Build a good Public Fishing Area, and the people will come! In 2014, the DNR reported that Flat Creek had more than 40,000 visitors, and that included fishermen, hikers, archers, scout groups and others who just come out to enjoy the scenic location.
Max Wood, the PFA manager, is a 35-year veteran of DNR service, and he keeps the PFA in tip-top shape. However, despite the popularity, the fishing continues to be very good in the PFA. This is because the DNR intensely manages the fishery. It is regularly fertilized, limed and stocked with fish. Also, an oxygen-infusion system keeps the lake from having dead zones and keeps the fish healthy during times of summer heat stress. Located in the middle of the lake, the air lines are running across the bottom, and you can easily see bubbles rising to the surface when the system is running.
Located in south Houston County, near Perry, Flat Creek was planned as an outstanding bream fishery, and the DNR’s plan is working. The lake was built in 2005-06 and opened in June 2009. Shellcrackers and bluegill have done very well in the 104-acre lake, says Steve Schleiger, WRD Fisheries supervisor in Fort Valley.
Bass are also very numerous in the lake with some 10-pounders being reported. Steve says there are probably some bass heavier than 10 pounds in the lake, but those bass have a PhD in fisherman avoidance, so you’ll have to do some smart fishing to catch them.
Crappie are now numerous in the lake and were illegally stocked a few years ago. They can quickly over populate a small pond, so take some home with you.
Flat Creek PFA is not actually on Flat Creek but is in a small drainage leading to the creek. A state hydrology report completed when the lake was in the planning stages said that in a normal rainfall year, the lake should stay full of water. But droughts have challenged the lake and made it necessary for DNR to dig a well to supply the lake with adequate water. The water flows across the ground and into the lake on the west bank.
I met a couple of good fishing buddies there on April 2 to see what was biting, and we were not disappointed. Art Christie, retired administrator of the Houston County Hospital, loves to hunt and fish anytime he can get outside. Likewise, Jeff White, an army vet and retired civilian flight chief from Robins Air Force Base, is a regular angler at Flat Creek. He likes to catch the feisty bream on his ultra-light spinning gear on Beetle Spins whenever possible. But on our fishing trip on April 2, Jeff was fishing with Kyle Holder, of Haynesville, who works with CH2M Hill, an engineering consulting firm. Our strategy was to double team the fish, so while Jeff and Kyle concentrated on the bream from Jeff’s boat, Art and I were in my boat working on the bass.
In the early morning, Art and I moved to the back of the lake on the south end. There was an old farm pond in this location, and the dam was removed. Now the water backs up into the old pond location. It’s shallow, and there are numerous willow trees standing in the water offering plenty of hiding cover for the bass. We saw several splashes as bass chased bait around, and that got us psyched up for some action.
Soon I had a chunky 2-lb. bass dart out from under the willow branches and inhale my chrome/black Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue. At Flat Creek, there is a 14-inch minimum on bass, and the fish was well longer than the minimum.
Art missed a good bass on a 6-inch blue Zoom worm fished Texas style with a 1/4-oz. bullet weight and soon caught another bass. We figured we had worn out our welcome in the back of the lake and started moving back toward the boat ramp, fishing the first cove from the back, on the west side of the lake.
This cove used to be filled with small brush and debris, but the DNR staff have pushed some of the limbs into small piles, making access much better. We got a good hit and a strong tug from a nice bass here, but it came off.
We proceeded up the lake, casting at every likely looking log and bank depression, but a rising sun cut off most of the action. We then moved deeper to the middle of the lake, where the bubbles from the air-infusion system can oftentimes stimulate sluggish bass to bite. The water around the bubbles is 12 to 15 feet deep, and the bottom is fairly smooth and sandy. So if you like to use a Carolina rig, it will work here.
We managed to pull in another nice bass around the air bubbles on a Smithwick Pro Rogue suspending crankbait in chrome/blue/orange. While a steady retrieve will work with this lure, sometimes bass often don’t want to chase down a bait. So after the bait hits the water, allow it to rest a few seconds before beginning the retrieve. Then during the retrieve, use short, snappy jerks to entice the bass to hit. That’s what I was doing when this bass hit, and I also got another strong hit that I failed to hook up on.
Live minnows are allowed on the lake, so drifting a large minnow or a fresh caught, small bream can tie you into a trophy bass in this area in the summer time. Other good bass locations are the five concrete and brickpiles in the middle of the lake. They are located on the west side of the big rotten trees. The piles lie about 10 feet to the west of the trees in a line, running north to south. Go to the DNR website for a lake topo map to get a better idea on location.
Max also just installed some big cedar trees as fish attractors around the lake, so look for the tops sticking up. The rip-rap along the dam is always good for a few bites on a jerkbait or a Texas-rigged worm. While we were working hard chunking bass lures, Jeff and Kyle were taking it easy, sipping cokes, solving world problems and watching their bobbers sink.
They were finding good bream action on the east side of the lake, directly across from the boat ramp. Just look for the big single, dead oak tree that sets on a point about 10 feet into the water. The water just out from this tree only runs about 3 to 4 feet deep, and it’s a good bream-bed area in both coves on either side of the tree.
Jeff and Kyle tried casting Beetle Spins but got no interest from the bream. But they were loaded with crickets and worms and experienced slow but steady action all through the morning to load up a stringer with hand-sized bream. They used spin-cast reels loaded with 6-lb. line. The terminal end was anchored by a No. 6 thin-wire hook with bb split shot about 6 inches up, and then the line run was run through a slip cork.
Jeff reported that most bites came on big red worms, and the crickets were mostly ignored. Other good bream areas are at the back of the lake around the willow trees, the northwest corner of the dam where a fish attractor is located, or on the east bank of the lake directly across from the fish-cleaning station.
Bank fishermen will find good fishing from the pier, where fish attractors had been placed, says Max. Bank fishing has also been good about 100 yards on either side of the pier, and folks line up along these areas with good results. Cast out your line about 30 yards for best results for bream and catfish.
About 2,500 catfish of the 10-inch size were stocked into the lake in December 2014 and will provide good fishing this summer. But larger cats from earlier stockings are in the lake, too. Max reports that one bank angler recently pulled in five cats in the 8-lb. class, all caught on frozen catawba worms.
Crappie anglers can score by dipping minnows around standing timber in the back of the lake or trolling jigs in the center of the lake.
Max says the kids’ pond hosts numerous youth fishing events throughout the year for scouts, church groups and kids parties. Contact Max for more details at the DNR Fort Valley office at (478) 825-6354. The PFA also has a great archery range and hunting opportunities. Check regs for full details.
The PFA is closed Monday and Tuesday, and boats must travel at idle speed.