Small Water, Big Bass Of Lake Juliette
Horsepower restrictions, standing timber and limited acreage keep the big boats away, but Lake Juliette’s grass-filled, clear waters are ripe with bass.
Imagine a 3,600-acre public lake full of bass, but without skidoos, skiers or pleasure boats running around. Then imagine the lake has quality bass, with 15-lb., five-fish limits common in most tournaments. You don’t have to imagine. Lake Juliette is a reality.
Juliette is a Georgia Power Co. lake east of Forsyth just off the Ocmulgee River. It is used to store water for a coal- burning power plant, and it is unusual because it has very little inflow of water from tributaries. Georgia Power pumps water from the Ocmulgee River and fills up the lake each winter, then the water level slowly drops until the next time they pump water in.
When the lake was constructed in 1980, the timber was topped off on the lower half of the lake, so the remaining timber is well below the surface. On the upper end of the lake, the timber was not topped, but most trees have rotted off at the full-pool water line. Right now with the lake down several feet, the stumps and limbs are thick just above the surface on the upper end.
Since there is little inflow, the water in Juliette is extremely clear. Water plants of various kinds have filled the lake to a surprising depth. The shallows are thick with something that looks like eel grass, and hydrilla is everywhere. There are beds of weeds down 20 plus feet deep.
With all the timber and grass in the lake, bass have many places to live. Young bass survive very well in all the cover. But the lake is not very fertile, since there is no inflow. For those reasons, there is no size limit on bass, and anglers are encouraged to keep the smaller ones.
There are two public ramps on Juliette operated by Georgia Power, one near the dam and one on the upper end. Motors are limited to 25 hp, so most fishermen put in near the area they want to fish. You can fish out of a boat with an engine higher than 25 hp on Juliette, but you cannot crank the engine. The lake is too big to fish much of it with a trolling motor. Small jonboats are used some, but on windy days the waves can get too big for a 12-foot jonboat on the lower lake.
Chad Hitt grew up in Forsyth and has fished Juliette most of his life. His father Earl and family friend Ken Cotton taught him a lot about bass fishing on Juliette. Earl and Ken fished together in a local Juliette tournament for many years, and recently Chad and his dad have been teaming up.
After nine tournaments this year, Chad and Earl are in sixth place over- all. They have weighed in 26 bass weighing 82.71 pounds, an impressive 3.2-lb. per bass average. They won the July 8 tournament with five bass weighing 17.66 pounds and had big fish with a 6.11-lb. largemouth.
Chad’s best catch ever on Juliette was a five-fish sack weighing 19.5 pounds, and his biggest bass from the lake weighed 7.75 pounds. Fish like that are impressive on any lake.
Hot weather from June through September is Chad’s favorite time to fish Juliette. He says the bass are holding in consistent areas, and they are feeding despite the heat. As the water starts to cool a little later in September, the bass will hold in 10 to 18 feet of water on the sides of points and humps. They will run into the shallows to feed early each morning, then hold in the thick cover in the same areas the rest of the day. The points and humps need to be next to deep water.
Chad, his dad and Ken have worked out some methods that consistently pay off this time of year on Juliette. They are not complicated pat- terns. They start out throwing topwater baits around shallow grass, then they back off and fish plastic baits in the grass cover.
Chad took me to Juliette on a miserably hot Sunday morning the week after they came in fourth in the July 29 tournament. Although most of the bass they weighed in a week earlier came on top, we caught mostly small fish on topwater. We followed Chad’s patterns and caught a nice 4 1/2-pounder. It was our best fish of the day, but Chad was disappointed that we did not catch more that size and bigger.
The following 10 spots are some of Chad’s favorite places to find September bass on Juliette. Since there is no shoreline development, the locations may be a little harder to identify without a GPS, but there are many similar spots in the area that will hold fish. Fish these spots and others nearby and you are likely to be surprised and pleased at the results.
No.1: N 33° 03.071–W83° 50.102 — Put in at Holly Grove, the upper-lake ramp, and head down- stream. The channel is marked, but be careful. There are hazardous stumps even in the channel when the water is down. You can see the channel as it winds though the trees, but it is not completely free of timber.
