Fish Rock Near Deeper Water For January Lake Blackshear Bass

Those cypress trees and grassbeds are tempting, but focus on rock near deeper water this time of year.

Ronnie Garrison | December 23, 2022

Lonnie Stripling with a big Blackshear bass caught at location No. 3, a section of the railroad causeway rip-rap.

Blackshear is full of tempting targets. Cypress trees run for miles, and there are grassbeds everywhere. But in January, anglers should bypass that good-looking cover and look instead for rocks near deep water to catch Lake Blackshear bass. You don’t have to run all over the lake to find rock if you know where to look.

Lake Blackshear is an 8,500-acre, 20-mile-long Crisp County Power Commission reservoir on the Flint River between Cordele and Americus. Blackshear has a good population of largemouth, and more shoal bass are showing up on the main lake in recent years.

Lonnie Stripling lives in Fitzgerald and has been fishing all his life, trying to catch anything that would bite, often in the Altamaha River. His dad fished club tournaments, and Lonnie started tournament fishing with him as soon as he could. Lonnie now fishes with the Central Georgia Bass Club and enters many local tournaments. He also runs a Saturday night tournament on Blackshear during the summer.

This year Lonnie placed fourth in the Georgia Bass Federation Nation Top Six tournament at West Point. He was joined on the state team by club members and brothers Michael Wilder, who placed first, and Christopher Wilder, who finished in fifth place.

Lonnie fishes Blackshear often, competing in club tournaments and the trail he runs, as well as just fun fishing. He has learned where the bass live year-round and how to catch them.

“Rocks are as key in January, and those near deep water hold fish the best,” Lonnie said.

Some obvious rocks are along bridge rip-rap, and Lonnie says all Blackshear bridges are good in January. But some spots on the bridges are key places to catch January bass. Some rocks are hidden unless the water is down and are harder to find.

For January bass fishing on Blackshear, Lonnie will have an A-rig, swimbait, jerkbait, jig, shaky head, crankbait, Carolina rig and Ned rig ready to fish varying conditions. Some structure and covers favor one bait, while different water and weather conditions will favor others.

We fished the following 10 spots on a cold, cloudy, windy day a few weeks ago. The water was down about 5 feet, making the rocks easier to spot, but the low water also makes the lake more dangerous to run, even for someone who knows it well.

All of these places are close to Veterans Park and eliminate a long run if the weather is really cold or if the wind is bad.

No. 1: N 31º 57.593 – W 83º 54.703 — The bridge in Gum Creek is good for the usual reasons—it has rock rip-rap that runs out to the deepest water in the area. The bridge makes a choke point for baitfish moving up and down the creek, offering a great ambush point. In addition, many released bass from tournaments at the ramp make their way to the bridge and hold there. The bass released here after tournaments add to resident bass to increase the numbers of available bass to catch.

Lonnie will position his boat in the channel downstream of the bridge so he can cast to both rip-rap points on that side. Cast a crankbait like a No. 7 perch-colored Shad Rap under the bridge and bump rocks on the way out.

Try your A-rig and jig here, too. You will get hung, however. Not only are there rocks to hang your bait, the area is full of line broken off by bank fishermen. Having a good plug knocker can be worth its weight in plugs.

Fish the gap under the bridge, hitting rocks and pilings. Wind blowing out of the creek will make a current that turns on the bass. After fishing the bridge, probe for rockpiles along the channel back toward the ramp. With the lake down 5 feet, we bumped several idling away from the bridge. These hidden rockpiles will hold bass all month and can be hit with a No. 7 Shad Rap.

No. 2: N 31º 57.531 – W 83º 55.808 — The railroad causeway runs a long way across the main lake to the river channel on the west side of the lake. You may catch fish all along the rocks, but if you go out to where the rocks end and the pilings start, you will increase your odds.

Just downstream of the end of the rocks—out even with the gap cut through the pole pilings—a hole drops off to about 16 feet deep (at full pool). This hole gives the bass a good place to hold and move up to feed quickly.

