South Georgia PFA Summer Slam
Glen Solomon fishes Ocmulgee, Dodge County and Paradise PFAs.
Editor’s Note: An edited version appeared in the June 2009 issue of GON. This is the uncut version.
It’s kick-off time for my PFA Summer Slam. Every summer I’ll take a week to hit my favorite PFAs. I’m going spank those waters to a mono froth. My wife, Cindy, will be joining me, so watch out sowbellies! Realizing everybody’s fishing has decreased due to the expense, I’ll be sharing tips, tactics, lure selections and locations, even marking some from my GPS spots to make you more successful. I may let a secret or two slip out. It just seems the older I get, the more I love to see others have the enjoyment and thrills I’ve been blessed with. Share the outdoors!
Study this article, and get out there this summer; these patterns will last throughout the season. I can’t guarantee success, but with confidence and persistence and this article, your chance of success will be high. With this helpful start you could also expand from them and develop your own patterns. Remember, you still have to fish to earn ’em — this is public water.
Let’s start at Hugh M. Gillis PFA near Dublin. This 109-acre lake is awesome for numbers of small bass but offers a good chance for a lunker. Like all PFAs, 14 inches is the minimum length. We’ve been averaging at least one 4- to 6-pounder a trip.
No. 1: N 32º 34.320 – W 82º 42.964 — From the ramp, bear left at an 11 o’clock angle to the opposite bank. Coordinates above are the center of an 80-yard stretch.
Start at the rocky point, and end one cast past the duck house. Work the bank and out from it. Also throw back toward the middle, which will be in 5 to 8 feet of water.
For a finesse presentation, cast a small-diameter, 6-inch, U-tail worm with a 1/8-oz. sinker for a slow fall. If it starts to get heavy with moss, pop it. That will trigger a strike.
The best is a Fiddler worm, followed by BPS Squirmin’ Worm and Renegade in junebug or black. In the deeper water, drag a Zoom Ol Monster Worm with a 1/4-oz. sinker. If there is no action at daybreak, keep returning to check on it. They will school here throughout the day. Last Summer Slam in the hottest portion of the day, Cindy and I caught more than two-dozen keepers on this stretch. Today, we caught two shorts and our first keeper of the day, a 3-pounder on the Zoom.
No. 2: N 32º 34.033 – W 82º 43.043 — This point leads into a cove and is approximately 300 yards south of the ramp on the west side of the lake. The point has deeper water on one side and is shallower on the other. Drift up silently, and ease the anchor down. Fan cast all around, covering the nearby drop bank and point. Fish the small U-tails first, but don’t leave without trying a Carolina-rigged worm. After the first drag or two, pause it for 20 seconds or more. For some reason at this spot they like to pick it up after a long pause. Like No. 1, keep checking on it throughout the day. We caught three more shorts here.
No. 3: N 32º 33.983 – W 82º 43.097 — Cross the mouth of the cove to the southwest bank. For a visual reference there is an exposed stump 4 feet from the bank. The above coordinates will place you in front of a small deep hole 20 yards from the point to your right. There is some wood structure at the bottom. Fish it slowly with the baits mentioned above. Grid cast the point, working it shallow to deep. Next, move into the cove to your right.
No. 4.: N 32º 34.011 – W 82º 43.038 — Go to the back of the cove to where you’re one long cast from the northwest corner. This is a small ledge on a drop bank that drops abruptly from 4 to 10 feet of water with stumps located about 6 feet deep on the slant. Work it from all angles before leaving.
No. 5: N 32º 33.978 – W 82º 43.043 — Leaving the cove, head into the main lake southeast for about 250 yards. Study this area with your depthfinder, and drop some buoys if it helps learn the area. There are a few ledges and humps in this area.
Slip up silently, and drop anchor in 4 feet of water. Cast into 12 feet of water. Work your worms up the ledge, and watch your line on the fall. There are also a couple of humps here creating a trough. Cindy caught a 6-pounder here last Slam, which was in July.
