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Oconee Bass Still Shallow And Chowing

10 locations where seawalls and docks produce August bites.

Ronnie Garrison | August 3, 2017

If you like catching shallow summertime bass, Lake Oconee is the place to fish in August. The lake is lined with docks in most areas, and there are many grassbeds and seawalls that hold shallow bass all summer.

Lake Oconee is an almost 19,000-acre Georgia Power Co. lake northeast of Eatonton on the Oconee River. Its dam is at the upper end of Sinclair, and the headwaters are north of I-20. The lake gets very crowded on summer weekends, and wake boats and cruisers make it very rough. But the bass seem to lake crashing waves, making them feed even more on some rough and busy days.

Brad Stalnaker grew up in Milledgeville and started fishing Oconee with his dad when he was very young. Brad’s dad, Mike, is a well-known tournament fisherman in the area and competed on the Redman trail. The two of them fished as a team in local tournaments, and Mike taught Brad how to catch bass under all conditions on Oconee. Brad’s two favorite ways to fish are working the banks—seawalls and grass—and flipping docks. Those two patterns have helped him do well in tournaments he fishes now, like the Berry’s Trail, 100% tournaments and the pot tournaments put on by John Duval.

Brad is also fishing the BFL Bulldog and South Carolina trails, and he competes in some of the Costa tournaments. With his dad’s help over the years, Brad has learned to catch fish under most conditions. And after fishing on many other lakes over the years, Oconee is still his favorite lake.

“There are always some quality bass feeding around the grass and rocks on seawalls, and they also hold under docks,” Brad said.

He says you can catch deeper bass on Oconee, but Brad likes catching shallow fish, and that pattern wins tournaments for him.

“You don’t need a lot of baits in August on Oconee,” Brad said.

He will have a buzzbait and frog to fish rip-rap, seawalls and docks, and he’ll also use a Texas-rigged Magnum Trick Worm and a jig for the docks. As a back-up, he will also have a floating Trick Worm, a Whopper Plopper and a Pop-R to try and entice bites.

Brad took me to Oconee in late June on a very rainy day to show me where and how he catches fish. The weather was perfect for the grassbeds and seawalls all day, and even though it was cloudy, bass were also feeding around docks in these 10 locations.

No. 1: N 33º 22.891 – W 83º 12.502 — Going upstream from the Long Shoals ramp, the first big creek on your left is a good place to start your day. As you go into the creek, there is a grey house with a blue-topped dock on the right just inside the creek. Start at the dock, and fish out toward the mouth of the creek and around the small pocket downstream of the dock.

This is typical of the kind of place Brad looks for this time of year. The dock and seawall have water that drops off into deeper water. The deep water does not have to be right on the seawall, but it needs to be close to it, so the bass can move in and out quickly to feed.

Get in close to the seawall, and run a buzzbait right on it. Most seawalls, no matter what they are made of, have rip-rap on them. The rocks may be completely underwater, and they run out a couple of feet from the wall. Bass like to hold right where the rocks end and look for bait on the rocks, so keep your buzzbait in close so it will be over the rocks.

When you get to a dock like this one, run your buzzbait along both sides, the back and the front. Also skip a frog under the dock. Then skip a jig or big worm under it. Brad said while skipping a frog under a dock in the Berry’s Classic it sounded like a bomb went off when a bass hit his frog.

Fish any grass as you go around the pocket out to the main-lake point. Run your buzzbait through it if it is thin enough. Throw a frog into it if it is thick.

No. 2: N 33º 23.309 – W 83º 11.528 — Running down the lake there is a long point on your right where the river makes a sharp turn to the right. There are grassbeds on the upstream side of this point as it goes back into a pocket that has grass, seawalls and docks that hold August bass.

Start at the blue-topped dock on the left side going into the pocket. Fish grass and seawalls with a buzzbait and frog. Brad likes a 1/4-oz. black Picasso Dinner Bell buzzbait, and he makes sure the blade ticks on the wire for a clicking sound. For a popping frog, black or natural colors are his choices.

Fish the docks as you come to them, fishing with topwater and skipping your other baits under them. Brad says with both a jig and Texas rig it is extremely important to watch your line as your bait sinks, since the bass are often suspended and hit the bait on the fall.

He says many fishermen don’t know they have a bite until they tighten up their line, and that will sometimes make the bass spit the bait. More often it gives the bass time to get around a dock post. Be ready to set the hook on any tick or sideways movement of your line.

No. 3: N 33º 23.328 – W 83º 11.392 — Go around the long point, and stop on the big grassbed just inside it on the downstream side. Fish the grass along the point going into a small pocket on this side. Brad says he fishes all grass, but the smaller patches are better since bass will be more concentrated in the small area.

Fish the docks, too. Brad caught two bass on his buzzbait here the day we fished. The first one hit right at the boat, but he said the bass had hit at it twice before he hooked it. When a bass hits at your buzzbait, keep it moving until you feel the fish. If you jerk it, you will often miss the fish, and that will eliminate any follow-up hits from the bass.

