Seminole Bass Mapped For January

Pam Martin-Wells marks our Lake Seminole map for prespawn grassbeds.

Ronnie Garrison | January 1, 2006

January weather here in Georgia often makes bass fishermen dream of a trip to Florida. But you donat Lake Seminole. There the bass fishing is often way ahead of the rest of our state.

Seminole is a shallow, flat lake with lots of grass and channels snaking through spawning flats. There are stumps and standing trees everywhere, and all of the lake looks fishy. These big flats warm fast, and bass are quickly drawn in to the shallows.

Bass sometimes spawn in December at Seminole, and January will find them in a prespawn pattern most years, with most bass getting ready to move onto the beds soon.

With three main arms of the lake offering 37,500 acres of water, there are a lot of places to fish at Seminole. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers make up the two big arms, with Spring Creek entering between them and forming huge spawning flats. If you have not been to Seminole before, it is easy to get confused about where to cast.

Most of the largemouth bass at Seminole are Florida strain, which means they grow big, but it also means they react very badly to cold fronts. There are some spotted bass in the lake, but they make up just over 1 percent of the catches in bass club tournaments, so you can’t rely on them. There is a good population of shoal bass up the Flint River, but they are hard to get to, and it very dangerous running that far up the river.

Pam Martin-Wells grew up on the Flint River upstream from Bainbridge and fished the river and lake most of her life.

Back in the mid-1980s she heard about a Bass-N-Gals tournament on Seminole and wanted to enter, but she had fished during the off-limits period before finding out about the tournament. Since she could not enter the tournament, she went out on the lake and watched them fish. Seeing women anglers compete in a tournament made her realize she could do that, and she started entering the tournaments. Pam has been very successful, working her way to the honor of the top money winner in women’s professional fishing, and she was Angler of the Year in that group in 1994, 1995 and 2005.

Pam says the bass at Seminole are usually ready to bed this month, and all they need is a warm spell. During warm falls and winters, she says she has caught bass off the bed in December, and catching them on the bed in January is not that unusual. Most of the bass will be holding on the edges of the spawning flats, though, and you will have better luck fishing for those fish this month.

Pam Martin-Wells

“Look for bass holding on the outside edges of channels that run across the bedding flats,” Pam said.

The outside bends are the deepest, so that is where the bass will hold. They will feed there until the water temperature makes them move onto the flats and start fanning beds.

Spawning flats are all over the lake, but Pam usually fishes the Flint River and Spring Creek. The Flint has a lot of excellent places to fish, but it often muddies up during the winter. Spring Creek stays clear almost all the time, and Pam spends most of her time fishing there.

According to Pam, you really need only two baits to catch these bass. She will start with a big crankbait like a Fat Free Shad and fish it fast, looking for fish. She wants the crankbait to hit the grass right on the lip of the drop. She will fish it on Trilene Big Game line. In clear water she sticks with shad-colored crankbaits and goes to chartreuse if the water is muddy.

If the bass don’t want the crankbait, of if she catches a few on it and they stop hitting it, Pam will switch to a Wave Worm Tiki Stick, and she fishes these soft-plastic baits both Carolina and Texas rigged. One key to fishing soft plastics is using Tru-Tungsten weights. They are denser, so you can use a smaller sinker and have the same weight, making them come through the grass better. And Pam says she can feel what the worm is doing better with the denser weight.

“The only color made is watermelon if the water is clear,” Pam said. She might use a watermelon-candy color in her Tiki Sticks, too. If it is stained to muddy, she will switch to junebug or black.

Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge has long competed with the men in bass tournaments, and now sheʼs poised to make a run in the new BASS womenʼs tour. Seminole is Pamʼs home lake, and the spots she marked are all good for January bass.

In mid-December, Pam showed me some of the spots she fishes in January and described how to fish them. Check out these 10 places, learn how Pam fishes Seminole this month, and you can find similar spots on the lake to fish.

