Map For May Bass On Lake Oconee

BASS National Federation qualifier Bob Ellis marks a map on his favorite May bass lake.

Ronnie Garrison | May 1, 2005

Bass fishing at Lake Oconee can be fantastic in May. The weather has stabilized, most of the bass are done spawning and are on predictable patterns, and they are feeding heavily. Throw in the end of the shad spawn, and you can have some of the best action of the year.

As anyone who has ever fished Oconee knows, it is a heavily developed lake with seawalls and docks lining its shores. The many cuts and coves are full of cover — if you like dock posts and rip-rap. Fortunately, the bass like that kind of cover, and the shad spawn on the seawalls and rip-rap, so you can find them all over the lake, not just on the bridge rip-raps.

Located in the middle of our state, Oconee is easily accessible to all Georgia bass anglers. There are many tournaments there, ranging from local bass clubs to the pro trails. The lake can get crowded during warm weather with jet skis and pleasure boaters, but the bass are used to this activity, so they still bite if you can put up with it.

Bob Ellis moved to the Vidalia area from Cincinnati in 1978 and started fishing for crappie in his new home state. He fished crappie tournaments and enjoyed some success in them, but then he hooked a big bass and it changed his fishing. He says he loved the way the bass stretched his string, and he was hooked.

In 1994 Bob joined the Four River Bass Club and has made the Top Six team with that club five times. Last year he placed 11th at Lake Eufaula in the Top Six and made the State Team. At the Southern Regional in Kentucky, Bob finished 12th overall, and he was top man on the Georgia team.

When Bob Ellis qualified for the BASS Federation Nationals, the author asked him to pick a lake and a month for an article. Bob picked Oconee in May.

When you read this Bob will just be returning from the BASS Federation National Tournament held the end of April in Florida. Being the Georgia representative at the Nationals is the dream of every Georgia club fisherman, and Bob did it this year.

Lake Oconee is Bob’ s favorite lake in May, and he has some simple patterns that work well there. The bass are feeding in shallow water, taking advantage of the tail end of the shad spawn and also the abundant food in the shallows this time of year. Bob will hit points early, then move into coves with docks, secondary points and seawalls.

A Rat-L-Trap is Bob’s go-to bait first thing for active fish, and he likes the chartreuse plug with a blue back. His backup plug will be a broken-back Shad Rap, and he likes the shad color, but he is experimenting with the new white color when the water is stained.

If the bass want something slower, especially as the sun gets up, he will switch to a Carolina rig. Bob uses a Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw in watermelon red and drags it around docks and seawalls, as well as on secondary points. Bass that feed very shallow early will move out into slightly deeper water as the sun comes up and will seek shade, but they will still hit the Craw.

Bob also likes to throw a Zoom Trick Worm around shallow cover, and he uses what he calls his “Yankee Peach” color. He accidentally left some white Trick Worms in a bag with some crawdad worms, and the resulting peach color has worked well for him. Sometimes the slow fall of a Trick Worm fished carefully around shoreline cover will draw strikes from bass that ignore everything else.

Bob likes the following 10 spots for bass at Oconee this month. There are many similar places on the lake, but these will give you an idea of the kinds of spots Bob fishes and what to look for to find similar ones.

No.1 on the map: N33º 22.672– W 83º 12.386 — If you put in at Long Shoals ramp and head up the river, you will go by several small coves on your left then come to a big creek. Run back into that creek, and watch the right- hand bank as you go in. About halfway back you will see two yellow cabins and just past them a dock with a street light on its left side if you are facing it.

Start fishing at that dock, and fish out toward the mouth of the cove. There is deep water along this bank out from the docks, and bass hold on the dock posts, under them and on the numerous brushpiles around them. Fish down this bank to the little pocket with rip-rap on the upstream side. This is where Bob usually stops. You can run a Rat-L-Trap by the docks, but keep it above the brush. Cast right to the bank if you are here early, and watch for baitfish along the seawalls and bank. Concentrate on any activity you see. Then work a Trick Worm on the bank and out around the docks. This should draw strikes from bass that won’t chase the Trap. Especially later in the day, skip the Trick Worm under the docks and let it fall. Watch your line, and set the hook if you see any tick or movement. If that doesn’t work, drag your Carolina rig by the docks and probe both sides and out in front of them for hidden brushpiles.

No. 2: N 33º 23.260 – W 83º 11.934 — The cove just downstream of the Long Shoals ramp is also one of Bob’ s favorites, and he often starts here. Many bass are released at this ramp in tournaments, and some of them hang around to be caught again. If it is foggy or you don’t want to make an early run, start here.

The point just downstream of the ramp runs way out and is a shallow flat on the upstream side going toward the ramp. The ditch coming out of the cove runs along the downstream side, and there is a good drop-off there. Shad often spawn along the bank here, and bass will hold on the drop and the rocks on the point waiting on the shad.

Run a Trap across the point and fish it with a Carolina rig, too. As you work into the cove, there will be a small cut on your right. Both points on it have rock and hold bass. Fish them with plugs and Carolina rigs. Bob does not go way back into the cut or the one in the very back of the cove, but some bass might be in there feeding, and a Trick Worm should work well.

As you round the end of the cove, there will be two docks on the bank. Between them is a mimosa tree hanging over the water right where a rip- rap wall ends. This spot has good rocks on the bottom and is an excellent place for bass that are holding and waiting on spawning shad. Fish it slowly, then work both sides of the dock, fishing right on the bank by the dock and also deeper around it. Bob got a keeper bass here when we fished.

