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Running Pockets, Ambush Points Fall Bass On West Point

It's a great time to be bass fishing on West Point. The shad are moving shallow, and the bass are feeding aggressively. Here are 10 proven locations for October bass.

Ronnie Garrison | October 1, 2009

Bass fishermen love October. Cool days and the disappearance of skiers and pleasure boaters make fishing fun again. Plus, many sportsmen are now spending time in the woods. This time of year we can actually be the first to fish a hole after sunrise. And best of all, the bass are responding to the cooling water by feeding and are much easier to catch. West Point Lake is an excellent place to take advantage of this great October fishing.

West Point is a Corps of Engineers lake on the Chattahoochee River on the Georgia and Alabama line. Access is good with many public boat ramps and campgrounds. Two big marinas offer full services and popular bass tournament trails. Almost every weekend there is some kind of bass tournament, from local pot tournaments to regional trails. And there seem to be at least three or four bass-club tournaments every weekend, too.

Tournament results over the years have made West Point Lake a favorite lake for the author, Ronnie Garrison. Here, Ronnie holds a big West Point spotted bass, which are becoming more prevalent every year in the lake.

There is a reason West Point is so popular. The lake is full of quality largemouths and teems with spotted bass. Fishermen who concentrate on the lake and learn its secrets regularly bring in 20-lb. stringers of largemouths, and the spots seem to cooperate even after a hard cold front slows the largemouth bite down. West Point offers a wide variety of cover and structure to fish, too.

I started fishing West Point when it was filled in the late 1970s, and I fish it often. The two bass clubs I’m in both fish it two or three times each year.

By late September, the water temperature is starting to drop, and two things happen to make fishing more fun and productive. Shad start moving toward the coves and creeks, and bass set up to ambush them. The bass get more active in the cooler water, holding more shallow and chasing bait. You can locate good schools of fish and catch a lot of them.
Humps and points near the mouths of creeks are ideal places for bass to ambush these migrating shad. You can catch both largemouth and spotted bass on that kind of structure. Find wood on it, and you are more likely to catch largemouths. Rocks seem to hold more spotted bass.

Cypress trees often mark good fall locations at West Point. On many shallow points and humps where the bass push shad to the shallows, cypress trees have been planted. If the lake is full, you can often ride and spot these trees out from the bank and know it is a place to check. If the lake is low, the trees may be on dry ground, but they still mark good places to look for points and humps.

As the shad move into the creeks, a shallow-water pattern develops, too. Much like spring fishing, you can catch some good largemouths by running shallow pockets near the mouths of creeks and coves. Search baits allow anglers to cover water quickly and to find feeding fish that follow the schools of shad. It’s fall — you can actually cast to visible cover and catch bass again.

I have a variety of baits tied on for October fishing at West Point. A chartreuse-and-white spinnerbait with two willowleaf blades, one gold and one silver, works well for running shallow pockets. I like fairly big blades, like a No. 5 and a No. 3, since shad are big this time of year. But if I am seeing small shad in the pockets, I will switch to smaller blades.

A deep-running crankbait like a Fat Free Fry in shad colors works well on points and humps. I always have a Trick Worm in dark colors like green pumpkin or junebug on a jig head or Carolina rig ready to rake the humps and points, too. Crankbaits run deeper on 8- to 10-lb. test, and I like fluorocarbon since it sinks and has less stretch. I use 12- to 15-lb. test fluorocarbon line for my jig head and Carolina-rig leader.

A jig ’n pig is hard to beat when working brushpiles and blowdowns near the mouths of coves and back in them, too. I like a brown jig and trailer — usually a twin-tail curly trailer for more movement — in the normally clear water on the lower lake. A 5-inch Senko in junebug is my backup for wood cover. It is a more subtle bait that will draw strikes when the jig ’n pig won’t. I usually throw the jig ’n pig on 20-lb. fluorocarbon line and the Senko on 15-lb. fluorocarbon line for the heavy cover.

Most of my fall fishing is from the railroad trestle on the main river to the dam, since the patterns seem more stable on the lower lake. I will be fishing the following 10 locations this month and expect good catches from them.

No. 1: N 32º 58.372 – W 85º 13.040 — Go into the mouth of Indian Creek to the small pocket on your right that has the boat ramp for the Amity campground. This pocket is a good example of the kind of place largemouths will follow shad into very shallow water in October. Stop out from the bank to the left of the ramp, facing it about 200 feet toward the big water.

