Often, September can be the most frustrating month of the year for bass fishermen. The surface temperatures are as hot as they get, and the oxygen content is at the lowest levels of the year. Early in the month, the days are still hot and uncomfortable, and the bass are sluggish. But cooler nights are coming, and that means Lake Jackson bass will turn back on with a good daytime bite.
Jackson is one of our oldest reservoirs. It was built in 1910 at the headwaters of the Ocmulgee River, but even being that old, Jackson still has plenty of bass cover. The lake is lined by docks, and rocks are plentiful. There are good points that run out to deep water and many humps that hold bass. Shad are the primary forage this time of year, and if you can find the shad, you can catch some September bass.
A few decades ago, Lake Jackson was known for big largemouth bass. Then spotted bass were illegally stocked in the lake, and spots have now pretty much taken over the lake. Rather than catching a 7-lb. largemouth, now you are more likely to catch seven 1-lb. spots at Jackson.
Spots are fun to catch and taste good. Enjoy catching them, and also take some home to eat. You can’t hurt the bass population in the lake by keeping every spotted bass you catch. In fact, fisheries biologists say keeping all of them, even those under 12 inches long, may help. There is no size limit on spotted bass anywhere in Georgia except Lake Lanier.
Keith Dawkins grew up fishing Jackson. His parents still have a house there, and he fishes the lake regularly. For years he fished the Berry’s tournaments and bigger trails like the Bulldog BFL, but his job now keeps Keith from the tournament circuits.
“Early in September, bass are out on main-lake structure feeding on shad,” Keith said.
As the month progresses, they push up the points and toward the coves. By the end of the month, depending on the shad, they may be way back in the pockets.
A wide variety of baits will catch September bass on Jackson. Keith always has a Flash Mob Jr. loaded with small swimbaits on the array of arms and a Fish Head Spin in the middle. He also likes a buzzbait, a topwater popper and an X-Rap 5-inch bait with props on both ends for topwater fishing. Keith will use a fluke or Senko rigged weightless for fishing over structure and cover.
For faster fishing, a 300 Bandit crankbait with white and chartreuse is good, as is a No. 7 Shad Rap in black and silver. When he slows down and probes the bottom, Keith will throw a Carolina-rigged Trick Worm or a SpotSticker jig head with a Trick Worm.
If you are seeing fish on your depthfinder but can’t get them to hit, get right on top of them and use a drop-shot worm. Drop it down to depth you’re seeing the bass, and jiggle it slowly. If they are right on the bottom, let your drop shot stay on the bottom, but raise it up to the depth the fish are holding if they are suspended.
Keith showed me the following 10 places in mid-August. The daytime bite was brutal in August, with mostly small spots biting during the day. The afternoon before we went, Keith caught some quality spots and largemouth right at dark. The bigger bass were feeding at night, but those bigger fish will now be feeding on these types of locations during the day in September.
No. 1: N 33º 20.606 – W 83º 51.667 — The big point where the river turns downstream across from the mouth of Tussahaw Creek is a good place to start early in the morning. It’s also a good place late in the day. This is a big flat where wood washes in and hangs up, and there are a couple of small pockets here and smaller points that run off the primary point.
Start on the upstream end where the biggest cove on the point starts. There are rocks on it, and it drops fairly fast. As you fish downstream, the bottom flattens out, and there is a lot of wood to fish. Stay way out on the flat in 7 to 8 feet of water, since it is so shallow. Cover all the wood with a buzzbait. Fish all the way around the point where it turns to the left going downstream. Also try a crankbait around this wood in case the bass don’t want a topwater bait. A weightless fluke or Senko are also good around the wood.
No. 2: N 33º 20.313 – W 83º 51.404 — Go down the river, and there is a marked hump way off the left bank. There are two danger markers on it, and it tops out about 6 feet deep at full pool, dropping off to 40 feet deep. Keith warns that boat wakes move the markers, and they may not be right on top of it, so idle up toward them slowly. The hump has rocks, stumps and brushpiles on it the bass use for cover, and they will also hold in the saddle between the hump and the bank.
Start with your boat in deeper water, and fish all the way around the hump, casting topwater and crankbaits to the top of the hump and working them back. Also try the Flash Mob Jr. here, fishing it the same way. Watch your depthfinder for bass holding deeper as you go around the hump.
Also try a Carolina rig and a jig-head worm on this hump. Keith likes to drag both baits along slowly, letting the lead stir up the bottom to attract attention. Keith usually uses a Trick Worm on both, preferring watermelon-seed or pumpkin-seed colors. But if the bass want a smaller bait, he will go to a finesse worm. He will often dip the tails of both types of worms in chartreuse JJ’s Magic for added attraction.
We caught some small spots here on a drop shot when Keith saw fish near the bottom. If you see them off the sides of the hump, try that. Also, especially during the day, you can sit on top of the hump and cast a Carolina rig or jig-head worm to the deeper water, working your bait up the drop.
No. 3: N 33 19.317 – W 83 50.574 — On the right side of the dam, a Georgia Power park and ramp are on a big point. There are two DNR docks in the pocket formed by the dam and point, and there are “Boats Keep Out” buoys in front of the docks. There is a public fishing pier on this side of the point.
A lot of wood washes in and sticks in this pocket, so there is a lot of cover to fish. The bottom is rocky and drops off into deep water. In the morning or late afternoon, start in the pocket, fishing the wood. Try topwater and a weightless bait like a fluke or Senko around it, too.
When the sun is high, sit way out even with the big park point but toward the dam side, and line up with the two tallest towers on the power station on the bank. A ridge runs out parallel to the park point and flattens out on the end, and bass hold on it. Fish it with your bottom baits, and run a crankbait and the Alabama Rig over it.
