Pound Pockets For Lake Oconee November Bass

Here's a map with 10 GPS locations to set your November pattern on Oconee.

Ronnie Garrison | November 5, 2009

Last year’s BASS Federation Nation Top Six state champ, Robert Richardson, with an Oconee bass caught during a recent trip with the author.

At Oconee the shad are moving into the pockets, and the bass follow and feed aggressively.

If you are a bass fisherman, you have to love November. The weather is usually decent for fishing, the bass are shallow and feeding, and there are few other fishermen and pleasure boaters on the water. All that leads to good fishing, and Lake Oconee is one of the best bets to hit this month.

Lake Oconee is an 18,791-acre Georgia Power lake on the Oconee River in middle Georgia. Dammed in 1979, it is a very popular lake with pleasure boaters and fishermen. The lake is ringed with expensive houses and golf courses, and in some sections there is standing timber that was left during construction.

The heavy rains we had at the end of September and again in mid-October had Oconee high and muddy during October, but it should be clearing some now. But Oconee is always somewhat stained over much of the lake, and that does not seem to bother the bass much. The water level changes about a foot daily from power generation dropping it during the day, and pump-back at the dam brings it up to full most nights.

Robert Richardson is a life-long resident of Palmetto and also a life-long fisherman. In 1989 he fished a bass tournament with his father and loved the competitive element of bass fishing. For several years he fished the non-boater side of the Top 150 and BASS Opens and got to fish with, and learn from, some of the biggest names in bass fishing, like Kevin Van Dam and Denny Brauer.

Back problems slowed Robert down some, but he has fished with a couple of clubs and is now a member of Line Creek Bass Club. He has won two Georgia Federation Nation Bass Federation Top Six tournaments (BASS affiliated) in the past few years, including the one last November at Lake Oconee.

The BASS Federation Nation Top Six last November was tough, with a severe cold front coming through. But Robert managed to bring in nine bass weighing almost 27 pounds in two days. He also had big fish in the tournament. His patterns and methods that worked in that tournament work every November and can help you catch bass at Oconee.

Robert is a pattern fisherman, not a hole fisherman. He goes out in practice to find the bass. At Oconee in November, he does that by finding the shad. If you find concentrations of shad, bass will be nearby and will feed on the baitfish some time during the day, even under bad conditions.

Robert says he’s a pattern fisherman. With the shad in the pockets this month, it’s a perfect time for a spinnerbait and crankbait pattern to catch bass that are feeding heavily before winter.

The best area of Oconee to find bass this month, according to Robert, is from Sugar Creek to Redlands Access. He will go into pockets and creeks, looking for schools of shad. They may be dimpling the surface and even jumping out of the water, or he may find them balled up on his depthfinder.

“You can watch the schools of shad as they move in the pockets during the day,” Robert said.

The shad will often move from the mouths of pockets early in the morning back into the pockets later in the day. During the Top Six last November, the best fishing was about midway back into the pockets.

A 1/2- or 3/4-oz. Red Eye Shad in sexy shad or gold is Robert’s first choice of baits for Oconee bass this time of year. That bait imitates the food the bass are eating, and it can be fished a variety of ways.

Also keep rigged and ready a Strike King chartreuse-and-white spinnerbait with one silver and one gold blade. Robert likes one Indiana blade and one Colorado blade on his bait rather than a willowleaf. It makes more commotion in the water than the willowleaf.
Follow up with a Bandit crankbait in shad colors, and also have a jig ’n pig ready to work in thick cover, and you can hit anything that might hold bass as they follow the shad and feed. These baits allow you to fish at different speeds and different depths, too.
“The water here is always stained to muddy,” Robert said.

The fish are used to it and still feed. And if it is dropping, Robert says they will still be shallow but will hold closer to cover, waiting on shad to come to them.

Weather can change a lot in November, and Robert says it really does not affect the way he fishes. He likes some wind blowing into a pocket or creek to make the fish bite better.

Robert showed me the following eight spots he will fish in November. They are where he fished when he won the Top Six last year.

No. 1: N 33º 29.688 – W 83º 18.522 — Run to the back of Sugar Creek, and take the right fork. Go back until you pass a green-canvas-covered boat dock and a metal boathouse on your right. The point just past it is where you want to start fishing. You will see two PVC pipes in the water near the bank on the upstream side of the point and an old broken-down dock on the same side.

Keep your boat out 50 feet off the bank, and cast to it with a Red Eye Shad or a spinnerbait. Work the Red Eye Shad back with a pumping motion, letting it rise and fall all the way back to the boat. You will have to keep it moving since the water is only a few feet deep, but Robert says you’re looking for feeding bass that will chase it.

Watch for the shad. If you don’t see evidence of the baitfish, don’t spend much time here. If there are shad in the area, fish on back along the bank until you stop seeing shad or catching bass, and then turn and go back over the area. Bass will move in to feed on the shad.

No. 2: N 33º 28.318 – W 83º 18.522 — Robert says there are always bass on the rip-rap at the Sugar Creek bridge. Tournaments at the nearby marina constantly re-stock the area, and the rocks at the bridge offer a good spot for bass to hold and feed. All four sides and corners hold fish, but Robert’s favorite is from the bridge to the bank on the Sugar Creek Marina boat-ramp side.

