Georgia Power is drawing down Lake Sinclair about 4 1/2 feet this fall and winter. Plans are for the lake to remain lowered until the end of November. If that makes you worry about fishing there in November, stop your worrying. The bass fishing will be better than it has been in a long while—since the last drawdown!
Dammed in 1954, Sinclair’s 417 miles of shoreline is lined with docks and has plenty of good water willow grassbeds. Sinclair has long been a popular winter site for club tournaments, since the coal-fired power plant warmed the waters, and the lake produced a lot of bass even in the winter. Many of those bass were skinny “Sinclair Keepers,” bass 13 to 14 inches long and weighing about a pound. Now the coal plant has been shut down, it remains to be seen how the loss of the hot-water discharge will impact winter fishing. But right now, the Sinclair drawdown is expected to provide great bass fishing.
Clayton Batts grew up in Macon and has been fishing Sinclair all his life. He got into tournament fishing as a teenager, and, thanks to the support from Mid-State RV, Clayton has worked his way up the FLW tournament system to fish the FLW Tour the past two years. Clayton is also hoping to qualify for the BASS Elite trail through fishing the BASS Opens. He would really like to fish both professional trails.
The drawdown this year has Clayton excited. The last time Sinclair was lowered this time of year, his November pattern was even better than normal. This pattern produces bass every year, and he said during a drawdown it seems to produce more and bigger bass.
Clayton will have several baits rigged and ready for this month. His main bait is a Spro Aruku Shad rattle bait in the chrome-blue color. For shallow water, he also has a Strike Zone Edgebuster 3/8-oz. white-and-chartreuse spinnerbait and a hematoma-colored Big Bite Fighting Frog behind a Fishing Fool 5/16-oz. weight. He also throws a Spro Little John crankbait custom painted in shad patterns by Perkins Custom Lures.
For catching numbers of bass on a deeper finesse pattern, he rigs a green-pumpkin Big Bite Shaking Squirrel on a drop-shot rig. This numbers pattern can produce 40 bass a day, and Clayton said he loves to take kids fishing and let them have fun landing bass after bass on the drop shot.
The shallow pattern is simple. Clayton looks for a cove with a good ditch in it, and he fishes the back. Many such coves have a good flat on both sides of the ditch, and bass use the ditch like a highway to move back in a cove to feed on the flats.
Shad move into these coves as the water cools, and bass follow them. Shad are the key to good fishing, so the old “find the bait, find the bass” adage applies. Clayton depends on his Lowrance GPS to find the right kind of cove, and then he looks for the shad, and the bass under them, with his depthfinder.
Clayton took me to Sinclair in late September, and shad were already moving into the coves. We had a good day, catching about a dozen keepers with a 5.6-lb. kicker. Clayton also hooked up with two quality bass in the 4-lb. range.
The following places are excellent right now. Check them out to see Clayton’s patterns.
No. 1: N 33º 10.566 – W 83º 20.217 — Go up Little River under the old railroad trestle, and stay to the right. The first cove on your right is a small creek with a good ditch running through a flat in the back—the exact kind of place you want to fish in November. During the last Sinclair drawdown, Clayton had several five-fish tournament limits in the 20-lb. range from this type of cove with a good ditch. Go to the back one-third of the cove, and stop in the middle. Work down the middle, fan-casting your rattle bait all over the flat on both sides. Clayton says when you catch one bass, you should catch several, so fish the area thoroughly.
Watch for a big stump back on the flat. There is usually some brush around it. With the water down, you should be able to see it. Clayton will flip his Fighting Frog to any brush he sees on the flats. He flips with a 7-foot, 4-inch Denali Kovert rod and an Ardent reel spooled with Gamma fluorocarbon.
No. 2: N 33º 09.961 – W 83º 20.300 — Across the river and a little downstream, another good short cove with a ditch enters the lake. There is a brown double boathouse on the upstream side just inside the point. Fish it by staying in the middle, and fan-cast your rattle bait ahead of you to the flat as you work into the cove.
Clayton starts with a 1/2-oz. Aruka Shad in the deeper part of the cove, and then he switches to a 3/8-oz. bait as the water gets shallower. He casts it out, lets it sink to the bottom, and then yo-yos it back, pulling it off the bottom and letting it fall back. The bass usually hit on the fall.
No. 3: N 33º 10.127 – W 83º 20.723 — Go upstream, keeping to the left bank. Cedar Creek enters the lake behind Optimist Island—the long island is to your right. As you get even with the end of the island, a small double cove is on your left. Stop out from the house with “Taylor” on the deck that’s on the middle point of the cove. There is a flat on this point, and ditches come out on both sides of the flat. This flat is the key place here, so stay way out and work it from one side to the other. Clayton’s partner caught a 6-pounder here in a tournament a couple of years ago.
Watch for stumps on these flats. The lower water will help you see them. Flip a Fighting Frog to every stump you see. Bass use these stumps as ambush places while they feed, so dropping a bait beside them will often produce a bite.
