Diehard bass fishermen love October. Pleasure boaters are mostly off the lakes, so you don’t rock and roll all day while fishing. A lot of part-time fishermen are in the woods hunting or stuck in front of a TV watching football, so there is a lot less pressure on the bass. Lake Oconee is a great choice for anglers who want to take advantage of these October pleasantries.
Oconee is an 18,971-acre Georgia Power lake along I-20 between Atlanta and Augusta. Because of pumpback from Sinclair, the lake level goes up and down about a foot each day, but it doesn’t have the annual winter drawdown of other reservoirs. Oconee is lined by golf courses, giant houses with personal seawalls, and the shoreline is ringed with bass-holding boat docks.
Right now, Oconee bass are responding to cooler water temperatures and less boating activity by moving shallow and feeding heavily.
Cody Stahl is a senior at CrossPointe Christian Academy in Pike County near Griffin. This young man loves to fish. His father Chad is a well-known tournament fisherman on the Berry’s trails and won the Berry’s point standings two years in a row. He has taught Cody well. Chad started taking Cody to night tournaments on Jackson when he was 7 years old, so competitive fishing is in his blood.
Last November, Cody and his partner, Tate Van Egmond, won the BASS High School Georgia State Championship at Eufaula. They then came in 10th out of 134 teams in the BASS High School National Championship on Kentucky Lake.
Oconee is one of Cody’s favorite lakes, especially in October.
“By the end of September, the cooling water is making the shad move into the creeks, and the bass follow them,” Cody said.
The old adage “find the bait and find the bass” definitely applies on Oconee this month.
Cody likes to find a feeder creek that has a good ditch in it, and he fishes it from the mouth back until he finds where the bass are feeding. Once you find that zone, it should be a consistent pattern in other creeks, too.
A wide variety of baits will catch bass right now on Oconee, and Cody will be prepared to throw a lot of different ones. For pitching shallow water, he uses a Texas-rigged Fishog Angry Beaver, a Zoom Baby Brush Hog and a Fishog Jigsaw jig.
For faster fishing, a No. 6 Shad Rap, a ChatterBait and an RC 1.5 square-bill crankbait are on his deck. And he always has a Spro Frog to throw to grass and shallow wood.
Both a buzzbait and a spinnerbait are good for power fishing around any kind of shallow cover. These baits allow him to fish quickly around docks, grass, wood and rocks as he works from the mouths of the creeks to the very backs.
Cody and Tate took me to Oconee in early September to check out the following places. Shad were just moving into them, and fishing was still tough, but we caught a lot of throwbacks. Cody landed three good keepers. Bigger bass will be on these and similar locations much better now.
No. 1: N 33º 25.184 – W 83º 14.243 — Heading down the lake, as you pass the Old Salem Campground on the left, the river makes a turn to the right. On the left bank—an outside bend—there are a lot of rocks and small pockets that attract shad and bass early in the morning. There is a gray dock with white post on a block seawall just upstream of a small pocket.
Start in the pocket just downstream of the dock with a buzzbait and spinnerbait. Fish upstream, working the wood, rocks and docks. Fish around the point into the small creek upstream of the dock. Cody likes a white 3/8-oz. Terminator spinnerbait with two sliver willowleaf blades and a Booyah black or white 3/8-oz. buzzbait.
Hit any cover you see, and also cast right against the seawall. The curves and changes in the seawall are key spots. Pitch to the docks, too. Wind blowing into the docks and the seawall makes this and other locations better as long as the wind isn’t not too strong.
No. 2: N 33º 25.807 – W 83º 14.571 — Back upstream, a double creek enters downstream of the campground (the swimming area is on the left going in). Stop on the point between the two arms—across from the swimming area—and fish to the right, into that arm of the double creek. There are rocks on the point, and it is one of the first places the shad and bass move to as the water starts cooling.
Start on the point with your boat in about 8 feet of water—a long cast from the bank—and fish a buzzbait and crankbait across the point. Cody likes a crawfish-colored Shad Rap and a square-bill crankbait in shad colors. When you get past the point to the cuts on that bank where there is cover, cast a frog, buzzbait, ChatterBait and spinnerbait to the wood cover.
There is a big blow–down on the bank past the first small pocket, and Cody lost a 3-lb. bass right at the boat when we fished here. The bass hit his ChatterBait on the end of the tree. Don’t hesitate to work a ChatterBait through thick cover like this. Cody likes a 3/8-oz. black-and-blue ChatterBait.
Fish all the way around the back of this creek. There is a good ditch in the back, and I lost a 2-lb. bass almost right in the back of the pocket. It hit a worm under an overhanging bush. Cody likes overhanging bushes like you find here. Bass will often hold right against the bank under them.
No. 3: N 33º 25.648 – W 83º 15.290 — Across the lake, there are some condos on the upstream point of a creek that has an old dam across it. Start fishing at the corner of the rip-rap at the condo docks. Cast your Shad Rap and spinnerbait on the rocks, and try topwater early in the morning, too.
Fish through the gap in the rip-rap, and work the back side of the rocks. Then fish the docks and other shallow cover on the left back in the creek. Don’t hesitate to fish very shallow cover like the brushpile on the island with the “Traffic Island” sign on it.
