Storm Clark’s All-American Plan For Bartletts Ferry Bass
10 GPS locations to set your June pattern on Bartletts Ferry.
As late May bleeds into June, many Bartletts Ferry bass transition to summer holes and feed in deeper water. Bass set up on predictable places and can be caught on a variety of baits. But as always, there are shallow fish to be caught every day.
Bartletts Ferry, also known as Lake Harding, is downstream of West Point Lake on the Chattahoochee River. Its 5,850 acres of water are lined with cabins and docks, rocky banks and some bluff banks.
Spotted bass expanded rapidly in the lake, almost taking over from largemouth, but hydrilla in the lake has let the largemouth make a comeback the past few years. Now it often takes a largemouth or two at least in an angler’s bag and more than 15 pounds to win local tournaments.
Gabriel “Storm” Clark lives in Ellerslie and has been on the Harris County school fishing teams since 6th grade. He got started tournament fishing with his dad Shawn Clark when he was just 5 years old, winning a Bartletts Ferry weekly Tuesday night tournament with his dad in that first tournament. Storm has learned a lot from his dad, who fished the Redman tournament trail for 16 years and made the Redman All American national championship. Bobby Padgett, a Chattahoochee-chain legend, is Shawn Clark’s uncle.
Storm just completed his junior year at Harris County High now. He had seven wins during the 2021 tournament season, three Top-5 and four more Top-20 finishes in tournaments with more than 100 competitors. He qualified for the Alabama Bass Trail championship and is currently leading the points standings in the Reel Money Student Angler Federation Angler of the Year competition.
The day after we fished to get information for this article, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society named Storm one of 12 National High School 2022 All Americans.
“June is a great month on Bartletts Ferry since there are a variety of ways to catch fish, from shallow to deep,” Storm said.
Many bass set up on contour drops in about 15 feet of water and feed from 8 to 10 feet deep, he said. But he added that you can also put together a good limit fishing docks and other shallow-water cover.
For a June day on Bartletts, Storm will rig a drop-shot worm, flutter spoon, deep-running crankbait, shaky head, Carolina rig and jig ’n pig. He can cover water from a foot deep to 20 feet deep with these baits, and he’s ready for any kind of cover the bass are using.
We fished the following 10 locations in late April, and some bass were still bedding, but others had already headed out to deeper water. Storm caught several keepers that day. The first weekend in May he and Austin Lott had 15.66 for second and big fish at 6.99 pounds in a team tournament.
These 10 places are all good right now, and they give anglers a great idea of the types of places to search for to find a productive June pattern on Bartletts.
No. 1: N 35º 42.064 – W 85º 06.782 — Church Island is a small island toward the Georgia side near the mouth of the river where it joins Halawakee Creek. The island has one big tree on it, and there is a wooden seawall with steps all around it. Services are held on this island on Sunday mornings.
Stop out about 100 yards from the island on the Alabama side and idle around. If you have good GPS mapping, you can see the contour lines run out and make a swing and drop from 7 or 8 feet deep feet to about 20 feet deep. Stop in 18 feet of water where you can cast to the 7- to 8-foot depths.
If current is moving down the river from water release at the West Point or Bartletts dams, cast a deep-running crankbait or flutter spoon upstream and bump bottom coming back with the current. Storm likes a chartreuse/sexy shad 6XD to 10XD crankbait to bump the bottom.
With current, fish faster-moving baits, but if it is slack try a shaky head, Carolina rig or jig. Drag them along trying to entice inactive fish. With current, concentrate on the top of the contour 7 or 8 feet deep for feeding fish. Without current, work deeper.
No. 2: N 32º 42.123 – W 85º 06.678 — Go to the opposite side of Church Island toward the Georgia side. There is a similar drop on this side. The main river channel is all the way across the river. It runs along the Alabama bank, but old channels run up the Georgia side, too.
Again, look for the key depths of 7 to 10 feet where bass will feed that are right off the 20-foot-deep holding areas. You can see the shallows run out on good maps, and you can find them idling with almost any sonar around the waypoint above. There is a good brushpile here, too.
Current makes eddies on these drops, and it dictates how you want to fish. Try your crankbait and flutter spoon when there’s current, and then go to slower baits when there isn’t any current. Storm uses a 5-inch chrome Nichols spoon and casts it on a medium-action 7-foot, 1-inch FX rod. You need a long, fairly heavy rod to pop the spoon off the bottom and keep your line tight as it flutters down. Expect the strike on the fall, and set the hook fast.
No. 3: N 32º 41.493 – W 85º 06.367 — Going down the river, there is a big island that sits just off the Georgia bank before the channel swings a little to the left. Go behind this island to a rip-rap point that has three pine trees in front of a brown cabin. There is no dock on the point. The point runs out and forms a saddle with the island, and there are multiple brushpiles on it.
Stop on the downstream side of the saddle in about 15 feet of water and fan-cast all over the saddle, probing for brush in 12 to 15 feet of water. There is some rock on the bottom that spotted bass like. This brush is one of the first places bass move to after spawning in the coves behind the island, and some will stay in it year-round.
Fish your shaky head, drop shot, Carolina rig and jig here. Drag them on the bottom until you hit cover, and then jiggle it to give the bait more action. Storm rigs a black Trick Worm on a 3/8-oz. green-pumpkin 706 Fishing Lures shaky head and dips the tail in chartreuse JJ’s Magic.
