Shallow For December Bass On West Point

Spoons are for cereal. Catch West Point's wintertime bass shallow.

Ronnie Garrison | December 1, 2008

West Point bass can still be caught shallow, even though December brings colder temperatures and most anglers think of jigging spoons and deep-water tactics.

Give yourself an early Christmas present this year — plan a trip to West Point during December. You will enjoy the peace and quiet since there are few pleasure boaters, the lake is low so you can spot good structure to fish, and the bass are usually biting.

West Point is a good choice for a December fishing trip for several reasons. It is full of quality largemouths and good numbers of spotted bass, so you can catch a lot of fish with the possibility of a trophy. With the lake down, you can find good bottom structure to fish now and also locate lots of good cover to remember for later when the lake comes back up. Most importantly, the cool water has both spots and largemouth feeding.

Jared Parmer and Ryan Lloyd met while students at West Georgia College and soon started fishing together. They hit a lot of Carrollton area ponds and lakes, then got a boat so they could fish West Point. During those college years they scraped together enough money to fish some of the Highland Marina tournaments and really liked it.

They did well in some of them, maybe out of desperation. Jared said they could not eat the next week if they did not win some money in the tournaments they fished. They spent a lot of time on the lake learning it and also somehow managed to graduate from college. Jared now lives in Montgomery, Ala., and Ryan lives in Rockmart, and they still fish together.

Ryan and Jared have been very successful in tournaments on West Point. This past year they finished fifth for the year on the Highland Team Trail, won the Highland Classic in October and placed ninth in the State Championship in November.

I spent a day in the boat with Ryan

and Jared the weekend after the State Championship, and it is obvious they love fishing and compliment each other. They use the same rods and switch between baits. When Jared is throwing one bait, Ryan will follow up with another, until they are sure what the bass want.

“Spoons are for eatin’ cereal,” Ryan replied when asked how they fish in December.

They stick with shallow bass all winter long and like the action of casting for them rather than just sitting over a deep hole and jigging a spoon up and down. They say they catch bigger fish by following the shallow-water pattern.

Jared and Ryan look for fish feeding in the shallows, and they key on hard bottoms. Clay with some rocks mixed in is ideal for largemouths, and they find spots on rocky banks. Two basic needs guide their fishing this month. They want hard bottoms near deep water, and they look for wind- blown banks.

“Wind is your friend,” Jared told me.

Wind blowing on a bank means baitfish are there feeding and bass follow them, feeding on them. It is harder to fish in the wind, but it pays off in bigger bass. A clay and rock bank that drops off into a channel, with wind blowing into or across it, is an ideal spot this month.

Jared Parmer is shown with a 4-lb. largemouth with a Rat-L- Trap in its mouth. The bank in the background is hole No. 4 at the island below the Hwy 109 bridge. It shows the mixture of rock and clay Jared and Ryan look for this time of year.

Clearer water is also better in December, so Ryan and Jared usually fish the main lake below the Hwy 109 bridge. It stays a better color and the open water on the south end of the lake means more wind will blow onto the banks. There are more places that drop fast into deep water in this area, too.

The baits they use are pretty basic.  A 1/2- to 3/4-oz. chrome Rat-L-Trap with just about any color back, a No. 7 Shad Rap in natural shad or crawfish, a jig ’n pig in black/blue or black/brown and a spinnerbait are about all you need in December.

Ryan and Jared switch among these baits until they know what the bass are eating, but they will keep throwing a variety on different places to make sure. With team fishing it pays off to vary the baits between the two partners, and Ryan and Jared do it well.

Although bass will hit a Trap good all month, Jared says 52- to 54-degree water is ideal for them. West Point should be approaching those temperatures now, although it was still 63 when we fished in November. Watch for those key temperatures, and you will have a great trip.

Bass were already feeding on the following 10 holes when we fished them in mid-November. They will be even better now, and you can catch bass on them all month long.

No. 1: N 33° 03.711 – W 85° 07.497 — The flats and humps on the north side of the lake where McGee Bridge Road comes out are probably some of the biggest community holes on the lake. This area is so popular because it holds fish all year. We started here at daylight the second Saturday in November and caught nine hybrids, two largemouths and several spotted bass. They were feeding good on topwater then, and bass will still be there hitting Traps and other baits through December.

Jared and Ryan like to start on the upriver end of the flat that is visible now with the water down about nine feet. They make long casts to very shallow water and fish a Rat-L-Trap back, fishing it fairly fast. If the fish do not hit it moving fast, they will slow down until they are ticking the bottom. Also try a Shad Rap here.

Wind blowing in will make the fish hit better, and if it is blowing strong with waves crashing onto the bank, they will throw a spinnerbait. They like a 1/2- to 5/8-oz. Ol-Nelle white spinnerbait with silver blades unless the water is stained, then they will go to copper blades.

Fish from the upper hump that is bare to the downstream end of the hump with the four cypress trees on it. An old roadbed comes out on this end, and it often funnels fish to that area. If the fish are hitting, make repeated passes along the outside area of the humps.

No. 2: N 33° 02.435 – W 85° 09.725 — Run down the lake past the railroad trestle and go to the island on your
right. On the upstream end there are four blowdowns, mostly out of the water now. Three of the blowdowns point toward the water, and one is parallel to the bank. Start at the blowdowns and work the outside bank of the island all the way around the downstream point. This bank is what Ryan and Jared look for in December. It is a hard-clay bottom with scattered rock that drops off into deep water.