No. 6: N 32º 33.956 – W 82º 42.969 — Head toward the dam bearing to the left. Coordinates are nearly 100 yards out from the eastern bank, but above the mouth of the long cove on the east side of the lake. You’ll be fishing approximately 150 yards past the last standing timber. Look for the underwater timber on your electronics, and drop your anchor. A short cast toward the eastern bank will land you in some treetops in 16 feet of water. Work the Texas-rigged Ol Monster with a 3/8-oz. sinker. Use a high-lift-and-drop retrieve, so the heavy sinker can flutter down in all the holes among the whippy limbs.
No. 7: N 32º 34.465 – W 82º 42.980 — Head back to the north end of the lake past the ramp. Look for boulders on your right and a fish feeder on your left. This is a great spot because it funnels fish between the deeper main lake body and a shallow flat in the back which averages 4 to 6 feet deep. We saw a boat there for the last Slam catch bass for two solid hours. Our biggest and second keeper of the day was caught here, a 4-pounder at 11:00 o’clock, again on the big Zoom worm.
No. 8: The north end of the lake is a huge shallow flat. There are a lot of short sawed-off stumps you can’t see that will hold quality fish. There are a lot of bass that stay in here all day long. The edges and back are only 2 or 3 feet deep, and the center averages 5 to 6 feet deep. Begin working from the center out with small shallow-running crankbaits. We use Bandits in the 100 series in chartreuse or white. It is important to use a stop-and-go retrieve. I caught a 5-pounder here on the 2007 Slam. For today, 4 shorties and our third keeper, a 3-pounder which hit right at the boat after a brief pause.
No. 9: Turn around, and head back to the main lake area. Keep your foot on the trolling motor, and power-fish the crankbaits, following the lake’s perimeter but staying in 6 to 10 feet of water. It’s important to follow that contour even if you are a long ways from the bank. That seems to be the magic zone, even in the heat of the day. That will keep you a good distance out from where the bank-beaters seine. You will be fishing the bank parallel, whereas, everyone else is fishing perpendicular to the bank. This results in the fish seeing different retrieves through their ambush points in the cover. Midday feeding periods in the summer tend to be short and quick. This technique works out good by using faster baits and covering more water, catching the most aggressive fish.
For the 2008 Slam, we had three keepers totaling around 10 pounds. We caught 17 total bass, but most of them were in the 12-inch range. It was a fair to middlin’ day, I suppose. It could have been worse. Twelve-inch bass are fun, too.
The most important tip concerning here and all other pressured public waters is to use your trolling motor sparingly. If there is a breeze or wind, let it move your boat along. When concentrating on a small area, quietly drop an anchor. That keeps you from parading all around your fish with sudden and repetitive roaring bursts of power. Bass will get trolling motor-shy.
Dodge County PFA is a 104-acre lake located near Eastman and is good for numbers and trophies. If you are a GON subscriber, you know what I mean. I’ve caught fish all over this lake, but I like to concentrate on one general area. The bass are always here, regardless of what season. I’ve never left fishless, but it could be tough fishing. Those days when you’ve scratched up a few probably took a lot more hard work, brainpower and finessing because of less-than-desirable conditions. Those days really speak for themselves as to what caliber of fisherman you are. Numbers and weight are great, but I also rate my day as to what challenges I may have overcame just to maybe catch two small keepers. Okay, fish time!
Rig a couple of rods with small crankbaits, one with a shallow runner (2 to 5 feet deep; Bandit 100) and another for a medium runner (5 to 8 feet deep; Bomber 6A). In the summer, the thermocline here is notoriously high in the water column. This is one place you could spend all day fishing under the fish. Plastic worms still work, but rig ’em to fall slow, and work ’em back with a sweep-and-flutter retrieve. Stick with the crankbaits. You won’t be dissatisfied. A slow, steady retrieve or a faster one with pauses can work on any given day.