Work the rocks with all your baits. You can fish the Red Eye Shad yo-yoing it off the rocks, but you will get hung up. Slow-roll the spinnerbait just over the rocks. Fish the Bandit crankbait at different speeds and angles to cover the rocks. And work your jig ’n pig along the rocks at different depths. The fish are here; you just have to get them to hit.

No. 3: N 33º 27.584 – W 83º 17.043 — Run to the mouth of Sugar Creek, and stop on the right side on the upstream point of the last pocket on that side. It is where the big field comes down to the water. Start out on the point, and work into the cove, fishing the right bank and watching for shad. The bait will tell you what area of the cove to fish. One of Robert’s best fish in the Top Six came from this point.

When you get back into the cove, you will see stumps and some PVC pipe marking others you can’t see. There is also some brush here. Robert will run his spinnerbait by and through wood cover, and then follow it up with the jig ’n pig.

Wind blowing into this and other coves really helps. Wind will concentrate the baitfish and make a ripple on the water, making it harder for the bass to get a good look at your bait.

Robert usually fishes the right bank going in and will come back out that same bank if shad are in the cove. He tries to follow the channel and fish the stumps on it near the back.

No. 4: N 33º 28.597 – W 83º 15.946 — Run across the river and slightly upstream, and look for a small creek just downstream of the golf course over there. Go into this creek carefully; there is standing timber out in it. Start fishing on the right bank, and work back, watching for shad. This is the pocket where most of Robert’s bass hit in the Top Six last fall. Fish it like the pocket in hole No. 3, working the bank with your Red Eye Shad and then hitting any wood cover with a jig ’n pig. If the shad are in there, the bass will be, too.

There are a lot of stumps here, and bass will hold tight to them if the water is dropping. If shad are in the area but you are not getting hit, try running your spinnerbait up to a stump and letting it fall right beside it. Also pitch your jig ’n pig to stumps, and slowly work all sides of them.

No. 5: N 33º 29.098 – W 83º 16.177 — Run upstream past the golf course to the next creek above it. There is a pasture on the upstream side and some houses, while the downstream point is wooded with no houses.

You want to fish the left bank going in. Let the shad tell you how far in to go to start, but if you are not seeing shad, start at the little cove on the left with the brown-shingle boat shed in it. There is also an old dock near the point, and there isn’t a house behind the boat shed and old dock.

There is a good bit of overhanging brush on this bank, so it is a good place to pitch a spinnerbait right on the bank and work it back. Fish to the back where it gets very shallow. If the lake is full, there will be some grass in the water to fish, too.

Wind often blows into this cove, and that really makes it better as long as the wind isn’t too strong to allow you to fish it. Wave action will stir up the water and create a current that makes baitfish move in and feed.

No. 6: N 33º 32.041 – W 83º 16.330 — Run all the way to the I-20 bridge, and go into the pocket on the right just downstream of it. Start out near the point and bridge, and fish into the pocket on the left bank. There are rocks all along here that hold fish.

This bank is a little deeper than the others and is a good place to try your Bandit crankbait. Also work a jig ’n pig through the rocks. With the Red Eye Shad, let it fall a little more when you pump it back to get it deeper.

In the very back of the pocket there is a pipe coming under the interstate, and you can often find water running in here. That makes it better. Work the grass all around the back, and also concentrate on the wood that has washed in back here.

No. 7: N 33º 32.630 – W 83º 16.640 — Go under the I-20 bridge, and start fishing the rip-rap on the upstream side of the right point going up. Robert will work down this rip-rap all the way to the bank. Shad often stack up on these rocks in November, and bass will be there feeding on them.

Robert likes to get in pretty close to the rocks and fish his baits back at a sharp angle to keep them in the strike zone as long as possible. You can vary your angle depending on where the bass are hitting. Most of your strikes are likely to come in 5 feet of water or less, so stay in close so your bait stays in that depth.

Work all your baits here. Some days bass seem to want a bait moving faster than on other days, and sometimes the flash of a spinnerbait turns them on, while other days it seems to turn them off. To really slow down, reel a crankbait so it dives to the bottom, and then crawl it along the rocks. This often will draw strikes if the water is cold, especially late in the month. Try all four of your baits, and let the bass tell you what they want.

No. 8: N 33º 21 823 – W 83º 16.463 — Leave the rip-rap, and idle carefully upstream. You will be going through a patch of standing timber with stumps you can see and many more just under the water. Watch your depthfinder. The water is 9 to 10 feet deep and then comes up on a flat toward the point of the next cove. Keep your boat well off the bank, and make long casts toward it to cover this flat. Bass will often stack up on it to feed on shad. Work it all the way to the next creek, trying a variety of different baits and retrieves. When you get to the pocket, you can cross the mouth of it and try the left bank going in, too. There are a couple of good grassbeds on this bank, and shad will often feed around the grass and draw the bass to them.

Give Robert’s spots a try, and use baits he likes. But remember, you must find the pattern the bass are on. Pay attention to details to figure out the fish. If you do, you will get on good fish this month.


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