Winter Bass On Jackson
Lake Jackson used to be the go-to destination for big January largemouth. Spotted bass have now taken over, but the winter bassing is still good.
Many of us made New Year’s resolutions to go bass fishing more, but some decide to wait to start until the weather warms up and bass start biting better. That’s a mistake. You can go to Jackson right now and catch largemouth and spots.
Lake Jackson is a very old Georgia Power Lake, built in 1910 where the South and Alcovy rivers join to form the Ocmulgee River. The shoreline is lined with cabins and docks—many with brush around them—and rocky points and banks. A lot of wood washes down the rivers each year and forms log jams and scattered tree tops to fish, and there are blowdowns on many of the shorelines, too. The big November rains this year added a lot of new wood.
Jackson was known as the place to go in Georgia in the winter to catch trophy largemouth. Bass up to 9 pounds were common. When spotted bass took over the lake in the 1990s, that changed. You can catch a limit of spots pretty easily most days, but largemouth, especially big ones, are more rare.
Jordan McDonald grew up in Henry and Butts counties near Jackson and has been fishing the lake for many years. Ten years ago, as soon as he turned 16, he joined the Flint River Bass Club, and then he joined the Spalding County Sportsman Club two years later. Both clubs fish Jackson several times each year during the colder months.
Four years ago Jordan started fishing the co-angler side of the Weekend Series, and then two years ago added the co-angler side of the Bulldog BFL. He has made the Regional tournament in the Weekend Series twice, and he won the point standings on the co-angler side last year. He also made the Regional BFL at Neely Henry this past year and was in first place after the first day. This year Jordan got a wrapped Nitro Boat from Bass Pro Shops, and he will be fishing the boater’s side of both the Northeast (he recently moved to New York to work with Douglas Outdoors) and Bulldog divisions of BFL.
“The bass are holding deep in January but will move up on rocks to feed this month,” Jordan said.
Rocks near deep water are the key, and some wood cover makes them better. The bass are feeding on shad and crayfish. Look for baitfish in an area.
For January fishing at Lake Jackson, Jordan will have a variety of baits rigged on his Douglas Outdoors rods. For covering water and finding bass, he likes a crawfish-colored Rapala DT 6 crankbait, a 1/2-oz. white spinnerbait with silver and gold blades, and a silver Deep Shadow Rap jerkbait with a black back. To slow down and cover an area, Jordan fishes a 3/16-oz. shaky head jig with a green-pumpkin or black Zoom Trick Worm on it. He also fishes a 3/16- to 3/8-oz. jig with a black Fat Albert trailer. A morning dawn or bluegill Robo worm rigged drop-shot style above a 5/16-oz. sinker on a 1/0 hook rounds out his January arsenal.
Jordan took me to Jackson and showed me the following 10 spots in early December. We caught some good keepers—both largemouth and spots. They will be even better now that the water’s colder and the bass are more concentrated.
No. 1: N 33º 20.283 – W 83º 51.595 — If you put in at the Georgia Power ramp at the dam, run up the lake almost to the mouth of Tussahaw Creek. On your left, a yellow boathouse sits on a rocky point. There is no house behind the boathouse. You will be across from and a little upstream of the danger markers on the hump in the river.
Stop downstream of the boathouse just inside the point at the dock there and start fishing. There is a concrete seawall with rocks behind the dock, and the water drops off fast. Cast a crankbait or jerkbait to the seawall, and fish both back to the boat. You should be sitting in 15 feet of water.
Fish up to and around the yellow boathouse, casting to the rocks behind it and on both sides, too. There is no seawall on the downstream side of it for a few feet, but there is a concrete seawall on the upstream side. Fish a crankbait and jerkbait on both. On the dock and seawall, cast your jig, jig-head worm and drop-shot worm around all the posts. If the sun is bright, get those baits back under the dock and boathouse as far as you can to the shady areas.
No. 2: N 33º 21.351 – W 83º 51.680 — Start up the Alcovy River. Just past the mouth of it where it joins Tussahaw Creek, the Alcovy is very wide, and then it narrows down just before making a left turn. The point on your left where the turn starts is a high hill with a beige house on top and big rocks around the point. On the upstream side of the point is a double boathouse with a covered deck above the boat slip.
Start on the outside of the point where you first see rocks in the water by the seawall. Jordan says this is a shad-related area since the channel swings right in on it, and the water is very deep all around it. Start working your way around the point with a crankbait and jerkbait. Fish to the boathouse and just past it, and then fish the same area with your slower baits.
Fish this area slowly and carefully. Jordan said anglers put out a lot of brush on this point. Probe for it with your jig or shaky head. For more flash, dip the tails of your trailer and worm in chartreuse JJs Magic. You will catch both spots and largemouth here—we got one of each the day we fished—and both like that chartreuse flash.
No. 3: N 33º 22.416 – W 83º 50.910 — Run on up the river to the powerline crossing, and stop on the right side where it hits the bank. This steep bank is an outside bend of the river and has clay and rocks on it. Jordan also put out brush here. Stop on the downstream edge of the powerline with your boat in at least 20 feet of water, and fish upstream past the other side of the powerline.
Fish both a jerkbait and jig here. Work your jerkbait over the rocks and brush. Spots will move a good distance to eat a jerkbait, even in cold water. Jordan reels the jerkbait down a couple of fast turns, and then works it back with a jerk-jerk-pause action. He will vary the pause longer and longer until the bass show him what they want. With your jig, probe for the brush on this bank from 10 to 20 feet deep.
