Winter Bass On West Point

This tournament pro and guide's patterns for winter bass on West Point will produce whether bass are shallow, deep or suspended in between.

Ronnie Garrison | January 3, 2015

West Point is an excellent lake to have fun catching bass right now, especially if you follow the tips of a local expert who can catch winter bass shallow, deep and in between.

West Point, located on the Chattahoochee River along the Georgia-Alabama border, has a good population of both spotted bass and largemouth. It is a fairly new lake, dammed in the late 1970s, so there are a lot of roadbeds under the water and wood cover both on the shoreline and in deeper water. While new compared to most reservoirs, West Point is still old enough that wave action has exposed rocks in a lot of areas. All those types of cover hold bass in the winter.

Ken Bearden started guiding on West Point Lake out of Highland Marina in 2002. Ken is an artificials-only bass guide. He also fishes most tournaments on West Point as well as fishing the BASS Opens, BFLs and FLW tournaments. He has qualified for seven Walmart BFL Regional Championships, three EverStart/Stren Championships and the FLW Forrest Wood Cup. At West Point, Ken won the Georgia State Championship in 2004 and was West Point Lake Fisherman of the Year in 2007. He also mentors the LaGrange College Bass Fishing Team and founded the Troup County Youth Bass Masters. You can find him speaking at many bass clubs, seminars and youth events.

“There are three good patterns you can count on this time of year,” Ken said.

Anglers can catch bass shallow on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs, while deep fish will hit a spoon, jig or drop shot. You can catch both deep and shallow bass on an Alabama Rig. The third pattern is catching bass suspended in standing timber on a bucktail jig.

For shallow bass, Ken focuses on rocky points and banks on the main lake or in bigger creeks. Wood like blowdowns on these rocky banks makes them even better. For deep bass holding in 20 to 28 feet of water, he concentrates on roadbeds and the ends of long points or shoals dropping off into the channels.

These patterns are good all over the lake if the water remains clear. If the water muddies up from winter rains, Ken looks for clear water down the lake or the backs of pockets and creeks that have not muddied up. Yellowjacket Creek often is clearer than the river after a rain.

For shallow fish, Ken will have a 1/2-oz. War Eagle Screaming Eagle spinnerbait with the mouse-colored skirt and one nickel and one gold blade. He throws the spinnerbait on a Kistler rod and reel spooled with 10- or 12-lb. Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon line. A DT06 crankbait in blueback herring or shad for clear water or crawfish in stained water is rigged the same way.

A No. 7 Shad Rap in shad or crawfish colors also works well. An All Terrain 3/4-oz. football-head jig in watermelon/red flake with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer with the tail dipped in chartreuse JJ’s Magic on 15-lb. line can be fished to cover both shallow and deep water.

For deep fish, Ken uses a War Eagle 1/2-oz. chrome jigging spoon. For drop-shotting, Ken uses a 1/2-oz. round sinker and an Edge Speed Fall pearl-white worm.

“You can catch a lot of bass fast on the deeper patterns jigging a spoon or using drop shot,” Ken said.

When fishing the shallow pattern, he does not expect to catch more than one or two bass, if any at all, on each spot. But by running-and-gunning, hitting a lot of rocky points quickly, you can put together a good limit of what he calls “Lonesome Joes,” individual fish feeding on those spots.

We fished in early December, and some good fish were already on these patterns. They will hold up through the winter.

No. 1: N 33º 03.311 – W 85º 06.667 — If you put in at Highland Marina, you don’t need to go far. As you idle out from the ramp, you will see a round marker out in the middle of the creek. It is even with the end of the last houseboat dock. It marks a sunken pontoon boat, and the structure holds bass.

The water was a little more than 5 feet low when we fished, so all the depths on these locations are with the lake down at that level. Adjust them to the current level. Around the pontoon, the water was 13 feet deep, and the pontoon wreck came up to within 6 feet of the surface.

