Winter Grass For Sinclair Bass
Danny White marks a December map to help anglers set a hydrilla and shallow bite pattern for quality largemouth.
Ronnie Garrison | November 26, 2021
December is a great month to fish hydrilla beds for quality largemouth. At Seminole? No, at Lake Sinclair!
Hydrilla showed up in the river at Sinclair a few years ago and is now widespread all over the lake. It has greatly influenced the bass population, making the average tournament limit increase in weight quite a bit.
Sinclair is a 15,300-acre Georgia Power lake between Eatonton and Milledgeville on the Oconee River. Not too many years ago, warm-water discharge from the power plant attracted bass clubs all over Georgia to fish winter tournaments on Sinclair. Then the power plant was shut down.
A few years before the power plant was closed, bigger tournament stringers started showing up. Local fishermen found they could go up the river, find green hydrilla and catch big bass from it. As the hydrilla spread, the fishing got even better.
Georgia Power and dock owners spray and kill the hydrilla regularly, but it is hard to keep it down. However, the frequent spraying changes where the bass are, and at times those changes are daily. When you find them, you can catch some big largemouth.
Danny White has lived on Lake Sinclair since 1987, and he’s well-known to long-time GON readers, having been featured in magazine articles and tournament results numerous times. He is now retired from the Georgia Power Co. Danny fished with the Baldwin Backlashers Bass Club years ago. He now fishes many tournaments, from the Berry’s Trail and pot tournaments on Sinclair to the MLF Toyota Series and BASS Opens. In his career, he has won four boats!
Danny is also active on the internet, putting up instructive videos and posting information at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube under Danny White Fishing and doing fishing reports and tackle information at lakecountryfishing.com.
“Bass fishing changes daily on Sinclair in December,” Danny said.
He said if you find fish in practice on Thursday, they may be gone on Saturday. You have to stay flexible and open to move to different places to consistently catch them.
He looks for green hydrilla, grass that has not been sprayed. Spraying runs the fish off, but if the grass is green, bass should be in it. Concentrate your casts on the outside edge of the hydrilla beds, and look for anything different. A clump just off the main bed can be key, as can a little point or cut in the bed.
One big change Danny has seen with the hydrilla is the deep bite for quality fish seems to have died. He says you can catch some 12- to-14-inch keepers deep, but for the tournament fish he wants, he concentrates on water from dirt shallow to 8 feet deep. And he likes to cover a lot of water, so moving baits are his preference.
His go-to baits for December are a bladed jig, topwater, crankbait and spinnerbait. If the bite is tough, he will slow down and fish a jig, shaky head and even a Carolina rig.
Danny picked me up at Little River Marina in his new Phoenix 920 Elite boat and Mercury motor from Central Georgia Marina on the second day of the cold front we had the last week of October. Although fishing was tough with bright skies and little wind, he landed three keepers, including one pushing 7 pounds. He also had a fat 2-pounder and another keeper fish.
The following 10 spots are all places Danny fishes this month. Hydrilla has changed them and the way he fishes them, but he expects to find feeding bass on them and similar places all month. On Saturday, Nov. 13, two weeks after we fished, Danny won the Po-Boys tournament on Sinclair fishing these patterns. His five-bass limit weighed 22.92 pounds!
No. 1: N 33º 12.010 – W 83º 17.504 — Go up Beaverdam Creek to the last cove on the right before the Highway 441 bridge. A local road causeway crosses the back of this pocket, and there is rip-rap and water willow along it. The cove is full of hydrilla and docks.
Fish around the cove, hitting the docks and hydrilla on both sides, as well as at the causeway. Try your topwater, crankbait, bladed jig and jig. When you get near the left side of the rip-rap, watch for current coming out of the pipe under the road. The current moves when water is going either way at the Lake Oconee dam and being released at the Sinclair dam.
Danny says current is not real important in most shallow areas, but it is critical here. Bass set up in the current waiting on baitfish or other food to wash though the pipe. A bladed jig, spinnerbait or crankbait all work well here. Danny uses a 1/2-oz. chartreuse-and-white Off The Hook bladed jig with a white Rage Swimmer trailer on it, and he reels it steadily along. When it hits grass, he pulls it free, and that often causes a reaction bite.
