Hawg Time on Eufaula

Shallow, hungry bass await anglers who fish Lake Eufaula this month. Two of the lake’s best mark our map with some big-bass holes.

March is a fantastic month for bass fishing in Georgia. The water is warming, bass are moving into a shallow, prespawn mode, and they are easy to catch. It would be hard to find a better lake than Eufaula to take advantage of this activity.

Eufaula’s vast shallow flats are covered with grass, and they warm fast from the March sun, pulling the bass shallow early in the month and driving their urge to feed. Eufaula is a huge lake with varied conditions in the many creeks, backouts and old oxbow ponds, so you can find active bass, somewhere, on most days. And the lake is well known for its big, fat largemouth bass.

George McWaters started taking advantage of the great fishing at Eufaula many years ago. In the late 1980s he was lucky enough to hire Tommy Floyd as a guide on one of his early trips, and they hit it off, becoming fishing partners and entering tournaments together. They still fish together. Tommy taught George many secrets of the lake. Tommy had watched the lake being filled and knows about little hidden features that are now covered with water. Add to that the fact Tommy is on the lake almost every day except during deer season, and he is a resource any bass fisherman would love to have.

About seven years ago Ronnie Gregory appraised George’s house, and they too hit it off. They started fishing together and love Eufaula, spending as much time as possible on it. Fishing the Valley Sportsman Tournament Trail for several years, they liked the trail so much that they took it over this year. Ronnie and George are running the new and improved Valley trail on Eufaula, Seminole, West Point and Sinclair.

George and Ronnie have done well in many Valley tournaments on Eufaula as well as the R&R trail. George and Tommy have won R&R tournaments and some of the Bluff City tournaments, too. George has been in the money in most of the Miller Lite tournaments on Eufaula over the past few years.

Ronnie has caught a couple of bass over 10 pounds at Eufaula and George has three. All three of George’s 10-pounders came in March. That should tell you how good Eufaula is this month.

Ronnie and I are members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club, and two years ago he and George showed me the patterns and places that helped me place seventh in the GBCF Top Six at Eufaula. Their knowledge of the lake and the patterns the bass follow is amazing.

In March the bass at Eufaula start moving shallow as soon as a few warm days make the water temperature rise. Our mild winter this year has meant some were already shallow in mid-February, and even more will be there now. The bass are looking for spawning areas and are feeding up, getting ready to go on the bed.  Some will bed early this month if the water stays warm.

Two keys for fishing at Eufaula this month, according to Ronnie and George, are shallow, protected waters with grass. Dead grass will attract shad, and you will catch many more bass if you find the shad, too. Watch for baitfish activity around the dead grassbeds as well around as the areas of grass that are starting to green up.

Pea-gravel and white-sand banks are also good in March. If the bass have not moved real shallow due to a cold front, you can often find them holding on a point nearby, or if it has been real warm they will be bedding on the same areas, just more shallow. A Carolina-rigged Zoom Finesse Worm or Trick Worm is their choice for this kind of fishing.

Hydrilla has changed Eufaula bass patterns some. It pulls the bass shallow quicker, and they stay in it longer. A new pattern for Ronnie and George for the past three years is to look for coots. A raft of coots sitting on the water and diving down indicates a hydrilla bed, and there will be bass in the hydrilla this month.

You can pretty much choose your favorite bait and catch fish on it this month. Ronnie and George like spinnerbaits, Carolina rigs, jerkbaits, Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits, as well as buzzbaits later in the month. But their “secret weapon” is a Paca Craw soft bait, Texas rigged with a 1/16-oz. weight. Ronnie likes a bullet weight, but George prefers a Mojo weight. He feels that the Mojo will come through the grass better.

George likes a bigger hook, too. He rigs his Paca Craw on a 5/0 wide-gap hook, while Ronnie uses a 2/0 wide gap. Ronnie sticks with 12-lb. Big Game line no matter where they are throwing it, but George will go up to 20-lb. test to pull bass out of the grass. They both like green pumpkin or watermelon colors.

