Did you spend Memorial Day Weekend trying to knock off your Georgia Bass Slam? If you’re still missing the smallie from your list, you’re in the right place. This week, we’ll take a look at how nail a Smallmouth Bass from fisheries biologists, Ed Bettross and John Damer.
How big do they get?
Between 7–27 inches long.
Where you can find them:
Smallmouth Bass are native to the Tennessee River basin. They can also be fished in the Chattahoochee and Savannah River basins where unauthorized introductions have occurred.
Public access points:
There are four boat ramps on Lake Blue Ridge: Morganton Point Recreation Area, Lakewood Landing, and Lake Blue Ridge Recreation Area. These areas are all US Forest Service access sites with boat ramps you can access by paying a small user fee. There is also a privately-owned boat ramp at Lake Blue Ridge Marina, but the ramp is closed to the public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Smallmouth can also be found in the Toccoa River, both above and below Lake Blue Ridge. The upper section is probably the better bet. You can access this section at the US Forest Service Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch or Deep Hole Recreation Areas, or on the Forest Service land upstream of Shallowford Bridge. You can also try the lower sections of many smaller tributaries in the Toccoa River watershed or other streams in Northwest Georgia that flow north into the Tennessee.
The Augusta shoals section of the Savannah River provides considerable wading and boating opportunities to land a quality Smallmouth Bass. The head of the shoals is accessed from the Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Columbia County. There is a four mile towpath along the shoals providing nearly unlimited wading access. Anglers may also carry and launch their own kayak or canoe at the headwaters and float the entire shoals. There is downstream takeout at the 5th Street Augusta Marina. There are steps going down the banks at the headwaters for an easy launch.
Like the Savannah, Smallmouth Bass were introduced in the Chattahoochee River through unauthorized stocking. Best bet to catch a smallmouth on the Hooch is between Cochran Shoals and Vickery Creek Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area park units. In this reach of the river, Smallmouth Bass are hybridizing with the river’s native black bass (e.g. shoal bass), so catching a pure smallmouth may be a challenge.
View an interactive map of where to find Smallmouth Bass and public access points. If you’re looking for other boating and fishing opportunities around the state, check out the new Georgia Outdoors Boating and Fishing app, here.
Lures you should use:
Don’t be misled by the name Smallmouth – these fish have eyes bigger than their stomachs. They’re aggressive eaters and will strike at all sizes of prey depending on where you’re fishing. When targeting them lakeside, use up to 1 ounce spinnerbaits, deep diving crankbaits, or half ounce jigs. Big bait can mean big payouts fishing for smallies. If you’re targeting them on moving water, you’ll want to go a bit smaller. Stick to more natural lures like imitation minnows or crawfish or use quarter ounce spinnerbaits and buzz baits. Natural colors brown, silver, and chartreuse are all safe bets.
Recommendations from Ed:
“Bass fishing the Augusta shoals is well suited for light spinning and fly rods. Spinning rod go to lures include 1/4 ounce buzz and spinner baits as well as a variety of soft plastics rigged on 1/8 ounce jig heads. Rivers and Glen is a local fly shop (706-738-4536) and a good source for the latest information on fishing the river.”
So you want to catch a bass slam in Georgia? Learn about the Georgia Bass Slam.