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Shallow, Deep and In Between For Eufaula’s July Bass

Catch largemouth from the pads to the ledges this month.

Ronnie Garrison | July 3, 2017

What is your favorite way to catch summer bass? Do you like dredging ledges with crankbaits, or is popping pads with frogs more your style? How about bumping mid-depth brushpiles with big worms?

You have all three options at Lake Eufaula in July.

Eufaula has been known as a great bass lake since the early days of Tom Mann and his Jelly Worms and Little George tail-spinners. Eufaula goes through cycles of fantastic fishing to good-to-average bass fishing. Right now, Eufaula is near the top part of the cycle, producing many 5- and 6-lb. bass and five-fish limits weighing more than 20 pounds in most tournaments.

Located on the border between Georgia and Alabama on the Chattahoochee River, the 45,100-acre reservoir is a maze of winding river and creek channels cutting through flats. This creates perfect ledges for summer fishing. Meanwhile, the shallows are full of grass and lily pads, giving bass good year-round feeding areas in the shallows. For the mid-depth areas between the shallow vegetation and the channel ledges, fishermen have placed brushpiles on many creek channels and ditch ledges.

Cole Burdeshaw grew up fishing. Two years ago, Cole went to Auburn and joined their fishing team. He and his partner won the 2016 Cabella College Championship and came close to repeating this year with a close second. He fishes both college trails and some BFLs and Fish the Nation tournaments, as well as many local tournaments. In his first BFL last April on Eufaula, Cole finished an impressive third place. The first Saturday in June, Cole and his partner, Peyton McCord, fishing against some of the best bass fishermen on Eufaula, won the Alabama Children’s Classic on Eufaula with five bass weighing 20.8 pounds, and they had big fish with a 6.09-lb. largemouth.

Cole demonstrated his ability to figure out the bass when explaining how they won. He was practicing on Lay Lake for a college tournament the week before the Children’s Classic, so Peyton spent several days riding and probing the deep ledges, the pattern that should win this time of year. But he did not find any quality fish.

While talking to other fishermen, several of them also on the Big Bite Baits Pro Staff, Cole found no one was catching the kind of bass needed to win tournaments up shallow, either. So, he figured if they aren’t shallow and aren’t set up on the deep ledges, they must be in brushpiles somewhere in between. Fortunately, he had many of brushpiles marked with waypoints, so he and Peyton fished about 50 of them in the tournament to produce the winning catch.

“There are three patterns that will work most days in July on Eufaula,” Cole told me.

He said you can catch bass in the pads every day, but especially when the bream are bedding; you can catch bass from the deep ledges; and you can catch them in the “between” brushpiles. You just have to work all three to see what quality fish are on each pattern and decide if you want to go after numbers or quality.

Cole keeps it simple when fishing in July. He has a black Spro Popping Frog for the pads. To cover the ledges, he fishes a 10-inch Big Bite Baits Kriet Tail worm in plum apple with a 1/2- to 3/4-oz. shaky head. And he likes the more slender 10-inch B-2 Big Bite Baits worm rigged like the Keiet Tail. He says it comes through the brush easier, and pressured bass seem to be more likely to hit it. He will also have a Shaking Squirrel worm on a drop shot 6 to 8 inches above a 3/8-oz. sinker to drop down to any fish he sees right under the boat on his electronics.

He will have a Strike King 6XD in citrus-sexy shad to crank when the current is moving strong, but he says he doesn’t throw the crankbait much in tournaments since there is usually not much current on weekends. And by July the deep bass have seen a barrage of crankbaits for two months.

Cole took me out the day after he won the Children’s Classic to mark the following 10 spots. Some of them had produced the day before. We landed a 5-pounder from brush and a 2-pounder from the pads before thunderstorms ran us off the lake without much fishing time.

No. 1: N 31º 58.121 – W 85º 05.754 — Going out of Cowikee Creek from Lake Point, there are some small islands on your left. The marked channel swings to the right bank and then back to the left. The two markers on the outer swing of the channel are downstream of the island and right on the edge of a big lily pad field. There is a small ditch between the two markers that runs back into the pads.

The channel swing and ditch are keys to making this lily pad area good. Add to them the number of released bass from tournaments at nearby Lake Point that work their way downstream and feed here, and this is one of the best pad fields on the lake. It holds shallow bass all summer.

Cole will work the pads fast, making long casts with his frog and covering a lot of water. He looks for any irregularity in the pads—a cut, a point, a group out from the mass—anything that will hold a bass. He also listens for bream feeding around their beds. It is hard to see bream beds in the pads, but if they are bedding, bass will be hanging around that area. If you find bream, slow down and make extra casts.

No. 2: N 31º 57.605 – W 85º 05.214 — Just outside the mouth of Cowikee Creek, there is a green drum channel marker close to the downstream point of the creek. The point running out between the river and creek is very deep on both sides, since it drops into the channels. This is an excellent place to fish deeper bass. The point has some brush and big stumps on it. Cole will idle over places like this to locate cover and fish before casting.

Once you mark fish or cover, back off and cast your worm past it, and work it through the cover or fish. Cole fishes his worms on a Hook Spit Blackwater 7 foot, 4-inch medium-heavy rod, since he needs to pull the fish away from cover. Cole says it is impossible to work your bait too slowly. He will barely move it along the bottom. No hops or long pulls, he just inches it along and lets the tail of the worm do the work.

No. 3: N 31º 56.866 – W 85º 04.992 — Going downstream, the river it makes a long run toward the Georgia side. The second green drum on the river channel is past a pole with a Wildlife Refuge sign on it. If you line up the two green channel markers and idle across the ledge, a small hump comes up a few feet higher than the rest of the ledge, topping out about 11 feet
deep. This is a key spot.