Stop a long cast from the rocks and pilings and cast your Shad Rap, A-rig and shaky head to the rocks and pilings and work your baits back across the hole to your boat. Lonnie likes a black Trick Worm on a 1/4-oz. head and tries different actions with it in the cold water. Sometimes bass want it moved very slowly, other times bigger hops and shakes will draw more bites.

Wind blowing up or down the lake will move water through the gap and makes the bass bite better. A wind that is coming down the lake is better here since it is easier to set up downwind and move your bait with the water and wind.

No. 3: N 31º 57.556 – W 83º 55.807 — Go under the bridge, being careful to keep your boat away from the pilings since rusty bolts jut out from them. The upper corner of the rip-rap has a good hole on it, and fish use this side the same way as the other. If the wind is blowing up the lake from the south, this side is easier to fish.

There are rockpiles off the edge of the rip-rap, as well as some brushpiles off it. Lonnie has put a couple here himself. Stay a long cast off the corner and cast your crankbait, A-rig and shaky head here.

Lonnie does not have a favorite brand of A-rig, but he likes a five-wire rig with blades ahead of the swim jigs. He puts a fairly big swimbait on the heads and tries to reel is steadily down in the water column.

A jig works well here, too, if you can keep it out of the rocks. Go with a lighter jig to lessen the hang-ups. In the winter, jigs can resemble both crawfish or bream, both favorite foods of Blackshear bass.

Lonnie caught a 6-pounder here on this location last winter.

No. 4: N 31º 57.665 – W 87º 55.632 — Go down the rip-rap about halfway to the bank. A point comes off the rip-rap here and runs out to an old channel swing. If the wind is blowing in on the rocks, fish it with a crankbait or A-rig. If there’s no wind, idle down and start probing for brush.

With the lake down 5 feet, several logs and brushpiles were visible, some way off the rocks. If the lake is up, you may have to find them with electronics and mark them to fish later.

When you find the brush, probe it with shaky head and jig. Lonnie likes a 1/2-oz. black-and-blue Moe’s Jig, which is made in Albany. He puts a blue Paca Craw trailer on it and will dip the tail in chartreuse JJ’s Magic. Lonnie says this is a good area to catch a kicker fish.

Also try a jerkbait around the brush here, as well as around the rocks at the first three locations. A jerkbait worked slowly in cold, clear water will often draw the bite of the biggest bass in the area. Lonnie ties on a shallow-running jerkbait in natural shad or chrome colors and varies his cadence to find what the fish want.

No. 5: N 31º 57.914 – W 83º 55.725 — Go up to the end of the rip-rap on the west side of the Highway 280 bridge. The picture shows the tongue of rock that comes out from the point almost to the first piling. This shallow rock point—5 feet deep at full pool—is an excellent ambush place for January bass.

Fish the rip-rap on both sides of the bridge, working your crankbait, jerkbait, A-rig and shaky head in the rocks and brush on them. Lonnie says bass will pull up on the rocks, especially on sunny days, to feed on shad, bream and crawfish. Those baits allow you to fish different speeds from surface to the bottom.

On all of these places, if the bite it tough, tie on a light Ned head with a 3-inch green-pumpkin Ned worm with the tail dipped in chartreuse JJ’s and work it slowly on the bottom. It will often draw bites when no other bait will work.

On the upstream side there is some rubble from the old bridge—you can see a couple of pipes from it in the hole No. 5 picture. Fish around them carefully. The rubble will cut your line, but it will hold bass. After fishing the point, work up the rip-rap to the big blowdown, especially if that side has some wind blowing in on it.

No. 6: N 31º 57.515 – W 83º 55.995 — Go across the lake and downstream to the line of cypress trees this is even with the end of the rip-rap on the west bank upstream of the railroad causeway. These trees are right along the old river channel, and bridge rubble concrete was dumped along it. Keep your boat in the channel in about 16 feet of water (at full pool) and cast up into 3 to 4 feet of water on the ledge around the trees. Make sure to cast right to the base of the trees when the lake is full to entice any bass holding in the roots.

