Jackson Bass Moving Up

Even on the coldest days of February, prespawn Jackson bass can be found up shallow on points and near the mouths of spawning pockets.

February can be a frustrating month for anglers. A few warm days give hint of the coming spring, the bass start feeding, but then cold sets back in and knocks them back. But, if you go to Lake Jackson this month, you can find bass feeding most days by concentrating on the right places.

Dammed in 1911, Jackson is one of Georgia’s oldest reservoirs. At 4,750 acres, it is not very big, but it has a reputation as a good lake to catch big bass in the winter and is a popular destination for club and trail tournaments this time of year. In early March 1986, Jackson produced a 14-lb., 7-oz. lake- record largemouth, and 20 years later it produced a 5-lb., .08-oz. lake-record spot. Big bass of both species can be caught right now.

Randy Woodham fishes Jackson a lot, and he competes in the Berry’s, ABA, Oconee Marine and other tournaments. In 2007, Randy won the Angler of the Year point standings for the ABA Central Georgia trail, won the Southeast Regional ABA tournament and was Angler of the Year in the Southeast Region.

Randy likes February fishing on Jackson and agreed to share his favorite patterns and some of his best spots. If you fish Jackson this month, follow Randy’s advice, and you will catch fish.

I was lucky enough to fish with Randy for this article before my Jan. 11 Flint River Bass Club tournament at Jackson. I followed his patterns and won the tournament with five bass weighing 12.64 pounds. That catch was four largemouths, including 3.5- and 3.25-pounders, and one spot. His pat- terns will hold up through February, and they produce a good mix of large- mouths and spotted bass.

Bass stack up on deep points and banks this time of year and wait on warming water to make their move to spawning areas. By early February, the days have gotten longer and warmer, and the bass move near the mouths of spawning coves and creeks, and then a few unseasonably warm days will move them into the first third of those creeks and pockets.

Randy’s key to February bass on Jackson is to find round points and steep banks with rocks that drop off into the channel but are near the spawning areas. Many of these places have seawalls on them, although some are natural rock banks and points. Jackson is full of these kinds of places, and bass are on them now.

To cover changing conditions and depths, Randy rigs a variety of baits when getting ready for a February day on Jackson. Tied on he will have a No. 5 Shad Rap, a Net Boy Baits black jig with a blue flipping chunk, a Cold Steel Walking Stick and a Tom Mann Classic spinnerbait. For really tough days, he threads a Cold Steel Finesse worm on a 1/8-oz. Screwball Shaky Head Jig. Later in the month, when some bass have moved into spawning areas, he Texas rigs a Cold Steel Lizard Worm.

For added insurance, Randy smears Bioedge Attractant on his crankbaits and spinnerbaits and up his line a foot or so, and he soaks his plastics in it. He thinks this helps attract bass to his baits and gets them to hold on a little longer, allowing him a better hook set.

“I have caught fish in a foot of water on days so cold there was ice in the trees,” Randy told me.

That was a key in my club tournament, too. All the fish I caught were in less than 3 feet of water. Randy will fish very shallow water as long as it is near deep water even on the coldest days in February. Keep that in mind when looking for bass at Jackson.

The following 10 spots all hold bass this month. Check them out, and then look for others like them.

No.1: N33° 23.191–W83° 50.566 — Running down the Alcovy River from Berry’s, you will pass Connally Cove, a creek on your right. Downstream of the mouth of Connally Cove, watch for a small, white cabin with two dormers on your right, just upstream of a small cove. There is a cement seawall in front of the cabin, and the bottom is chunk rock dropping off to 25 to 30 feet deep. This is the ideal kind of place to find February bass. Start at the dock near the point downstream of the cabin, and fish upstream. Keep your boat in at least 20 feet of water, and cast your crankbait right up against the wall. Fish it back at an angle to keep it in the strike zone longer. As you fish up the  seawall, you will see where the old wall joins a new wall, and that is a key spot, with good rocks. There is also some brush and pallets in the water before you get to the rocky point where the wall ends. You can see the brush if the water is down. Work these areas slowly, and try to get your crankbait down to hit the rocks. Crank across the rocky point when you get to it, and also throw back into the cove toward the dock, and fish your crankbait back parallel to the bank on that side. This spot is especially good in the morning, and sun shining on the rocks and seawall helps. If you don’t get bit on a crankbait, try your jig ’n pig. Pitch it right against the seawall. Be ready for a hit as soon as your bait hits the water. If you don’t get bit right away, hop it in short jumps down the bottom to at least 15 feet deep.

No. 2. N 33° 22.171 – W 83° 51.550 — Run down to the mouth of the South River, and stop on the last dock on your right before the point leading into the river. The dock has the number “31” on it. Fish from this dock — where the bottom is a little flatter — around the point where the bank becomes a steep, rock bluff that drops off fast. Sometimes bass move up on the flat to feed, and a crankbait run across it or the point will draw strikes. As you round the chunk-rock point, there is wood in the water and over- hanging brush. Randy concentrates on pitching his bait right to the edge of the water. Fish down until the bottom flat- tens out some going into the next small pocket. Randy says to make repeated casts here, and cover the bottom care- fully. Make your pitches a few feet apart at the most; don’t skip yards of water between each one. He says bass hold here before moving up the river, so fish it slowly and carefully.

