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Catch Sinclair Bass Shallow And Deep

Winter patterns on Sinclair with college angler Tucker Sweat.

Ronnie Garrison | January 3, 2019

Lake Sinclair bass are on their winter pattern. Many fish spend idle time in deep water, but they move up shallow to feed around rocks and wood. They will hit while holding deep, too, so you have many options of where and how to fish this month.

Lake Sinclair has been on fire for big largemouth the past few years. It often takes a 20-lb. stringer to even place in many big winter tournaments, and club tournaments are producing high-teen weights for winners. And January is one of the best months to catch those quality Sinclair bass.

Tucker Sweat grew up in Fayetteville, and a friend got him to go to a local jonboat tournament, and he loved it. After getting a small aluminum bass boat and joining the Whitewater High School team his senior year, Tucker concentrated all his free time fishing. One year he dedicated five days a week on the water learning about catching bass. He is now a member of the Georgia College bass team and spends a lot of time fishing Sinclair in the school’s backyard.

Georgia College angler Tucker Sweat with a Sinclair chunk caught during a trip with the author to mark a map with January locations.

In the first college qualifier on Sinclair this year, Tucker had five bass weighing 16.85 pounds. 

“Bass live in 20 to 25 feet of water in Sinclair in January but like to move to the shallows to feed,” Tucker said.

He concentrates on seawalls with rip-rap, shallow rocks and wood cover where the bass have easy access to the deep water. Sun warming the shallow cover helps. 

Tucker has several baits ready to cover both shallow and deep situations this month. A drop-shot worm and spoon will catch deep bass. For shallow fishing he always has a spinnerbait, crankbait, jig ’n pig, shaky head and jerkbait rigged for different conditions.

Tucker likes the clearer water on the lower lake, so he spends most of his time from the Nancy Creek area to the dam. Some main-lake places are good, but the clear water in Island Creek and Rocky Creek are his favorites. Unless there’s a significant warming trend, it seems that the cold, clear water is better than cold, muddy water, and there is usually more mud the farther up the lake you go.

We fished the following 10 spots in early December, and bass were on them. These types of locations are even better now that the colder water has concentrated the bass. 

No. 1: N 33º 10.502 – W 83º 14.577 — Across the river from the mouth of Nancy Creek, a big bluff point has a huge house on it, and the river channel swings a little to the left past it going downstream. The first point upstream of the big point has a metal seawall around it, and the end drops quickly into deep water. The ditch coming out between the two points is deep and leads to the river channel. This is an ideal setup for January bass on Sinclair.

Start out near the end of the point where there is a big metal pipe in the ground with a white cover on it. Work along the downstream side into the cove. Keep your boat out in 10-plus feet of water, and run your bait at an angle to the bank. Run your bait in water from a foot deep on the seawall rip-rap out to 7 or 8 feet deep.

A spinnerbait cast right against the metal and slow-rolled a few inches above the bottom out to 8 feet deep works well. Tucker fishes a War Eagle 3/8-oz. spinnerbait with two silver willowleaf blades and a translucent skirt. That is a good imitation of shad feeding in these areas. Also try a crankbait with the same slow retrieve. Keep it bumping the bottom, fishing it a little faster as the water gets deeper to keep it in contact. Make it deflect off bottom cover. That is when the bass is most likely to hit.

When you get to docks, fish them. Also try the grass in the back of the pocket, and then fish the opposite bank going out in the same way. Tucker expects the fish to be from the end of the points halfway back into the coves right now, but this one is very short and is worth working all the way around.

No. 2: N 32º 09.294 – W 83º 13.017 — On the upstream point in the mouth of Island Creek, danger buoys mark two shallow humps. Most fishermen concentrate around the markers, but Tucker likes to fish the end of the long point they are on, where the bass are less molested.

Stop in the mouth of the creek even with the outside markers and about 200 yards downstream of them. A series of humps come up along the point, and the last one is about 25 feet deep. It holds good schools of bass this time of year, since they have good access to several places to feed all the way to the marked humps.

This is the place to try drop shot, spoon and shaky head. Get right on top of any concentrations of fish you see on your electronics, and let your drop shot or spoon go to the bottom. Twitch the spoon up a couple of feet, and let if fall back on a tight line. Let your drop-shot weight hit the bottom, and shake the worm in place. Tucker ties a No. 2 Gamakatsu drop-shot hook 12 to 18 inches above a 3/8-oz. sinker. The heavier sinker will get to the bottom quickly and hold it in place even in some wind. Shake it and drag it a little, staying right over the fish.

Also cast a shaky-head worm all over the hump, dragging it along the bottom to pick any bass that might be more scattered. Keep it in contact with the bottom, and hop and shake it in place when you hit rock or wood cover.

No. 3: N 33º 09.479 – W 83º 12.573 — Across the creek and a little upstream, a small island sits near the bank. A short ditch is just downstream of it, and there is deep water in the ditch that drops even deeper in to the main lake. 

Start on the right side of the ditch across from the island, at the brown-roofed dock. The next dock going in is a flat-gray wood dock. The water in Island Creek is usually very clear, so a jerkbait works well over the rocks and along dock post here. Cast it near the bank, and try different cadences to see how active the fish are. The colder the water, the slower you work your bait.

Tucker likes a Strike King KVD Deep jerkbait in translucent shad colors. He starts with a quick jerk-jerk-pause. Make the jerks shorter and the pauses longer the colder the water.

Fish about halfway into the pocket, and then cut across to the opposite bank and work out to the point toward the island. The seawalls, rocks and dock posts are also good targets for a spinnerbait, crankbait and shaky head. There is a little brush in front of some docks to drag your shaky head around them to find it.

No. 4: N 33º 10.945 – W 83º 12.630 — About halfway back in Island Creek, a shallow point is on the left side going upstream on the upstream side of cove. Just inside the upstream side of the point, a brown dock with a brown covered boat slip is on a wood seawall. There are ball lights on the two dock posts. There is a lot of brush in front of the dock, and a big rock is visible on the left side of it facing the dock.

The water is 17 feet deep just 30 feet off the front of the dock, so it is a good place in cold water. Keep your boat out in front of the dock, and fish both sides and the front with a shaky head and jig. Tucker puts a green-pumpkin Trick Worm on a 1/4-oz. Spotsticker head, and he sometimes dips the tails in chartreuse dye for added attraction.

Let the bait fall to the bottom, and bump it around brush. Move the bait slowly with your rod tip, and be ready to set the hook and pull fish out of the brush. Ease it up on limbs in the brush, and let if fall back on a tight line. A jig is also good in this brush.

No. 5: N 33º 10.122 – W 83º 12.745 — Going out of Island Creek the docks on the right bank end on the upstream side of a cove. The downstream bank of this cove drops off fast and is lined with blowdowns that hold bass. This is the third cove from the markers at the end of the creek on this side.

Start at the small point on this bank that has a short sandy patch downstream of it. There are two log blowdowns here. Work them with a shaky head and jig. Work on down the bank, fishing all the blowdowns with both baits.

A Green Fish Tackle 3/8-oz. finesse jig with a peanut and butter and jelly or green-pumpkin Zoom Speed Craw is Tucker’s choice. Fish both the shaky head and jig slower in colder water, trying different actions to see what the fish want.

No. 6: N 33º 08.755 – W 83º 12.185 — Going downstream, the first point upstream of the main Rocky Creek upstream point has rip-rap around it and a wood seawall on the downstream side. There is a big metal pipe on the point surrounded by a metal pipe box. A sailboat is usually tied to the dock in the small pocket it leads into. 

Start on the downstream side of the point at the metal pipe, and work into the cove. Try a crankbait and spinnerbait on the rocks and the wood seawall. Tucker usually fishes to the first dock and around it here.

This is a very small pocket right on very deep water, and you can fish it quickly. The grass past the dock is worth a few casts with your spinnerbait before you leave.

No. 7: N 33º 08.575 – W 83  11.869 — Going into Rocky Creek, there is a hump off the downstream point, between it and the first long cove on the right. It comes up to tops out about 15 feet deep but has water 35 feet deep around it. Tucker says this is a good place for numbers, and you can quickly catch a limit of keepers here. Try both a drop shot and shaky-head worm on the top and sides of the hump. 

Tucker also likes a chrome 3/4-oz. spoon this time of year, and he tries both light twitches and higher jerks off the bottom, both looking like injured shad. Spoons cover water quickly when fished straight down under the boat.

Work all around the hump, watching for fish on your electronics. You can usually get right on top of them in 15 feet of water, but if they move when you do, back off and cast your drop shot around the hump to the fish, dragging it along the bottom back to the boat. The water is very clear in Rocky Creek.

No. 8: N 33º 10.643 – W 83º 16.600 — Tucker does fish three places in Little River regularly. Go into the cove at Sinclair Marina, the marina with the big boat storage building. An old pond dam runs across the cove from the marina with a break in it near the right bank.

Short docks line the rip-rip on the dam, and there is some brush around them. The docks and the rocks hold fish. Start about halfway between the bank on the marina side and the gap, and fish a jerkbait, shaky head and jig on the rocks and dock posts. Work to the gap, and fish the ends of it on both sides.

No. 9: N 33º 11.422 – W 83º 17.601 — The rip-rap on the Highway 441 bridge is probably the biggest community hole on the lake, and for a reason—it always holds bass. Released fish at Little River Marina constantly restock this area, and those fish move to the rip-rap and feed.

Focus on the corners of the rip-rap on both ends of the bridge, making repeated casts to them at different angles. Tucker fishes a Bomber Model A crankbait the chartreuse-craw color on the rocks. He keeps it bumping the rocks as long as possible.

He will also fish a jerkbait along the pilings as he crosses from one corner to the other. Then work down the marina side of the rip-rap. Some current moving on the rocks really makes the fish bite better here, and wind blowing against them also improves the bite. A little wind rippling the water helps on all the shallow banks on all the holes he fishes.

No. 10: N 33º 11.421 – W 83º 17.261 — On the north bank across from Little River Marina, there is a new dock on the downstream point of the small cove, the second cove downstream from the bridge. The first cove is big, the second is very small.

The dock has a lot of brush in front of it in 17 feet of water. Released fish also move to it. Keep your boat a long cast from the dock and work your shaky head and jig and pig all through it. The river channel runs along this bank and drops off fast, so fish it slowly.

These places are good all this month and February, too. Check them out to seek the kinds of places Tucker finds and catches fish, then use this to find similar places to catch bass on Sinclair this month.

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