No. 1: N 32º 09.702 – W 83º 08.022 — From the ramp, cross to the opposite bank at a 10 o’clock angle. Fish this bank northwest, toward a point and two small coves, and then follow them in halfway. If no strikes going in the first side of either, turn left and work toward the middle of the mouth, fan casting all around. I lost a good ’un in the first mouth. She stripped drag for several seconds while heading to deeper water and dragging the nose of my boat around, before the crankbait tore loose. Dadgum, that would’ve been my photo fish of the day. I lost another keeper at the next mouth, but it was much smaller.
No. 2: N 32º 09.712 – W 83º 08.182 — When you exit the second cove, angle right, toward a light pole in the middle with an osprey platform on top of it. The entire end of the lake here averages 3 to 7 feet deep. This is where you weed through the shorties to get to the keepers. Fish up to the pole, and then begin making ever-widening circles until you have covered the whole flat, staying in at least 3 feet of water. The yearling bass school in here, so when you locate them, make rapid casts before they are gone. Cindy caught our first keeper here, about 1 3/ 4 pounds. We caught nine shorts averaging a little longer than 12 inches.
No. 3: N 32º 09.647 – W 83º 07.953 — Drop anchor at the edge of a circle of standing timber straight out from the No. 1 coordinates. Start out with the shallow runners, and finish up with a 6A until you determine what depth they are at. Because of the thermocline, they will suspend in the standing timber 2 to 8 feet deep, even though the water averages 12 to 16 feet deep. Two more shorts here.
No. 4: N 32º 09.608 – W 83º 07.944 — My favorite hole. This is where the southeast corner of the standing timber mentioned in No. 3 meets an underwater roadbed and culvert. If you look closely to the left and right shorelines, you can see each end of the road going uphill. The west end has a picnic bench, also. Line that up with the last exposed timber, and you will be sitting in the deepest dip of the roadbed. Drop anchor a short cast away. You don’t want to be blowing all around and bumping wood.
Fish stage up here year-round to use the roadbed as their own personal highway to travel to shallower water to feed and bed.
I’ve caught several bass here from 4 to 8 pounds during the early prespawn period, but it still holds fish year-round. It’s kind of a community hole because of the famous roadbed. We caught two more shorts and lost a couple. We switched to the 6As to get the strikes. You have to keep changing depths throughout the day, because the bass keep moving up and down.
No. 5: Fish the entire area of standing timber; it’s less than acre. Circle in and out, and hit all angles. Our first two passes we caught two more keepers, 1 1/2 and 2 1/ 4 pounds, along with three more shorts. After our little flurry of action, it was dead for a few minutes. We switched back to the shallower Bandits, and they started hitting again, after only three or four cranks of the handle. We caught two more 15-inch keepers and four shorties. Okay, that’s our five. This heat is screaming now, and we’re melting to the boat. Got to go!
If you aren’t ready to leave, here’s one more coordinate that’s been good through the years.
No. 6: N 32 09.548 W 83 07.849 — A long narrow underwater point averaging 4 to 6 foot deep that hits a ledge which drops off into 16 foot of water. Work the point and ledge up, down and across until you figure out how the fish are positioned. This is one of the only places in the lake I’ve had luck with a Carolina rig, other than the roadbed, IF the high thermocline isn’t a factor. The frequent fertilizing might have something to do with it. Try the crankbaits first.
Last summer’s Slam results at Dodge were 21 bass with our best five going 9 pounds.
These tips aren’t the only ways to catch fish. These are the summer methods I favor. There is always a better fisherman around. I’m just trying to get y’all out on the water for a head start.
Paradise PFA near Tifton has more than 60 lakes. This beautiful PFA manicured into the south Georgia landscape also offers unmatched bank fishing access, so don’t fret if you haven’t got a boat, just come on! Even though I have had success on the bigger publicized lakes, I’m going head to one I can always depend on to make my Summer Slam a success — Horseshoe No. 4.
Five years running my co-angler or I have caught at least a 5- to 8-pounder each trip. One Summer Slam my son, Corey, caught an 8-pounder during a tournament. We finished in second place and made it one of my most cherished memories as he now lives in Texas. Remember to take a kid fishing. They may not always be around. I’m going to exclude coordinates this time, but I will be pretty descriptive. If I’m going give up a honeyhole, you’re going have to earn it. Just kidding. It’ll be easy. Read on.
