Lake Oconee May Bass Map

This bite is all about the shad spawn early, and then fishing the same areas deeper once the sun gets up.

Ronnie Garrison | April 29, 2022

Shad love to spawn on the seawalls and rip-rap that line Lake Oconee, and this shad spawn gives anglers a fast, early morning bite in May. After the sun ends the shad spawn, bass back off to hold on drops and cover where they can be caught all day.

Lake Oconee is lined by huge houses, and most of these houses have seawalls with rip-rap. The rip-rap makes perfect spawning areas for shad, and the bass line up for easy meals at daylight every morning. You can catch them with moving baits and cover water quickly to find quality fish.

The bite can get tough after the sun makes the shad and bass back off the seawalls. The bass are generally full after a shad buffet for breakfast and are holding at a comfortable depth. But they are gluttons, if you offer them an easy meal, they will eat your bait.

Some bass also move to the shade of docks during the day. An easy meal will make them bite, but a bait flashing by can trigger their instincts and you can get reaction bites from them with the right baits. 

Seawalls, drops and docks—fishing those three structures will give you a good catch of Oconee bass this month.

Randy Jackson lives in McDonough and has fished all his life, starting with his grandparents taking him to catch anything that would bite. When he was 15, he got started fishing the Berry’s Tuesday night tournaments with his dad Dale, who inspired and encouraged him. Randy got hooked. He now fishes the Berry’s trails, as well as the ABA 72 division and the Toyota Series, plus some local tournaments on Jackson, Sinclair and Oconee.

Randy Jackson likes to key on a shad-spawn pattern for Oconee bass that are off the beds in May and in a feeding mood.

“The bass spawn is pretty much over by May, and bass are feeding up postspawn,” Randy said. 

The fish go wild at daylight on the shad spawn, and tournaments are often won with bass caught in the first 30 minutes. But you can catch these bass all day long if you fish the right places using the right baits.

For the shad bite on seawalls up shallow, Randy will have a topwater popper, a buzzbait, a spinnerbait and a swim jig tied on and ready. Later once the shad-spawn bite on the seawalls is over, Randy will switch to a Carolina rig, deeper running crankbait, and shaky head ready.

These baits are good for covering water out to 20 feet deep. A jig or a shaky head are his go-to baits for docks.

In April, I joined Randy and Jim Lumpkin, of Lake Country Fishing, as they showed me around Lake Oconee, and we fished the following 10 holes. Some decent fish were moving in for the spawn on these places, holding and feeding where they will do the same postspawn, too.

We landed about a dozen fish, and Randy had a kicker pushing 5 pounds.

No. 1: N 33º 23.789 – W 83º 12.709 — Running up the Oconee River from Long Shoals Ramp, the river makes a hard turn to the right. Near where it turns back to the left, there is a big area of development on the right bank. The second point upstream has a big block rock seawall with rip-rap at its base. It and the next point downstream have been cleared under the trees, and the day we fished many trees had orange tape marking them. The next point upstream has a huge rock dock with a big boat slip.

Start on the second point, and fish the seawall going downstream, working past the second big point.

Keep your boat near the seawall in about 6 feet of water, and cast your baits ahead of the boat, running your buzzbait right along the edge of the wall. Also try your swim jig and popper along the rocks.

Randy likes a 1/4-oz. white Dirty Jigs swim jig with a white Missile Baits mini chunk on it. He fishes it on a Dobyins 765 Swim Jig rod. This bait is light enough to cast right on the rock and not get hung. Often the bass will not hit a bait more than a few inches from the wall.

Always watch for shad jumping out of the water on the rocks and bass swirling on them. Concentrate your casts where you see bigger swirls. One problem when the shad spawn is in full swing is there is so much bait it is often hard to locate bass feeding on it. Move fast, even if you see shad, until you catch bass.

No. 2: N 33º 23.009 – W 83º 13.946 — Go downstream past Great Waters Marina on your right and watch for a small creek going back in and running at a small angle upstream. The upstream point is a big flat with a gray-roofed house and dock, and the seawall is rip-rap on wood. Start at the dock and fish upstream, casting a topwater and spinnerbait to the wall. 

Since it is so shallow here, stay out from the wall and cast at a sharper angle. A white 1/2-oz. double willowleaf spinnerbait with white blades works good on shallow seawalls like this, but your other shad-spawn baits will work, too.

After the sun gets on the water, back off to about 10 feet deep, and then cast out toward the main lake with a Carolina rig and a crankbait.

Randy likes to hit the drops from 15 to 20 feet of water, and casting out from shallow to deep is his preferred way to fish. There is a good contour drop here to fish. Work all the way back to the end of the point in the mouth of the small creek.

No. 3: N 33º 23.482 – W 83º 12.301 — Across from Long Shoals ramp some new mansions are being built. A big gray one is finished—it has turrets on the front side with one on the left and an open gazebo.

The seawall is rip-rap on a fairly flat point with a smaller tongue of land coming off the main point that has four lawn chairs on the upstream side.

Shad spawn on the rip-rap all the way around the point. Start at the dock on the upstream side, and fish around it to the back of the downstream pocket. 

Use any of your seawall baits, but if you see swirls from bigger fish, sometimes a popper worked slowly right on the rocks will draw a bite when faster-moving baits won’t. Fish your popper steadily, but pause it to offer a meal to a lazy lunker. Randy likes a Rico topwater popper. Although they are expensive, they seem to have a special action the bass love.