As you head downstream, the lake will open up with a double creek entering on the left side. Just where it narrows down, there is a big, round point on your right. If you go past this point, you will see an old roadbed enter the lake on that side and exit on a point on the other side. You want to ease in through the trees to the big, round point just upstream of the roadbed. You will see two or three small trees that stick up farther than those around them, and one stump on the point has a bush growing from its top.
Keep your boat out in 15 feet of water, and cast to the edge of the visible grass near the bank. Work a topwater bait early, then switch to a plastic worm. Fish the worm all the way out to the boat, covering water from the shallows to almost 20 feet deep. You will feel grass along the bottom, and bass may be holding anywhere in it.
No.2: N 33° 02.603–W 83° 49.899 — Going downstream of the roadbed a long point runs way out from the right bank going downstream. It is labeled “Billy’s Island” on most maps. A creek enters just downstream of this island, and you want to go into that creek. You will see the entrance to the creek as an opening in the stumps on your right, and there is an osprey nest on the downstream side of the channel mouth. This creek channel going into Fletchers Cove is not marked, but it is pretty plain with the water down. Be careful of the stumps. As the channel swings to the right bank, you will see a point where the channel turns back out. Just past the point is a cove, and in the back of it stands a red tree — it looks like a tree that has died but still has the leaves on it.
The point is fairly flat, and the channel runs in right by it. Most points along here don’t have stumps on them when the water is down, but this point does. You can see them all over the exposed ground. The trees around the point are very thick. Ease in close to it, and you will find 20 feet of water just 20 feet from the shoreline.
Chad likes to fish around this point with a worm. The stumps are too thick to effectively work a topwater plug. On this point and others in the timber, Chad will choose a Texas-rigged worm. Cast it up to the edge of the visible grass, and work it all the way back to the boat. Make some casts to the standing stumps in the water, too.
No.3: N 33° 02.815–W 83° 49.447 — In the middle of the timber on the point between the creek channel coming out of Fletchers Cove and Rum Creek, there is a hump rising to about 9 feet deep with the water down. It is not far off the Rum Creek channel, and it is near a tree on the channel edge with two round ball buoys in it. This hump is not easy to get to with the water down, but it is a good place to fish.
If you are on the Rum Creek channel, go just past the two buoys and look across the creek to your left. Way off in the distance you will see two towers on the powerlines on the other side of the steam plant. On the other side on your right, back toward Fletchers Cove, you will see the osprey nest. The hump is on a line between the nest and the towers. Idle through the trees on that line.
When you get to the hump, the stumps will thin out and you will see the bottom rise on your depthfinder. This is a big hump, so you will need to work around it to locate the highest spot and pinpoint the edges of the hump. Start fishing this spot by sitting over deep water and casting up on top of the hump. The water is open enough to throw a topwater bait. Then switch to a plastic worm, and fish around the hump, casting up on top and working your worm back to the boat.
Before you leave, get up on the shallow spot and cast all around toward deeper water, working your worm up the slope. You will be able to feel grass and stumps better working up the slope. You can try Texas- and Carolina- rigged worms here.
No. 4: N 33° 33.021 – W 83° 49.032 — Run downstream, and you will come out of the timber that runs all the way across the lake. On your left there is a point right where the timber ends. The next point is one Chad likes to fish. It is 40 feet deep not far off the point, and the shallow point runs out from the bank. The point is mostly clear of trees on the bank with a few small trees near the water. You will see a metal pole up on the bank that is usually in the water when the lake is full. There are some rocks visible on the shore when the water is down, but they do not extend out under the water now.
Fish around and across this point. Start with your boat a long cast from the edge of the visible grass, and throw a topwater bait to it. Chad likes a Rico, a popper made by Lobina, and he likes the fire-and-ice color. He will work the Rico slowly with a pop-pause-pop cadence. If that doesn’t turn the fish on, he will vary it, working faster or slow- er, and with a difference cadence like a pop-pop-pause, pop-pause action.
Follow up with Texas- and Carolina-rigged worms. Chad also likes a jig-head worm if the bottom is clean enough to fish it. Work all three kinds of rigs down the slope, fishing from the visible edge of the grass out to 20 feet deep.