When fishing here we spend most of our time less than 100 yards from the ramp. About 1 1/2 casts southwest of the dock is a shallow-water hump, which will have vegetation or moss protruding above the water. The north side will average only 2 to 3 feet deep while the south side will average 6 to 8 feet deep. Bass will school around and across this hump while chasing baitfish. I’ll work this area with a Zoom Horny Toad in green pumpkin and a big 10-inch Gambler or Ol Monster worm in tequila sunrise.
About two casts southeast of the hump is a “magic” stump. What I mean by magic is, if there is a feeding period going on or about to start, bump this stump with your big worm, and kill it. Wait a few seconds, and pick it up. Any resistance, mushy or tap-tap, drive that hook home. I call it an insurance hookset. Don’t gamble. This is where the big boys funnel through from the main-lake area. I always hit this before and after I make a round with the Toad on the hump and nearby shoreline. I’ll stay nearly the whole trip in the narrower shallow end of this lake. You don’t want to miss any feeding periods here.
In between lulls of action, I will make a quick troll up the west bank all the way to the point where the beaver lodge is. It is a shallow mossy flat where you can find a huge number of smaller bass. This flat extends two to three long casts out from the bank where it gradually slopes into deeper water. They will eat up a small 6-inch Fiddler or Zoom U-tail worm rigged with a 1/0 hook and 1/8-oz. sinker.
If you feel any moss fouling you up, flick your wrist sharply, and it will pop through the moss creating a reaction strike. On some days, this is the only way you can get a strike. I’ve also had good luck on bubblegum-colored floating worms here with no weight. This works really well in the skinny water due to the moss. Don’t lollygag around here long, as you don’t want to miss any feeding periods at the narrow end by the ramp.
Last Slam we had two-dozen short fish, and our best five went 15 pounds.
Remember the Magic Stump? I was blessed with a 7-pounder. He hit a 10-inch Gambler Worm after I knocked wood with a 1/4-oz. piece of titanium. Come banging on my door will ya!
Other mentionable spots to hit if you have more than one day to return or are camping there.
Lake Patrick. With your electronics, find the ledge which is located northeast of the main ramp approximately 100 yards out and angling toward the first point on the east bank. Fish Carolina- rigged shaky-head worms in natural colors, such as nightcrawler, watermelon and green pumpkin.
When the schoolies pop up, make sure you have a small crankbait that runs 6 to 8 feet deep. I’ve caught them on several colors, ranging from shad colors to chartreuse as I made my choice depending on the water clarity at the time. There is a smaller ledge between the two islands behind you, approximately 150 yards to the north as you head toward the lower end of the lake. At the extreme northern end of the lake near the dam is a shallow flat inundated with small depressions and a few stumps. If you have a sensitive rod, you can actually feel those dips on a slow drag with your Carolina rig as you lose the vibration of your weight and it flutters in. Stay within 100 yards of the dam, and you’ll be on your way to a lip-lock.
Lake Bobben. This lake tends to be clear, so use your trolling motor sparingly. Be quiet in the boat, and make long casts. Fluorocarbon or light line is a must. Leaving the ramp, turn left (south), and go about 100 yards to where the bank starts to straighten out. Fish parallel to the bank about 3/4 of a cast out. There are scattered stumps and wood structure submerged here. On the first pass through, I like to burn a Deep Little N crankbait in a baby-bass color. When I bump wood, I kill it for a couple of seconds and give it a short rip, and then pause it again before continuing my retrieve.
My second pass will be with a 4- to 6-inch worm on an un-pegged 1/16-oz. sinker. I like to use 6-inch Fiddlers or 4-inch Renegades. It’s hard for them to resist the slow, tantalizing fall of a Fiddler or the subtleness of a 4-inch Renegade. Probe the wood structure you found with the crankbait at all angles. Every time you feel that sinker thump or drag off wood, kill it. Fish slow. If that doesn’t work, time to go slower.
