuge all his life. Caz fishes the Georgia High School tournament trails, and he and his partner won the Georgia Bass Nation High School team points standings and were Team of the Year. They placed in the Top-10 in four of the Bass Nation state high school trail tournaments, with more than 170 teams competing in each tournament.

Caz fishes most tournaments on Chatuge with either his mother or father. There are usually three tournaments there a week, on Tuesday and Thursday nights and on Saturday. He spends a lot of time on the lake finding key patterns, and Caz does well in those tournaments.

Caz’s dad, Michael, is a club tournament fisherman and took Caz to his first tournament when his son was 8 years old. Caz has been fishing Chatuge for spots and largemouth all his life, and he loves the competition of tournaments.

“Chatuge is a herring lake, so those baitfish control the patterns most of the year,” Caz said.

In September, the big spots set up on deep structure and cover, and you can catch 3-pounders regularly. Big largemouth tend to roam the shallows this month, and they are more hit-and-miss in September. Even if you find a good largemouth pattern, it is not likely to hold up for several days in a long tournament like the AOY Championship.

“I would not be surprised to see largemouth take the lead for one or two days, but I think the tournament will be won by a competitor finding good schools of spots and weighing-in 16 to 18 pounds each day. Those fish will hold up for several days,” Caz said.

He thinks there will be many 15-lb. limits of spots each day of the tournament, and the winner may have that and a kicker largemouth each day.

For September on Chatuge, Caz will have a variety of baits ready. A jig ’n pig, spin bait, drop shot, topwater and swimbait will cover most of his fishing this month. Most of it will be over deep offshore brushpiles. He fishes these baits on G.Loomis rods and spools up with Segar fluorocarbon line on all but topwater baits. He fishes topwater on 50-lb. Power Pro braid.

Schooling bass may come up on top at any time, so always have your topwater ready while fishing other baits. The day we fished we saw some small schools all day, but they were chasing tiny, young-of-the-year herring and shad, and it was hard to get them to hit. By September, the baitfish are bigger, and the bass will hit bigger topwater baits much better.

We fished the following 10 places to mark a map and caught a good many spots and a few largemouth, and they were just moving to these locations. They and similar places are much better right now as this story is published.

No. 1: N 35º 00.618 – W 83º 46.817 — Penland Island is the big island at the dam that divides the Shooting Creek and Hiwassee River arms of the lake. There is a narrow gap between the island and main bank. On the south side of the island a danger marker sits well off the bank and marks a hump that tops out about 15 feet deep. This is a good schooling area, and there are brushpiles on the hump—that’s typical of the kinds of places where you will catch September bass on Lake Chatuge.

Caz will start early in the morning with his boat out from the hump, and he will cast a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 over the top of it, walking it so it looks like a bass chasing a baitfish. He likes the sexy-shad color on cloudy days and chrome on sunny days.

While fishing the topwater bait, watch your electronics for brush. When you find brushpiles, drop shot them while keeping your Sammy or swimbait ready to cast to any fish that break the surface. Caz will typically spend about half an hour on a spot like this fishing brush while watching for schooling activity. If he’s catching fish out of the brush, he’ll stay.

No. 2: N 34º 59.877 – W 83º 47.263 — As you start up the Hiwassee River, you will see Brown Island, a long island with channel marker 2 on the downstream end. A danger marker sits off the point the marker is on. This point runs way out and has good deep water on both sides.

Going upstream, stop on the right side of the danger marker with your boat in about 25 feet of water. Cast your Sammy across the top of the point, and also run a swimbait over it. Caz fishes a Farley 5-inch swimbait in blueback herring colors and says fish that don’t want to come all the way to the top will hit this swimbait. He will also cast it to schooling fish that won’t hit the Sammy.

After fishing over the point, work up the right side of the island, keeping your boat in 20 to 25 feet of water. Cast your topwater, swimbait and jig ’n pig toward the bank for roaming fish while still watching for brush. Caz says there is a lot of brush on this side of the island. When you see a brushpile, fish it with your deep baits.

No. 3: N 34º 59.333 – W 83º 47.124 — Going upstream, the next big island splits the river and Sneaking Creek. A very small island is off the right side of it on the river side, and channel marker 3 is on the downstream side of it. A hump comes up 200 to 300 yards downstream of the marker and tops out about 17 feet down.

Stop off the hump with your boat in 25-plus feet of water, and cast over the hump with topwater and a swimbait while watching for brush. Fish the brush with drop shot and spin bait. To drop shot, Caz rigs a 3/16-oz. weight 12 inches below a 4-inch morning-dawn colored Robo Worm, fished on 8-lb. line. Caz caught several keeper spots here on the drop shot.

There are multiple brushpiles here, so fish all around the hump watching for them. Keep a topwater and swimbait ready. This is a good schooling area, and since this is a herring lake, bass will come to the top chasing them on bright sunny days at any time of day.

No. 4: N 34º 58.724 – 83º 47.080 — Starting up the river from hole 3, the river channel swings in on a point on your right on the downstream side of a long peninsular labeled Cedar Cliff on maps. There is a small cove with a good ditch coming out of it on your right going upstream, and docks are along the steep bank on your right as well as back in it.

