Bass fishermen wait all year for March. Prespawn bass feed heavily, and on some lakes you can sight fish for spawning bass. There will even be some bass feeding heavily in a postspawn mode, as well. On Lake Blackshear, you can find spawning fish this month, and it is one of our most beautiful, fishy looking lakes.
Blackshear is an 8,500-acre reservoir on the Flint River between Americus and Cordele, west of I-75. The lower lake has many backouts and small creeks that are full of grass and cypress trees. The upper lake is basically a log- and stump-filled flat with big backwaters that are a maze of cypress trees and grass.
All of this shallow cover is excellent for bass, producing high numbers of baitfish for the fish to eat and providing cover for bass from the time they hatch until they are trophy sized. The biggest problem with fishing Blackshear is it looks like anywhere you cast ought to hold a bass.
To consistently find the bass, you need to pick the areas that bass use. Jimmie Troxell knows these areas very well. Jimmie has lived in the Blackshear area all his life and has been fishing the lake for more than 50 years. He started concentrating on bass in the early 1970s.
Jimmie has worked in the fishing industry for many years. He and his son Michael currently own ACF Fishing Services. In addition, both guide catch-and-release fishing trips on Blackshear, Seminole and Eufaula. Michael also has a jet boat and guides for shoal bass on the Flint River.
Over the years, Jimmie has done very well in tournaments and once caught a five-fish limit from Blackshear that weighed 28-lbs., 8-ozs. while fishing with Edwin Oliver. Jimmie is now running the 1 n’ 4 Team Trail on Blackshear out of the mega ramp at Veterans State Park.
“Bass move into the spawning areas in waves, starting in late February until April,” Jimmie said.
You can go into these areas and look for fish on the bed, while also catching those staging to spawn. Later in the month there will be spawning fish as well as prespawn and postspawn bass in these areas.
Rattle baits like the Red Eye Shad or Rat-L-Trap will catch prespawn and postspawn bass while you are searching for concentrations of fish. A shallow-running Sanford Cedar Shad, a flat-sided crankbait, is also good. Red and shad colors in both baits work well this time of year on Blackshear. When the grass is thick, a good bait is a 3/8-oz. Terminator spinnerbait with a chartreuse-and-white skirt and one gold and one silver blade. You can keep it above the grass easier than the hard baits, and it won’t get clogged with grass as much as they do.
For slower fishing, when the fish are holding tight on the cypress trees or are on the bed, Jimmie will rig a Bruiser 5.5-inch stick bait or a Diamond Tail worm behind a Vike Tungsten 1/8-oz. sinker. Watermelon red for clear water or junebug in stained water are his color choices. These baits should be skipped under the trees, dropped into beds and also fished around docks.
“Most of the bedding areas get better later in the day as the sun warms the water,” Jimmie said.
Sunny days are usually better, and calm days, with little wind disturbing the water, makes it easier to see the beds.
We fished Blackshear in early February, the day of a strong cold front, and we were early for bass to be in these areas. These locations will hold bass now, and some bass will even be on the beds by early March.
No. 1: N 31º 58.741 – W 83º 56.798 — Going up the river above the Highway 280 bridge, stay in the marked channel. The first big creek on your left is Spring Creek. As you go in the mouth of it, Warren Slough is on your left. Go back into Warren, and stop in front of the double dock with a flag pole on it. The dock will be ahead of you to the right.
To the left of this dock, a spring keeps the water in here a little warmer and helps keep it clearer, so this slough warms early. Jimmie will start at the cypress trees off the bank to the right of this dock and fish around it to the right.
Cast your rattle bait or crankbait between the trees, and pitch or skip your plastic baits to the bases of the trees. Some days the bass are right on the trunk. You need to hit the tree and let your bait slide down into the water. Other days they are a little more aggressive and will hit your bait a little out from the tree.
As you start out of the slough, watch your depthfinder. The channel makes a bend near the outside point of Spring Creek. The bend is just inside the creek near the dock on the main point. Bass often stack up on the drop. This is a good place to fish for staging bass, both prespawn and postspawn.
No. 2: N 31º 58.941 – W 83º 55.897 — Across the lake, Cannon Branch enters behind a bunch of logs and timber. Follow the channel markers to the mouth of Cannon, and stop when you get to the cypress trees that fill it. Jimmie says this is one of the biggest bedding areas on the lake. He will fish it from the mouth all the way to the back.
Fish Cannon Branch like other similar places—run rattle baits and crankbaits over the grass between the trees, and fish the trees with stick baits or worms. With crankbaits and rattle baits, when you hit grass, rip the plug loose. That will often trigger a strike.
Jimmie fishes his hard baits and spinnerbaits on a Dobyns Champions 704C rod, which has good backbone but a light enough tip to make casting easy. You need a heavy rod to pull big bass out of the grass when they hit and bury deep.
If you are not getting bit on the soft baits with a sinker, try rigging the stick bait weightless. Sometimes the bass want a very slow fall and will not hit the bait unless it is sinking slowly without a lead pulling it down. Jimmie fishes his soft baits on a Dobyns Extreme DX 743 CFL rod.
No. 3: N 32º 01.356 – W 83º 57.839 — Go back to the main lake, and run up the river until it narrows down and the channel swings a little to the left. Near where the buoy channel markers end, Parker Slough enters on your left. Go into Parker Slough, and on the right side of the mouth of the bay you will see a house on a point with a concrete seawall around it.
On the end of this point, the channel swings right in beside it as it leads out of Parker Slough. For staging bass, Jimmie will fish this point where it drops into deep water. Then he will go on back into the slough. You will see rows of cypress trees with some individual trees a little off the bank. The bass bed in the rows of trees, but they tend to hold and feed more on the individual trees. Fish any tree standing by itself, running your hard baits all around it, and then fishing it carefully with your soft baits.