Keep your boat a long cast from the bank, and make casts to the shallows. Work your Trap or Shad Rap all the way back to the boat. Try to tick the bottom and bounce off the rocks along this bank. If the fish don’t want a steady retrieve with the Trap, try a lift-and-fall retrieve, pumping the Trap so it rises off the bottom and falls back as you slowly reel it in.

No. 3: N 33° 02.073 – W 85° – 09.535 — The second point upstream of the Hwy 109 bridge on the left going downstream is just off red channel marker No. 40. It is a hard-clay point with a flat on the downstream end at the mouth of a small cove. Flats near the points and drops make a place even better for bass to be feeding, according to Jared and Ryan.

Start on the upstream end of the point near the group of blowdowns in the water. There was an oak tree leaning over the water getting ready to fall when we were there. Fish from these blowdowns to the mouth of the cove. When you get to the mouth of the cove, back off because the flat comes way out. Make long casts across the flat as you work into the small cove.

Don’t fish all the way back into the cove here or in other spots. The bass are more likely to be near the deeper water, so stay in the most productive zone. Ryan and Jared like to hit the best potential spots then move on, fishing a lot of different places.

No. 4: N 33°01.283–W 85° 10.238 — The downstream point of the island below the Hwy 109 bridge on the right going downstream is an excellent place to find bass this time of year. The clay and rock is so definitive of what Ryan and Jared look for that we took pictures here of the 4-pounder Jared landed.

Stay way out and make long casts. Start on the upstream side of the point where the area of sand covers the clay. Fish downstream around the point. The hard clay and rocks cover this point and make it the kind of place the bass like. Wind helps here, but this spot is on the west side of the lake so it does not get the prevailing wind. A south wind blows right onto it, though.

No. 5: N 32° 59.943–W 85° 10.577 — Go into the mouth of the creek at Earl Cook, and you will see a roadbed entering from the bank on your right. It runs across the creek and comes out on the point between the creek and the river. There are scattered rocks on a hard-clay bottom here just to the right of the roadbed as you face it.

Start fishing at the roadbed, and fish downstream past the rocky area. This is like all of the next spots to fish. Since it is on the east bank, a west wind blows directly onto it. Ryan and Jared concentrate on the east side of the lake if the wind is out of the west but switch to the west bank if we have an unusual east wind. They want to be on the side the wind is hitting.

No 6: N 32° 59.725 – W 85° 10.653 — Idle downstream to the next point. You will be headed toward the swimming area at Earl Cook, and you will see standing timber out off the bank. Stay behind it, and start fishing the steep rocky point. Fish around it, then jump across the cove with a cypress tree in it and hit the long, shallow rocky point that runs way out. It has a single cypress tree on it, and there are a lot of rocks scattered on the clay bottom.

Jared and Ryan say the fish likely hold in the timber and move to the point to feed. They make some casts back to the timber, especially if they see activity behind them, but most of their casts will be toward the bank.

No. 7: N 32° 59.433 – W 85° 11.110 — The big, rocky point just upstream of red channel marker 24 is the kind of place where Jared and Ryan like to catch spotted bass. They say to be here right at daylight when the wind is blowing into the bank, crawl a Trap on the bottom like you are worm fishing, and you will catch some of the biggest spotted bass in the lake.

Start inside the upstream side of the point and cast to the bank, working your bait back to the boat. This point drops off fast on the upstream side and out on the end. As you round the point, you will see a small indention then a second rocky point. Fish both of them before leaving.

No. 8: N 32° 58.482 – W 85° 11.576 — The point on the downstream side of Bird Creek is another good spotted-bass hole. These places will hold good largemouths, too. Start on the inside area of the point in the mouth of the creek and work out toward the main lake. There are big rocks and some blowdowns here to fish. If the wind is strong, try a spinnerbait, otherwise fish a Shad Rap or Trap.

These kinds of banks are good for a jig ’n pig, too. The jig ’n pig is especially effective when the bite is slow like after a cold front. Stick with black and blue if the water is clear or try a jig with some black and brown in it in more stained water. Cast the jig ’n pig near the bank, and shake it as you slowly hop it along the bottom back to the boat.

No. 9: N 32° 58.087 – W 85° 11.688 — Jared says this is the best Rat-L-Trap hole on the lake for spotted bass during the winter months. A flat, rocky point runs out toward channel marker No. 16, and it drops off to 50 feet deep on the upstream side where the river channel swings in beside it.

Start on the upstream side back toward the bank, and work out toward the channel. Start with a Trap, crawling and shaking it along the bottom, especially first thing in the morning. Work out to the end of the point, and try the shallow flat downstream of it before leaving. Most of these places have a flat associated with a point, and the bass will often be up on the flat feeding. Be sure to fish the flats as well as the points.

No. 10: N 32° 57.897 – W 85° 11.518 — The next point downstream, halfway between red channel markers 14 and 16, is another good hard-bottom point near deep water. There is a “sedimentation range” sign on the point, and it is upstream of a rocky hump near the No. 14 channel marker. It is on the downstream side of a big cove.

Fish all around this point like you fished the others. The day we fished, Jared hung a 6-lb. plus fish that hit, jumped clear of the water, then ran toward the boat and came off. It was the biggest fish hooked on our trip and shows the quality of the largemouths that are in the area.

If you see baitfish on any of these spots, spend more time on them. Bass follow the baitfish and will concentrate on places where there are more bait- fish. Bass will be present waiting on baitfish but schools of shad mean more bass and better fishing.

These spots are all on the east side of the lake to take advantage of the prevailing west wind. If the wind changes, you can find similar points and banks on the opposite shore, and there are many others along both banks that are as good as these.

Give Jared and Ryan’s methods a try this month, and you should be happy with your Christmas bass!

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