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Bass On Fire At Lake Seminole
Super hot fishing on three stages of the spawn.
 
By Walker Smith
Originally published in the March 2013 issue of GON
 
The bass fishing is fantastic at Big Sem this spring.
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I have been blessed to fish all over the country, and I’ll be totally honest with you—Lake Seminole is one of the best lakes you will ever have the opportunity to fish.

With abundant vegetation such as hydrilla and eel grass, miles of sandbars and hundreds of acres of standing timber, Seminole bass grow throughout the entire year.

Regardless of the month or weather conditions, every trip to Lake Seminole gives you a legitimate chance of catching the bass of a lifetime.

In January, I went on an incredible fishing trip to Lake Tobesofkee with Ranger Boats pro Clayton Batts. After catching multiple 5-pounders throughout our trip and chatting back and forth, we decided to take a February trip to the majestic Lake Seminole.

While we had a tremendous winter fishing on Tobesfokee this year, we were tired of the cold temperatures. We figured that the warm, southwest Georgia climate was just what we needed.

Needless to say, I was jacked up for this trip. After weeks of bothering my girlfriend with John Anderson’s “Seminole Wind” on repeat, the day finally arrived. It was time to head to the Promised Land of bass fishing.

When we pulled into the famous Wingate’s Lodge, it felt like I had a herd of butterflies in my stomach. The calm, blackish swamp water, thick grassbeds and smell of fertile vegetation made me feel like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. Just knowing of the angling legends that have stepped foot on the hallowed soil at Wingate’s Lodge is enough to evoke emotion in any avid bass angler.

As if that wasn’t enough to get my motor running, I watched a 4-lb. bass chase a school of bluegill next to the boat ramp. Have mercy on my soul—we were about to flat-out wreck those Seminole bass.

A Solid Starting Point

With water temperatures hovering around the 60-degree mark and a recent full moon, we decided to begin our day by leaving the rods in storage and looking for bedding fish. Whenever the surface temperature reaches 60 degrees, bass instinctively flock to the shallows in search of suitable bedding areas. Big female bass typically prefer to lay their eggs in areas with a firm bottom composition, so we headed straight to the sandbars on the Flint River side of the lake.

We kept the trolling motor on high as we cupped our hands around our eyes to decrease the sun’s glare. As we were making our way toward one of the expansive bars, I noticed hundreds of bluegill schooling in a small, 8-foot long ditch on the edge of the bar. As with any time of the year, wherever you see a large quantity of bait, you can be sure that big bass are nearby.

I bombed an Ito Wakasagi-colored (yes, that’s a real color) Megabass Ito Vision 110 Squarebill jerkbait toward the ditch, and after two quick pops of my rod tip, a chunky 3-pounder just about ripped the rod out of my hands. I laid into the fish as hard as I could to prevent it from breaking me off in the thick hydrilla, and within a few short seconds, I landed the first bass of the day. While it wasn’t one of the Seminole giants I was looking for, it curbed my appetite for the time being. Seminole bass are Florida strain bass, and if you haven’t experienced it yet, a 3-pounder pulls like a 5-lb. bass anywhere else in Georgia.

After casting around the ditch for a few more minutes, we made our way on top of the massive sandbar. The water was clear, the wind was low, and my hopes were through the roof. Roughly 20 yards away, we spotted a big, light-colored bowl in the middle of a small hydrilla patch—a trademark sign of a bass bed. As we slowly approached the ring, we saw what every angler dreams of—a huge dark shadow in the middle of the bed.

To avoid spooking the giant bass, we deployed the Power-Poles and pulled out our bed-fishing gear. For the first few flips, the 6-pounder didn’t want anything to do with it. To force a reaction bite, I flipped the Big Bite Baits Dean Rojas WarMouth past the bed and popped it violently—still no luck. Two flips later, the female had enough and darted from the bed.

