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Rock Banks, Bluffs For Bartletts Bass

Dennis Hudson marks a map for November bass.

Ronnie Garrison | October 31, 2019

You can catch spots and largemouth all month at Bartletts Ferry—also known as Lake Harding—on a few simple-to-fish patterns. Anglers can run deep rocky banks and steep bluffs that drop fast into deep water to catch bass on a variety of baits from the dam to Blanton Creek up the river.

Bartletts Ferry is an old lake on the Chattahoochee River north of Phenix City. It is lined with docks and rocky banks, with a few big creeks feeding the river. Spotted bass have just about taken over the lake, but there are some good largemouth to be caught in the lake. The largemouth seemed to be making a comeback until most of the hydrilla was sprayed and killed a couple of years ago.

The river usually has a little stain, and current from power generation at West Point Lake upstream and the Bartletts Ferry dam makes both species bite. The creeks and main lake from Halawaka Creek to the dam are usually the clearest parts of the lake, and spotted bass are much more prevalent in that area.

Dennis Hudson lives a few miles from the lake and has been fishing it for 35 years. He runs and fishes a weekly tournament called the “Lazy Man” tournament, and Dennis also fishes other charity and pot tournaments on the lake and does well. He and his son are leading the No Name Bass Club points standings this year. Last year in his annual Black Friday tournament, he and his son won with 19 pounds, a weight that also shows how good November fishing can be.

The last Saturday in September, Dennis and his son won his weekly tournament with five bass weighing 13.4 pounds, anchored by a 4.5-lb. largemouth. They were using the patterns and places featured in this article. The big fish in the tournament was 5-12, and the top-three teams all had over 10 pounds.

Dennis Hudson with a largemouth—not what Bartletts Ferry is most known for these days as spotted bass have become the dominant catch. This bass hit a crankbait for Dennis at location No. 9.

“In November, the spots and largemouth feed on bluff banks where they can move vertically,” Dennis said.

The Bartletts Ferry bass are eating shad, bream and crawfish, feeding heavily ahead of the cold winter months. They will hit a variety of baits all month long on these types of places.

Ready for fishing Bartletts Ferry in November, Dennis will have a topwater bait, jig ’n pig, shaky head, ChatterBait, rattle bait, squarebill crankbait and a deeper-running crankbait. He can cover the water column on deep banks from top to bottom with this lineup of baits.

We fished the last week of September, and Dennis landed a limit of spots and largemouth weighing about 8 pounds. He had warned me that fishing would be tough after the lake level had dropped about 4 feet in the past few days due to the fall drawdown. Idlehour Ramp was not usable.

By the following weekend the water had stabilized and fishing was much better, as his tournament catch showed.

The lake will be full and stable now, and fishing will be good.

The following 10 locations were already good a month ago and holding some fish, and they will be much better throughout the month of November.

No. 1. N 32º 40.798 – W 85º 05.706 — There are two big creeks on the Georgia side of the lake near the dam. The upstream one has a boat club in it on a point where the creek splits. An island sits in the mouth of the creek on the downstream side.

Go to the river side of the island. Here it is rocky and drops fast into deep water. There are stumps along it, especially on the flatter upstream end. Start near the upstream end of the island, and fish a topwater bait along the entire outside bank.

Your boat will be in 30 feet of water a short cast off the bank. Dennis likes a white or black Whopper Plopper 90 for numbers of fish, but if he is after a kicker fish, he goes with the 110 size. Cast it right on the bank, and run it steadily back to the boat. Watch for stumps and run your topwater bait over them.

On the steeper downstream end, follow up with a crankbait, jig ’n pig or shaky head. The jig is better for bigger fish, but a shaky head will catch numbers, especially spots. We landed several small spots here.

No. 2: N 32º 40.336 – W 85º 05.491 — A big bay is downstream of location No. 1 and before the bigger creek right at the dam. On the downstream point of the bay, a narrow rocky point runs way out. There is a single small tree on it. The water is 70 feet deep here just off the bank.

Start fishing on the end of the point, running a topwater over it and a deeper running bait across it. Then work into the bay. Fish to the big house with the terraced yard inside the creek. This whole bank drops fast and has rock and wood cover on it.

Dennis likes to fish moving baits first, like a crankbait, bladed jig or rattlebait. He will switch often to see what the bass prefer. His favorite squarebill crankbait is locally made, but a Strike King 1.0 to 2.0 works well. He will vary the size and color to see what the bass want that day. Crawfish or shad colors are generally best, and he likes some chartreuse in them. We caught some small fish here.

No. 3: N 32º 39.928 – W 85º 05.237 — On the Georgia side at the dam, a channel with danger markers in it goes to the turbine on that side. When power is being generated, fish stack up on the dam side point and feed. When no current is moving, you can still catch them here, but the bite is slower.

With current, run a topwater, crankbait, rattlebait or bladed jig with the current. A 1/2-oz. white bladed jig with a white trailer imitates shad the bass feed on when the water is moving. Fish all around the point.

When current is slack, bump the bottom with a deeper crankbait or drag a jig ’n pig or shaky head on it. Fish all over the point, fishing out to 25 feet deep. There is a log in the mouth of the channel out from the markers. Fish around the log, too.

No. 4: N 32º 40.723 – W 85º 04.722 — Go back into the creek right at the dam on the Georgia side. There is an island in the back near the condos. A powerline crosses a smaller creek on the north side of the island.