Ken starts here with his jig and goes about three-fourths of the way around it, circling the buoy and casting to the sunken pontoon. He works the jig through it at different angles. Then he will switch to a crankbait and circle the wreck again. The DT06 will bump the top of the pontoon when the lake is down 5 feet or more.

He uses the jig first so he can break off if it gets hung, then he tries the crankbait. If he hangs the crankbait, he’s going to try to get it back, so fishing the jig first allows him to fish both baits without disturbing the bass. And you don’t want to disturb them. Ken says he has caught several bass weighing more than 8 pounds each on this spot, and he expects to catch a good quality bass here.

No. 2: N 33º 03 177 – W 85º 06.781 —
Start up the right arm of the creek at Highland, and you will see a white danger buoy near the right bank of the second pocket on the right in this arm. This marks another sunken boat. It is shallower water, and we could see the top of the boat in the clear water.

Keep your boat out in deeper water toward the pocket ditch—a good cast from the boat and marker—and fish it like the other boat. Use the jig first, and then bump a crankbait across it.

Ken says he has caught good numbers of fish here, but nothing larger than about 4 pounds. It is a good place to catch 2- to 4-pounders, though.

No. 3: N 33º 04.133 – W 85º 06.133 — Go out of the Highland Marina creek and up Yellowjacket Creek. Stop downstream of the first bridge. Even with the bridge, you can find the old roadbed and bridge from before the lake was filled. The structure tops out about 23 feet deep with 38 feet of water around it on both sides and under the old bridge.

This is good place to use a drop-shot rig. Ken uses a 1/2-oz. round drop-shot weight to get to the bottom fast and keep the lure there. He ties a No. 2 VMC Spin Shot hook about 10 inches above the weight and hooks an Edge Pearl Speed Fall worm on the hook.

Watch your depthfinder for bass, and drop down to them. Ken does not move his rod tip, he just holds the line tight. He says the worm will wiggle and move all it needs to without him giving it any action.

While easing around with his trolling motor looking for bass, he will drag the drop shot slowly. This method keeps his bait in the water and will often catch spooky fish that don’t like a boat over their heads. The 1/2-oz. weight keeps the sinker on the bottom.

Also jig a spoon and drag a football-head jig on top of this roadbed and down the sides. Concentrate on the bridge area, but cover the roadbed on both sides of it, too.

No. 4: N 33º 03.881 – W 85º 06.266 — Go back toward the lake, and stop on the upstream point of Half Moon Creek. Stop upstream of the point and well off it. The point runs out a long way and has big chunk rock on it with deep water swinging in on the upstream side. This is the kind of place Ken fishes this time of year.

Ken got a solid 2 1/2-lb. largemouth here, setting the pattern for the day. It swallowed the DT06 so far the bait was not sticking out of its mouth at all.

Cast your crankbait along the upstream edge of the point first, and then across it in more shallow water. Ken wants his DT06 to barely bump the bottom first since it is less likely to get hung. Bumping it through the more shallow rocks may get hung, but it will catch bass, especially on sunny days.

Work out on the point, and then go down the bank on the upstream side, hitting the rocks and blowdowns on it. After fishing your crankbait, try a jig in the same area. Also, if there is some wind on the point, a spinnerbait can be good.

No. 5: N 33º 03.770 – W 85º 06.295 —
Go around the point into the mouth of Half Moon Creek, and watch your depthfinder for an old pond dam crossing the creek. It runs off the upstream point about even with where the bank changes from clay to sand.

Fish this old dam with a football jig and drop shot. Watch for bass holding on top of the dam and on the sides. Also try a Flash Mob Jr. Alabama Rig here. Ken said you often have to work your way through hybrids and stripers at this spot to get to the bass. He promptly caught an 8-lb. striper, then got a hybrid and striper on one cast on the A-Rig.

Some wind blowing across this spot and others makes them better, but the wind can make it impossible to fish open water. This is a fairly protected area, so it is a good place when the wind is high.

No. 6: N 33º 03.891 – W 85º 06.540 — On the downstream point of Half Moon Creek, you will see blowdowns on the downstream side of it with some rocks around them. There is deep water not far off the bank and this is a good winter feeding area.