This is a good place to run a spinnerbait by individual grass clumps. Fish the spinnerbait as slowly as you can to keep it above the grass, and make several casts at different angles to each grass clump. The spinnerbait will also catch fish off the cypress trees.
No. 4: N 32º 02.122 – W 83º 57.336 — A little up the river, on your right is a big open area full of trees and grass. As you go upstream, a line of small islands separates the river from this open area. Watch for small triangular red markers on each side of a small opening. Go between the markers, and idle into the open area.
This is the Smokehouse and Glory Hole area. It is best to idle in, following the channel marked by poles, mostly small PVC pipe. Most of the poles have a can or oil bottle on top of them to make them easier to see.
As you idle in, you will come to a small opening between two islands, and it opens up behind the islands. Go through the small opening. Jimmie calls the big island to your right Whiskey Island. Between it and the islands on your left are many cypress trees, and the area is full of grass.
Watch for cypress trees on a point that sit a little farther out from the others. These are the first trees the fish will get on. Bass move on back to the lines of trees behind them to spawn. Fish the trees on the point, and then work the lines of trees behind them.
No. 5: N 32º 01.958 –W 83º 57.059 — Fish around the end of Whiskey Island and to the main bank. Houses line this bank where a creek or old oxbow comes off the river, runs along the bank, and then goes into the trees. The bank where the houses and docks sit is a good spawning area that often holds big bass.
Fish the docks like you do trees—with stick baits or worms. And fish the area between the docks like you fish areas between trees—run rattle baits and crankbaits over the grass between the docks. Also try the bank across from the houses. Both sides of the creek can be very good in March. Fish all the way to the back of this area upstream of the houses.
Current will move through this area, and any cut in the trees can concentrate the bass when water is moving. Cast your baits into the cut, and fish them out to imitate a baitfish moving with the current. You can often catch several fish from one cut when the water is moving.
No. 6: N 31º 58.503 – W 83º 56.553 — Go back out to the river, and head downstream. As soon as you pass Spring Creek, you will see a group of cypress trees off the bank (on your right going downstream). A small slough comes in behind them. This is actually the back side of Warren Slough.
Go in behind the outside trees, and a small ditch will lead into an open area to your right. It is very shallow, but a lot of bass bed in here. Jimmie says this is a place where he looks for bedding bass, so watch for them. You might be able to sight fish. You can catch a few staging fish off the seawall going in, but this area is so small that the bass usually move to the beds quickly here.
No. 7: N 31º 55.852 – W 83º 55.197 — Go on down the river past the two causeways. On your left, downstream of Boy Scout Slough, Lincoln Pinch has a small opening that then splits both ways. In the mouth, a small island sits on the right side, and on the left you will see a dock with colored chairs on it, an old Coke sign and an old Gulf Gas sign, too.
The docks back in here hold a lot of prespawn and postspawn bass. Jimmie will start fishing the first dock on the left—where the slough opens up to the left—and he works down the docks on this side. Some of the docks are shallow while some have 10 feet of water off the ends. All can hold bass.
Fish around the docks with crankbaits, and skip your soft baits under them. Some of the docks have brush that holds bass, so probe for it with your worm. Fish the docks all the way to the back, and then try the docks on the other side, especially the ones on the points of small cuts.
No. 8: N 31º 54.615 – W 83º 54.580 — The next big creek on your left going downstream is Cedar Creek. It is another good spawning area with lots of docks. About halfway back in this creek you will see a flat on your right, just past a small point. You will see some trees out in the water. These trees are well off the dock-lined bank behind them.
The trees in front of the docks sit on a flat that runs out from the docks. The flat then drops off into about 9 feet of water. Fish around the outside trees first, and then work back on the flat, fishing trees and docks. Fish all your baits in this area.
No. 9: N 31º 54.773 – W 83º 53.679 — The very back end of Cedar Creek is another excellent spawning area. Go toward the back to where the cedar trees fill the whole creek. Fish all the way back as far as you can.
The trees and grass back in here are the key spots where bass feed before getting on the bed, but there are also a few rocks that hold fish. It is a good sight-fishing area if you like spotting a big female bass on the bed and trying to get her to hit.
No. 10: N 31º 52.810 – W 83º 55.550 — Back out on the river, going toward the dam, Fort Early Creek is the next creek on your left. Upstream of it you will see two small bays behind some cypress trees—right where the bank bends back to the left, before a bigger creek.
Bass spawn in these coves, and there are good grassbeds leading into the cove. These grassbeds have 5 to 6 feet of water off them near the mouth of the cove, and bass hold and feed on the outside edges of the grass. In this area, Jimmie concentrates on these grassbeds, fishing them with a spinnerbait and plastics.
Run your spinnerbait along the edges of the grass, and also cast it into any cuts or dips in the grass and bring it back out. Throw a worm or stick bait on top of the grass, pull it to the edge, and let it fall to the bottom. Bass holding in the edge of the grass will hit the soft bait as it falls.
Fish the mouths of both pockets like this, but also fish the trees in them. And watch for spawning beds toward the backs of the pockets. Fish the trees and beds like you do in other areas.
All these locations hold bass right now and will get even better as the water warms in March. Plan a trip to Blackshear, but don’t get so excited you cast to every bassy looking spot. Find the key areas like the ones Jimmie fishes, and you can catch a lot of quality bass this month.
For a guided trip, call Jimmie at (229) 886-4087. Also check out the tournament trail at http://acffishing.com.