Work along the river ledge with your crankbait, either a Shad Rap or Frittside in crawfish or red. Red works especially good in stained water. Try to bump the bottom hitting any rubble as you come off the ledge. Follow up by casting a Carolina rig up on the ledge, and move it slowly so it stays on the bottom of the steep drop.

To keep his bait on the bottom, Lonnie likes a 1-oz. sinker 3 feet ahead of a green-pumpkin Trick Worm. He will usually dip the tail in chartreuse JJ’s Magic for added attraction. The big sinker will get hung in the rubble, but you need it to keep your bait on the bottom, especially if wind is blowing.

No. 7: N 31º 56.846 – W 83º 55.391 — Run down the river past Boy Scout Slough and the park. The river channel swings in to the bank at a flat point where there are two docks with a big cypress tree between them. The bank slopes gradually, and then drops quickly into deep water in the channel. Stop out from the upstream dock and start fishing downstream.

There is some gravel on the bottom at these two docks, and there are more and bigger rocks as you fish downstream. Lonnie will start with a swimbait, pitching it under the docks and swimming it by each post. He puts a 3- or 4-inch swimbait on a 1/4-oz. head and tries to run it right beside the posts and over the rocks.

You can also run a crankbait under the docks or slow down with your shaky head and jig. If the bass are not active, go to slower-moving baits to give the bass more time to hit.

No. 8: N 31º 55.468 – W 83º 55.114 — Lincoln Pinch is the next big creek on the east side of the river. Go past it and watch for a small ditch between a gray house and dock on the upstream side and a blue house and dock with a screened-in room on the downstream side. There were two chairs on the dock the day we fished, a red one and a blue one.

The water drops very quickly on the bank under the docks, and there are a lot of rocks and a good bit of brush under and around them. Start on the upstream side of the ditch and fish downstream, hitting every dock and brushpile you see with swimbait, crankbait, jig and shaky head.

Watch your depthfinder, and when you come to the cement seawall with 10 feet of water a few feet out from it, get in close and run your jerkbait and A-rig parallel to the wall. Lonnie says bass push shad up against this seawall, and it is a good place to catch some fish.

No. 9: N 31º 55.291 – W 83º 55.118 — Keep fishing downstream if you are getting bites. If you’re not getting bit, idle down to the two-story blue house with a white upper deck and a paved private ramp out front. This is a key place on the bank, with deep water just off it, concrete blocks and rubble in the water and the ramp and seawall to fish.

Sit out in 10 to 12 feet of water and cast your jerkbait, crankbait and A-rig to the seawall. Fish those baits back over the cover from the seawall out to 10 feet deep. Follow up with your shaky-head, jig and Ned rig, bumping every rock and stick you can hit. Fish the structure here slowly and carefully.

With the water up, bass will hold right beside both sides of the ramp and out on the end where it drops. Drag your shaky head and jig along the ramp and let them fall off both sides and the end.

No. 10: N 31º 57.657 – W 83º 55.224 — Go back to the mouth of Gum Creek to the group of six big cypress trees that are off the bank on the downstream point. They are growing on a slight hump with water a little deeper water around them.

This area gets restocked from tournaments at both the old and new ramps at the park. Fish around the clump of trees, pitching a jig or shaky head right against the trunk and letting them fall into the roots. Fish these baits out slowly.

After fishing these trees, go to the ones on the bank past them and fish those trees going into the creek. Lonnie says many tournament fishermen will come here and make some casts before weigh-in, so consider fishing this location early if there’s a tournament.

These places are all good for January bass. Try them to see the kinds of places Lonnie fishes this time of year and try his baits, or try your favorites to set your pattern. Then you can find similar places on other areas of the lake.

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