Start at the first tree, and fish your crankbait through the limbs of it. Ken says bass will suspend in the limbs of the tree, so he bumps the crankbait off them here and in other places. When he feels the limb, Ken will lift his rod tip and pop the bait over the limb. This often triggers a strike.

After bumping the limbs with a crankbait, you can do the same thing with a spinnerbait. Then drag your jig down the trunk of the tree for fish holding there. Fish all the trees and rocks on this side of the point until they end.

No. 7: N 33º 02.292 – W 85º 09.886 — Go down the lake under the railroad trestle and past the big island on the right. Idle in toward the unused picnic shelter on the right bank, and you will cross an old pond dam. It comes up to 14 feet deep on top from 20 feet deep around it.

This pond dam comes off the bank near the pavilion, runs out toward the main lake, makes a hard turn upstream and goes to the end of the island. This long dam can hold bass anywhere on it, so idle around over it until you see fish.

Try a drop shot or spoon straight down under the boat. When jigging a spoon, Ken lets it fall to the bottom with his rod tip at the 7 o’clock position then pops it up to the 9 o’clock position. Let the spoon fall back to the bottom on semi slack line. Most hits will come as the spoon falls. Ken uses the 1/ War Eagle spoon.

No. 8: N 32º 58.465 – W 85º 11.596 —
Run down the lake all the way to the mouth of Bird Creek. The water will usually be fairly clear here, even if it is stained farther up the river. Stop on the upstream side of the big island that sits in the mouth of the creek.

There is a rock spur that runs off the inside of this point, and from it all the way down to the other end is big chunk rock dropping off into deep water. Standing timber is off the bank along here. Fish hold in it and run in to feed.

Fish all the way around the outside of the point with the crankbait, spinnerbait and jig. Then back off the bank until you see the standing timber. Bass will hold in this timber, and you can catch them on a bucktail like the Spro 1/2-oz. jig. Ken likes the green-and-white color.

Swim the bucktail slowly through the timber. When it hits a limb, keep it moving until it comes over it and falls a little. This is one of the best ways to catch bass suspended in the trees.

No. 9: W 32º 58.680 – W 85º 11.516 — The first point upstream of the mouth of Bird Creek is a clay bluff with rock and wood in the water. The wood on the bank runs out deep, and there is also standing timber off the bank, making it a perfect place this time of year. Ken caught our biggest bass of the day here when we fished last month.

Start at the first laydown on the downstream side of the point, and fish upstream around it. Run your crankbait through the tree limbs. Ken cranks his DT06 with a steady retrieve, and then pulls his rod tip a foot and pauses it to trigger a strike when not hitting limbs. He fishes slower and slower as the water gets colder. After fishing the crankbait, try a spinnerbait and jig. Then back off and swim a bucktail through the standing timber. You can often see the fish holding in the trees on a good depthfinder. Always keep an eye on your depthfinder while fishing both shallow and deep. Lower a spoon or drop shot down to bass you see.

No. 10: N 32º 59.946 – W 85º 10.582 — Run up to Rainbow Creek, and go into the mouth of it to the roadbed. You can see it entering the water on the right point where the creek makes a sharp turn to the right. There are chunk rocks on the point, and the old road was paved, so there is rubble on the bottom from the old road.

Ken keeps his boat on the downstream side of the road and casts upstream across it. He starts out deeper, where his crankbait just tips the bottom, and then fishes more and more shallow. We fished here right at sundown, and Ken caught some good largemouth and spots at this hole.

Also drag your jig across the road and rocks on the point. After fishing them, work out the roadbed toward the middle of the creek where an old culvert marks the channel. Drop a spoon or drop shot to any fish you see.

All these places are excellent this time of year. Check them out, and you can find many similar places all over West Point.

Ken knows every rock and limb on West Point. If you would like him to show you how to catch bass on these spots and others, call him for a guide trip at (706) 884-0494. He charges $275 for a full day trip and fishes only artificial baits.

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