Seminole’s Fall Bass With Matt Baty

Be prepared to fish a variety of patterns and baits for October action.

Ronnie Garrison | October 1, 2017

Stumps, lily pads, grass and plenty of big largemouth bass—Seminole had it all.

Seminole has so many quality 3- and 4-lb. largemouth, if you stick with the places bass live and work for them, you can catch a good limit in October.

Seminole is a 37,500-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake with its dam just downstream of the junction of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers. The dam is the start of the Apalachicola River. Other than the rivers, Spring Creek is Seminole’s largest creek tributary, and Fish Pond Drain is second largest. Where these tributaries come together and join the Flint River, there are miles of grass and lily pad flats and standing timber that offer bass ideal habitat.

Matt Baty lives in Faceville, just a few miles from Wingate’s Lunker Lodge on Lake Seminole. Matt has fished Seminole all his life. He got started fishing in mine pits where he had access due to his father’s job. His father, uncle and cousins fished and took him often. He fished his first tournament, a mining company tournament, at age 14 or 15, and Matt loved it. He’s been a very successful tournament angler ever since.

Matt guides on Seminole and keeps up with the bass there almost daily. He fishes most local tournaments as well as BFLs and ABA tournaments. Last year, Matt won a BFL on Seminole and placed ninth in the BFL point standings. He and his partners have also been Anglers of the Year in the Real Money and West Side Team Trail tournaments, and they won the point standings in both again this year.

This year has been a good one for Matt. He was first in the ABA National point standings and won a boat and truck. The last full week in August, he and his partner won a Thursday night tournament on Seminole with a five-fish limit weighing 14 pounds.

“Bass are feeding on three patterns in October,” Matt said.

He said you can find them in lily pad fields, grassbeds or suspended in standing timber. Where two of these features are near each other and close to deep water, Matt said you can expect bass will be there.

Guide and tournament pro Matt Baty with a Lake Seminole chunk. Seminole is full of 3- and 4-pounders this year, and Matt has a variety of favorite patterns and techniques that will put October bass in the boat.

Tailor your baits to the type cover you are fishing, and cover water quickly to find active fish.

For lily pads, Matt fishes a Nories NF60, a hollow-body frog, and likes the male-green color. For hydrilla beds that are submerged, he casts a bone or silver shiner Reaction Innovations Vixen topwater plug or a Buddha Bait Snooze Alarm buzzbait. If the hydrilla is not submerged, he can work these baits along the edges. A chartreuse sexy-shad Strike King 5XD crankbait is used on deeper points on the grassbeds. A mouse-colored Buddha Bait Swagger bladed jig works well in scattered grass.

But Matt’s go-to October bait is a hematoma-colored Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog behind a 1.5-oz. sinker to punch through the mats. He says it is important to punch mats with a rod that has a light enough tip to feel the bite and not tear the hook from the fish’s mouth but enough backbone to get the fish out of the grass. Matt finds a 7-foot extra-heavy, fast-action Buddha Stick perfect for his fishing.

If he finds fish in the standing timber, a Yum Flash Mob Alabama Rig is hard to beat, but he said bass suspended in the timber will also hit the Vixen and Snooze Alarm.

Those are a lot of options, but Matt says the fish are so scattered, following shad, that you have to “junk” fish, trying a lot of different things until you key in on what they are doing that day. And it changes from day to day, so you must constantly search for them.

The following 10 spots show the variety of kinds of places Matt fishes. The day we fished, Matt caught five bass in the 2-lb. range on five consecutive casts on his crankbait, and I got a 3-pounder on a worm off this first hole. After that, the fishing was tough until Matt found a school of bass around 3 pounds each at hole No. 7. He caught three that hit his punch bait in just a few minutes. That type of scattered action is what you can expect in late September and October on Seminole.

No. 1: N 30º 45.740 – W 84º 51.485 — Ship Island is the last small island downstream in a chain of islands between the Flint River and Spring Creek. It has a big tree on the downstream end and a smaller one on the upstream end, looking somewhat like a ship with sails, hence the name. Go to the Spring Creek side of it, and you will find huge hydrilla beds that top out with more submerged grass around them. Channels and ditches run through this area with deeper water around the grass.

Start near the marked Spring Creek channel just upstream of the Fish Pond Drain channel, and keep your boat in the cuts and ditches. Many of them are 14 feet deep, and the grass along these are best. On the upstream side of this grass, as well as on along the channel, there are tree tops that stick out of the water where it is deeper. Grass that drops into deeper water at these trees are key places.

This is where we started and where Matt won a night tournament two days before we fished. Needle fish were constantly breaking the surface, a good sign since bass feed on smaller ones, as well as on the shad. Although we didn’t get hit on top, fishing your walking bait and buzzbait along these edges will normally will attract bites from the bigger bass here.

Also try running your crankbait along these edges, jerking it free when it hits the grass. Points on the grassbeds are key places for doing this, and that is where Matt caught five keepers on five casts. You can also use your punch bait along the edges of this grass when the sun is bright.

No. 2. N 30º 43.871 – W 84º 51.710 — Go down the Flint, and turn toward the dam. After you turn, on the left side upstream of East Bank Park, a series of poles way out from the bank mark some shallow water. Lily pads grow all the way out to the poles here.

Matt likes to start at the last pole in the line of poles, where some deeper water in a bay extends closer to the bank. He will get in just close enough to the pads to cast his frog into them, keeping his boat in the slightly deeper, open water.

Work your frog through the pads, pulling it over them and pausing it in small openings. Try different speeds and cadences—work it fast with quick twitches, then slow it down with longer pauses. The bass will show you what they want that day.

