Sinclair Shallow Summer Bass Bite

Try these 10 locations and follow Michael Reid's patterns for a good shallow bite.

Ronnie Garrison | August 1, 2009

SinclaMichael Reid loves the shallow bass bite on Sinclair this time of year.August bass fishing usually means dredging the depths for bass trying to escape the hot temperatures. Dragging a Carolina rig or fighting a big crankbait is often the way to catch them. Lake Sinclair offers a shallow alternative, with bass feeding around grassbeds, docks and rip-rap in August.

Sinclair is a 15,330-acre Georgia Power Lake just downstream of Lake Oconee on the Oconee River. Dammed in 1953, its shoreline is covered with houses and docks. There are still a good many grassbeds, but many have been dredged and replaced by seawalls. There is extensive rip-rap and many points and humps to fish, too. A pumpback system at the Oconee dam means water is usually moving at Sinclair. It often flows downstream when power is being generated at the Oconee dam during the day, especially in the afternoons. But at night and in the early morning, when water is being pumped back into Oconee, the current moves up the Oconee River.

You often have an upstream current in Little River when the Oconee River is running downstream and the reverse at night. Throw in the intake and discharge of water at the steam plant, and current can do funny things on the lake. But the important fact is current moves a lot, and that keeps the water stirred up and the fish active. Due to the currents and other things like rainfall, Sinclair is almost always stained to muddy, even in the summer. That also helps keep bass shallow and makes deeper bass move in more shallow to feed for longer periods of time. All these factors make Sinclair a good shallow-water lake this time of year.

When Michael Reid went into the Air Force and was stationed at Warner Robins, he found Sinclair to his liking. He lives in Perry and has learned Sinclair well enough to win the BASS Weekend Series tournament there this year. His interest in tournament fishing led Michael to be the tournament director for the first Aaron’s Outdoors tournament this year. He hopes to pattern it after some of the big annual charity tournaments in Alabama and is working to make it the biggest tournament in Georgia.

“The bass feed shallow around lighted boat docks before the sun comes up, and then many move to grassbeds as it gets light,” Michael said.

On a cloudy day the grassbed bite may last even longer. Current moving across a point or hump will also keep bass feeding, so Michael looks for points near deep water that have cover on them and where current flows across. He likes to fish his baits with the current, giving them a natural movement. And he says rip-rap will almost always hold some bass — but current makes them bite better.

As the sun climbs, Michael will look for shady banks to continue to find active bass. Then, when the sun gets high, he moves to docks to fish in the shade, pitching and flipping baits in the darkest places he can reach.

For dock lights and grassbeds early, Michael will have a frog, a popping plug and a crankbait tied on. The frog is weedless and can be worked through the grass with a more subtle action, but the popper will often draw strikes when worked through openings and along edges of the grass.

For rip-rap and points, a Koppers Live Target crankbait is Michael’s favorite. He will throw a shad-colored bait around dock lights and in the clearer water but switches to a crawfish color in more stained water. He uses a bait that will hit bottom in 6 to 8 feet of water.

For docks during the day, a jig ’n pig or a jig-head worm are good. Michael will usually use a green-pumpkin worm on his 1/4-oz. jig head and tries to get it as far back under the dock as possible. Docks with brush around them are even better, both at night under the lights and later in the day.

Michael throws all his baits on Vicious Line, using braid on topwater and fluorocarbon on other baits. The stained water lets him get away with using braid, and it definitely helps control the bait and set the hook better. He uses 15- to 20-lb. test when flipping and pitching docks and lighter line on crankbaits and in more open water.

A few weeks ago Michael and I fished the following 10 spots on Sinclair and caught about 20 bass. We started at 5:30 a.m., working lighted docks and then moving to grassbeds. There were a lot of keeper-sized fish hitting on top, but none were more than 2 1/2 pounds. It got real hot, and we quit at noon, but Michael got our biggest of the day, a skinny 3 1/2-lb. fish, under a dock late in the morning. Our best five that day weighed just under 13 pounds.