Tie on an un-weighted Zoom Trick Worm in white or a Senko in green pumpkin. Working the same stretch, let it sink all the way to the bottom, which here, may be eight to 12 feet deep. If no hits on the fall, let it lay for a minute or longer. Work it back by popping your rod up to the 12 o’clock position. Then drop your rod, and let your worm slowly fall back to the bottom. Let it sit for a minute before repeating the process. By working it deep and not twitching it near the surface, it gives them something different to look at. By stroking the rod you can also evoke a reaction strike. Note: Just learned recently “stroking” was the correct terminology for what I been doing here for years. I wasn’t the only one though, others showed me. Now on the next stop. I saved the hardest for last. May luck be with you as it has been with me.
Ocmulgee PFA is one of our newest PFAs and is located near Hawkinsville on Ocmulgee WMA. This destination would make a great dual purpose camping outing during an open game season. When you go here, you are definitely trophy hunting. Don’t come if you are a numbers guy. This lake is stocked with F1 Tiger bass that grow to big sizes quickly. In the 2007 Summer Slam, I started at daylight and finally had two bites by 2 p.m. However, both were around 8 pounds. Wow! Very tough day, but luckily on a random cast out into open water on my “last hundredth cast” it all changed in the blink of an eye. Never give up! Back in ’06 on opening day, we caught several 5-pounders. We returned in ’07 expecting the same. Not! You can still read the ’06 story on www.gon.com by linking to “Other Fishing” articles and looking for “Opening Day Blast at Ocmulgee PFA.”
For Summer Slam 2008, at 1:30 p.m. we hadn’t had a bite. We had tried everything — worms, topwater, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, pitching jigs and tubes and finally down to Rooster Tails. Talking about desperation! Earlier we met some DNR guys taking water samples, and I asked them how the bass fishing was, and one replied “Few and far between.” Wow, was he ever right.
Nearing the ramp, I cut across an open flat toward the standing timber I had made random casts on earlier that morning. That was the general area I caught the two pigs in 2007. I wanted to see if Mr. Humminbird could find something I missed last time, even if miniscule as a clod of clay on this basically bulldozed graded stretch. I got my buoys out and made a few circles in an approximate 100-yard section. The only thing I could find was a tiny ditch about a foot deep and maybe a foot and a half wide.
The little ditch ended in progressively deeper water until it disappeared on a ledge which dropped off into 16 feet of water near the timber. I placed the first buoy there. I placed another buoy at the other end where it flattened out in 4 feet of water about a cast and a half out from the fishing pier (clue). We broke for a few minutes until the area settled down from the disturbance. When I returned, I begun making casts across the little ditch with a black 12-inch Culprit worm. Nothing.
I moved the boat near the deep buoy and threw toward the other, lining up the ditch perfectly. As that big ribbontail worm fluttered down into 6 feet of water, I felt it. Tap. I reared back and felt a solid, twisting, struggling weight at the end. About a four-minute battle ensued with me running completely around in the boat twice, jumping the console and springboarding off the driver’s seat as my wife trimmed the motor and snatched up the trolling motor. All this with the nose of the boat being drug around 180 degrees twice before the scaly beast made another hard run into the net held by my loving wife — and still very much green and roaring like the Tiger he was.
Dadgum, that F1 was strong, all 8 pounds of her. Man, all those hours, too, just for a climax that lasted less than five minutes. This is why we do it boys and girls. My wife fished the ditch for a few more minutes to no avail. All the action probably ran everything else off. Anyway, next Slam I’ll be holding the net while she fishes it with me in the background aggravating her with unneeded advice and annoying coaching. That’s what she says anyway.
Last year we had success on four PFAs in four days, be it for numbers or size. I’m out of gas and wore out, but I can rest now knowing I made some great memories, quality time with my wife, great pics and solid material for my article. Thank You Jesus for providing us with an abundance of outdoor opportunities, especially the diversity we have in one state — Georgia.
For directions, a full description and a map of these PFAs, go to <www.gofishgeorgia.com>.
I hope to see y’all out there some summer making your own Summer Slam memories.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy