Sinclair’s September Bass
The deeper Lake Sinclair bass will be concentrating on shad this month, and there’s also a good shallow bite around docks and where bream are hanging out.
Sinclair offers you many bass-fishing choices in September. If you like probing deep, main-channel point ledges for bass in current, Sinclair is a good choice this month. Meanwhile, you can also catch bass shallow around docks and find some feeding on bream in pockets around grass and wood.
Sinclair is an old Georgia Power lake on the Oconee River just downstream from Oconee near Milledgeville. Power generation and pumpback at Oconee creates good current that may run both ways in the river upstream of Crooked Creek. That current turns on a feeding spree for deep bass and positions them on structure and cover.
Nathan Ragsdale is on the University of Georgia Bass Team and fishes Sinclair often. Before college, he fished high school tournaments in Fayette County. Nathan has done well on the UGA team, qualifying for both the FLW and Cabelas collegiate championships. He and his partner placed second at Guntersville in the FLW Collegiate Regional Championship.
This summer, Nathan has been fishing night tournaments and some other pot tournaments. He has also fished some BFLs, the Berry’s Trail and the Mid Georgia Trail. He enjoys learning to catch bass and fine-tuning his skills on every trip.
“I love to find deep fish in September, and Sinclair is a good place to locate feeding fish in the Oconee River,” Nathan said.
Like many young fishermen, Nathan is very good at working with his Humminbird electronics to locate good places that hold bass.
“There is always a good dock bite on Sinclair, and in September you can ‘junk’ fish and catch some good keepers shallow where bream live,” Nathan said.
Often some bream are bedding even as late in the year as September, and whether bedding or not, the bream concentrate bass in shallow pockets. When they are not bedding, there will be some bass holding around grass and wood cover picking off bream.
For deep structure, Nathan likes a big crankbait, a football jig and a shaky-head worm. Docks also call for a jig—an Arkie style for skipping, and a shaky head and a square-bill crankbait. Around grass and wood, he uses frogs and a weightless Ocho worm and the square-bill crankbait.
“The key to catching bass in September is to find bait they are eating,” Nathan said.
On deep structure, schools of shad mean bass are usually nearby. And as the water starts to cool when the days get shorter, those schools of bait move into the creeks, and the bass follow the baitfish.
Bream are a favorite food of bass. Pockets with grass and wood are full of this favorite meal, and there are some bass that feed on bream every day. Docks, especially those with brush, always have bream around them.
Nathan and I fished Sinclair recently, and there was a good current in the river. We fished the following spots and found bass on several of them. Bass will be on them even better now and as September progresses.
No. 1: N 33º 15.612 – W 83º 13.914 — Going up the Oconee River from Crooked Creek, the river makes a sharp U-bend, and a small double creek enters on the outside of the bend on the right side. Across from this small creek, there is a line of good docks to fish. If the current is running upstream because of pumpback like it was the day we fished, start on the tip of the main point that has a small dock with a pontoon boat and blue chairs on the bank. If the current is moving downstream, start at the other end of these docks in the small pocket.
Fishing against the current gives you boat control, as well as making your bait move naturally with the current. Nathan will bump the dock posts with a Strike King Sexy Shad 1.5 square-bill. He will also probe under the docks with a Beast Coast Arkie style 1/2-oz. jig. The heavier jig gets down to the bottom in current and helps you locate brush, and sometimes the bass want a faster-falling bait.
Nathan’s go-to bait for docks is a 1/16- to 1/8-oz. shaky head with a green-pumpkin Trick Worm on it. This light bait falls slowly, moves naturally with the current, and attracts the most bites under docks.
No. 2: N 33º 15.432 – W 83º 13.755 — Across from the docks above, the channel swings to the mouth of the creek on the other side of the river. The big, flat point out to the channel has good cover on it to hold bass. Nathan pointed to stump beds and patches of rock that showed on his side-imaging unit as we idled over it, as well as two slightly higher spots. These are key structure on points like this.
Bass set up on this cover depending on the current. They will usually be on the down-current side of the cover, waiting to ambush bait as it comes over the cover. Set up on the down-current side of the cover. Then cast up-current past it, and bring your baits across the cover the way bait moves naturally in current. Schools of shad will also often hold on the back side of the current where there is a break in it.
Nathan likes a big crankbait to get down to the fish when current is moving. An 8XD to a 10XD Sexy Shad crankbait is good, and he chooses the one that will just tick the cover to avoid frequent hang-ups. Crank the bait down fast, and then slow it down a little. Try different speeds of retrieve. Sometimes the bass want a steady, fast movement, and sometimes you need to work the crankbait with slow pulls like a worm.
If current is not moving, try a 1/2-oz. black-and-blue Beast Coast Dragging Jig with a matching trailer. Bump it along through the cover. If the fish seem to be finicky, Nathan will also work a light shaky-head jig through the cover.