The Paca Craw made by NetBait is a crawfish bait with a hollow body. The claws are very big and soft. They move a lot when crawled in the water and create a churning action if reeled on top like a buzzbait. George likes to let his bait fall and then swim it along, while Ronnie usually uses a pumping motion to make his bait rise and fall.
Ronnie, George and I slipped away on Valentines Day to check out the following holes. Some bass were already very shallow. Ronnie and George caught four bass that would have weighed right at 15 pounds, including a 6-lb., 12-oz. bass and a four-pounder that both ate Ronnie’s Paca Craw.

No. 1: N 31º 52.845 – W 85º 07.041 — Go downstream through the boat tunnel on the railroad bridge. Straight ahead of you will be a long point running out toward the river. The point had an old tree lying on the bank when we fished it two weeks ago. A little to your left running off that point is a secondary point running toward the bridge. Around the end of the point a grassbed forms a crescent facing the bridge. A deep channel swings near the end of the point and back toward the cove behind it. The grass is not solid all the way to the bank; rather it forms a crescent on a ridge on the point.

Start fishing on the right side of the point as you are facing it. You should be in a couple of feet of water a good cast out from the grass. Fish the edge of the visible grass, and work to your left. Watch your depthfinder, and you will see the water drop off into the channel. Where the deepest water is closest to the grass is the prime spot for bass, especially bigger bass — here and in other spots.

Run a spinnerbait through the grass, letting it fall into holes in the grass. Pitch a soft bait like the Paca Craw or Senko into the holes, letting the bait fall to the bottom.  Be ready to set the hook fast and pull the fish out of the grass as soon as it bites, or the bass will bury in the grass.

Before you leave, work your boat past the grass into the slightly deeper water behind it, and fish it from that direction, too. Hit any cuts or holes, and watch for isolated grass in the clearer area behind the crescent of thick grass, and pitch to it, too.

No. 2: N 31º 55.143 – W 85º 07.173 — Go to the ramp at Old Town Creek Park, and you will see a shallow, grassy point to your right as you idle toward the ramp. Grass is all around this point and in the cove behind it on the upstream side. Bass released at the ramp after tournaments hold in this area, adding to the resident bass here.

Fish the grass with all your baits, working around the point and into the cove. There are a lot of isolated grass clumps on the flat on the point and past it, too. Hit all of them. When the water temperature gets above 60 degrees, try a buzzbait or a Zoom Horny Toad. You can also buzz the Paca Craw over the grass. Let it fall when it reaches a hole in the grass or when you get to the outer edge of a grassbed.

No. 3: N 31º 56.984 – W 85º 05.825 — If the lake is full, you can run the Alabama side of the lake up to the next spot, the Duck Blind, but be careful. It is very shallow. It is safer to run out to the channel and follow it up to the mouth of Cowikee Creek, then come back down to the Duck Blind.

From either direction you will come to a big cove with rip-rap on the upstream side and two islands in the mouth of the cove. Ronnie and George stop on the downstream side of the outside island and start fishing into the cove. Grass clumps stick out of the water everywhere, and there is an old oxbow on the downstream side.

Bass can be found anywhere in this area, and hydrilla is increasing here. If the pump on the rip-rap bank is running, fish thoroughly around it and the moving water. Bass hold on the rip-rap as well as in the grass all in this cove. This is where the last Bassmasters tournament on Eufaula was won.

No 4: N 31º 57.599 – W 85º 05.311 — As you go into Cowikee Creek, you will see poles marking the channel. Right where the creek channel meets the river is the first pole on your left as you go in. The point between the river and the creek channel runs way out almost to that pole.

Fish this spot a little differently.  Ronnie and George like to sit in the creek channel on the upstream side of the point. You will be in over 30 feet of water since the channel makes a bend here. Cast a Carolina rig or crankbait up onto the point and fish it back. George likes Shad Raps, Bandits and Frenzy crankbaits and varies his color to match the water. Ronnie likes to throw a Shad Rap when he fishes a crankbait. Usually one will throw a crankbait while the other probes the point with a Carolina rig.

No. 5: N 31º 59.607 – W 85º 03.761 — Head up the river past where it narrows down. Watch to your right, and you will see a ridge of trees with lots of shallow water behind them. A rip-rap wall will start right on the river channel, and just downstream of it is a gap in the ridge where you can idle into the Witch’s Ditch, so named because of a huge alligator that once lived here.