No. 3: N 30º 43.286 – W 84º 51.541 — After working the pads, go back out to deeper water in front of East Bank Park. There are a series of shallow humps with submerged grass on them. You can see these humps on a good map. Not all of them have grass, but several do. Bass move up on the ones with grass to feed in October.

Matt will idle over the humps, following his GPS, and he looks on his sonar for grass topping out 4 to 6 feet deep. When he finds a hump with grass, he backs off and casts his Swagger Jig across it. He lets it fall to the grass, and then he works it through the tops of the grass, jerking it free when it hangs. That is when you will often get a bite, when the bait darts forward from a pause in the grass.

No. 4: N 30º 44.808 – W 84º 53.227 — Go into the mouth of the Chattahoochee River past the first big island on the right between the rivers. Just upstream of the island is a bay full of lily pads. Matt called this “The Hole In the Wall” since a gap between the islands looks like a hole.

Fish the pads with your frog, keeping your boat outside of them and casting back into the field. Try different speeds. Matt will twitch his rod tip when working the frog fast, making it twitch and wiggle as it swims along in the pads.

No. 5: N 30º 45.317 – W 84º 51.487 — Go back into the Flint River to the river side of Ship Island. Like on the Spring Creek side, big grassbeds extend out toward the river channel, and ditches and cuts in it offer deep water along the edges. Stop just upstream of the marked channel from Spring Creek, downstream of the island, where it comes out to the river channel. There is standing timber here, and an osprey nest is on a tall one near where you want to stop.

There are good deep edges on these grassbeds. Work all through them, fishing a buzzbait and walking topwater bait along the edges. Also flip your Fighting Frog into the grass. Let it hit bottom, twitch it a couple of times while feeling for a bite, and then bring it in and flip it again.

Always watch for activity in the grass. A bird standing on it, especially a white crane, means there are baitfish right there. Flipping baitfish or swirls also show you where to fish. Throw your Vixen to any activity you see to catch those active bass.

No. 6: N 30º 46.015 – W 84º 51.330 — Head up the Spring Creek channel past the mouth of Fish Pond Drain. Just upstream of the first island between the two, there is a bay on your left that has a good ditch and standing timber. It is just upstream of the set of poles, with the number 488 on the green marker. The ditch is about 12 feet deep and gives the bass a highway to follow.

Follow the ditch, casting an A-Rig through the timber and working your ChatterBait through the grass in more shallow areas. Bass suspended in the trees will hit the A-Rig. Matt says it gets frustrating because you get hung so much, but it is the best bait to use to cover water and find active fish in the timber.

No. 7: N 30º 46.660 – W 84º 49.952 — Go up Spring Creek to marker poles 470 and 471 that are on either side of the channel. On the bank on the left is a green-topped dock. There is a huge flat with grass and standing timber that has ditches on the right and left. This is one of Matt’s favorite places. Out in the middle of the flat on the right are two tall stumps. If viewed at the right angle, they look like a big “check mark.” When Matt’s son, Fisher, was 3 years old, saw them and named this the “Check Mark Hole.”

Work the edges of the grass, flipping your punch bait into the thicker parts. The water is clearer here, and you can see the grass better. Matt says it is important to let your bait fall on a slack line until it hits bottom. When it hits, let it sit a second or two then slowly lift your rod to feel for a fish. Then twitch it a couple of times before flipping it again.

We fished here a long time, and we got a couple of bites that we missed. Matt was using a thick punch skirt on his weight in front of the Fighting Frog. He trimmed most of the skirt, and then caught three good fish quickly. Matt says you should trim the skirt or take it off if you are missing fish. It is common to fish a lot without bites and then catch several good fish very quickly like this.

No. 8: N 30º 47.325 – W 84º 48.506 — Go up Spring Creek to pole marker 551 where the creek opens up at the Grassy Flats channel markers. There is a lot of standing timber on your left, and Matt says schools of bass roam this timber in October.

Fish all through this timber with an A-Rig, always also watching for surface activity. Suspended fish in the timber will often give themselves away when bait flips or when they swirl on top. Try different sized baits on your A-Rig. Matt says some days he catches more on a 5-inch Cane Thumper, other days they want the 3.5-inch swimbait.

No. 9: N 30º 47.620 – W 84º 48.237 — Farther up Spring Creek, at the Big Jim channel marker cut there is another big grassy flat. The water is 12 to 14 feet deep around the grass here that comes to the surface. Follow cuts and channels in the grass, flipping your Fighting Frog into the grass.

Matt says you can spend hours fishing from the Big Jim cut all the way up to the Jack’s Cut, where the channel goes through to the Flint River. There is timber in this area on the left, and the combination of grass, timber and ditches makes it an excellent October area.

No. 10: N 30º 46.530 – W 84º 45.475 — Out in front of Wingate’s on the Flint River, there is a big grass flat that runs across from the marina side all the way to the river channel. There are humps where the grass tops out with ditches and deeper water around them, and there are points where the grass tops out, too.

Fish this area flipping the grass where it tops out, and also run your ChatterBait over the grass where it tops out 4 to 6 feet below the surface. Work both sides of the Wingate’s channel markers. Again, you can fish a long time without a bite and then hit a school of quality fish and catch several in a few minutes.

These 10 places show the kinds of Seminole cover Matt likes to fish in October, but there are many others in both rivers and in the Spring Creek area.

Matt Baty can be contacted for a guide trip on Seminole or Eufaula—search Facebook for Matt’s page.

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