Ocmulgee PFA, Georgia’s 10-Pound Bass Factory
Survey says... 10% of bass weigh at least 10 pounds!
More and more over the last couple of years, Ocmulgee Public Fishing Area (PFA) has come to the forefront whenever anglers talk about trophy-bass destinations. In April, the first teen-sized bass was certified from the lake. The 13-lb., 4-oz. largemouth bass recently was caught and released back into the lake during survey work conducted by fisheries biologists with WRD.
“Angler surveys from February and March alone reveal that 46 bass over the 8-lb. mark were caught and released, with 10 bass exceeding 10 pounds, including a 12-lb., 4-oz. monster caught by Jason Byram, of Milledgeville on Feb. 22,” said fisheries biologist Tim Bonvechio. “The strategy of stocking a lower density of female-only bass in combination with a strict catch-and-release regulation has worked really well to meet the intended objective of providing excellent trophy bass fishing. Of the bass surveyed this spring (February, March and April), just under 10 percent exceeded the 10-pound mark.”
WRD intensively manages the lake to increase productivity. Some of the management activities include liming and fertilizing, as well as stocking forage. Biologists monitor the bass population, as well as individual fish growth rates, and add bass as needed to replace fish that die.
Right now, especially early mornings or late in the afternoons, is a great time to catch largemouth bass as spawning is done and bass are feeding heavily before the summer heat sets in. The lake is several feet low from the ongoing drought, so many fish will be concentrated in the lower end of the lake. Live bait or artificial lures, such as crankbaits, swimbaits and jigs, are recommended. Shad-colored lures are a good option as one of the primary forage species in the lake is threadfin shad.
Use stout tackle due to the possibility of a hooked bass wrapping around standing timber in the lake and breaking your line. A medium- or medium-heavy action flipping stick and a reel with a good drag accompanied by heavy line, such as 20-lb. test monofilament or 50-lb. test braided line, is a good choice.
As well as being a trophy-bass destination, Ocmulgee PFA provides a perfect place for families to enjoy a safe, outdoors environment and develop an appreciation of some fantastic natural resources.
On the 106-acre lake are numerous coves and points, creek channels, standing timber and submerged humps for attracting fish. The deepest point at the dam is about 30 feet. Facilities include a boat ramp, two fishing piers, fish cleaning station and ample parking.
The area is open from sunrise to sunset all year long. Anglers 16 years of age or older must possess a current Georgia fishing license and a Wild–life Management Area (WMA) stamp in order to fish. Anglers in possession of a three-day fishing license, sportsman’s, lifetime, Senior (65+) or Honorary license do not have to possess a WMA stamp. Anglers may use up to two fishing poles and any size outboard motor may be used at idle speed. Non-angling visitors to the area will need to have a Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass (GORP). A GORP-Plus pass allows visitors to recreate, plus the option of fishing.
For more information on Ocmulgee PFA, including depth profile maps, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/PFA/Ocmulgee.
Bream, Crappie and Catfish Options at Ocmulgee PFA
Anglers also may want to try some bream fishing while at Ocmulgee PFA, and if they catch a fish with a colorful tag on it, they can turn that tag in for a prize. One hundred bream have been tagged for the Georgia Bobberthon, and a portion of those are at Ocmulgee PFA. Catching a tagged fish allows anglers to win a prize plus one free admission to the Go Fish Education Center and a chance at one of four grand prizes. Look for more information at www.georgiabobberthon.com.
Crappie are another species worth targeting. Fish heavier than 3 pounds have been caught from the lake, and 2-pounders are common. The fish will typically be suspended in the flooded timber this month, and a good approach is tight-lining minnows or jigs down to them. Chartreuse- and shad-colored artificials typically work well. Bring extras, as the trees will probably claim their share. Just as with bass fishing, you will need an outfit a notch heavier than for open-water fishing. Bump up to a medium-action spinning outfit and 8-lb. test line so that when you hook a slab you can get it out of the cover. Trolling can also work in the open water near the dam. You should be able to work double-rigged, 1/32-oz. jigheads at about 0.9 or 1.0 miles per hour in most of that area. Experiment with speeds and jig-head weights until you get it dialed in. Straight-tailed artificials often work best for vertical presentations, while curly tailed lures are usually best for trolling.
The lake produces some quality catfish, as well. A great method for them is to use cut or whole baitfish fished deep under a float or on the bottom. Most catfish caught with this method are in the 2- to 5-lb. range. Worms, chicken livers and shrimp will fool their share of smaller catfish. A good quality medium- or medium-heavy action outfit will handle most of the catfish. A 2/0 or 3/0 kahle hook is a good choice for the business end.
If you do not have a boat, Ocmulgee PFA is a great destination for you. There are plenty of bank-fishing opportunities, including fishing piers and berms, as well as lots of clear shoreline from which you may fish.
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