Milder weather and big bass can cure the December fishing doldrums for any angler. Head south to Lake Seminole this month for some really good December bass fishing.
Seminole has been very good the past few years, and big bass are feeding heavily this month. Largemouth in the 4- to 5-lb. range are common, and bigger trophies are boated regularly this time of year.
Lake Seminole is on the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers on the border between Georgia and Alabama, and the dam is actually in Florida. Being that far south, the bass spawn early here, and they are the Florida strain—they grow bigger than bass in most lakes farther north.
Clint Brown grew up a couple of miles from Wingate’s Lunker Lodge and now lives right across the street. He guides on the lake and fishes many tournaments there, including tournaments with his club, Seminole Stix. Last year in May, Clint won the FLW Costa Series three-day tournament with 52 pounds. He knows the lake well.
Bowynn is Clint’s son and has been fishing with his dad all his life. Two years ago, Bowynn started fishing tournaments with his dad and liked it so much he pushed to form a school team. The Bainbridge Bass Cats now has 20 teams and two divisions for high and middle school anglers. Bowynn won a big-fish tournament while competing against adults, landing a 6.73-pounder.
“In December, finding the bait is critical,” Clint said.
Bass will follow the shad, often moving a lot during the day, so you have to keep up with them. They will be either on the edges of the hydrilla near deep water or in the standing timber.
Clint watches his depthfinders for schools of shad, and also he watches for white cranes sitting on stumps. If a white crane is sitting on a stump, Clint said bait and bass are nearby.
Bowynn’s favorite bait in December is a Dirty Jigs swim jig with Bruiser Baits Crazy Craw trailer in shad colors. He and Clint also throw a Mann’s Bama Rig with five Mann’s Reel N Shad swimbaits on it. If the bass are suspended fairly shallow, they use 1/4-oz. jig heads on all five arms of the Alabama rig. If bass are deeper, use two 1/2-oz. heads. When they see baitfish, they throw a jerkbait—probably Clint’s favorite December lure—and a Rat-L-Trap.
In December, there is still enough grass and hyacinth cover around the banks to have rigged a 1 1/4-oz. Flatout Tungsten skirted punching weight with a Bass Addiction Mat Craw. If you see a patch of hyacinths, definitely flip it, and also check the thicker hydrilla.
Clint and Bowynn took me out a few weeks ago to show me the following spots. The bass had already started moving to them, and Clint and Bowynn had a great day, with their best five bass weighing about 25 pounds.
The next Saturday, the fishing was tougher, as it always is on weekends, but Bowynn won his club tournament with three bass weighing 7 pounds, with his grandfather as boat captain. That kept him in the lead for Angler of the Year point standings in the Bass Cats.
Clint fished a multi-club team club tournament the same day and won with 18 pounds, and his club won with a total weight of 83 pounds. Seminole is good right now!
Check out the following 10 spots. They will be good from now until the water starts to warm in the spring.
No. 1: N 30º 46.110 – W 84º 48.041 — If you put in at Wingate’s, head down the river. The channel runs up against the right bank, and then makes a big swing to the left bank. Along the middle of the river, standing timber sticks out of the water, but there is a clear channel between the timber and the right bank. Stay on that right bank about 50 yards off the visible grass. The water is about 10 feet deep in an old channel here. The bank on your right, Fort Scott Island, will open up, and you can see through this cut to Spring Creek. There are many small islands here, but the first big one is the beginning of the Waterfowl Refuge. Stop just upstream of that island, and look for a pocket that goes in on the upstream side of the island. There is a Wildlife Refuge Boundary marker there.
Stop out in 10 feet of water. When we fished almost a month ago, the hydrilla was solid in the pocket and out from it, but now it has died back to scattered clumps. Clint says this is the kind of place bass wait on shad around the hydrilla clumps and ambush them as they move in from deeper water. This is the kind of place to fish a swim jig and a red 1/2-oz. Trap.
Work all along this area where you are in about 10 feet of water casting to 5 feet where the hydrilla clumps show. There will be more near the bottom out deeper. If you see it on your depthfinder, you are in too close. Run your Trap just fast enough to tick the grass, and when it hangs, rip it free. That is when you get a lot of hits.
No. 2: N 30º 45.956 – W 84º 49.555 — Farther down the water to your right opens up more, and there are scattered small islands. Then one last big island is just upstream of the first marked cut, the Sealey Cut, that runs through to Spring Creek. The channel is about 12 feet deep not far off the visible grass that grows in 5 feet of water.
Like in Hole 1, keep your boat in 10 feet of water, just off the hydrilla on the bottom. Cast your Trap or swim jig to 5 feet of water, and fish them back to the end of the deepest hydrilla. Bowynn and Clint throw a white jig and trailer with a little chartreuse in it. Fish both by running them deep enough to tick the grass and rip them when they stick in it.
Even in December Seminole bass are starting to think about spawning, and this is a great holding and feeding area near the vast spawning flats between the Flint River and Spring Creek. The fish may be stacked up in one spot one day then 100 yards away the next, depending on shad movement. Keep moving until you catch a fish, and then slow down and make multiple casts to that area.
No. 3: N 30º 46.326 – W 84º 51.937 — Run down to the second cut marked by sets of poles running across to Fish Pond Drain. Run into that creek, and you will go right by a point on your left that has a pole just a couple of feet out in the water. Past the pole, the bank opens up on the left. Slow down, and watch to your right for a small open area in the stumps. There are two big stumps on the right side of that opening, and the bigger one has a pipe driven into it.