Fish downstream around the small point that goes into another pocket that has a couple of docks in it. Also try the bank downstream of the pocket, going out to the next point. The bank has overhanging brush and trees that shade the bank on sunny days. Fish pockets of shade like this with a buzzbait and frog when the sun is bright.

No. 4: N 33º 22.730 – W 83º 11.085 — Going down the river there is a small island on your right. The point going out to it has grassbeds and big rocks on it as it goes back into the cove. There are docks in it, too. Start at the outside grassbed, and fish into the cove.

By the time we fished here, Brad had figured out the bass were not in the backs of deeper pockets. They were on the outside edges of them. There were some farther back in the very short pockets like in Hole 3 but not in the deeper ones. It is important to try all areas until the bass show you where they are holding, so fish back into deeper pockets to find out.

Brad picked up his unweighted Trick Worm as we fished by a big rock on this bank and cast it to the grass. He got a bass on it as it passed a big rock. Brad likes a bright color, so he and the fish can see it. He twitches it under the surface deep enough that he can see it to watch for hits.

No. 5: N 33º 22.407 – W 83º 10.868 — Go around the small island and the next bigger one downstream. There is a small creek just downstream of the second island. Start on the upstream point of it, and work upstream toward the point leading out to the bigger island.

There are grassbeds here that are very good, and big rocks are under water where the bass hold. The seawall on the point is also a good feeding area. Work all of them with frog and buzzbait. Run your buzzbait as slowly as you can. Brad sometimes pops his buzzbait a little and says that sometimes triggers a strike. Try different things until you hit the pattern for that day.

No. 6: N 33º 21.401 – W 83º 10.654 — Farther downstream, there is a big creek on your right, the biggest on this side. Go into the creek to the rock shelf running off the bank on the left side. There is a warning sign on the rocks. Start at the rocks, and fish out. There are good grassbeds on the bank here.

Rocks and grass are usually a good combination, whether on seawalls or places like this one where there are big boulders. Watch for small differences in the grass like a point or channel going into it, and focus your casts on them. Bass like changes like these as ambush points, and they will hold on them.

No. 7: N 33º 21.372 – W 83º 10.406 — Going back out toward the main lake, there is a narrow pocket on your right with a metal dock in it. Grassbeds are on both sides of the dock, and Brad says these are some of the deepest grassbeds on the lake. Fish them with a buzzbait and frog, and work the dock, too.

Brad works his popping frog with a walk-the-dog action, as well as popping it. This combination of actions seems to draw more strikes most days. He fishes both the frog and buzzbait on braid, so he can get bass out of the grass if they tangle up. If the grass is too thick to fish a buzzbait through it, run it right along the outside edge, and then fish your frog back in the grass. Small holes in the grass are a focus. Work your frog to the holes, and then pause in the open area. Try the back sides of the grass if there is an opening between it and the bank.

No. 8: N 33º 21.659 – W 83º 10.519 — Go back across the mouth of the creek to the upstream point. On the main-lake side, there are grassbeds, big rocks and docks that line the bank. There are several small pockets along this bank. This area is always good, and if the bass are concentrating on the shorter pockets, this is an even better location.

Start at the first grassbed on the outside of the point, and fish upstream. Brad says he will work this bank while fishing all the cover. He will keep fishing up the bank as long as he is getting bites. He will fish it all the way to the point where there are danger markers way off the bank, which mark a hump with big boulders on it.

No. 9: N 33º 22.906 – W 83º 12.776 — Run back up the river past the Long Shoals ramp and the small creek at Hole No. 1. The first fairly long pocket on your left has a rip-rap bank with a seawall on the downstream side. It runs down to a very small pocket, and there are docks downstream of that pocket. There is one dock inside the upstream point of the rip-rap, but back in the pocket there are a lot of docks.

Brad will start on the first dock downstream of the small pocket downstream of the rip-rap and fish upstream. Work the dock, and then hit the seawall behind it. Cast topwater right to the bank in the small pocket, and then run your buzzbait along the rip-rap on the bank where there is no dock.

Don’t hesitate to try your buzzbait even in bright sun. Brad says bass will often hit it on these walls even when the sun is on them. It helps to have a little ripple on the water from wind.

Fish into and around the pocket upstream of the rip-rap, especially if fish are holding in longer pockets. This one has very deep water in it, and the right bank going in is steeper.

No. 10: N 33º 22.589 – W 83º 13.304 — Farther upstream on your left there is a small double cove, and then there is a big round rip-rap point with a red cabin on it. It is just downstream of a narrow creek that runs back on the outside bend of river.

Start on the point at the red cabin, fishing the rip-rap on it. Work downstream into the double cove. The right bank going in is fairly steep and has good cover and some shade on it. Fish all the way to the docks in the back of this small pocket. If fish are in this pocket, it is worth your time to fish the next one, too.

We caught a half-dozen keepers and about 20 short fish the rainy day we fished these places. Brad got one quality fish and the other keepers from a grassbed on his buzzbait that day. That is his confidence bait every day.

Check out these places, and there are many similar ones where you can fish Brad’s pattern and baits.

Editor’s Note: Visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series to get an eBook or CD with a Map of the Month article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

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