For years Allatoona had the reputation of being the “Dead Sea” when it came to bass fishing. Sometimes I suspect local bass fishermen promoted that image to keep others from finding out just how good the fishing on Allatoona can be. October is one of the best months of the year to find feeding largemouth and spotted bass at Allatoona. And if you go this time of year, you’ll find out how good the fishing really is.
Located smack in the middle of the north-Atlanta suburbs, Allatoona’s 12,010 acres receive more than 13 million visitors each year. The lake can get real- ly crowded. By October, most of the summer skiers and plea- sure boaters have slacked off, so fishing is easier.
The bass are biting better in the cool- er, less-crowded water you’ll find in October.
Two things make Allatoona a hard lake to fish for some newcomers. First, the lake level changes a lot. In mid September the lake was about seven feet low, and it is predicted to be 10 feet low by the first of October. Also, almost no wood cover was left when the lake was built and dammed in 1950. Fishermen have added a lot of brushpiles to make up for this lack of cover, and those brushpiles can be a key for success this month.
Spotted bass are the mainstay of bass fishermen at Allatoona. Georgia Bass Chapter Federation creel census reports show 77 per- cent of the bass weighed in during Allatoona club tournaments are spots. There are some good largemouths in the lake, but they are harder to pattern and catch than the spots. In 2005, club fishermen weighed in .316 bass per hour in Allatoona tournaments, almost a keeper every three hours, well above any other lake in the state. By comparison, Clarks Hill had a .285 catch rate. And the bass at Allatoona are not tiny — the average weight per bass was 1.47 pounds, right in line with other lakes with a 12-inch limit.
I met Robert Castleberry when we were partners at the 1997 Top Six at Lanier. He showed me he knew Lanier well by catching a limit that day — to my zero! He and I were also on the 2004 State Team together, and I saw him figure out how to catch fish in the rivers in Kentucky during the Regional Championships. When I found out Allatoona was his home lake, we agreed to work on a Map of the Month article there.
Robert grew up in the area and has fished Allatoona most of his life. When he was about 12 years old, he got hooked on bass fishing, and about a dozen years ago he started fishing club tournaments with the North Cobb Bass Club. Robert made the Top Six team with that club for years, then two years ago he joined the Marietta Bass Club and made the Top Six team his first year with that club.
Over the years Robert has fished the Moby/UCP tournament five times and placed high enough to get a check four times. He also fished the BFL and Bassmasters tournament series for a few years, as well as competing in local tournaments. He has done well on Allatoona and since it is his home lake, Robert fishes it an average of several times a week.
October is an excellent month for bass at Allatoona, according to Robert. He catches bass there year-round in 15 feet of water or less, but October brings more and bigger bass to the shallows to feed. They move into the creeks following the baitfish. He can fish visible cover exposed as the lake drops in the fall and pinpoint where the bass are hiding. Rocks and brushpiles are his keys.
Wind is also his friend. Wind blowing into or across an area with any kind of cover makes it much better. Robert is always on the look-out for a point or change in the shoreline where the wind creates an eddy for the bass to use to ambush baitfish.
Three baits cover most of Robert’ s October fishing — a topwater lure like a buzzbait or a Zara Spook, a Deep Little N or a Fat Free Gulp crankbait, and a jig ’n pig are his primary baits. All will produce, and he keeps them all tied on and ready this time of year.
Most mornings Robert will start out with a buzzbait or a Spook on rocky points. As the sun gets up, he will switch to a crankbait to cover the points, and he will pitch a jig ’n pig to visible brushpiles that have been exposed by the dropping water. All day he watches for baitfish since they attract bass to an area, and he will keep the Spook ready to throw to any schooling activity he sees.
Robert and I fished the following 10 spots two weeks ago. It was a little early for the bass to be on them, but he got two good spots in the few hours we fished. Check these locations out to see the kinds of places Robert likes to fish on Allatoona this month.
No.1 on the map: N 34° 08.023–W 84° 38.831 — Put in at Gault’s Ferry before daylight and ease out to the rock jetty between the ramp and the swimming area. Bass feed on this rock point early each morning as they move in and out of the creek that runs behind the ramp. Robert says he does not think all the bass released here after tournaments really makes a difference, it is just a good spot that holds bass as they follow the baitfish into the creek.
Stay way out from the rocks, and make a long cast since it is very shallow, especially on the side toward the ramp. Start with a buzzbait while it is still dark, then switch to a Spook when the sky gets lighter. This is the way Robert will fish whatever point he starts his morning on. The buzzbait is better when it is darker, and the Spook works better as it gets brighter.
Wind blowing in on the rocks makes this spot much better, and it often gets wind because of the way it faces. Robert got two good spots here the morning we fished, so they are already using this point.
No.2: N 34° 07.831–W 84° 39.650 — Run around to the next creek downstream, and go in behind the no-wake buoys at the Atlanta Yacht Club. The point in the back between the two arms of the creek is a good place to find fall bass. It runs way out, there is pea gravel and brush on it, and both sides hold feeding fish.
Start fishing way out off the end of the point with your boat in about 11 feet of water (with the lake seven feet low). It comes up into a hump off the end of the point with deeper water on both sides. Robert first fishes the side toward the swimming area for a short distance, then comes back around and fishes the other side. Go down the bank about 100 feet on both sides, and watch for shad and fish activity. Be ready to throw your Spook toward any surface activity.
Cast a crankbait across the pea- gravel bank. Crank it down, and hit the bottom. Pitch a jig ’n pig to any brush you see sticking out of the water. This is an excellent pattern in October — hitting all visible brush that has been exposed by the dropping water, and this point has a lot of brush on it.