No. 1: N 30º 47.321 – W 84º 43.021 — Run up the Flint River from Wingate’s. You can run the big flat on the south side of the river if you are careful, but it is safer to run across the boat channel to the river channel and follow it upstream. Between river channel markers 11.8 and 13.5 the river makes a big loop from the south side to the north bank then back. If you run the flat, you will come out on this horseshoe bend on the upstream side just south of a small island. Pam says bass hold all along this big bend waiting to move up on the spawning flats on both sides. The big flat between it and Wingate’s is a well-known spawning area, and it holds huge numbers of bass during the main spawn.

Most of those bass are holding along the river channel right now, waiting to move up.

Start fishing the downstream side of the bend right at the island at channel marker 13.5. Your boat will be in 25 feet of water in the channel, but hydrilla and other grass will be near the surface just a few feet away. Cast your crankbait so it digs down right at the grass edges. Rip it through any grass you hit as you crank it down.

Follow up with a Tiki-Stick, and work it through cuts and holes in the grass, letting it fall straight down the side of the grass when you get to the channel. Watch your line carefully, and be ready to set the hook if it ticks or if your bait stops sinking before it should. Pam says you can fish this whole bend, from here to the other end, and you should find several schools of bass. Work it fast with a crankbait to locate them, then slow down with a plastic bait.

No. 2: N 30º 47.578 – W 84º 43.363 — As the channel makes its closest approach to the north bank, there are some good cuts running across the spawning flat on that side. Bass hold here and don’t have far to move to spawn. The flat is not as big as the one on the other side, but it does hold bass.

Fish around channel marker 12.9 in this area. Fish it the same as above with crankbaits and plastics. Watch for any wood in the water. A stump or a log washed in against the drop will attract bass like a magnet, so you should make several casts to them.

It is important to stay in deeper water and cast up to the shallows. Pam says a good depthfinder like her Lowrance is critical for this, and she depends on Costa Del Mar sunglasses to help her see the grass and stumps under the water so her casts are to productive spots. You need a good depthfinder and polarized sunglasses to be most effective.

No. 3: N 30º 48.099 – W 84º 47.902 — Head down the river and take the cut over to Spring Creek. You have to idle a good ways through this cut, but this time of year that can be a lot more pleasant than running wide open. When you come out of the cut, follow the boat channel to where it hits the Spring Creek boat channel, and you will be off a point with houses and docks on the north side of Spring Creek.

Leave the boat channel, and idle through the stumps downstream to the south end of the point. You will be way off the bank, but you should be able to follow the opening in the stumps that marks the old creek channel. Remember the boat channel does not follow the creek channel. The creek channel makes twists and turns and sometimes crosses the straight boat channel, but the deepest water is not necessarily in the marked boat channel.

When you are downstream of the point with the last dock in the area, the creek channel makes a series of “S” bends. All of them can be good, and Pam says you could fish from here all the way to where the creek hits the river channel and find bass. She especially likes the first bend where the channel swings toward the north bank then back. There is a big spawning flat behind it and toward the point.

Remember the outside bends are deepest. You will have stumps and standing trees all around you, but the channel itself is clear, and you can follow it. Make long casts with your crankbait up onto the flats, and work it back to the boat across the drop. You will hit wood and grass all along this drop, and fish hold in it.

No. 4: N 30º 48.075 – W 84º 48.061 — You can fish to this next spot or idle a few feet until the channel swings toward the north bank again. Here there is a big flat and a small creek entering through the bullrushes that you can see on the bank. Bass often use this small ditch or depression off the creek channel to hold and move up to spawn, so it is a prime spot.

Make your casts without really casting to the wood you can see. Concentrate on the dips and depressions in the grass and the creek ledge. Bass will key on them more than just on the standing trees, but if a tree is right on the edge of a drop, it can sweeten that spot.