This bank is deeper, so keep your boat out in about 14 feet of water, and throw a spinnerbait right on the bank, working it all the way to the boat. If the sun is bright, fish your crankbait here. When you get to the ramp, fish it carefully with both the spinnerbait and crankbait, and then work the rocks and end of the ramp with a jig-head worm and jig ’n pig. There is a hole at the end of the concrete that often holds a bass. Fish under the floating dock before going into the cove.

Past the dock the water gets shallow. Fish on around the back if the water is up, but look for the cypress tree out in the middle of the pocket on a bar that runs out most of the way across the pocket. Fish around the tree, working the outside of the bar with a jig-head worm as well as your spinnerbait and crankbait. Bass often run shad up onto this shallow bar to feed on them.

Here, and in other pockets like this, watch for shad. They are the key. If you are seeing shad on top or balls of them on your depthfinder, you are much more likely to find bass. Be sure to fish under the shad you see for bass following them, too.

No. 2: N 32º 57.953 – W 85º 12.458 — Across the mouth of the creek and just inside it near the big island, there is a small hump that is an excellent place to catch October bass. This hump is marked with two cypress trees and a danger marker with a white pole. The creek channel swings on the inside edge of the hump, and the outside edge slopes off more gradually.

Fish all the way around this hump, keeping your boat out in 15 feet of water and casting your spinnerbait to the trees. Fish it all the way out to the boat, working it at different speeds, from buzzing it just under the surface to slow-rolling it right on the bottom. Follow up with your crankbait.

Also work around the hump with a jig-head worm or Carolina-rigged worm. Drag them along until you hit gravel and rock. Most of the rock is on the outside of the hump, on the sloping bottom side. When you hit rock, jiggle your bait and fish it slower. Spots hold on the rock here and seem very partial to a jig-head worm. As you work around this hump and others, keep an eye on your depthfinder. Almost all these places have brushpiles on them, and they hold bass. There is a big brushpile on this hump out in about 18 feet of water on the outside. When you spot brush, drop a jig ’n pig to it or mark it and back off to work a crankbait or other bait through it.

No. 3: N 32º 59.015 – W 85º 11.490 – Head across the lake and upstream, and on the far bank you will see three red-bluff banks. Head toward the upstream one, and start on the point on its downstream side. It is on a cove that runs back and has a good ditch in it. There are a series of small pockets and points on the left side going in, and all hold bass.

Work the points with a spinnerbait, crankbait, jig-head worm and a jig ’n pig. There are rocks and brush to fish on some of them. The last one also has a blowdown tree on it. Fish the tree with a Senko after working it with a jig ’n pig.

As you go into the big cove, fish around the smaller pockets behind the points. Bass often follow shad back into them. They are shallow, and a spinnerbait works well to cover them. Also watch for wood, and pitch a Senko to it. The first pocket has a blowdown tree on the left side that often holds bass. When you get to the back of the main cove, there are several trees piled in the middle of it, right on the ditch. Fish around them carefully, running a spinnerbait over them and working a jig ’n pig by them. There is also a good blowdown tree running off the other bank as you make the turn to go out of the cove. It runs way out, so don’t get in too close before fishing it.

No. 4: N 32º 59.946 – W 85º 10.572 — Go into the creek with Earl Cook Access ramp in it, and stop in the mouth before making the sharp right-hand turn. There is an old roadbed running across the mouth of the creek, and the point on the right where it enters the lake is an excellent spot for October bass. It has the roadbed that drops off very sharply on the left side facing it, and there are rocks to the right side. Standing timber starts just down the bank from the roadbed to the right facing it, and bass hold in it and run into the road to feed.

Start with your boat in 30 feet of water on the right side of the roadbed. Cast your spinnerbait or crankbait to the bank, and work them back. Fish across this point, and you will see the roadbed come up and then drop off fast on the creek side. You will cross over it in 11 to 12 feet of water on this line, so cast ahead of the boat as you approach the roadbed.

When you pass the roadbed, turn and go back over the same area with a jig-head worm or Carolina rig. If you fish carefully, you will hit a big rockpile to the right of the roadbed in 8 to 10 feet of water. It is often a key spot where the bass hold waiting on shad.

No. 5: N 32º 00.591 – W 85º 10.414 — Behind the ramp at Glass Bridge, there is a ridge that runs across the cove. It is marked by a single cypress tree out on the end of the ridge. The ridge runs off the right-hand point across from the ramp going in and drops off sharply out past the tree.

I usually start in front of the tree on the ramp side and fish around the end first. This ridge drops off more sharply on the ramp side and has more rock, and it is where I catch most of the bass on this spot. Start with a crankbait, and work the front side, and then go back out with a jig-head worm. Fish all the way around the end, and work back to the bank, and then come back out with the crankbait in the other direction.

