March Sinclair Bass Mapped With Matt Henry

Numbers early, then kickers on the grass and docks. Matt Henry marks a map with 10 locations to set a dependable March pattern.

Ronnie Garrison | March 2, 2023


Matt Henry hit the Sinclair scene as a top college tournament angler. Matt has guided full-time, and he’s working now at Sinclair Marine and competing this year in the BASS Opens circuit.

Catch a limit of bass cranking points early, and then fish grassbeds and docks the rest of the day for bigger fish at Lake Sinclair. That is Matt Henry’s recipe for a March tournament on Lake Sinclair, and his methods will work for you this month.

Georgia Power’s Lake Sinclair on the Oconee and Little rivers between Milledgeville and Eatonton has become a quality bass factory the past few years, likely due in part to the introduction of hydrilla. About 10 years ago, 20-lb. tournament limits started replacing the usual 10- to 12-lb. winning weights. It seemed the lake was suddenly full of 3- to 5-lb. bass.

Matt Henry guided on Sinclair during that time, from 2013 to 2017, and he learned to take advantage of the better-quality bass the lake was producing.

The Sinclair bass fishing remains very good. In January, Matt and his partner Justin Kimmel had a five-bass limit weighing 24.40 pounds in a Berry’s tournament. Last March, Matt and his dad Gary won a Berry’s on March 5 with five bass weighing 18.67 pounds. Matt has had many similar catches, winning two Berry’s tournaments in the past year. He also made the BFL All American last year after winning the BFL doubleheader on Oconee and Sinclair. This year Matt is fishing all nine BASS Opens hoping to qualify for the Elites next year.

Right now Matt works at Sinclair Marina, selling boats with Eclipse Marine Group and fishing every local tournament he can. In the past, he was the founder of the bass team at Middle Georgia College, and Matt still supports that prestigious team.

“I fish shallow, catching fish on points on crankbaits to get a limit before 9,” Matt said.

Those 2-lb. keeper fish may keep biting, and an occasional 4-pounder will show up, but Matt says grassbeds and docks will consistently produce bigger bass.

In early March, the Sinclair bass are staging on primary points at the mouths of spawning areas. Then the fish move farther back in the pockets as the days get longer and the water warms.

Matt’s March bait selection is simple. He has two spinnerbaits, two crankbaits and a jig tied on when he’s fishing a Sinclair tournament. For dropping water, he may add a lizard. He can cover all the water he wants to fish this month from dirt shallow to about 8 feet deep with these baits.

“Water temperature does not control the bass movement nearly as much as the amount of daylight,” Matt said.

A cold front may make them drop a little deeper, but they will not go far, and you can consistently follow them as they move to the points, then into the spawning areas.

Matt showed me the following locations for finding groups of prespawn bass in March.

No. 1: N 33º 11.461 – W 83º 15.343 — Going down the Oconee River past the mouth of Little River and the small island on the right, watch for a dock on the left with a bright red roof. Go to the point across from this dock on the downstream side of the small creek. This is a flat point with a wooden seawall and some rip-rap in front of it on the river side. Stop out in front of the birdhouse with your boat in about 8 feet of water.

This is an ideal early morning cranking point. It is at the mouth of a spawning creek, it is near the river channel, and it has a sandy bottom. Matt says bass are looking for sandy bottoms with mussel shells. The point at the small dock has a clay bottom, but there is sand on both sides.

Matt’s favorite crankbait is a chartreuse Gulp, a bait that is no longer made. A good second choice is a Berkley Frittside 5, a flat-sided crankbait that will bump bottom out to about 5 feet deep. Shades of chartreuse from bright green to brownish are good choices on Sinclair in March.

Cast your bait up to about a foot of water and “worm” it back slowly, bumping the bottom constantly. Matt says you will know you are fishing the right kind of bottom when you bring in occasional shells on your crankbait.

Fish from the birdhouse around the point to the boathouse inside the cove. When you get to the dock, make a couple of casts to it with your spinnerbait and jig. Especially on bright sunny days, bass will hold in the shade and then move out to feed.

No. 2: N 33º 11.379 – W 83º 16.168 ­— Going upstream on the Oconee River, stop on the downstream point at the last small cove on the right before the river turns right and Little River joins it. This point has a wooden seawall with rip-rap around it. The point drops back into a small pocket with grass before coming out on a smaller secondary point with a big pine tree near the water.

Fish around the point with your crankbait to the pine tree on the next point, also hitting the grassbed in the pocket. Keep your boat in about 7 feet of water. The grassbed and dock here—and at any location this time of year—should get a pitch or two before moving on. Try both a spinnerbait and jig in the grass.

Some wind blowing in on this and other spots helps. An even bigger help is current moving over them. But dropping water will also pull fish out of the grass, so a current from generation at the Oconee dam is better than pulling water at the Sinclair dam since it raises the water level.

No. 3: N 33º 11.206 – W 83º 17.098 — Go up Little River to the last creek on the left before the Highway 441 bridge. Stop on the upstream point out from the seawall just inside the point. This is the last point before the campground at Little River Marina. Be careful—the point is very shallow, so do not get in too close.

Go into the creek fishing your crankbait, casting right against the seawall and bumping it back to 4 feet deep. Matt keeps his crankbait digging the bottom, fishing it very slowly like dragging a worm with his rod tip.

Fish the seawall up to the first dock, and then fish the grass between it and the next dock. Early in the month, fish the holes in the grass and concentrate on holes and outside edge of the grass, running your spinnerbait up the hole or edge and letting it fall. Also pitch your jig to the same holes and drop it along the outside edge.

No. 4: N 33º 12.484 – W 83º 16.858 — Go up Rooty Creek to the upstream point of the first big cove on the left past the mouth of the creek. It has a big bulldog statue on it behind a cement seawall. Cast your crankbait to the seawall, and then fish into the cove, fishing docks and any grass you come to.

