Top Eufaula Ledges For Low-Water Bass

Eufaula legend Jackie Thompson marks a map for December bass on the ledges.

Ronnie Garrison | December 1, 2011

Jackie Thompson was reeling in a small spotted bass while fishing a ledge in Cowikee Creek — hole No. 4 on the map — when a largemouth tried to steal the crankbait, resulting in a double.

Lake Eufaula is a legendary bass lake, and GON was fortunate to talk a legendary bass fisherman, Jackie Thompson, into revealing the best ways to catch bass on the lake right now. Jackie even marked a map with 10 late-fall, early winter hotspots to get you going for a good day of catching bass.

Eufaula is known for its huge shallow flats and a wide variety of cover and structure. This lake’s shallows are filled with lily pads, stumps and grass, and the ledges on the creek channels and along the old Chattachoochee River channel hold amazing numbers of bass. Spotted bass are becoming more common on Eufaula, but fat largemouths are still the primary target of most fishermen.

Keep in mind the lake is very low right now — and Eufaula is dangerous to run when it’s full — so stay between the navigation buoys.

Jackie moved to Eufaula in the early 1960s and started guiding on the lake for Tom Mann in 1964. Tom started the Mann’s Bait Company and ran Tom Mann’s Fish World along the shores of Eufaula.

Jackie has spent many years on the water at Eufaula following the bass and learning their patterns. He still guides 80 to 90 days a year and has helped many fishermen have the trips of their lives.

“Shad are the key,” Jackie said regarding catching bass this time of year.

As the lake water gets colder, shad go into the creeks where the water is a little warmer. Bass follow the bait, feeding heavily while getting ready for the cold winter when they will be less active. If you find the shad in creeks, you will find the bass nearby.

In December, bass will hold on creek ledges, ditches, high spots and long points in the creeks. Some bass will also stay out on the main lake in similar types of places. You can fish for them on the main lake or in the creeks this time of year.

Jackie will use a variety of baits in December. One of his favorites is a Ledgebuster spinnerbait — a model he helped develop that is deadly on Eufaula ledges. He will also have a crankbait, Carolina rig, jigging spoon and jig ’n pig tied on and ready to fish depending on the cover and what the bass want any given day.

Jackie likes a gold willowleaf blade on a 3/4-oz. Ledgebuster. He goes with a neutral-colored skirt with some silver in it in clear water. A chartreuse-and-white skirt is better in more stained water. Shad-colored crankbaits like the Lucky Craft Rick Clunn 1.5DD and Bandit 300 Series work well, Jackie said. A Hopkins Shorty spoon or a Bass Pro Shops Strata spoon are good, and he always replaces the back hooks with better hooks and adds a small bucktail to his spoon.

A finesse worm is his favorite on the Carolina rig, and he said watermelon candy is the best color for Eufaula. The jig ’n pig is best in a combination of browns and green pumpkin, and a little orange in the skirt really helps.

Too much wind can be a problem fishing these places, but Jackie prefers a chop on the water, and an overcast day seems best.

The following 10 spots are all good right now, and you can catch fish on them all month long. If you put in at Lakepoint, you can fish all of them without burning much gas, and you can get back to the ramp quickly if the weather turns bad.

No. 1: N 31º 58.856 – W 85º 06.809 — Just downstream of the rip-rap on the downstream side of the Highway 431 bridge is an old bridge crossing. Eufaula was 3 feet below full pool (5 feet below what used to be considered full pool at Eufaula) when we fished the second week of November, and you could see a big concrete piling on the bank marking the old bridge crossing. The water drops off to 30 feet deep around it, making it a good spot for December bass.

Start just upstream of the old piling, and fish this bank out to the downstream point. Fish a crankbait, spinnerbait and a jig ’n pig here, throwing up near the bank and working out. Watch for shad— that’s the key to bass holding here and on other spots.

Deep water that is near the bank or next to ledges with shallow tops is another key this time of year. Bass will often suspend over the deeper water and feed in the shallows as shad move through.

No. 2: N 31º 58.578 – W 85º 06.561 — Head toward the mouth of Cowikee Creek from the boat basin at Lakepoint. Follow the channel markers. At the second green marker, there is a bend in the creek channel that holds good fish. Start fishing just downstream of the marker, and work downstream about 100 yards.

Keep your boat out in the channel, and throw up on top of the ledge toward the highway side. You will be sitting in 18 feet of water at full pool. When we were there the lake was about as low as Jackie has ever seen it, and we were sitting in 13 feet of water. Watch your depthfinder, and follow the channel as it swings toward the highway and back, making a good bend that holds bass.

No. 3: N 31º 57.987 – W 85º 05.248 — Farther down, the channel runs right to the shoreline, and a green channel marker sits just off the bank. From the red marker on that side of the channel and to the next red marker is a good channel ledge that holds December bass.

There are brushpiles and stumps along this ledge, and cover like that is where the bass will hold to feed. Fish down the ledge, keeping your boat in the channel. Right now that’s about 15 to 16 feet deep (18 to 19 feet at full pool). Adjust that depth to the current lake level when you fish.

Cast up on the ledge, and bring your crankbait, spinnerbait, jig ’n pig or Carolina rig across the shallows and down the drop. When you hit cover, make several casts to it. If you can hit the top of the brush and stumps with a crankbait and bump the bottom between spots of cover, you are fishing the right depth.

