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Post-Spawn Bass Fishing on Lake Eufaula
Winning Lake Eufaula specialist Ryan Ingram reveals why, where and how to catch post-spawn largemouth bass.
By Eileen Davis
“The way to win on Lake Eufaula in April,” said Ryan Ingram of Phenix City, “is to fish for post-spawn largemouth.”
Even though he could catch bigger fish on beds or migrating to the beds, Ingram successfully targets post-spawn largemouth to win tournaments. Ingram has won an unbelievable string of national, regional and local tournaments on the lake. He didn’t win all of these tournaments in April, but Ingram says his winning pattern produces big fish from the end of February until the end of May.
Ingram’s reason for targeting post-spawn bass is the reliability of his pattern.
He continued, “Pre-spawn bass come up and go to the bank so fast that they are not dependable. If you find them in practice, you will probably be disappointed on tournament day, because they will have moved to the bank. When we have a continuous warming trend, pre-spawn fish do not stay long. Sometimes they go from the river directly to the bank and then back to the river.”
“Winning tournaments with a pre-spawn pattern where bass are fattening up for the spawn may work on other lakes, but it doesn’t work on Lake Eufaula. However, a post-spawn pattern does produce a lot of 5 pounders that would have weighed 7 pounds.”
Stretching 100 miles on the Chattahoochee River from just below Phenix City to Fort Gains, Georgia, Lake Eufaula covers 45,181 acres of diverse largemouth habitat. The lake has plenty of creeks, flats, submerged timber and 640 miles of shoreline.
LAKE EUFAULA’S FIRST DROP LARGEMOUTH
Ingram’s winning post-spawn pattern targets fish positioned on the first drop-off adjacent to spawning flats. Using his map, Ingram looks for the first contour line in front of the shallows. He says the depth varies depending on the section of the lake. On the south end of the lake, Ingram says the drop-offs occur 15 feet deep and above the causeway, 7 feet deep. The drop can be subtle, as little as 3 feet.
To fish the first drop-off in front of a spawning flat, anglers first need to find where largemouth reproduce. Ingram recommends several places throughout the lake. On the upper lake, he says good spawning areas lie on the north bank of Cowikee Creek. Near the town of Eufaula, he says fish spawn on the west side of the lake from just south of Creek Town down to the causeway.
“That stretch of bank down to the causeway,” Ingram said, “has a lot of sandy places for fish to spawn, and it’s a good first drop area. There are ditches leading to the spawning flats and there are sharp little drops.”
On the east bank and south of the causeway, Ingram says fishing is good in Gary’s Fish Pond area, which is located between Tobannee Creek and Cool Branch. Further south on the east bank, he says good spawning flats lie between Sandy Creek and the dam, with good drops in front of the East Bank Recreation Area next to the dam.
When Ingram approaches a first drop, he searches for cover in the form of brush piles, snags, and stumps. He also looks for irregularities in the structure of the drop, like points, cuts and ditches. Ingram does not use his side scan sonar to search for fish.
“Post-spawn fish do not congregate like pre-spawn fish,” Ingram explained. “Big schools of pre-spawn bass will spawn at different rates and come out at different times. So instead of looking for a school, you are looking for individual fish. You are hoping to work down the drop for 300 yards and catch five or six fish.”
FIRST DROP LURES
To fish the drop, Ingram’s lures include a square-bill, pear-colored crankbait that reaches depths of 5 feet, a chartreuse and white 3/4-ounce Ledgebuster spinnerbait with a single willow leaf, and a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce football-head jig by Strikezone. Ingram does not dress the jig with a trailer.
He explained, “A lot of strikes are reaction bites. The jig has a long skirt that gives it a smaller profile, so it falls faster. When fish are finicky, retrieve the jig by slowly reeling it flat across the bottom. It does not require much movement, but it stirs the bottom up a lot.”
If you practice Ingram’s first drop pattern, he says you can expect heavy stringers of bass.
Read more about how successful anglers find and catch Bama’s bass.