No. 5: N 30º 46.913 – W 84º 48.931 — Ease back out to the boat channel, and run down to the next point with houses on it. This is called Rattlesnake Point, and there are some big rocks in the water on the end of it. Just downstream of the point, stop and idle toward the bank. You will see a lot of tall trees just downstream of the point, and they mark a hump or rise just off the creek channel.

Watch your depthfinder, keep your boat in the channel, and make casts toward the tall trees. You should be able to see hydrilla on the hump, and you want to fish around it as well as the trees. Hydrilla will die back some during the winter, but Pam says enough remains to hold bass, and it should be easier to work a crankbait through it this time of year.

Follow the edge of the channel toward the bank, casting downstream with both crankbait and plastics. You will see some white PVC pipe stuck in stumps marking a way in to the docks here. You should be about 100 feet downstream of those poles when you start fishing.

No. 6: N 30º 47.047 – W 84º 48.929 — If you ease in to the bank on the downstream side of the point, you will see a big water-hyacinth bed along the bank running almost to the point. Pam says bass often hold under these beds because the plants warm the water there and attract baitfish. This bed has floated in to the bank here since the last time Pam fished it, and she says if it is still here in January and February she will “hurt the bass here.”

Get in fairly close and flip a Tiki Stick or jig ‘n pig to the holes in the hyacinth. Drop your bait right down the outside edge, letting it fall to the bottom. Watch your line carefully, and when you pick up your bait to move it, set the hook hard if there is resistance.

“Deeper water under the hyacinth helps,” Pam said. The water right on the edge of the hyacinth was about four-feet deep near the downstream end of the bed and more than 15-feet deep on the upper end where the channel swings in right to the bank. This is the kind of hyacinth bed you want to fish, especially late this month.

No. 7: N 30º 45.700 – W 84º  51.303 — Go back to the boat channel and head downstream. Just as the mouth of Fish Pond Drain opens up on your right, you will see an island way out to your left. Pam turned to the left directly at an old tree snag laying sideways in the water and idled toward the island. The channel swings out that way and then turns back north near the island.

Follow the channel toward the island, and stop when it swings back north. Fish this outside bend in the channel. You will start with your back toward the creek channel, and you will be fishing toward the island. There is a wall of hydrilla here that drops off right into the channel, and that is where the bass hold.

“If you catch a bass, turn around and fish back over that area,” Pam said. Bass school up, and if you catch one, there are probably others in the area. Fish it with both crankbaits and soft plastics, switching from one to the other. Concentrate on cuts and dips in the grass.

No. 8: N 30º 45.549 – W 84º 51.682 — If you idle straight toward the mouth of Fish Pond Drain, you will cross a shallow flat running off the north bank, and the Spring Creek channel swings in to meet the Fish Pond Drain channel. Fish this outside bend and where the channels meet, concentrating on the drop toward the flat. Fish the grass edge here, too.

No. 9: N 30º 45.217 – W 84º 49.849 — Just downstream of hole No. 8, the boat channels from Fish Pond Drain and Spring Creek cross, and there is another channel running from Sealy Point that crosses the Spring Creek channel and heads out to the Flint River. Take either one, and then head up the Flint.

Run up to the big point at channel marker 6.2 on the south side of the river. Grass grows on the flat where the river channel swings in near this point, and it is a good place to fish in January. The point runs way out to the channel, and there is good grass on both sides of it.

No. 10: N 30º 45.833 – W 84º 46.343 — On up the Flint River another point runs out from the south side just upstream of channel marker 8.9. There is a good dip in the river ledge here where a small ditch runs off the bank out to the river. If you idle along the edge of the ledge, you will cross this dip about even with channel marker 9.0 on the other side of the river channel. Fish both sides of this dip and all the grass around it. Bass hold here and use the ditch and dip to move toward the spawning flats between the river and the bank. Fish all the grass edges you see here, too.

All these spots hold bass, and Pam catches fish on them this month. There are many others just like them all over the lake. Give these a try, see what Pam fishes, and then find schools of bass on other similar spots while anglers farther north are still jigging spoons in the deep water.

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