A shad-colored frog is good in the thick shallow cover. Your jig, Brush Hog and Beaver are all good when pitched very shallow, especially around dock posts. Cody rigs his Baby Brush Hog on a 1/4-oz. sinker and skips it to the cover. He likes watermelon red or black and red. He rigs a black-and-blue or dirty-pumpkin Beaver the same way.
No. 4: N 33º 25.017 – W 83º 14.550 — Going down the river, the big inside bend on your right has some good docks to fish on the downstream side. Go around the point, and stop at the first dock. It has a black canvas top. The house for this dock is way back in the trees.
At the first couple of docks, the lake bottom is soft, but it turns to hard clay past them. There are some rocks on the bottom, too. Fish each dock with your jig, Baby Brush Hog and Beaver. Also pitch a ChatterBait under them.
Many people fish only the front of docks, and Cody says this is a mistake. He always goes in behind them and fishes the back side and walkway. He skips his baits under them and works them back, hitting every post.
Cody is very good at skipping or skittering a jig under docks, and he says the rod action is critical to doing this well. He prefers to flip docks with a 7-foot ALX Rods IKOS Series Promise rod because he says it has the perfect amount of tip on the rod to flip and skip docks,
Between the docks, throw your crankbait, ChatterBait or spinnerbait. Shad move down this bank in October into the small creek. Cody will fish all the way to the back of the creek, and then he will fish back out the other side, hitting the docks and banks between the docks.
No. 5: N 33º 24.817 – W 83º 13.495 — Go down the river past the island on the left and around the bend to the second creek on the left. A marina is back in this creek in a pocket to the right. The creek goes to the left. Stop on the left bank of the main creek, just upstream of a long point with grass all the way down to the seawall. The creek narrows down at this point.
Just upstream of this point are three small docks. The bank is fairly deep, and it has overhanging bushes. Start fishing at these small docks, hitting each one with a jig, Baby Brush Hog and Beaver. Also skip a ChatterBait or frog under the overhanging bushes, and pitch a soft bait under them, too.
Fish down this bank until you stop seeing shad or stop catching bass. Then jump across to the other side and fish those docks to the point of the marina cove. Try to hit every post of each dock.
No. 6: N 33º 24.531 – W 83º 13.914 — Go back up the river to the next creek upstream of the one in hole 5. It is a smaller creek downstream of the island and has a good ditch and docks to fish, and there are overhanging bushes, too. Start at the third dock on the left, and fish to the back of the creek.
Cody likes docks with 5 feet of water in front of them, but he says most of the bass he catches are 3 feet deep or less, so don’t hesitate to fish very shallow docks. Fish all the dock posts. It takes longer to get in behind them to fish the back side, but it is worth it.
No. 7: N 33º 25.228 – W 83º 14.608 — Go back up the river to the big point on the left, across from hole No. 1. This long point gets a lot of wind blowing in on it, and it has a good hard bottom. There is a lot of brush in the water from where bushes were cut to clear under the trees and to clear the bank.
Fish a crankbait, spinnerbait and Beaver all along the bank. Run your faster baits between the brush in the water, and fish the brush in the water thoroughly with your Baby Brush Hog. Fish all the way around the small pocket on the upstream side of the point. The upstream side of the pocket has brush, too.
Wind helps on this point and in other places if it is not so strong it makes boat control difficult. Wind stirs up the water, breaks the surface and moves baitfish into the area. All those things make the bass bite better and makes it more difficult for them to identify your lures as fake.
No. 8: N 33º 25.039 – W 83º 14.256 — Across the river from the point in hole 7, just downstream of hole 1, is a small creek that splits right in the back. There is a dock with a blue canvas cover on the downstream point of the creek. On the left bank going into the creek is a brown-shingled boathouse. There are four docks in this small creek.
Start near the upstream point, and fish the left bank to the back. Then fish the dock on the point in the middle of the split, and fish the docks on the other bank, too. Cody says the left bank is usually better in October, since it is a little deeper and has overhanging bushes to fish.
No. 9: N 33º 24.339 – W 83º 15.597 — Go up Lick Creek until you see the first bridge ahead of you. On the right, just before the creek turns a little to the left, is a small creek. Just inside the point is a house with light-gray siding and a dock with a black canvas top. Start at the dock. Fish it carefully, and then work to the back of the creek down the left bank. There is a seawall with rocks in front of it along this bank, and it holds bass. The little points on the seawall are usually best.
There is a pond back in the woods above this creek that feeds water into the creek. The water flowing into the creek attracts bass. Fish all the way to the ditch in the back, and fish the cove in the back of it. Also fish the first three docks in the back of the creek on your right going in.
No. 10: N 33º 24.410 – W 83º 15.724 — Going up Lick Creek, a big creek comes in on the right just upstream of the creek at hole 9. Stop at the dock on the right in this creek. The dock has a black canvas top and red Adirondack chairs on it.
Fish this dock and all the others as you work into the creek. Run a spinnerbait on the seawalls between the docks. In the back on the left side is a small pocket with a blowdown in it. Fish the blowdown with a frog. Cody got a keeper out of it the day we fished. Also work it with the Baby Brush Hog, Beaver and jig.
These places are good right now and give you examples of the types of places Cody catches Oconee bass in October. These spots are in a compact area so you don’t have to burn much gas to fish them, but you can literally run all over the lake and find many similar creeks and pockets where this pattern will catch bass.