No. 2: N 33º 11.841 – W 83º 17.718 — Bridges are always good in December, and the Highway 441 bridge over Beaverdam Creek is no exception. Shad with bass following move in and out of the creek in the winter, and the bridge creates a chokepoint that concentrates bass and baitfish.
Danny likes to run a topwater, crankbait, bladed jig and spinnerbait along the rocks and the shallow grass. The four corners of the bridge are key if the current is moving here, but fish can be caught up and down both sides. The upstream side on the right—leading to the campers on that bank—is Danny’s favorite stretch of rip-rap here.
Run a crawfish Rapala OG Slim 6 crankbait along the rocks and beside the grass here. Danny casts the crankbait on a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Six Gill Cypress Series rod and uses a Six Gill 8.0 speed reel. Many anglers use a slower reel for crankbaits, but Danny says he can slow down his reeling speed, but he likes the fast line pickup of a high-speed reel when a bass runs toward him.
On the upstream side of the bridge toward the old power plant site, look for a rock just barely above the surface about 20 yards out. That rock marks a rockpile that runs parallel to the bridge rocks and then drops off on the outside.
Stop with your boat in about 15 feet of water out from the upstream corner of the bridge, and make long casts along the outside of these rocks, running your crankbait, bladed jig and spinnerbait at different depths off the side of them. Cover them from a foot deep down to 10 feet deep before leaving.
No. 3: N 33º 11.791 – W 83º 17.332 — Going out of Beaverdam Creek downstream of the bridge, a big round point comes out from the right bank. When you get close to it, you can see a smaller secondary point about halfway out to the main creek point and a small pocket to the right of it. There are no docks from the small pocket out to the main point.
Stop out from the secondary point with your boat in about 15 feet of water. There is some hydrilla up around the bank, but where it ends—out in about 4 feet of water—there are some rocks. These rocks have held fish for years, and the hydrilla just adds to the attraction of this place.
Start by running a topwater bait over the hydrilla if it is thin enough. Danny likes a walking bait like a Spook twitched over the submerged grass. He also works a black 1/2-oz. Booyah buzzbait tipped with a white single-tail Fat Albert over it and through cuts and pockets in the grass.
Sometimes low-light conditions seem to be needed for topwater, but Danny says bass holding in the hydrilla will come up and hit topwater even in bright sun. And he likes more light so he can see pockets, cuts and edges of the grass where he concentrates his casts with the topwater and bladed jig.
No. 4: N 33º 11.436 – 83º 17.329 — Going up Little River before you get to the Highway 441 Bridge, there is a small main-lake point on the upstream point of a small cove. It is the next-to-last cove on the right before the bridge—the next cove is much bigger and has condos in it.
For years a wooden mock cannon sat on this point, and many fishermen call it Cannon Point. The road running out on it is Cannon Point Road. The point has water willow and hydrilla on it and big rocks are under the surface.
Danny stops out even with the point on the cove side with his boat in 15 feet of water, and he parallels the grass going into the cove with topwater, a bladed jig and a crankbait. He will throw topwater no matter how cold it gets—fish will still hit, but it takes repeated casts and slow retrieves if the water is below 50 degrees. If it is that cold, it is too slow for his preferred fishing in a tournament, so that is usually his cut-off temperature for topwater.
Released fish at Little River Marina used to keep this area restocked, but few tournaments are held there now. There are enough that some fish are still brought in, making this area better than others. Danny says this is a place you can pull up on at the right time and catch multiple fish in one place.
No. 5: N 33º 11.322 – W 83º 17.448 — Across the river, the campground at Little River is on a point with a cement seawall. On the boat ramp side, just outside the no-wake buoy near the bank, a gap in the point has water willow. There is also hydrilla on the point and rocks on the bottom to fish.
The rocks on this point have always held fish, and the grass and hydrilla just improves the cover here. Stop out in 6 to 8 feet of water well off the bank. This point is very shallow. Make long casts up to a foot of water with your crankbait, bladed jig and topwater.
Work around the upstream side of the point to the no-wake buoy. This is one of the first stops for released tournament fish, and resident fish never leave this point. Work it carefully. And try this spot and other places several times during the day—fish move in and out and may start feeding at any time.