Again, use your electronics to locate cover or fish on this hump, and then back off and cast worms. Cole says he casts upstream and works his bait with the current, if there is some, but does not think it is critical. Fish all around this hump on top and both sides.

Cole says he will usually idle over and graph the entire ledge between both markers, since schools of fish will move up and down it. On any day they may be holding on some small change along this ledge, so try to find them.

No. 4: N 31º 54.469 – W 85º 06.574 — Running down the river, Old Town Creek Park is on a point on the Alabama side. A long, straight channel ledge runs from this point all the way almost to the Georgia side, angling slightly downstream. Many call this ledge the “Clothes Line.” The last green drum marker before the channel swings back to the right is an excellent place in July.

Cole will idle over the drop for about 150 feet on either side of the marker, and he will start fishing when he finds cover or a school of fish. While casting his big worm, he keeps an eye on his depthfinder for fish directly under the front of the boat. When he sees one, or several, he uses his drop shot to entice a bite.

No. 5: N 31º 53.453 – W 85º 07.955 — Go under the highway bridge, and look at the pilings. If current is moving, stop out from the downstream left corner of the rip-rap about even with the first piling. There is a flat, called locally The Tabletop, running out to the channel, and this is an excellent feeding spot when current is flowing.

Keep your boat out in the channel, and cast a big crankbait all over the flat. This is the one place where Cole relies on a crankbait, but he doesn’t fish it unless current is moving and the fish are active. He thinks the bass move to the bridge pilings and suspend when the current is slack, then they move to the flat to feed when it picks up.

No. 6: N 31º 51.136 – W 85º 07.829 — After you go under the railroad bridge, Rabbit Island is on your left. There is a huge flat running out to the river channel from the Georgia side. Stay in the river, and watch the right bank. There is a red-clay bluff bank that stops just upstream of Barbour Creek. When it ends, turn toward the opposite shore. When you get out of the river channel, start idling back and forth upstream and downstream. When the water tower on Hummingbird Point just starts peeking over the trees, you are in the right area. If you look upstream, Rabbit Island will be about centered on the railroad causeway.

There is a ditch that runs out from the Georgia side that has brushpiles along it. This is one of those “in between” kind of places where Cole and Peyton caught bass in the tournament. Cole says he likes his boat to be in 7 to 14 feet of water when fishing brush like this—that is the right mid-depth range. He will throw the big worm early in July, but he’ll switch to the thinner worm later in the month when the bass have been pressured a lot.

There are several brushpiles in this area. Unfortunately, multiple brushpiles spreads out the fish, so you may have to fish several of them before finding one holding bass. If there is one isolated brushpile, it concentrates fish. But so many crappie and bass fishermen have put out brush that it is all over the place. You can find many brushpiles, especially if you have sidescan electronics.

No. 7: N 31º 51.620 – W 85º 09.521 — Run back into Barbour Creek, and stop on the upstream end of the island just downstream of the bridge. There is a big lily pad field all around the island, but concentrate on the pocket on the upstream side, which is an excellent bream bedding area.

Make long casts with your frog, covering a lot of water. Listen for bream popping the surface around their beds. Those are the hot spots. If you do see a bed in the pads as you fish, you are probably close enough that you spooked the bass. Cole says to mark the location of the bed, and come back later and fish all around it from a distance.

No. 8: N 31º 47.642 – W 85º 07.851 — Downstream from the mouth of Barbour Creek, the channel runs straight near the Georgia side for a good distance, and then it makes an angled turn to the Alabama side. There is a green channel marker that seems to have moved to the wrong side of the channel near where the channel turns. On the left bank, a red-roof dock sits on the water right at the turn.

Cole says a lot of bass stack up right at the turn, since it is the first bend for a long distance. Start looking with your electronics near the green marker, and go past the turn. If you are in a tournament and find quality bass out on a place like this, go to them first thing rather than trying to catch shallow fish. Cole says these deeper fish will often bite better first thing in the morning.

No. 9: N 31º 45.176 – W 85º 05.984 — Downstream past the mouth of White Oak Creek on the Alabama side, look to the Georgia side for a small creek that enters. This is Drag Nasty Creek. The mouth of Drag Nasty is full of grass, and there are docks on the downstream side. Bream bed around the docks and the water willow grass in here, and it is a good place to throw a frog. Cole caught a solid 2-lb. keeper here in the middle of the afternoon on a frog, even though the bream were not bedding. That demonstrates how you can catch shallow bass at Eufaula in the summer at any time. Concentrate your casts under the walkways on the docks and under the docks. Bass will hold under both and ambush bream. Fish the grass, too, since bass will hold right on the edge of it and ambush bream coming out of it. Throw your frog back into the grass, and work it out like a bream moving out.

No. 10: N 31º 43.929 – W 85º 06.132 — There are some islands on the Georgia side just upstream of Pataula Creek. Downstream of the last island, a line of cypress trees runs straight out. Near the last three trees, the old creek channel swings in near them, and there are several good brushpiles along the edge.

Some of the brush is in shallow water, but if you idle around, you will find brush in the 7- to 14-foot range. That is the type of brush you want to fish. Work your worms through the brush from different angles. Sometimes circling the brush will produce a hit when the worm comes by from a different direction.

Check out these 10 location provided by Cole to see the kinds of places he fishes. Try his baits, or use your favorites. There are ledges, brushpiles and lily pad fields all over Lake Eufaula where you can find and catch bass.

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