Go back to the powerlines, and start fishing on the right bank. There are several pockets, flat points and wood cover bank in this area. Dennis runs his topwater over all the top of the cover, hitting shady areas later in the day, and then he works the area with a jig and shaky head. We caught several fish here.

Hit the very back ends of pockets and coves. Bass will run shad back in them and feed on bream and crawfish. Dennis says this small creek has the heaviest concentration of shad anywhere on the lake this month, and that pulls the bass in.

No. 5: N 32º 40.704 – W 85º 06.275 — Going up the river to a big island on your left on the Alabama side of the lake. The river side drops almost straight off to very deep water, especially near the upstream end of the island. The rocks on this bluff are the kind of place Dennis likes this month, and the wood cover on it helps.

Keep your boat a cast off the bank, and try topwater first. Then work your jig ’n pig or shaky head from the bank down to 30 feet deep. Fish it extremely slowly—if you move it more than an inch or so, it will swing out from the rocks and miss fish holding in the crevices in them.

Dennis says he usually catches spotted bass here, but some are big ones, and largemouth will feed here, too. If you catch a largemouth, Dennis says you are likely to find largemouth on other similar places.

No. 6: N 32º 41.402 – W 85º 08.852 — Bridges are always good in November, and all three in Halawaka Creek provide pinch points where shad moving up and down the creek are concentrated. The first one on Highway 379, locally known as “Long Bridge,” is his favorite, but the old railroad trestle, as well as the Highway 279 bridge way up the creek, are also good.

Dennis said bridges are good places for numbers of fish, especially spots. He fishes a shaky head on the pilings and rip-rap and a crankbait, rattlebait or bladed jig on the rocks. He rigs a green-pumpkin Zoom Trick Worm on a 1/8- to 3/16-oz. ball head like the Strike King Pro.

On the pilings, cast right beside it and let the worm sink on slack line so it stays right by the piling. Watch for any tick or change in the fall of your line. If you notice anything, set the hook. Also pay attention to the current and wind and where you get bites. The fish may set up on the upwind and current side some days but on the eddy side downstream on other days.

On the rocks, bounce your bladed jig, rattlebait and squarebill off the rocks, and then follow up with a shaky head. Work the corners and sides of the bridge. The fish concentrate on the corners but feed down the sides, too.

No. 7: N 32º 42.156 – W 85º 07.143 — Going up the river from Halawaka Creek, past the first cove on the left. There is a high bluff bank with a big house on it on your left. There is a triple-deck dock on the downstream side of it, and shear rocks drop straight down to 30 feet deep.

Start on the downstream side, and fish to the upstream side where it goes back into a narrow cove. Try topwater, casting right to the edge of the rocks, especially where there is shade. Then work a crankbait along the rocks.

The author, Ronnie Garrison, caught a 5-lb. flathead catfish at location No. 7 while fishing a Texas-rigged stick bait.

Try a squarebill against the shallow rocks, but also run a deeper running crankbait like a Norman Deep Little N parallel to the rocks. Dennis says his son catches some good bass on deeper crankbaits fishing this way. He will also fish a 1/2- to 3/4-oz. rattlebait along the rocks, varying the depth and speed. He likes the bigger baits for bigger bites.

Bump a jig or shaky head down the face of the rocks, too. Dennis says a jig ’n pig catches bigger fish. He likes an All-Terrain black and blue 3/8-to 1/2-oz. jig with a matching Zoom chunk on it. Keep is on the rocks as the bottom falls straight down.

Dennis got a nice keeper spot here, and I was working a Texas-rigged stick bait. He said they caught some good flatheads here, and right then I got a hard thump straight under the boat. I said, “That felt like one,” and sure enough I set the hook on a 5-pounder that Dennis invited home for dinner.

No. 8: N 32º 43.482 – W 85º 07.007 — Go upstream where the river splits and then comes back together and narrows down. There is a line of docks on your right that sit on a steep bank. There are rocks and wood cover around them.

Dennis tries a topwater by the dock posts and between the docks. He also fishes his other baits here, bumping the posts with a squarebill and pitching a jig or shaky head under the docks. Current moving down this bank is often concentrated since the river is narrow here and it is an outside bend. Current here and at all other places on Bartletts Ferry helps the November bass bite.

No. 9: N 32º 43.845 – W 85 06.725 — Upstream of the docks on the same side is a small cut. Just past it another good bluff bank runs up to the next cut. There are mud flats on either end of the bluff, but the rocks run for about 100 yards and drop to about 20 feet deep. Fish it like the others, working a topwater first and then a crankbait, shaky head and jig ’n pig.

Dennis got his best fish here the day when we fished, a 2-lb. largemouth that hit his crankbait. I caught a keeper spot here on a shaky head. We also got several other bites on a variety of baits, and Dennis kept changing baits every few casts to offer them a different look, something he does often in tournaments.

No. 10: N 32º 44.381 – W 85º 06.833 — For a change of pace, go to Blanton Creek. We could not get into it with the water down, but with it back up now, shad will move into Blanton, and the bass will follow.

Start on the left bank just inside the creek, and fish all the way around it. All your baits will work here, but the water is shallow in most areas. Dennis’s key areas are near the campground and boat ramp, since the water is deeper here. But he said fish will feed all around the creek.

Check out these and similar places this month to catch spots and largemouth at Bartletts. Experiment with different baits to see what they are hitting best that day.

 

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