No. 6: N 33º 11.469 – W 83º 17.440 — Back across the river, the downstream point of the big cove with condos in it runs out shallow and has a lot of rock on it. Hydrilla is also growing on the point, giving bass good cover to ambush shad going into and out of the cove. Stay way out on the point and make long casts with your topwater, bladed jig, spinnerbait and crankbait. Run them across the top of the hydrilla that is below the surface. Also look for clumps of the grass out from the bank and fish them.
This is the kind of place that Danny will pick up a Carolina rig if he wants to catch some fish. You are likely to catch keeper-size fish rather than quality, but catching numbers is fun, too. Rig a 1-oz. sinker 3 to 4 feet from a 6-inch lizard and drag it through the rocks.
Danny likes to color the tails of his lizards, jig trailers and shaky head worms chartreuse, but he does not like to mess up his boat, so he dips them before going out or he uses a pen to color them on the water. The flash and smell seem to attract bass.
No. 7: N 33º 11.498 – W 83º 17.572 — The two docks on the right downstream side of the bridge as you approach it are where DNR keeps its boats and supplies, and Danny calls this Game Warden Cove. The old Highway 441 roadbed comes across in front of the docks and crosses the back of the pocket where the peninsular goes out to the fishing pier.
The old roadbed gives fish a path to move in and out and the grass—there’s both hydrilla and water willow here that offers good feeding cover. And the docks hold fish, too. Fish all the way around the cove with your topwater and bladed jig. Danny will also keep a frog ready for working on top of grass that’s too thick to work his other baits.
Danny says there are always fish on docks on Sinclair, and he will fish the ones here and in other areas using a shaky head and jig ’n pig. He likes an Off The Hook jig and varies the color based on water color. His “Danny White Collection” offered at Lake Country Fishing includes his favorites.
Skitter your jig or shaky head under docks and try to hit every post. Get your baits into places where others have not for more bites and better quality fish. Danny also lets both baits drop into holes in the hydrilla, shakes them and then pitches them to the next hole.
No. 8: N 33º 11.449 – W 83º 17.576 — The Highway 441 bridge and rip-rap is probably the biggest community hole on the lake—for a good reason. It holds fish. In December, the bass here are more active and are easier to catch, and it is always worth trying when you are in the area. Danny especially likes the corners, and they are better if any current is moving. He will work the corners and the rip-rap about 20 yards on each side. If fish are active, he may fish the entire stretch of rip-rap. Run a topwater bait along the rocks in close and parallel. Also run your crankbait, bladed jig, and spinnerbait along them, trying different depths. Danny likes a 1/2-oz. chartreuse-and-white Strike King bait with one gold and one silver willowleaf blade.
No. 9: N 33º 11.414 – W 83º 17.648 — Go upstream under the bridge. On your right is the cove with the old intake canal for the power plant. The downstream point of this cove has a rock spur that comes straight out, and there is grass inside the point and hydrilla on the point.
Stop out from the point in 10 to 12 feet of water, and cast in toward it, fan casting to cover the bank from the downstream side around to the cove side. Fish a crankbait, bladed jig, topwater and spinnerbait on the point.
This is also a good place to try a shaky head. If you are a little downstream of the point, stay in about 10 feet of water and cast upstream out from the point to hit the rock spur and the drop-off. Also pitch your shaky head to holes in the hydrilla. If the sun is up, you see exactly where to drop your bait into the holes. Let it hit bottom, and shake it in place. Danny rigs a 1/4-oz. shaky head with a Zoom Fluke Stick and dips the tail in chartreuse dye. That rig works well in hydrilla holes, on docks and rock, and it will get bit under almost all conditions.
No. 10: N 33º 11.058 – W 83º 18.745 — The small creek with Dennis Station ramps in it gets a lot of released fish from tournaments now, so it is constantly restocked with quality fish. As you go in, there are two pockets on the right side. Both have hydrilla beds as well as water willow.
Fish around both pockets with all your baits. Don’t hesitate to try topwater, even in cold water and bright sun. Run your bladed jig by every bit of hydrilla in the coves, and fish a jig and shaky head around them, too.
Give these places that Danny likes a try to see what to look for, and then find many more similar areas all over the lake where you can catch December bass that are shallow and feeding.
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