Just past the dock you will see a pump on the bank used for watering the yard. Just outside the pump, a pine tree lays in the water, and Bob says this is an excellent place to catch a good bass. Fish it with Carolina rig and Trick Worm before moving on out to fish the outside, downstream point of this pocket.

No. 3: N 33º 23.876–W 83º 12.082 — Across and a little down- stream of the ramp you will see a small island sitting just off the end of a long, narrow point in the middle of a big cove. The water drops off fast around this point and island, and Bob says big fish hold in here.

Start out fishing on the point and island, and fish along the downstream side of it. Try all your baits, casting a Trap up near the bank and fishing it out, and then follow that with the Carolina rig. Throw a Trick Worm to any wood cover near the bank — there are a couple of trees in the water and some logs usually wash up in here.

No. 4: N 33º 23.899 – W 83º 11.825 — The next main-lake point downstream of the small island has an old state brushpile off it. Bob will start out on this point and work the down- stream bank going into the cove, just like the one in hole No. 3. About halfway into the cove are a couple of ditches that often hold fish.

Fish to the back of this cove, and start working out on the downstream bank. There is a ditch about halfway from the back that has stumps on it, and this ditch is a good place for a big bass to be feeding. The bottom flattens out as you go out toward the point, and Bob likes to stay way out and make long casts across this flat bank with his Trap. The next point, a smaller round point, is a great Trap point, according to Bob. It has some small pines and grass clumps growing on it. Fish all around it, working the Trap from the very edge of the water out to the boat. Hit it at different angles, crossing the point from both sides.

No. 5: N 33º 23.586 – W 83º 11.055 — Run down to where the standing timber starts lining the bank on the left side. Idle in behind the timber, and start fishing just past the second small, sandy pocket. Start fishing the clay point, and work it out to the timber. Just downstream of it is a cove with sand in the back. There are two logs that often hold fish, and the next cut has some big rocks in it. The next clay point is covered in stumps and usually has bass around them. Fish these points and coves thoroughly. Wind blowing into these spots helps. Bass will move from the trees to the bank to feed, and wind blowing in means more food in the area for them.

No. 6: N 33º 22.003 – W 83º 09.775 — Head down past the mouth of Richland Creek and the mouth of Double Branches, and you will see a big island on your left with standing timber between it and the bank. Go around the downstream side of the island, and head for the point across from it. The area between the island and this point has timber in it, so go slowly until you learn it.

Fish the point with the Wildlife Management Area sign on it, fishing across it with both a Trap and a Carolina rig. Work all around this point, probing for cover off it. Wind blowing in here helps, too. Bob says he caught his best two Oconee bass off this area in April and May. Both weighed over six pounds and were taken on Carolina rigs.

No. 7: N 33º 22.130 – W 83º 09.851 — Idle across to the back side of the island. The flat between it and the closest bank is covered in standing timber, and a small ditch swings in by it. Bob will keep his boat just outside the timber and cast back across the flat between the bank and island. He will be sitting closer to the island than to the bank. You may need to ease around with your trolling motor to see how the ditch swings in here and how to fish it best.

No. 8: N 33º 24.693 – W 83º 11.596 — Head up Richland Creek past the timber on your left. Past the mouth of Rocky Creek on your right the timber on the left will stop, and a small creek will enter just downstream of a fairly large island sitting just off the bank. Go to the downstream point of this creek. They are clearing the bank for more houses, and there are new docks all along this bank.

This is a deep bank, and there is a good ditch running out between the docks with permit numbers G16292 and G16293. Start fishing around these two docks, and work the ditch between them. I got a good keeper here when we fished it a few weeks ago. Fish on down this bank toward the back of the cove. Watch for a sandbar on the left side of the ditch just past dock number G16291. Fish the sandbar and ditch with your Carolina rig, and then work on to the point past it.

No. 9: N 33º 25.161 – W 83º 11.753 — Go out around the island and head upstream, watching for the standing timber off the island. Head into the next creek, and watch the right bank going in. There is a big, brown- brick house with turrets on it just inside this creek. Start on the seawall here, and fish into the cove.

This is a good shad-spawning area, so work it slowly. The bottom is fairly flat, but there is some trash on it, as well as the seawall and docks to fish. The bottom is sandy, and Bob likes a Shad Rap as well as a Carolina rig here. Keep fishing along this bank past the small cove and watch for the second dock with a green top. The water is very deep just off this dock, and it is on the point so it is an excel- lent place for bass to hold before and after feeding.

No. 10: N 33º 27.467 – W 83º 11.685 — Run up to the mouth of Beaverdam Creek, but go into the cove just downstream of it. Bob says this is his best big-fish hole on the lake. On your left as you enter this cove you will see a dock in front of a green-roofed house. There is a Chiminea on the dock, and the water is about 17 feet deep in front of it. Bob will fish this dock and the ones in the pocket past it and up to the dock in front of the brown, wood house on the next point. That dock has lots of brush around it, and it holds good fish this time of year. Fish it slowly and care- fully, and be ready for a big bite.

These are some of Bob’s favorite May spots on Oconee. They give you an idea of what to look for as you search for similar places to fish this month. Try Bob’ s spots and techniques, then fine tune them to the way you like to catch bass.

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