No. 1: N 33º 11.478 – W 83º 17.271 — If you put in at Little River Park before daylight, look across and slightly down the lake. You will see three lighted docks most nights. Two are back in a small cove just downstream of a rocky point, and one is out on the main lake at the downstream mouth of the pocket. These docks are typical of the kind Michael likes to fish, and he got a solid 2 1/2-lb. fish off them before daylight the day we fished. They are near deeper water, have grass and some wood cover around them, and the lights stay on most nights. A couple of the lights are right on the water’s surface. Michael said lights close to the water are usually best. If you start on the left bank going into the pocket, it is deep, and there is grass along it. It is worth fishing with a frog. Then, when you get near the dock, work the frog or popper around the light, first fishing the outer edges of the light and then working in until you fish right under it. If the topwater doesn’t draw a strike, try running a crankbait the same way, working from the edges in. It is also worth dragging a jig-head worm or Texas-rigged worm around docks like this, probing for brush.

No. 2: N 33º 11.145 – W 83º 16.838 — Head downstream from Little River Marina, and look to your right. The second point past the campground is a flat point with a seawall around it. There is a light on it near the end of the point, and when we were there a “For Sale” sign was on the point. This point is very shallow on the end, and there are grassbeds on the upstream side. It is worth fishing all the way around this point, but the grass is where most of the fish will feed early in the morning. Fish around the point, hitting the grassbeds, and fish to the first dock on the upstream side. Throw a frog back into the grass, and work it out past the outer edge. The grassbeds are split into three separate areas, and the lanes between them are good for working a popper. You can also work the outer edges of the grass with a popper. The grass is water willow, and lures with treble hooks come through it surprisingly well.

No. 3: N 33º 10.865 – W 83º 16.385 — Run into the creek with Sinclair Marina in the back, and stop on the last point on your left near the back. There is a big house on the rounded point, and a seawall runs around it. There is a small creek going back with grass past the private boat ramp. There are a couple of blowdowns in the grass, and the first dock has brush in front of it. Start out on the point, throwing to the seawall. Although it is very shallow, bass move in here to feed. I got a good 2-lb. fish on a jig-head worm here when Michael and I fished. If you see shad, that is a good sign here and on all other holes. You are more likely to catch bass if the shad are present. Work on into the cove, past the ramp and first dock. Be sure to cover both — bass often hold on boat ramps. Fish the grass and blowdowns with topwater and also drop a jig-head worm or jig ’n pig by the blowdowns. Fish the brush around the first dock. If you are catching fish, keep working the area. Sometimes a school will move in here and set up on all the docks on both sides.

No. 4: N 33º 11.131 – W 83º 16.063 — When you come out of the cove at Sinclair Marina, you will round a big point with danger markers on the upstream side off it. Just past that point you will see a small cove with a brick boathouse on the right bank going in. Michael starts on the left side going in at the triple-bay boat shed and works out toward the downstream point of the cove. Fish topwater along the dock posts and the block pier near it. Work on out around the point, casting up near the bank and fishing out. The water drops off fast just off this bank, and it is rocky, with wooden posts and some brush to fish. After trying topwater, go back over it with a crankbait or jig-head worm, especially if you get hit on top at all. Fish around the point until it starts back in at the next cove.

No. 5: N 33º 11.376 – W 83º 17.587 — Although the rip-rap on the Highway 441 bridge gets beat to death every day, it holds bass. Many are restocked after tournaments at Little River Park. Michael says you can always catch a few keeper fish here on a crankbait or jig-head worm, and we got four the day we fished. Only one of them would have made our top five, though. Michael likes to keep his boat out a little way off the rocks and parallel them with his Koppers Live Target crankbait. He caught a couple on a crawfish-colored bait when we fished. He likes to work the bait from the rocks out to about 8 feet of water, so his boat is usually in 10 to 12 feet of water. Also try a jig-head worm here. You need to go with a light head and keep it hopping to keep from hanging up so much. When fishing the jig head, keep your boat out in 20 feet of water and make a sharper-angled cast, covering the depths from right on the bank out to about 15 feet of water.