The open area marks a spring that is 50 feet deep, and fish hold all around it in the timber, ambushing shad as they move to and from the spring. Clint says in the winter the rivers often muddy up, and the shad move to Spring Creek and Fish Pond Drain where it is clearer, and the bass follow them.
Clint and Bowynn throw both a Alabama rig and a suspending jerkbait in the timber. They like a big jerkbait like a Jackall Mag Squirrel in Tennessee shad or similar colors. A big bait draws big bites. The Bama rig is fished along the edges of the timber as the boat moves to the spring, and the jerkbait can be thrown back in the timber. Clint says the bass usually inhale even a bait this big, so it is far enough in a bass’s mouth the hooks don’t hang in the timber while you are fighting it.
No. 4: N 30º 46.261 – W 84º 50.980 — Come back out to Spring Creek, and follow the pole markers up the creek. The left bank is wooded with no docks, and then father back a line of docks begin. You can see a windmill up on the bank behind the docks. Stop in the channel here, and idle in toward the docks. Go slow—there are stumps everywhere.
Go in to the back edge of the timber out from the last downstream dock. Fish the edge of the timber with the Alabama rig, and then throw back into the trees with your jerkbait. Clint says it is important to fish the jerkbait very slowly. He will reel it down, jerk it, and then let it sit. The cadence is not as important as the long pause, which will let the bait suspend. This will often draw a bite from a December bass.
No. 5: N 30º 46.821 – W 84º 49.807 — Ease back out to the channel, and go farther up Spring Creek. Near the next point on the left bank—right on the edge of the channel—you will see a pipe driven into a stump, and there is a big red-and-white fake fishing cork on it. Stop just downstream of it, and ease in toward the green-roofed dock behind it and a little downstream.
As you go in, look at the timber out from that dock. You can see an open area near the tallest tree. This open area marks another spring. These springs are deeper than the surrounding water, and bass and bait are attracted to them. The bass may be suspended down 6 to 8 feet deep in the springs, and that is the best time to catch them on jerkbaits. If they are deeper, use the Alabama rig to get down to them.
Fish the edge of the timber, but also watch for birds sitting on stumps. Clint says blue herons don’t mean baitfish are there, but white cranes do. There will often be several white cranes in one small area, and that is a sure sign baitfish are there. That means bass are nearby.
No. 6. N 30 47.041 – W 84 48.663 — Farther up Spring Creek, a point comes out on the left, and then the creek opens up big past the point. This is Rattlesnake Point, and it almost always holds fish. Deep water comes in near the point, there is grass around it, and there is standing timber just off it. This is great combination for finding December bass on Lake Seminole.
This is good place for a jerkbait. Make fairly long casts, and remember to fish it slowly. Fish all the way around the point, keeping your boat a long cast from the bank. Fish toward the bank to get near grass, and then also fish the timber off the point.
No. 7: N 30º 47.756 – W 84º 49.206 — Not far upstream of Rattlesnake Point a boat channel turns off to the left. The boat channel goes back through a fairly narrow opening and then opens up. The timber ends at the last set of poles before the channel goes back into a canal. The water is very clear in here and warms fast. It is one of the first places bass spawn, often in January.
Start fishing at the edge of the back side of the timber. Bass will hold in this timber until they spawn, and the warmer the water, the more they feed. Clint said he sat by one stump here in a tournament and landed almost 20 pounds of bass.
Make long casts back into the timber with your jerkbait, and also fish a Bama rig along the edges of the timber. Clint says you can catch bass in the timber on a crankbait, but it is more likely to get hung up when you hook a good fish, so he sticks with the jerkbait.
No. 8: N 30º 46.587 – W 84º 48.544 — Go back out to the Flint River. Start up the Flint, staying on the left bank. When you get to the big island at the Waterfowl Refuge, you can see a line of boundary signs on the downstream side. The signs begin at the river and run back along and out from the bank. When we were here, the hydrilla was too thick to go in, but by December it will have died back enough to follow the signs to the island that sits well off the bank.
Locals can run this, but if you don’t know the area, it is best to idle in. Clint said they call this the Fire Break. It leads to an area behind the small island where the hyacinths and hydrilla line the bank. This is an early spawning area and is a good place to flip the grass.
Work along the outer edge of the grass, dropping your punch bait into holes and through mats. Let it hit the bottom, jiggle it, and then flip to the next spot. Clint says this is a good way to put a kicker bass in the boat.
No. 9: N 30º 45.482 – W 84º 47.617 — Going up the river, watch for channel marker 7.8. Go in behind it, and there is deeper water behind the lip of the channel. Hydrilla is thick here, but dies back and is a good place to run a Trap or swim jig.
Stay out from the edge of the grass, and fish both baits. As in other spots, keep moving until you find the fish and bait then slow down and fish that area.
No. 10: N 30º 45.977 – W 84º 45.193 — Going upstream, not far below Wingate’s, there is a red-roofed dock on the right bank. Upstream of it is a cove that runs back almost parallel to the river and there is a good point between it and the river. Clint says hyacinths float down the river and get lodged back in here in December, and this is an excellent place to flip.
Start at the dock on the right and fish all the way around the cove, flipping a punch jig to hyacinths and thick hydrilla. You can also throw a Trap or swim jig around the grass in the middle of the cove.
These 10 spots will put you on good bass right now, and there are many others like them.
Editor’s Note: Visit http://fishing-about.com/keys-to-catching-georgia-bass-ebook-series/ to get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.