There were a lot of fish here the day we fished—we could see them on forward-facing sonar, but they were not feeding. If you see fish, return to places like this several times to try to hit an active feeding time.
No. 4. N 32º 41.046 – W 85º 05.304 — Go to the creek with the Boat Club in it. It’s on the Georgia side toward the dam. Watch for the narrow point on the right—it’s before the creek splits to the right and left of the boat club. There is a dock with a blue slide on the downstream side and the point has rip-rap on it.
Stop way out on the point, it runs out very shallow. Stay on the downstream side in 15 feet of water and cast across the point with a shaky head, Carolina rig and drop shot. There is brush that holds fish in about 12 feet of water. This point is a good place to catch several spotted bass.
Wind blowing across this point helps the bite, but there is usually little current back in the creek. The water is usually clearer here than out on the river after a heavy rain, too. Probe for brush and fish with your slower moving baits. Storm likes a 4- to 5-foot leader behind a 3/4-oz. sinker and puts a green-pumpkin Senko or Speed Craw on his Carolina rig.
No. 5: N 32º 41.390 – W 85º 05.352 — All the way across the Boat Club Creek—about even with the point the club is on—look for a pole with a birdhouse on it. There’s an orange buoy at its base. It sits off a round point with a cement seawall. This point forms a big flat that runs out very shallow with a good drop from 12 to 18 feet deep into the channel going into the smaller side creek.
Bass moving out of the creek after spawning hold here and feed. With your bait in about 20 feet of water, cast a shaky head, Carolina rig and crankbait up on the point where the water is about 12 feet deep. Bump the crankbait along the bottom, and then drag the slower baits along it trying to hit any cover.
For drop-shot fishing, Storm ties a hook 10 to 18 inches above a 3/8-oz. sinker and puts a black finesse worm on it. With both the drop shot and shaky head, he drags the bait along slowly with little shaking until he hits cover, and then shakes both baits a little.
No. 6: N 32º 41.513 – W 85º 05.462 — The small creek going into the left past hole 5 is a good example of the kind of place where you can catch fish shallow in June. The downstream point of the creek is steep, dropping to 15 feet quickly. The channel runs in right beside it. It has a small wooden dock just past a boat lift. Start fishing at the dock.
Keep your boat a short cast off the bank. Cast your jig or shaky head right to the edge of the water, and move it slowly to follow the bottom as it drops. Watch for a blowdown in the water about halfway down the bank. Cast to it before you get to it.
Fish all the way around the point, pitching under overhanging bushes and working the rocks and wood cover. This bank stays shady most of the day, too, and bass like to hold in the shade and feed.
No. 7: N 32º 41.500 – W 85º 05.579 — Past the point at hole 6 begins a series of docks that runs most of the way around the creek. Docks always hold bass in June, and you can catch them by fishing the docks thoroughly with your jig ’n pig. Try to “break spiderwebs,” skipping your jig as far back under the dock as possible, hitting shadows other fishermen miss. Fish all the docks in this creek to find a dock pattern.
Storm rigs a 1/2-oz. peanut butter and jelly Dirty Jig with a green-pumpkin trailer on it. He dips the tails in JJ’s Magic—spots seem to love that flash, as do largemouth. Let the jig fall to the bottom, hop it once or twice, and then reel in to make another pitch. If you hit brush under a dock, slow down and fish it more carefully.
No. 8: N 32º 41.377 – W 85º 05.507 — Go out of the creek above and idle downstream. On your right a triangular point with natural rocks is just upstream of the next cove on that side. The triangular point has big stumps on it 6 to 8 feet deep and bass feed around them.
Stop off the end of the point in 16 feet of water and fan-cast the point with a crankbait, jig, Carolina rig and shaky head. Bump every stump you can hit with those baits. Hop the jig over them and let it fall back. Work this point carefully before moving to the next spot.
No. 9: N 32º 41.309 – W 85º 05.479 — The next point on the other side of the cove downstream of hole 8 is a big flat with a good drop from 8 to 15 feet deep. There is a U.S. flag between two willow trees on the point, and the point has a metal seawall around it. Stop out from the flag in about 15 feet of water, and fan-cast the drop.
Work your crankbait over the point, bumping the bottom as deep as possible. There are stumps and some brush here, so you will get hung—a good plug knocker is worth its weight in crankbaits. Also fish your slower baits on the point, bumping stumps and crawling through brush for bites.
No. 10: N 32º 41.344 – W 85º 05.195 — Go across to the point the boat club is on and go upstream on the left side facing it. When you get to the clay point with some rip-rap on it, before you get to any private docks, start weaving in and out to find the steep drop forming a break line 12 to 16 feet down. Stop with your boat in 25 feet of water.
Storm says there is old timber and stumps here, and the fish hold on the drop. He casts his crankbait and slower-moving baits at a 45-degree angle, working down the bank to cover water ahead of the boat from 12 to 16 feet deep. This break line runs a long way from the small, clay secondary point back toward the main point. Fish it all.
Check out these places for June Bartletts Ferry largemouth and spotted bass. Try Storm’s bait choices, or use your favorite to catch some Bartletts bass this month.
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