No. 3: N 33º 16.193 – W 83º 13.408 — Going up the river in the straight stretch above the bend, look for a small pocket on your right before you get to the small double cove on that side. On the downstream side is a dock with a double wood seawall behind it. Just inside the downstream point is a good blowdown to work, and the pocket is full of grass and logs on the bottom.
Work the tree with a frog, square-bill and weightless Ocho worm. Fish around the pocket, fishing the middle of it with a square-bill to hit the wood on the bottom. Hit the grass with your frog. Nathan likes a popping frog in black to work around the grass and over the wood, to imitate bream.
No. 4: N 33º 16.603 – W 33º 13.857 — Going up the river the channel makes another big bend to the right, and there is a small creek entering the lake. A brown cabin with a green roof is on the bank downstream of the creek. Out from this cabin on the inside of the channel, an 8-foot-deep hump comes up from the surrounding flat that is about 10 feet deep.
Nathan keeps his boat off the hump in deeper water and works around it with deep crankbait, football jig and shaky head. Watch for a dip in the hump where it drops a little and comes back up. That dip creates the kind of place bass and bait hold in the current. Fish around it, but concentrate on working your baits with the current.
No. 5: N 33º 16.949 – W 83º 12.719 — Farther up the river, where it makes another sharp bend to the right, Cattail Creek enters on the left. There is a marker buoy out from the left bank. Well off it toward the right bank, a hump tops out about 5 feet deep that creates a good place for bass and bait.
On this shallower hump, Nathan will cast a 2.5 square-bill in sexy shad with the current. It will bump the bottom here and not get hung like the bigger baits. Nathan likes a G Rods Graphene 7-foot, 11-inch heavy-action cranking rod in the Game Changer series for long casts. It has the action needed to work the crankbait effectively. Follow the crankbait up with your jigs.
No. 6: N 33º 15.763 – W 83º 14.958 — The bridge at the mouth of Crooked Creek is an excellent pinch point where bass and bait concentrate as they move in and out of the creek. There is often current under it, making the bass feed even better. Not far from the bridge, the river channel swings in, and the creek hits it, offering bass a good, deep holding area.
Nathan will work the rocks with a buzzbait, especially early in the morning and late in the day. He will also fish it with a 1.5 square-bill crankbait and his shaky head. Bass were schooling here the day we fished, but they were small. Bigger ones will hold and feed here as September progresses.
No. 7: N 33º 16.095 – W 83º 15.276 — Going into Crooked Creek, Bay Branch runs off to your left. Upstream of Bay Branch in the main creek, the channel swings in along the left bank, and a line of docks along this deeper water is a good place to catch bass. Start at the small dock with a slide beside it, and work upstream if the current is moving out of the creek. The next two docks are close together, and one has lots of brush around it and rod holders on it. The brush here holds lots of bass.
Fish all the way up to the point where the water shallows up when the creek channel leaves the bank, or start here if current is running into the creek. Nathan likes a light shaky head on these docks, since current is not as strong as out in the river. If the river is running too strong, this is a good back-up spot to get out of the current.
No. 8. N 33º 16.549 – W 83º 15.052 — A little farther up Crooked Creek, there is a cove on your right. There is a yellow boathouse on your left going into it, and a big grassbed is on the downstream point. This is a good place to find bass feeding on bream.
Start at the boathouse, and work around the cove. Nathan likes to throw his popping frog into any shady areas, since bass will hold in them to feed. Cast your frog right against seawalls, and skip it under docks. In the very back, cast your frog as far back into the ditches as you can, and work it out. Bass like to move all the way back into these ditches, since they are shady and bream like them, too.
No. 9: N 33º 15.275 – W 83º 14.915 — Straight across from the mouth of Crooked Creek, there is a narrow, deep pocket that has a lot of wood cover, some grass and some overhanging bushes providing shade. There are also a couple of ditches running off the left side where bream bed and hold in the shade, and bass are here to feed on them.
Fish the shade and wood cover with a frog, and then follow it up with a weightless Ocho. Nathan likes the glacier color and works it like a Trick Worm, twitching it and letting it sink. Watch your line carefully for any twitch or movement indicating a bass.
No. 10: N 33º 14.747 – W 83º 16.013 — Going down the river, the next big creek past Crooked Creek on the right goes back and splits into three arms. All three arms are short. The middle arm has an old broken-down dock on the right side going in, and there are powerlines crossing in the back of it.
There are docks, grassbeds, stumps and shade to fish back in here. The left arm has several white PVC poles marking stumps. Bump the dock posts with a 1.5 square-bill, and fish a frog under them and over all grass and stumps. Bump the stumps with a square-bill. Then follow up with a shaky head in all those places.
All these places can produce Sinclair bass this time of year. Take your pick of the kind of fishing you want to do, or try all three of Nathan’s patterns. There are many similar places up the river to fish after you find the pattern the fish are on the days you fish.
Nathan is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nathan.ragsdale.7. You can see some of his catches there and follow his tournament results.
Editor’s Note: If you enjoy the author’s Map-of-the-Month articles, please visit here to get an eBook or CD with a Map-of-the-Month article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.
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