No. 3: N 34° 08.519–W 84° 38.534 — Across the lake, go into the small creek just downstream of channel marker 19E, and stay way off the right bank. There was a no-wake buoy that had blown into the mouth of this cove when we were there. To your right will be a clear-cut point with a osprey nest in a tree way back from the water. There are two small pines near the water’s edge that are by them- selves, and there is a big, white rock in front of them. A point runs out toward the main lake, and it has brush on it directly out from the white rock.
Start on the upstream side of the point, and fish it from all sides. Make long casts with your crankbait, and try to hit the bottom on the point. It is a clay point that has some rocks that aren’t visible, but you may see some of the brush sticking out of the water. Pitch your jig to the brush you see and to any you hit with your crankbait.
No. 4: N 34° 08.629–W 84° 38.549 — Back in the creek to your left there is a pocket on the left side as you go in. Robert starts fishing the steep bank on the left side. There is a ditch with a log across it on this bank, and Robert starts fishing his crankbait on the outside of this ditch and works toward the back of the small pocket. Wind blowing in creates the kind of eddy he likes near this ditch, caused by the small point near it. Bass that move into the creek following baitfish will hold here.
Work the bank with a crankbait and jig, and try to hit brush. When you get even with the point in the middle that makes the pocket, turn and cast to it. There are rocks on the left side of it when you are facing it and a big log on the right. Brush is on the point, too. Fish all the cover on this point before leaving.
No. 5: N 34° 07.803–W 84° 36.824 — Robert’s next stop would be Kellogg Creek. Run in to where Kellogg and Owl creeks split, and stop out from the point on the right on the downstream side of Kellogg. You can see the bridge in the back from this point; it is right where the creek turns. Stay way off the point, and fish it with a crankbait. On the downstream side of this point, the bottom changes from rocks to gravel — out from the Boy Scout building on the bank. This transition is a good spot to hit.
As you work toward the point, the water will drop off then come back up, making this a double point. This creates good eddies when the wind is blowing in, and fish will school up here all month long. Robert says to watch for schooling activity way off this point, out in the middle of the creek, too. Be ready with your Spook. If they are not hitting on top but you see on your electronics that fish are suspended under baitfish, you can make them come up on the Spook most days.
No. 6: N 34° 07.822–W 84° 36.560 — Jump across Kellogg Creek to the rocky point between it and Owl Creek. If you are facing this point, a dock is on the left side and the point comes out, makes a flat, then drops off again. You can ride it with your depthfinder to pinpoint it, or just keep your boat out from the end of the point about even with the end of the dock. Make long casts toward the end of the dock, bringing your crankbait across the edges of the flat.
Robert likes a Deep Little N here to get down deeper. He will use a white plug in clear water or a crankbait with some chartreuse in it if the water is stained. For the Gulp crankbait that he throws on other places, he likes white. These crankbaits match the size of the baitfish the bass like this time of year.
No. 7: N 34° 07.927–W 84° 36.842 — As you start out of the creek, watch for a big, stone seawall on a point to your right. Just past it is a little pocket, and Robert calls this the Catfish Hole because of a big model catfish you will see near a cabin on the bank that is next to the cabin with the big stone seawall.
Fish the point in front of the sea- wall with your crankbait. It comes up out of deep water, and there is a good drop on it. Fish it from all sides, making long casts and getting your plug down to the bottom. As you work into the little pocket, you will see brush between the docks, out in the middle. Hit it with your jig.
No. 8: N 34° 08.276–W 84° 40.244 — Run down the river past Gault’s Ferry and around the point at Bartow-Carver beach. As you round the bend straight ahead of you, just upstream of channel marker 12E is a small creek. Go into this creek, and straight ahead of you it splits. The point in the middle you are heading toward has good brush on it. Start fishing out from the point, and work to your right. There is a pocket on that side that often holds baitfish and bass.
Fish your crankbait and jig ’n pig, but also throw a buzzbait if you choose to start here. Any of these spots are good early in the morning, and you can catch fish on any of them first thing with a buzzbait or a Spook.
No. 9: N 34° 09.372–W 84° 41.272 — Run down to channel mark- er 9E, and start fishing on the secondary point behind and downstream of the point with the marker. It runs way out, and you should fish around it with your crankbait. It has chunk rock on it, and the small creek draws bass and baitfish. Fish to the next point, then work the point. Robert calls this the Bumper Hole because it has car bumpers on this point dumped in for cover. You should be able to see them if the water is down eight or nine feet.
Fish both points and the area around them carefully. This is a good spot in the spring, too. Robert caught a 5-lb. spot here last spring, and the bass will be moving back into this area now.
No. 10: N 34° 09.704–W 84° 41.534 — Go down to the mouth of Clear Creek. There is big, rocky hump in the mouth that is visible, and a lot of folks fish it. Robert goes in behind it toward the left bank going in and watches for a ridge running out toward it. He says this razor-back ridge has rocks on it and holds bass, and it does not get hit as often as the visible hump.
Go in toward the bank where you see three blowdowns, two pointing one way and another in a different direction. The two blowdowns point toward the hump that comes up on the ridge here. You will be about 50 yards off the bank, and it will be about six feet deep on top now. Fish it with a crankbait and a jig ’n pig, working it from all angles. Also watch for schooling fish here, it is a good place for them to be feeding on top.
Tie on a crankbait, jig ’n pig and a Zara Spook, and head to Lake Allatoona this month. Check out Robert’s 10 spots, then look for similar ones. You will likely find out firsthand why some Allatoona bass fishermen wanted to keep the great fishing here a secret.