Some of these docks have brush and all create shade for both species of bass. Caz starts on the last dock on the bluff bank going upstream, and then he works back downstream into the cove, fishing every dock here with drop shot and jig. A green-pumpkin 3/8-oz. Chattahoochee Jig with a Yamamoto green-pumpkin twin-tail trailer fished around the brush and under the docks will catch both spotted bass and largemouth. Probe for brush under and in front of the docks, and work your jig through it. Skip your jig as far back into the shade as you can. A drop shot cast into the shade will also produce bass around these docks.

No. 5: N 34º 57.819 – W 83º 45.336 — Go into Bell Creek, passing the mouth of the river on your right with the Highway 76 bridge over it. Bell Creek opens up as you pass the mouth of the river. Near the far bank, a hump sits well off the bank out from a green-topped dock with rip-rap around it, which is the only rip-rap on that bank. The hump tops out about 12 feet deep, with 20-foot deep water around it. There is brush on it, and we found a big school of keeper-size spots on it.

Topwater and swimbaits will catch schooling fish here as in other places. A little wind rippling the water helps on all places like this, making them hit on top or near the surface better. Find the brush, and fish it with drop shot and spin bait. You can also catch fish in the brush with a jig ’n pig.

A spin bait is a fairly new way of catching fish in clear lakes. Caz uses a Duo Realis 80 and fishes it on 6-lb. line. Cast past the brush, count the bait down until it is a foot or so over the brush, and then very slowly reel it over the brush, making the small spinners twirl.  This finesse bait will catch bass when they won’t hit any other bait, but you must fish a spin bait on very light line. You will lose fish that either pull off the small hooks or get you in the brush, but it is better to hook fish and lose some than not hook them at all.

No. 6: N 34º 57.971 – W 83º 44.950 — Going up Bell Creek, there is an island near the right bank where it narrows down past a big open area. A line of docks are along the bank downstream of the island, and Caz calls them his “money hole.”

Start at the dock on the point on the right. Work upstream toward the island, fishing all docks with a jig and drop shot. Watch your electronics for some brush that is out in front of some of the docks. The dock with a sign “Suches Creek” on it has brush in 30 feet of water in front of it. When you see the brush, try drop-shotting it. Caz caught the biggest fish we caught here.

“Fishing docks is all about angles and shade,” Caz said.

You must keep your boat in the right position to get your bait way back under the dock in the darkest shade. You have to be an accurate caster or skipper, since most of your targets will be very narrow and small. A good presentation on docks makes the difference between casting and catching.

Fish all the docks until you go behind the island. There is a private ramp behind the island—be sure to hit it with your jig and drop shot. Caz had a very good catch around this ramp.

No. 7: N 34º 58.176 – W 83º 45.317 — Across the creek from the island, there’s another good line of docks upstream of the long shallow point with danger markers on it. There is 15 feet of water on the front edge of most of them. Caz goes to the last one before the marked point and fishes them back upstream.

Fish them like the ones at hole 6, casting a jig and drop shot into the shade, while also watching for brush. The jig is better for getting way back into the shade, but the drop shot can be fished along the edges and in front of the docks. As in other places, always watch for brush to fish.

Largemouth will roam the banks early in the mornings and then pull out to the docks as the sun gets bright. You may catch a few fishing topwater along the banks between the docks before the sun gets up. Walking your Sammy along the dock floats may draw a bite from fish holding in the shade.

No. 8: N 34º 58.104 – W 83º 46.033 — Going out of Bell Creek past the opening to the river on your left, an island is on your right near the bank. It is close to the bank, and there are cypress trees planted on the point of the island going toward the bank and more out in the middle. Those in the middle mark a point that comes off the island going downstream.

Start out from the trees on the downstream point. It comes up shallow, so work topwater all over it. Keep your boat downstream of them, and fish toward the island on the downstream, staying in 25 plus feet of water. Work your Sammy or other walking bait fast, keeping your rod tip up, making it look like a bass chasing baitfish.

A drop shot will also catch fish when worked along the drop on the point and downstream side of the island. Watch for brush and fish on the bottom, and offer your drop shot to them. There were schooling fish here when Caz and I fished it, so be ready to cast topwater or a swimbait to them.

No. 9: N 34º 58.865 – W 83º 49.311 — Woods Creek goes off to your left going downstream, and Long Bullet Creek splits from it to the left. Go up Woods Creek until you see Highway 69 in the back. On the left, just before the last point, there is a line of docks that are good to fish.

Start at the community dock on the downstream end of them, and fish all of the docks going upstream to the point. One of the docks is a brown double-deck dock that provides a lot of shade around it. There is good deep water around these docks, and they hold both largemouth and spots.

Caz skips his jig into the shade, and lets it sink to the bottom while watching his line for a tick indicating a bite as it falls. When it hits bottom, shake it in place a little, and then work it out with short hops. With the drop shot, let it sink, hold it in place without much action, and then slowly drag it out.

No. 10: N 34º 58.180 – W 83º 48.438 — Go up Long Bullet Creek to just downstream of the powerlines and marina. A pocket on your left has Highway 78 in the back of it. On the right side, way out from the bank, a orange-and-white striped pole marks a hump off a shallow point coming off the clay bank.

There are rocks near the pole and in the saddle. Keep your boat in 25 feet of water on the creek side, and fish a topwater over the hump around the pole and over the saddle. Then fish your drop shot and jig on the bottom in the same areas.

You can catch fish in these and similar areas on Chatuge right now. And it might be fun to go to the AOY Championship and see how many of the pros fish these places and similar ones using Caz’s techniques.

You can see some of the fish Caz catches and follow him on Facebook at

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