While many anglers may get flustered when this happens, we assessed the situation and came to a big realization. Throughout the morning, we had seen several big females cruising the sandbars, but none of them were “locked on” to their beds.

The more we thought about it, we realized that a cold front, just a small, 7-degree swing, had swept through Lake Seminole two days earlier. On most fisheries, such a diminutive temperature change won’t hurt bedding fish, but these Florida-strain Seminole bass are a whole different beast. Just a small cold front can totally upend any hopes of bed fishing.

With that realization, our bed fishing dreams were shattered. Fortunately, we were on one of the best lakes in the country with a solid backup plan.

Chunking and Winding

By the time lunch rolled around, we had only caught one fish. After scouring the sandbars for hours in hopes of a stray bedding bass, we needed to change courses. We didn’t drive three hours for nothing.

As we were discussing our options, a stiff breeze stirred the atmosphere, and that meant one thing for us—lipless rattle baits. The presence of wind positions bass on underwater cover such as grass points, ditches and small depressions, and it seemed like the perfect storm for salvaging an otherwise subpar day.

We decided to bounce around, from grass flat to grass flat, chunking and winding lipless rattle baits to coerce the finicky fish into biting. The first few spots yielded a couple of short strikes, but we were still having trouble getting hooked up. Fighting frustration, we put the hammer down and ran to a grass flat in front of the campground near the dam. We had both won some money there in the past, so we were hoping for a last-minute miracle.

On our first two casts, we noticed large clumps of very green hydrilla on our baits. Green vegetation enriches its surrounding water with oxygen, attracting big bass—an awesome sign. Just as we suspected, we hooked up with four solid bass in our next four casts. Just like that, we had about 20 pounds in the boat. Seminole locals routinely catch 30-lb. bags in tournaments, so while it may not have been impressive by their standards, it made our long drive well worth it.

For the rest of the afternoon, we continued focusing on lively patches of hydrilla and caught a bunch of chunky bass on lipless baits. The giants eluded us, but any day on beautiful Lake Seminole is a real blessing.

What to Expect in March

According to Seminole bass fishing extraordinaire and Big Bite Baits pro Matt Baty, March is a perfect time to head south.

“You can catch big bass in all stages of the spawn in March,” Matt says. “To catch both prespawn and postspawn fish, I head to the Spring Creek area in the mornings and throw a Spro Little John DD in nasty shad and clear chartreuse to catch transitioning fish. I’ll sit my boat in 15 to 18 feet of water and throw onto the bars and pull them off of the ledges. If you do this all morning, eventually you’ll run into a group of two or three big ones.”

Just before lunchtime, Matt likes to switch gears and begin his search for bedding bass on the sandbars. When he runs across one, he uses a Texas-rigged Big Bite Baits Dean Rojas WarMouth with a 3/8-oz. Fish Catchin’ Fool tungsten weight and a 5/0 Gamakatsu hook. Casting past the bed, he initially pops it into the bed before barely shaking it in the middle of the bed.

“I haven’t found many bedding bass that won’t eat this bait,” Matt says. “Six-pounders are fairly easy to come by with this technique, but it just takes a little patience to get the big girls to bite.”

To target prespawn Seminole bass, Baty relies heavily on a 1/2-oz. Spro Aruku Shad 75 in bug red or chrome and black. He prefers the Flint River side of the lake for a very specific reason.

“When the big females get done spawning, they start making their way from the sandbars to the channels,” Matt says. “These fish are easy to locate and catch because they have no choice but to cross the grass flats. They’ll position on depressions, ditches and points in the hydrilla, and you can have a heck of a time catching some really big ones.”

Plainly stated, you’ve got to get down to Lake Seminole this March. Whether you like to throw deep crankbaits, lipless rattle baits or flip for bedding fish, this lake offers everything. While it certainly produces year-round, March is the great time to catch Seminole giants. Even if the fishing is slow, which isn’t likely, you’ll be astounded by the beauty and tranquility this Georgia jewel.
 
 
 
 
 
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