No. 6: N 33º 10.710 – W 83º 18.951 — Run up Little River past Dennis Station ramp, and the river will make a sharp turn to your left. As soon as you pass the point, start fishing the bank on the left. It stays in the shade a long time each morning, and there is a shallow shelf that runs out and then drops into the deeper channel. Bass feed along this shelf, keying on any cover on it. Michael will start on the upstream side of the point and throw his topwater baits close to the bank. He keeps his boat out a fairly long cast since the shallow shelf runs out a good way, and fish may be holding on it on a stump or rock that you can’t see. He will also work crankbaits and jig-head worms along this bank, again probing for any offshore cover. Current is a key here, and it needs to be moving to make the fish hit. Michael says if you hit it right, you can catch fish from the point all the way down to the fourth dock. Fish the dock posts on all of the first four docks. Some of them have some brush around them to fish, too.

No. 7: N 33º 10.248 – W 83º 19.360 — As you head up the river, it makes a sharp turn to your right. On your left is Buck Creek, the creek with the railroad causeway in the back. Michael stops on the upstream point of the creek where the bulkhead runs around it. He fishes upstream, hitting all the cover along this bank. You will see a couple of private boat ramps. These ramps usually have a drop on the sides and at the end that hold fish. Run a crankbait across them, and then crawl a jig-head worm along the concrete until it falls off. Be ready for a hit when it falls. There are a couple of blowdowns here that often hold fish, and there’s a sandbar that runs out a little just past one of the docks. Michael usually fishes up this bank past the first five docks, fishing under them in the shade. Current helps here, too.

No. 8: N 33º 10.353 – W 83º 19.873 — Up the river a little way, the channel will make a hard left turn as you come past the point where you can see the railroad causeway and bridge. Straight ahead is a small, shallow pocket, the last one before the bank straightens out along the railroad. A channel comes out of this pocket and provides some deeper water leading to two docks and grassbeds in the pocket.

Michael will usually start on the right side, fishing his frog in the grass there and around the back of the pocket. It is very shallow, but bass will feed here. As you come around the pocket to the first dock, there is some brush and wood in the water. Logs often wash in here and hang up on the shallow bottom, and bass will hold on them. Fish both docks carefully. If you watch your depthfinder, you will see a ledge off the ditch running near the docks, and that leads bass in and out of the cove. Try to get your bait as far back under the docks as possible. There is also some brush around them that holds fish.

No. 9: N 33º 10.069 – W 83º 19.732 — Before you go under the railroad bridge, there is a small marina on your left. There is a small point between the boat ramps and the pocket at the bridge. The point has a seawall around it, and there are several posts on it. Bass feed on this point, especially if current is moving across it. Position your boat so you can cast across the point, and work your bait with the current. The current will move both ways here depending on power generation and pumpback, so you may be sitting in front of the ramps casting upstream or sitting near the bridge fishing the opposite way. Cast a crankbait or jig-head worm across the point, and fish it back, bumping bottom. There is some kind of cover that feels like chunks of concrete here that often holds the biggest bass. Fish the point, ramps and the docks on both sides of the point. The river channel comes under the bridge and runs along this bank, so it drops off fast, and there are rocks and debris to fish. Past the marina docks, some bushes hang out over the water, and there are rocks under them that often hold fish, too. Fish down to the concrete boat dock.

No. 10: N 33º 10.411 – W 83º 20.236 — Go under the bridge, and head up the river. Watch on your right for the first creek coming in on that side. There is a big yellow boathouse just inside the upstream point of the cove with a stone chimney on the bank near it. The boathouse is in front of a yellow house with gray shingles. Start at this point, and work the left bank going into the creek. The point drops off deep, and there are rocks on it. Fish the boathouse, getting back in the shade under it. Enclosed boat houses like this provide more shade than open docks and often hold more bass. Fish down the left bank. There are several docks and blowdowns along this deep bank. Work a topwater bait over the cover early, and then probe it with a jig-head worm or jig n’ pig during the day.

All these spots hold bass right now. Fish them to see the kind of cover and structure Michael likes, and then you can find similar places all over the lake. Pattern the bass on a certain kind of structure and cover,

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