No. 4: N 33º 19.584 – W 83º 50.563 — Go back upstream to the big point on the left where the river turns back to the left. Downstream of this point, straight out from a cream-colored boat house with a metal dock in front of it, a hump rises up to about 14 feet deep. Line up the end of the point with the park side of the dam, and idle along this line. You will be in about the middle of the mouth of the creek coming out on the park side.
Keith caught his biggest Lake Jackson spot ever on this hump. Sit out in deep water, and drag your bottom-bumping baits on it. Try a drop shot, too. Also run a crankbait across it for suspended fish. Keith does not always bump the bottom with a crankbait but sometimes fishes it like a fleeing shad up in the water column. He may go to a deeper-running bait like the DD22 if the fish won’t come up for a more shallow-running bait.
No. 5: N 33º 20.028 – W 83º 50.753 — Going upstream on the right bank, on the upstream point of the third big cove upstream of Goat Island, you will see a house and dock with bright silver roofs on the point. There is a seawall around the point, and big rocks are on it. As the bank goes upstream, there are huge boulders where it turns into a bluff bank.
The rocks come out a long way, so stay way off the bank, and cast a crankbait or A-rig to them. Then try your jig-head worm and Carolina rig. Fish all the way around the point. Well off the point, a hump comes up, and the saddle leading out to it can be good.
Watch for schooling bass here and on other similar places. There were several schools of small keeper spots chasing shad all around this point when we fished, and Keith got one on his X-Rap. Bass will school even better in September, and you can chase schooling fish most of the day.
No. 6: N 33º 20.145 – W 83º 50.852 — Going upstream along the bluff bank, a narrow point comes out at the upper end of it. There is rip-rap around the point and a narrow pocket upstream of it. The point runs way out, and Keith says bass hold on the point early in the month and feed on shad. Later in the month, they will push shad up into the bay on the downstream side and into the narrow pocket upstream.
Fish the point with your Carolina rig, A-rig and jig-head worm. Stay way out with your boat in at least 15 feet of water to fish the point early in the month. Later, fish the cover in the bay and the pocket on both sides with a Senko or fluke, and try your A-rig in the pockets. Keith likes the light Flash Mob Jr., and he does not put heavy jig heads on it so he can fish it shallow without hanging up.
No. 7: N 33º 20.840 – W 83º 51.985 — Go into the mouth of Tussahaw Creek to the right side. A ridge comes up way off this bank and tops out about 14 feet deep. You will see a dock with a light-brown roof in front of a white house on the right bank. The ridge starts about even with the dock and runs into the creek.
Fish up the ridge into the creek until you are even with a dark-brown dock. Try your A-rig and crankbait over the top of the ridge, keeping your boat on the river side in deeper water. Then fish it with bottom-bumping baits, probing for the rocks and stumps. Watch for fish on the bottom, and try a drop shot for them.
No. 8: N 33º 21 094 – W 83º 52.213 — Go on up Tussahaw Creek to the upstream side of the first small cove. There is a tall tree stump carved into a bear standing behind a dock on the bank. Start at the dock in front of the bear, and fish upstream. Bass hold on this point and the next one upstream early in the month, and then they push shad into the coves on both sides of the points later in the month.
Bass will often hold on docks, so Keith works them carefully. He will fish every dock post with a jig-head worm, hitting the posts and letting the bait drop straight down. He says spots often nose up to a dock post, and if the bait does not fall straight down beside it, they won’t hit. Keith says he will often spend a half hour carefully fishing every post on a dock. A Senko or fluke will also catch dock bass.
Fish the points and banks going into the pockets with an A-rig and a crankbait. When fishing the crankbait, Keith says he likes to crank it a few feet and then pause it. Strikes will often come just as he starts the bait moving again. Try different lengths of pause before moving it again.
No. 9: N 33º 22.180 – W 83º 51.728 — Go up the Alcovy River to the mouth of the South River. As you go into the mouth of the South River, on your right the second point is narrow and has an old boat ramp on it. This point comes way out and has a lot of rocks on it, and it holds a lot of bass. Keith caught several spots here on his crankbait.
Run your crankbait and A-rig across the point. If there is any current coming out of the river, which often happens after a rain, Keith says it is important to stay on the downstream side of the point and cast upstream, working your baits with the current.
Also fish a Trick Worm or Senko on top of the point early. It is very shallow a good way off the bank. Then work your bottom baits on the point, all the way out to the end of it in at least 15 feet of water. You’ll get hung up in the rocks, but that is where the bass live.
No. 10: N 33º 23.028 – W 83º 50.590 — Run up the Alcovy River under the powerlines. Upstream of them, a ridge runs parallel to the river channel way off the left bank upstream of the first creek on that side. Watch on the right bank for a white deck on the bank with lattice work under it. It is very white.
If you stop in the middle of the lake even with that deck and idle toward the far bank, going at a very slight angle upstream, you will cross the ridge. The ridge is on the far side of the river channel. It tops out about 14 feet deep and has stumps and rocks in some spots.
Keith likes to keep his boat on the side of the ridge away from the river channel. He says bass tend to hold on that side, and stripers tend to hold on the river side. Cast your A-rig and crankbait over the top of it, and work your Carolina rig and jig head down that side from the top to about 20 feet deep. Watch your electronics for bass under the boat to use your drop shot.
Since the rocks and stumps are in patches, feel for them and concentrate on those areas. The end of the ridge is where Keith catches most of his bass.
Give Keith’s places a try, and see the kind of structure and cover he likes this month. There are many similar places you can find and fish on Jackson.