Back off to about 10 feet deep after the sun gets on the water, and cast out from the point, fishing your baits back from deep to shallow. Your crankbait should start hitting bottom at 15 feet deep, so Randy chooses a gizzard shad Strike King 5XD crankbait. Make a long cast, crank it down, and bump bottom to the boat. Also follow up with a Carolina rig in the same area.

No. 4: N 33º 23.211 – W 83º 10.096 — At the mouth of Richland Creek, go to the first point on the right, just past the rockpile danger markers that are way off the bank on that side. The first point is flat and has a wood seawall with rip-rap on it. The next small point has a big boulder just off the seawall and more out deeper.

Work the seawall and visible boulders at first light for the shad spawn, fishing from the first point all the way into the second pocket. Hit the docks as you come to them—shad will spawn on dock floats and posts, as well as on any underwater boards. 

Hit it all early with topwater, a spinnerbait and swim jig, running them right beside the floats and boards. As the sun gets up, pitch a jig or shaky head to the shady areas around the docks.

Randy rigs a green-pumpkin Magnum Trick Worm on a 3/16-oz. Spot Remover head.

Back off as the sun gets bright and work the deeper boulders, bouncing your crankbait off them and crawling a Carolina rig up, across and down them. Randy rigs a green-pumpkin Zoom Finesse worm about 3 1/2 feet behind a 3/4-oz. sinker and dips the tail in chartreuse or orange JJ’s Magic. 

No. 5: N 33º 25.445 – W 83º 11.347 — Going up Richland Creek, when you see the Ritz Carlton Hotel ahead, there is a small creek to your left. On your right is a very small double-arm cove, and the point in the middle has a small sign behind a big bush. The land is being cleared under the trees for development. 

The point has big rocks along the bank edge and underwater where shad spawn, so fish it early.

Randy also works his Rico over the point early for bass holding a little deeper and looking for an easy meal.

The rocks run out deep, and Randy backs off to the side of the point and works his spinnerbait over the rocks, slow-rolling it just above them.

Also fish your Carolina rig and shaky head, casting across the point and coming up the other side, bumping across the top and down the side closest to you. 

No. 6: N 33º 25.740 – W 83º 11.564 — Go across the creek just upstream of the first creek on that side. Before getting to the last creek downstream of the Ritz, there is a small bay. Stop on the downstream point of this bay—it has a clay bottom and bushes on it, but no house. Start on the point, and fish upstream into the bay.

Bass and shad spawn in the bay, and the channel swings in close, meaning postspawn bass stay put to wait on the shad. Randy starts by running his spinnerbait shallow over the point, and then he fishes it out to 20 feet deep with his Carolina rig.

He will keep his boat out from the point and make long casts with both baits as he goes around the point, fishing it from both sides and the end.

No. 7: N 33º 25.344 – W 83º 11.585 — The upstream point of this bay also holds bass. It runs out shallow and widens out to a small hump that is attached to the bank. There are lawn chairs under the one big tree out on the end. There is a good grassbed in the area that runs from the bank out to the hump. Fish this point similar to the downstream point, but start casting to the grass.

Shad will spawn in the grass, and bass will hold and feed in it. Your swim jig works great in the grass. Make repeated casts to it, especially if you see any shad activity or bass swirls.

After fishing the rocks on the bank as you go out toward the point, turn and cast your crankbait and Carolina rig out toward the deeper water, bumping bottom coming from deep to shallow.

Fish all the way around the point covering both sides and the end this way.

No. 8: N 33º 26.468 – W 83º 15.199 — Headed up the Oconee River, just downstream of the Highway 44 bridge watch on your right for the second creek upstream of Old Salem Campground. It is the second small creek downstream of the bridge. There is a blue-topped dock just inside the upstream point. 

Start fishing the rip-rap on the point, and work into the creek, fishing the shad spawn early. A cloudy day may extend the shad-spawn bite an hour or so, but it is usually over when the sun gets on the water. When the sun is on the water, pitch your jig ’n pig and shaky head to the docks, working the shade where the bass hold.

Randy likes a 3/8-oz. green-pumpkin Crusher jig with a junebug trailer on it. The 3/8-oz. jig falls fast and will often draw a reaction strike from a bass not really in a feeding mood after gorging on shad. 

Try to hit every post on a dock, and work the walkway, too. Skip your jig as far back into shady areas, hitting the places most fishermen will miss. These bass are used to seeing baits fall in front of the dock, but one falling right in front of them back under the dock is more likely to draw a strike. Brush on any of these docks makes them better.

No. 9: N 33º 28.070 – W 83º 18.190 — Run up Sugar Creek to the point on the left on the downstream side of the small pocket before the mouth of Jacks Creek. There is a small dock with no cover on the upstream side. The rip-rap here is an excellent shad-spawn area, and it drops off fast.

Randy fishes this seawall quickly first thing with a spinnerbait, swim jig and topwater, then he moves on. There is not much of a ledge here to hold bass in a limited area like on other points, so he leaves after the shad spawn ends.

No. 10: N 32º 28.298 – W 83º 18.507 — The biggest community hole on Lake Oconee is the Sugar Creek bridge rip-rap. It is constantly restocked by tournaments, and like all bridge rip-rap, this is an excellent shad-spawn location. If you are fishing during the week, you may be able to fish it somewhat uncrowded. On the weekends, get in line and fish with everybody else looking for an easy bite.

Randy says the four corners are the best areas. He sets up and fishes them casting up-current and working his baits back with the flow. He then works up the rip-rap on the upstream marina side, fishing that rip-rap with his spinnerbait, swim jig and topwater.

Check out these places.

Be on the water before daylight to get in on some fast shad-spawn fishing, and then once the sun gets up, follow Randy’s advice on catching fish all day.

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