No. 4: N 31º 58.048 – W 85º 05.663 — Following the channel, you will swing away from the bank, and then the channel will make a big bend back toward the bank in the middle of the creek. The most downstream outside red marker has an osprey nest platform on it and marks a very good ledge to fish.

Start about 200 feet upstream of the channel marker, and fish past it, casting onto the shallow ledge. Jackie said it often holds a lot of spotted bass. We started with a Carolina rig and jig ’n pig. Both got some hits, but we couldn’t manage to hook a fish.

Jackie switched to a crankbait when we got right at the marker and hooked a small spot. A bigger fish was chasing it, and Jackie hooked it, too, landing both fish on his crankbait at the same time. I then caught a small largemouth on a crankbait. Spots and largemouths often feed in the same places, so you never know which will hit.

Jackie fishes this spot differently at daylight and later in the day. First thing in the morning, he will keep his boat in the channel and cast up to the shallow top of the ledge. As the sun gets up, he sits shallow on top of the ledge and casts into the channel, working his bait from deep to shallow. There is a lot of brush here to fish.

No. 5: N 31º 58.844 – W 85º 03.870 — Run out to the river, and head up to the mouth of Bustahatchee Creek. When you get to the mouth of the creek, idle into it, being very careful. There were visible stumps everywhere just above the surface with the lake so low. Many more stumps were just below the surface.

On the upstream mouth of the creek is an old oxbow, and an island with trees on it marks the outer edge of it. The downstream end of this island turns into a long, shallow point covered with stumps that are from a few feet deep to 18 feet deep in the old channel. Bass hold around these stumps and run in to feed on the point.

Keep your boat way out from the point, and make casts up on top of it with a crankbait, spinnerbait, jig ’n pig and Carolina rig. If the lake is low, look at the pattern of the stumps. Fish around the ones on the end of the point, but also the ones on the inside of the point. We caught a couple of small fish here, and bigger bass will be in this area by the time you read this.

No. 6: N 31º 58.837 – W 85º 03.832 — Across the slough, another shallow point runs way out to the creek channel. It has some stumps on it, but not as many as the one on the other side. It drops into deep water and holds bass year-round.

Jackie said points like this are often fished too shallow. Bass will hold way out on points, and many fishermen are on top of the bass when fishing toward the bank. With the water down you can see how the point runs and see where the bass are more likely to hold

Stay out from the point, and cast up on top of it with all your baits. Fish around it, keeping your boat in the channel and working it from all angles. If you catch a fish, make several casts to the same spot.

No. 7: N 31º 58.761 – W 85º 03.823 — On the downstream side of the mouth of the creek there is another slough with a point running out to the channel on the outside of it. It is similar to the other two points with stumps on it and in the channel.

Fish it the same way, staying out in deeper water and casting up on top of the point with all your baits. Work all the way around it, hitting it at different angles.

“As a rule of thumb, fish the mouths of creeks in December,” Jackie said.

Bass hold on structure and cover in the mouths of creeks, ambushing schools of shad as they move into the creeks. This is a quick, simple pattern to follow this time of year to locate bass, and it works all over the lake.

No. 8: N 31º 58.227 – W 85º 03.916 — Go back out to the river, and head downstream. The channel swings right to the Georgia side before starting a long bend back toward the mouth of Cowikee Creek. A red channel marker buoy sits very close to the bank here and is just downstream of a slough locally called the Watermelon Slough.

A good ditch comes out of this slough, swings near a hump in the middle of the cove, and then runs right by the channel marker close to the bank. Start near the channel marker and work into the cove, following the ditch. Keep your boat in the ditch, and cast up to the shallows on both sides.

Bass hold on the bank side of the ditch and the outside, too. Off the hump, which is only about 3 feet deep at full pool but was visible when we fished, there are some big stumps on the ditch side on the downstream side of the hump. It is a key spot to hit with all your baits.

No. 9: N 31º 57.141 – W 85º 05.042 — Run down the river past the mouth of Cowikee Creek and around the bend where it turns toward the Georgia side of the river. A shallow flat is on the downstream of the river channel, and right out in the middle of the river is a post with a sign on it. A ditch cuts across the flat just downstream of this sign. Start right on the river channel ledge, and fish into the ditch, following it. Keep your boat in the ditch, and cast up on both sides. Stumps hold bass here, and Jackie said you can get well quick on this spot.

Cast a crankbait or spinnerbait to the shallow sides of the ditch on both sides.  Jackie says he starts with a willowleaf spinnerbait but will switch to a big Colorado blade if he wants to fish slower. The Colorado blade gives the spinnerbait more lift so you can fish it more slowly, and it seems to come through the wood cover a little better.

No. 10: N 31º 56.525 – W 85º 04.817 — A green drum channel marker marks the end of the ledge where the river makes a sharp turn on the Georgia side. The ledge here forms a point and there is a hump just off it, too. Both the point and hump hold December bass.

Fish the point first with all your baits, and then get on the hump that is off the end of it, just outside of the channel marker. This hump is a good spot to jig a spoon. Here and on other places, keep an eye on your depthfinder. If you see fish or shad near the bottom, drop a spoon down to them. Jig it vertically right on the fish. This works well in December anywhere you find bass and baitfish holding deep.

These places are all good right now and will be good all month. Check them out, and you can find similar places all over the lake. Try Jackie’s patterns and baits, and you will catch fish.To see in person how Jackie catches fish, call him at (334) 687-9595 for a guide trip. He will show you how to catch fish, and his stories of past catches on the lake, as well as his memories of Tom Mann and other history of Eufaula fishing, will keep you entertained all day long.

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