No. 4: N 33º 10.328 – W 83º 21.266 — Go into the mouth of Cedar Creek, and you’ll see a smaller creek entering on your left. Go into the creek and around the dogleg to the left. On the right side as it turns is a small ditch with a brown-roofed dock on the downstream side. Start at this dock, and fish the bank going back. It runs out to a point in the creek.
Clayton will start way off the bank and cast a Strike Zone spinnerbait and a rattle bait all the way to the back. This ditch has good deep water all the way to the back and is particularly good. When we fished, there were already schools of shad with bass under them in this creek. We got a good look at them on the depthfinder. Clayton says he has caught both spots and largemouth in this creek.
Clayton will also flip his Fighting Frog to any docks with posts that still in the water in these coves during the drawdown. He tries to drop it by each post, letting it fall beside them. The bass use the dock post just like stumps, and the docks provide shade, too.
No. 5: N 33º 10.532 – W 83º 20.514 — Back across the river, about even with the downstream end of Optimist Island, is a small cove that has a lot of stickups in it. There is a boat ramp on the upstream point and an orange-roofed dock on the downstream point.
Start near the mouth of this cove, and work into it, flipping the docks and running your rattle bait on the flat. Watch for stick-ups, and throw a spinnerbait past them. When you get to a stick-up, jerk your rod tip a little to make the spinnerbait movement erratic. Clayton puts a Big Bite Cane Thumper or Strike Zone Zombie Fish swimbait trailer on his spinnerbaits to give them more movement.
No. 6: N 33º 11.474 – W 83º 14.726 — The water will often get stained up the river in November, and with the lake down the pockets will get even more color. The water color is more stable down the lake. Run down past the mouth of the Oconee River to where it bends to the right. Straight ahead on the outside of the bend on your left is a fairly big creek. There is an orange-roofed dock on the downstream point of it.
Go about halfway back into the creek, and start fishing at the small pocket on the right bank. Fish the docks going back on this side, and also run your spinnerbait around any wood cover. Work all the way to the flat in the back, and fish a rattle bait on it.
Clayton says some wind blowing into these pockets helps. It moves the shad into them even better, and the surface ripples make it harder for bass to identify your baits as fake.
No. 7: N 33º 11.164 – W 83º 14.524 — Going downstream, the next cove on your left is good. There is an orange-roofed dock on the upsteam point of the cove, and an island sits off the downstream point. Go to the downstream side—the right side going in. Go past the gap between the island and point, and start fishing just inside the point. This bank has rocks on it and is a good place to fish your Little John crankbait as you go in. Stay way off the bank, and bump the rocks with your bait as you work in. In the back, fish a rattle bait on the flat.
No 8: N 33º 09.354 – W 83º 12.368 — Go down past the mouth of Island Creek to the first cove on the left. It splits at the back. Go into the cove, and you will see a dock with orange Adirondack chairs on it on your left at the mouth of the left-hand split. Start at this dock, and fish the pocket.
Fish all the way around the back of the pocket and cove with the Little John and a spinnerbait. Fish docks, and any wood cover you see and fan-cast the flat for bass chasing shad on it.
No. 9: N 33º 09.019 – W 83º 13.701 — For drop-shot fishing, go across the lake into the mouth of the creek on the downstream side of the airport behind the big islands. On your left as you go in, the main point to your left has a dock with a light brown canvas top. Just past it is a small pocket on the bank. Stop out in front of the dock in 20 feet of water, and idle into the creek, watching your depthfinder for shad and bass on the bottom. The key area is the small point running off the main point toward the middle of the creek. There is a breakline on the point and the edge of the channel.
Make passes along this bank covering water 20 to 40 feet deep. When you see fish on the bottom, stop and drop your worm straight down to them. Clayton puts a 1/0 Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot hook about a foot above a 1/2-oz. round weight. He ties a 4-foot fluorocarbon leader to his Arden Gliss single strand braid on a 7-foot medium-heavy Denali Lithium rod paired with an Ardent spinning reel.
Clayton says you can load your boat with keepers here all winter long. The bottom is clean, so you are looking for bait and bass. The bass move around this area, but they will be somewhere along this bank in 20 to 40 feet of water.
No. 10: N 33º 09.429 – W 83º 12.931 — Another good drop-shot hole is in the mouth of Island Creek. There are several danger markers on a hump right in the mouth, and then another hump is marked with two buoys just past the first one. On the second one, a ridge runs off the hump toward the mouth of the creek, and it has rocks on it. If you idle around, you will see the big rocks on your electronics with bass holding on them. The rocks are in 30 to 40 feet of water. Fish directly below the boat with a drop-shot worm around the rocks.
Clayton lets his weight hit the bottom, and then he holds his rod so the line is tight. He says the Shaking Squirrel has so much action he really does not move his rod tip. He just holds it in place to suspend the worm up off the bottom. These two drop-shot holes are great places to let a kid have fun catching a lot of bass. Few will be better than 2 pounds, but you can load the boat with smaller bass.