No. 4: N 33º 22.176 – W 83º 51.531 — Go back downstream to the mouth of the South River. On the upstream side of the mouth of the South River is a point between it and the Alcovy. This is a big, round, rocky point with a couple of cuts in it. If you are going down the river, there is a small dock in front of a cement seawall right where the bank turns to the right to go into the river. There is a white house behind and a little downstream of this dock and the number “31” is on the dock.
Start fishing at the dock, and work downstream into the mouth of the South River. This is a steep, rocky bank, and there is a lot of wood from logs washed in and also blowdowns. Fish the wood and rocks with your spinnerbait, casting it near the bank and slow-rolling it back to the boat. When you bump wood, pull it over the wood and let it flutter back down a foot or so.
Also run a crankbait the same way, and follow up with a shaky head or jig. The first pocket you come to is a deep ditch, and the point is shallow and has some brush on it. Fish the point, and then work the dock back in the pocket, too.
No. 5: N 33º 21.562 – W 83º 51.698 — Running back down the river, on the left just before it opens back up—upstream and almost across from hole No. 2—is a small reddish-brown dock with an old private ramp just downstream of it. The dock has the number 653 on it. The river channel runs down this bank, and it is deep and very rocky—ideal for January bass.
Start at the old ramp and dock, and fish upstream a short distance to the small point. Jordan says a rock shelf runs out from this bank and then drops off into 25 feet of water, and bass use the shelf to feed. Fish your crankbait, and follow up with a shaky head here. If you see baitfish off this bank, the bass should be feeding here.
No. 6: N 33º 21.180 – W 83º 53.128 — Run up Tussahaw Creek upstream of the bridge, and stop on the big rocks on the left just before the creek turns right. Jackson can get muddy fast, and Tussahaw Creek will often have clearer water in it than the rivers do in January.
These big rocks continue underwater and are on the outside bend of the river. Sit in 15 feet of water, and cast to the rocks with drop shot or shaky head. Work both slowly back, keeping in contact with the rocks, until your bait is in about 15 feet of water.
Jordan says bass will hold in the rock cracks and eat anything that comes by, so fish slowly to make sure they see your bait. There is also some brush Jordan put out here. When fishing his drop shot, Jordan rigs it about a foot above the sinker and casts it and fishes it like a Carolina rig rather than just straight under the boat.
No. 7: N 33º 21.042 – W 83º 53.514 — Tussahaw Creek makes a sharp turn to the right at hole No. 6. Straight ahead is Caney Fork Creek, and it splits to the right and left toward the back. On the point between the forks, the right side is sand and clay with blowdowns on it. Toward the left side is a small dock where a cement seawall starts.
Jordan starts at the dock, fishing it with a spinnerbait and crankbait, casting to the seawall after fishing the dock. Along the bank going into the left pocket is some brush and blowdowns, and he fishes it with the faster-moving baits. If you catch a fish here, it is worth going back over it with a jig ’n pig or shaky head.
A little wind blowing in on this place as well as the others makes them better, as long as the wind is not too strong. The wind moves algae on the surface and shad follow it, and the ripple breaking the surface makes it harder for the bass to tell that your bait is fake.
No. 8: N 33º 21.051 – W 83º 52.301 — Go back to the mouth of Tussahaw Creek. After the bends below the bridge, the creek straightens out going to meet the river. This straight bank on the right going downstream is a bluff with the channel running right along it. About halfway down the bluff is a light-green house with a brick lower level sitting on the hill above a cement seawall. Just upstream of the house is a light-green dock that matches the house.
Start at that dock, fishing the dock and seawall behind it. Jordan fishes upstream to a small pocket that has a grey painted seawall upstream of a blue house. He fishes that seawall and the others in this area, as well as the docks, slow-rolling a spinnerbait. There are rocks and brush all along this bank that hold January bass. Also fish your jig head and jig ’n pig here. Jordan fishes his War Eagle spinnerbait on a Douglas Outdoors DXC 724 F rod. Its medium-heavy action is just right for a spinnerbait. He matches all his baits with the Douglas Outdoors rod with the best action for that bait. All his baits are fished on Stren fluorocarbon line.
No. 9: N 33º 20.355 – W 83º 51.732 — Going down the lake, on the right where the river narrows down from the big open area at the mouth of Tussahaw Creek, is a small cove that has two big houses in it. The point on the upstream side of the small cove is a big, round, rocky point that goes back into a big creek upstream of the small cove.
On the downstream side of the point is a blowdown, and just inside the cove a United States flag flies near the water. Jordan likes to start at the blowdown and fish the rock ridge that comes out at the flag and then work down to the dock and fish it. He got a keeper spot on a drop-shot worm here when we fished. Keep your boat out in 15 feet of water and work the rocks and dock with crankbait and spinnerbait, then go back around it with a jig head worm or a drop-shot worm. Fish from the bank out to 15 feet deep, hitting the rocks and wood cover here.
No. 10: N 33º 20.105 – W 83º 50.829 — Going toward the dam there is a narrow part of the lake just downstream of the danger markers, and then it opens back up. On the left side a bluff bank with big boulders above and below the water runs for a good distance, ending at a small creek.
These boulders are on the north side of the lake, so they get sun all day, something that really helps in January. And the bank drops off very fast into deep water, another key. Add shad along this bank, and you have almost perfect conditions. A few years ago Jordan won a January club tournament here.
Start at either end of the bluff, and fish the length of it with a crankbait, spinnerbait and shaky head. Cast right to the bank, and keep your baits near the bottom out to 15 feet deep. Docks along this bank offer shade to fish if the sun is bright, too, and some of them have brush around them.
January is a good time to go to Jackson to catch some spots with a few largemouth mixed in. Have a good time fighting the spots, and keep them for the fryer—they overcrowd the largemouth! Try Jordan’s baits and places, and then you can find other similar places all over the lake to catch bass.
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