As you idle in, the rip-rap wall will be on your left, and you will see a pump on it. If the pump is running, head straight to the outflow and fish all around it. This is where Ronnie got the 6-lb., 12-oz. bass on a Paca Craw, and where George caught another keeper on a crankbait.

Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics all catch bass here. They move in to feed on the shad attracted by the moving water. I have seen shad trying to swim upstream in the water running over the rocks. Other fish feed here, too. We caught two pickerel and a mudfish in the current. George also hooked a big bass here that pulled off right at the boat.

After you fish the pump outflow, or if the pump isn’t running, go and fish the grass in this bay. The outer edge of the grass on the downstream side is best — where the channel rises up and grass starts to grow. Also fish the rocks that have grass. The Witch’s Ditch runs back in parallel to the rip-rap as far as you can see. If you go way back in there, you will get into hidden lakes and ponds, often full of bass. If they have moved back into this area, you can spend all day in it.

No. 6: N 32º 01.704 – W 85º 03.119 — Head up the river past the mouth of Rood Creek. There are steel seawalls here to protect the Indian mounds. Just upstream of them on the same side a small creek enters that George called Alligator Creek. Upstream of it is the end of an old oxbow that runs way back.

Start on the right side of the oxbow going in. Fish all the grass you see. You can work a long way back into this flat, shallow water. Ronnie and George say many people stop too soon. They go as far back as they can get in their boat.

As you come back out, slow down near the outside point, and let your bait work along the bottom. There are a lot of stumps on this upstream side that hold fish moving in and out of the shallows. It is a good place to drag a Carolina-rigged worm, too.

No. 7: N 32º 02.225 – W 85º 03.067 — Run around the point, and go upstream to where the channel runs right beside the bank. You will see red channel marker 108.8 in a tree on the bank, and just upstream of it is a ditch cutting through to a big, shallow flat. It is actually the upstream side of the old oxbow you fished in hole No. 6, but you can not get from one to the other because it is too shallow. Fish this spot like the others. As you go in, you can go to the left and fish way back, hitting clumps of grass, cuts and holes in the grassbeds.

No. 8: N 32º 03.195 – W 85º 03.513 — Run up to the mouth of Little Barbour Creek. As you enter the creek, look to your right, and a ditch called the Hawg Pen runs back parallel to the river channel. Deep water in the mouth of it has grass on both sides, and the back is shallow and full of grass.

As you come back out, slow down and fish the upstream side. It is shallower, but there are lots of stumps here. Fish them, and keep fishing all the way to the old fence upstream of the mouth of the ditch. This spot is called the Hawg Pen for a good reason. Many big bass spawn here. George says a partner lost the biggest bass he has ever seen on Eufaula on this spot a few years ago.

No. 9: N 32º 03.188 – W 85º 03.969 — Go on up the creek, and watch for a cut on your right. It is an old roadbed that comes out and runs parallel to the bank. There is a point on the right upstream of it. Stop near the cut, and fish up to the point. The bottom is pea gravel, and the bass like to hold and bed here.

Stay a long cast out, and throw a Carolina rig up to the bank. The old road forms a shelf that comes out and drops off fast. Work along the top of the roadbed for spawning fish and the edge of it for bass waiting to spawn. Later in the month you can move in some and pitch a bait to the edge of the grass. As you round the point, there are two ditches upstream of it, and the bottom is pea gravel here, too. Fish all the way to the second ditch before moving on.

No. 10: N 32º 03.204 – W 85º 04.231 — A little ways upstream you will see powerlines crossing the creek. The point on the left side going up the creek has a sign on it. Start on the downstream side of this point, and fish it with Carolina rigs. As you round the point into the protected water, watch for visible spawning bass attracted by the sandy bottom. Fish up to the next point and around it, too. It is sandy all in this area, and there is some brush out on the bottom. Bass hold and bed in this area the entire month of March.

These spots are good for March bass, and there are hundreds more just like them. Check out these for the patterns, and you might just catch a March hawg.

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