Rooty Creek often has water that is less muddy than other areas. It is one of the most popular creeks on the lake in the spring. This point faces south and warms faster than areas that don’t get as much sun, so this kind of place is one of the key factors Matt tries to find.

Early in the month, you can’t fish your crankbait too slowly. As the water warms, you can fish a little faster, but do not rush each cast. Matt fishes quickly but efficiently on each stop, looking for areas where bass feed. Matt says on most of these cranking spots you may catch one bass, or you might catch a dozen keeper fish. If you get bit, make multiple casts to the same place to quickly fill your limit.

No. 5: N 33º 13.071 – W 83º 17.406 — Rooty Creek swings to the right, opens up, and then narrows down again just before you get to the mouth of Cold Branch. Right where it narrows down, a narrow creek goes off to the left, and there is a U.S. flag on the upstream point. Stop on the downstream point at a reverse batten-board double-stall boathouse, and start fishing the grass just past it.

The small creek channel runs along this bank, and this is one of the deepest grassbeds on the lake. The outside edge is right on 8 feet of water, so it is good even very early in the month. Matt fishes grassbeds like this one for his kicker fish using spinnerbaits and jigs.

His go-to spinnerbait is a 1/2- to 3/4-oz. chartreuse, blue and white Hoppy Lures spinnerbait with gold blades. He often puts a No. 7 willowleaf blade on it. This big bait draws bites from big bass. Matt says bigger bass are usually looking for a big meal.

Early in the month Matt will parallel the front edge of grass and also run his spinnerbait up to holes in the grass and let it fall. Later in the month when the water is warmer, he likes to wake his big spinnerbait though the grass if it is not too thick. The water needs to be near full pool to wake the bait over grass.

No. 6: N 33º 13.338 – W 83º 17.408 — Go around the next point, and there is a very narrow point between two pockets across from the downstream point of Cold Branch. There are two big pine trees on the point and deep water runs in by it. There are good grassbeds on both sides with 7 feet of water just off them. Fish from halfway out the downstream point, around it to halfway down the other side. Concentrate on the outside half early in the month, but work all the way to the main bank later in the month.

Water levels often drop overnight and are low in the morning due to pumpback at the Oconee dam. This draws fish out of the grass, but they don’t go far. If the water is low, Matt will back out from the grass some and slow-roll his spinnerbait to 8 feet deep.

Sometimes bass out from the grass are not actively feeding, so Matt will Texas-rig a green-pumpkin lizard on a 3/16-oz. lead and drag it on the bottom for these inactive fish. This point is a good place to try that since it drops fairly fast into deep water.

No. 7: N 33º 13.490 – W 83º 17.150 ­— Across Rooty Creek on the downstream point of Cold Branch, there is a small camping-type trailer that sits on the bank behind a small floating dock and a rip-rap seawall. There is good grass here to fish. Run your big spinnerbait if the water is up, and also fish it through the thinner areas of grass.

A compact, 3/8-oz. chartreuse, blue and white True Track Lures spinnerbait with gold Colorado blades is good for fishing thicker grass and shallower water. The lighter bait is easier to keep on top of the thicker grass, and the bass wanting a smaller meal are likely to hit it.

This bank slopes and is a good place to back off with your boat in 8 to 9 feet of water when it is low and drag your lizard from the edge of the grass out to 8 feet deep. The water can be down any time of day, depending on generation at both dams and pumpback at Oconee. Don’t give up on the grass even with low water—the bass will not go far.

No. 8: N 33º 13.000 – W 83º 16.677 — Going back down Rooty Creek, on your left there is a long point that sticks way out past the first cove on that side. There is a silver, tin-roof boat dock, and the house behind it has a silver tin roof. Just inside the downstream side of the point there is good grass to fish past the blue boathouse.

Run your spinnerbait by dock posts and through the grass as it allows. Early in the day, fish the outer edges and holes in the grass, later after it warms work more of the grass by waking your spinnerbaits faster in them.

Here and other places Matt starts near the point and fishes just a short distance into the pockets. The bass will be moving back, but usually they will not be all the way back in the pockets until April.

No. 9: N 33º 12.723 – W 83º 16.005 — Start up the Oconee River, and before you get to Goat Island on the right, stop on the upstream point of the third cove on your left. It is smaller than the first two coves and has a small private ramp and a green bench swing behind a wood seawall.

Start fishing at the boat ramp, and then work the grass going into the cove. This is another good example of the kind of grassbed that faces south and warms early. Here and at all other places, watch for green grass within the older dead grass. Green grass will attract more bass than the brown grass.

Fish both spinnerbaits, as appropriate, and then work your jig. Matt likes a black-and-blue Greenfish Tackle Big Rubber Jig with a blue Zoom Chunk for a big profile bait for big bass. Early in the month, he concentrates on the outer edges of the grass and holes in the beds, pitching the jig and letting it fall to the bottom. Later in warmer water, he will fish it more like a swim jig, keeping it near the surface and running it faster for a reaction bite.

No. 10: N 33º 13.382 – W 83º 15.687 — Go up the river past the big island with the causeway running out to it. Go to the upstream point of the creek upstream of the island with the brick house on it, and stop on the grassbed along the wooden seawall.

Try both spinnerbaits and jigs while fishing your way into the creek. Matt says there will be a bunch of spawning bass behind here, so it gets a lot of fish moving through all month.

Matt says a big grassbed like this requires more time to fish, and you have to watch for sweet spots in it. On a small bed you can make a few casts to it to cover it, but take time to fish the bigger grassbeds carefully.

Check out these places to see the kinds of places that fit Matt’s March pattern, and use the information to catch more bass on Lake Sinclair this month.

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