No.5: N 33° 02.821–W 83° 48.562 — The next main point heading down the lake is on the upstream side of the cove that has the power plant in the back. There are a lot of rocks visible at the bank, but they don’t extend out very far into the water. There is visible grass around the point, and bass hold here in September.
Start on the outside edge of the point, and work around it with a top- water bait. Then use plastics, casting to the shallows and fishing back to the boat. Keep your boat out in at least 20 feet of water, and follow the contour of the point. After you work around it, make casts across the point, working your worm up one side, across the top and down the other at different depths.
No.6: N 33° 02.929–W 83° 48.505 — Go to the next point. It is a very rocky point, and these rocks extend out into the water. Fish it with topwater and worms. A jig-head worm is often good on this rocky point. Chad says this is a good spot to hit for 10 to 15 minutes to pick up a fish or two, then move on. He does not spend a lot of time fishing it.
No.7: N 33°03.101–W 83° 47.372 — Go downstream of the power plant toward Buzzard Bay. In the back of this cove you will see train tracks and several small, white, box-like structures near the tracks. The point you want to fish is the big, main-lake point — the last one that juts toward the middle of the lake before you enter Buzzard Bay. There is a red-clay section of the point and some rock scattered around it. There are no trees near the bank. Fish this point like the others, casting a topwater plug around it, then working worms down the slope. Chad likes a green-pumpkin Trick Worm rigged Texas style with a 3/16-oz. Tru-Tungsten sinker. That sinker is harder and denser than lead, and Chad says it gives him a better feel than lead sinkers and comes through the grass better.
On a Carolina rig and a jig head, Chad will use the Trick Worm, although sometimes he’ ll use a curly- tail worm on the Carolina rig. He uses 12-lb. Trilene Big Game line and uses a 3/0 hook on both Texas- and Carolina- rigged worms. He says you can be competitive in tournaments on Juliette year round by throwing plastics.
No. 8: N 33° 03.208 – W 83° 46.686 — Head downstream, and you will go around a big main-lake point, then a big cove will open up on your left. There are two islands in the cove that are visible with the water down. There is a small dock in the back of the pocket behind the upstream island, the only dock on the lake. The upstream island is the one Chad likes to fish, and it produced our 4 1/2-lb. bass.
The upstream side of the island drops off fairly fast, but the back and downstream sides are big, gradual flats leading to the shore. Grass grows all around the island and on the flats around it. Chad likes to fish the deeper upstream side, working from the main- lake point down that side to the back of the island. Fish this island with topwater and worms. Chad says he has worked the deeper side of the island and caught more than 20 bass in a tournament. If the fish are biting good here, he will work all the way around the island, but he usually finds bigger fish on the deeper side.
No. 9: N 33° 02.257 – W 83° 46.625 — Cross the lake heading downstream. On your right, across the lake from the cove at Dames Ferry, is a big cove that is named Davis Cove on most maps. The downstream point of this cove runs way out, and there is a visible island just off the end of it.
The island is visible even with the lake full, and there is a post on top of it. The downstream side of the hump is not as high, and it may still be slightly under the water depending on the lake level. Facing the hump, it looks like a horseshoe with the upper and lower ends creating points that jut toward the main lake. Start on the upstream side, and fish this hump thoroughly. It drops off fast into deep water, with 30 feet of water just 50 feet off the bank. Fish topwater here early, then work down the slope with plastics. There are a few rocks under the water, but the grass is the primary cover here.
No. 10: N 33° 01.837 – W 83° 46.038 — Head toward the dam, but stay on the same side of the lake. You will see a big point with huge boulders on it. Maps label it Taylors Island. There are also big boulders under the water off the point, and the rocks combined with grass around the island make it a good place to fish. Keep your boat out in deep water, and cast to the shallows. You should see some of the boulders under the water. Cast over them with topwater early, and work a worm around them, too. Fish all the way around the point, and then turn and fish across it.
These 10 spots all hold September bass on Juliette. Follow Chad’s patterns to catch fish off them, then look for similar places. Although Juliette is a small lake, there are many good areas and spots to fish, and the lake
holds quality bass.
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