Cover the whole ridge and saddle between the tree and the bank with both baits. This spot is constantly re-stocked with bass by tournaments out of Glass Bridge Ramp. Many released bass will go to this ridge and hold on it, and you can catch them again.

No. 6: N 33º 01.129 – W 85º 10.353 — Across the lake and upstream, there is a big island upstream of the Whitetail Ridge Campground. Just downstream of the island, outside the mouth of the creek with the boat ramp for the campground, there’s a main-lake ridge marked with eight cypress trees. One of them has an osprey nest in the top of it. The ridge continues down the lake, and there is a white danger pole on it well past the trees. Start on the upstream end of this ridge at the first tree, and stay on the outside of them. There is a big flat behind the trees, but the bottom drops almost straight off on the lake side. Keep your boat in 25 feet of water, and cast to the trees, working a spinnerbait on top of the ridge. Then fish a crankbait in the same area. When you get to the last tree, turn and go back up the line of the trees, fishing a jig head, Carolina rig or jig ’n pig. Fish the area around the last tree very carefully. There is a hard area here that makes it a sweet spot.

Cast to the bases of the trees if the water is over them, working the roots and rocks. Then slowly work your bait down the sharp drop. Spots especially like to hold on this drop, and sometimes you need to get your bait down on the bottom to them in 12 feet of water or more. Bass often hold on the ridge past the trees on the downstream side, too. The top is a little deeper, and it often pays off to fish all the way out to the pole marker. It is a little more shallow around the pole.

No. 7: N 33º 01.133 – W 85º 10.574 — Go in toward the ramp at Whitetail Ridge, and you will see a rocky point on the left side of the creek mouth. There is a campsite right on the point, but it is a good spot to fish if campers are not fishing from the bank. Spots and largemouths hold on it and ambush shad passing into the creek.

Start to the left side of the point, and fish a crankbait across it. The bottom on this side is very shallow going into the small cove, but it drops off toward the right side. Fish the rocks with a crankbait, and then follow up with a jig-head worm and jig ’n pig. Stay well out from the point, and make long casts. If you are catching bass here, continue on down the bank toward the ramp. This bank often holds bass, and the area around the ramp and the point just past it are good. Fish the end of the ramp and the rocks around it, and then work the rocks on the point.

No. 8: N 33º 01.768 – W 85º 09.800 — Never pass up rip-rap on West Point. Run up to the Highway 109 bridge, and work the points on both sides with a crankbait and spinnerbait. Work all around the ends of the rip-rap and down the banks, too. Current and wind blowing in on the rocks helps a lot, and you are more likely to catch quality largemouths if the water is moving. Keep your boat out in 12 to 15 feet of water, and make casts parallel to the rocks, starting right on them and fishing at an angle out to the boat. Work all your baits with the current. The upstream side of the rip-rap is usually best here and on other spots because of the current hitting that side.

I also like to fish a jig ’n pig on the rocks, but I drop down to a small 1/8-oz. jig with a Zoom Tiny Chunk on it. Spots love this bait, and it will not get hung if you move it right on the rocks without letting it drop down into the cracks. There are faded signs on the downstream side of the bridge pilings here that remind anglers that a Georgia fishing license is needed above this point.

No. 9: N 33º 01.860 – W 85º 09.747 — Just upstream of the Highway 109 bridge on the right going upstream there is a shallow river ledge running downstream from a point on the cove at the bridge. It is marked by a danger pole and five cypress trees on top of it. Start out from the downstream tree, and fish all your baits as you work up the ridge. Keep your boat out in deep water on the river side, and cast up to the top of the ridge around the trees. Also work the end of the ridge carefully — there are rocks out on the end of it.

The back side of this ridge slopes off more gradually and is not as good as the river side, but sometimes bass chase shad on it from this side, too. Here, and in other spots, always watch for surface activity, from swirls to shad jumping out of the water, and cast to anything like that you see.

No. 10: N 33º 02.213 – W 85º 09.241 — About halfway between the two bridges, a big bay opens on your right, and a small creek runs back almost to Highway 109. On the upstream side of the mouth of this creek is a marked hump. It is unusual since it has no cypress trees on it. It is marked by a single white danger pole. Bass hold here and ambush shad moving into the creek. Fish all around this hump with all your baits. It drops off sharply on the right facing it from the river, and it slopes off more on the left. There is a saddle between the hump and the bank where bass often push schools of shad. And out on the end of the hump is a hard area with some rocks that is a key spot.

Check out these spots, and look for similar ones that are all over the lake. Bass are active at West Point right now, and you can find many places where they are feeding if you concentrate on these proven patterns for October bass.

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