No. 3: N 33° 22.132 – W 83° 51.993 — Run across the mouth of the South River and slightly upstream, and you will see a small pocket ahead of you. This is the kind of area bass move up into as soon as the water starts to warm, so check it out after a day or two of warming weather. This spot is especially good if there is some wind blowing into it. As you go into the ditch, stay on the left side — the left side is deeper, and there are some blowdowns here. Start on the point on the rock seawall, and fish to the second big blowdown. Randy will run his spinnerbait from the very edge of the water back to the boat, running it close to every stick in the water. Follow it up with a jig ’n pig early in the month and a Lizard Worm or Walking Stick later in warmer water. Randy rigs the Walking Stick on a 1/8-oz. lead and the Lizard Worm on a 3/16-oz. sinker. He pitches them to the cover, letting them sink slowly, then crawls them across the bottom. Here, and at other similar spots where a cove comes out to a deep bank, work all the cover the first one- third of the way in for big females that move in early to get near the spawning flats farther back.

No. 4: N 33° 20.985 – W 83° 51.207 — Head down the lake to where it opens up. Ahead, the river turns a little to your right at the mouth of Tussahaw Creek, and almost straight ahead but a little to the left is a deep cove that splits into two creeks. Run into the mouth of it, and you will see a no-wake buoy to the left of the middle point. There is one small dock about 100 yards down the bank from the middle point. Start on the point, and fan cast it with a crankbait, and then work to your left fishing the bank toward the small dock. There is a small flat just inside the point with a blowdown on it,  and then the water drops off. Work this bank with your crankbait, then go back up it with a jig ’n pig. Bass hold out on the point and on the flat when the water is cold, waiting to move in as it warms.

No. 5: N 33° 21.008 – W 83° 51.025 — Ease down to the end of this bank where it turns, and a small point forms at the bend. You will see two dead tree trunks standing on the bank and some very big rocks right on the edge of the water. Those rocks are on deep water and run down pretty deep. Start fishing near the dead trees, and work all around the rocks. Randy has taken some good bass off these rocks.

Bass arrive here a little later in the month or after three warm days in a row. There is 15 feet of water around the rocks. Try to tick the rocks with your crankbait as deep as you can. Randy will often put weights like Suspend Dots on his crankbaits to make them run deeper. Also fish the rocks with a jig ’n pig or a jig-head worm, working all the way from the edge of the water down to 15 feet deep. This bank stays shady most of the day, so bright sun does not run the fish off if the water is clear.

No. 6: N 33° 20.968 – W 83° 51.737 — Run on down the lake to the big point where Tussahaw Creek enters. Just before the lake opens up, there is a big rock point on your right, the last point on the river itself. The channel swings in near it, and the water is very deep. Start on the upstream river side of the point, and work downstream around the point. There are several big blowdowns on the point, and big rocks are in the water, too. Fish down to the dock in front of the brown cabin where the point ends and the bank swings back away from the river. Work this whole point carefully and slowly with your jig ’n pig. Randy likes to pitch his jig right to the edge of the water and let it settle. He shakes his rod tip, then raises it a little, making the jig fall on a slack line a few inches at a time. When it hits bottom, he shakes it more before moving it again. When you hit a rock or piece of wood, shake your jig before moving it again.

No. 7: N 33° 20.937 – W 83° 52.730 — Run up Tussahaw Creek to the sharp bends below the bridge. As you make the left turn before having to turn right to go to the bridge, straight ahead is a creek. Just to the left of this fairly big creek is a smaller creek. The smaller creek runs in right by the bank on the point between the two creeks, and this is a good spot to find bass holding right now. Start at the wood dock with the black-and-yellow Skidoo and pontoon boat, and work around the point from it. Stay out from the dock, and fish around it with a crankbait and the Walking Stick, and then fish on around the point with a jig ’n pig. Feel for the rocks — there are some right by the dock and more to the left as you go into the smaller creek. After heavy rains, the main lake will muddy up, but Tussahaw Creek usually has better water color. If the lake is really muddy, fish this spot, and, if the water is a better color, keep fishing similar spots up the creek.

No.8: N 33° 20.361–W 83° 51.303 — Head down the lake out of the creek past the river mouth. On your left there are some danger markers off the bank on a hump. Behind this hump is a deep cove, and then there is a more shallow cove downstream of it. Start on the point between the two coves. It is rocky, and bass move on the point just before moving on back to the spawning flats. This spot is usually better later in the month. After fishing the point, go to the main-lake point between the outer cove and the river. It has big rocks on it, and it drops off fast. Stay well back, and make fairly long casts until you find how far the rocks run out. Run your crankbait down to tick the rocks, and then bounce a jig ’n pig in them. Keep fishing downstream to the next small main-lake point. It is not far from the one at the mouth of the cove and is not very noticeable, but it holds fish. There are chunk rocks on it, too. On all three points, watch for wood in the rocks. Any wood helps hold the bass, so make several casts to any you see.

No. 9: N 33° 20.364 – W 83° 51.711 — Fish fast down to the main- lake point just upstream of the mouth of the big creek entering here. All along the river side of the point there are clumps of chunk rocks that hold bass. Fish your crankbait and jig ’n pig on them. Bass will hold here all winter and start to move into the creek or up to the coves as the days get longer, so this is a good spot early in the month.

No. 10: N 33° 20.161 – W 83° 50.912 — Run across the mouth of the creek entering to your left as you head downstream, and watch for a red- roofed dock on your left. Start at that dock and fish downstream, working the flat point with the boat ramp on it. The point is on the upstream side of a ditch that comes in and hits another ditch coming from farther downstream. Fish all along these ditches, and fish the docks. As you enter the downstream ditch, there is a deep dock with a blow- down just past it. Fish this dock and blowdown carefully. Later in the month go on back in the ditch, but early in the month jump across to the next rocky point and work the upstream side. Hop your jig ’n pig down the drop into the ditch on this point.

All these spots are holding bass right now, and bass will be on them for several more weeks. Work them like Randy suggests, and use the baits he uses to catch cold-water bass at Jackson this month.

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