Few lakes bring back such fond memories to those of us who have survived in the fishing industry for more than thirty years like Lake Walter F. George, or Eufaula, as those on the Alabama side of the border call it. During the early days of bass tournaments, people like Tom Mann (the Alabama one), John Powell, Bill Dance, Pete Henson, and even John Fox made history with their almost unbelievable stringers of huge bass from this 45,000 acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineer impoundment on the Chattahoochee River between Georgia and Alabama.
Even during the hottest days of summer, I can recall catching plenty of big bass with a variety of lures. One just had to be quite familiar with the habits of these fish as they traveled over the diverse underwater terrain at Walter F. George.
After those first great years, however, the lake went into a gradual decline, which was aided by a period when gizzard shad seemed to take over from the threadfin shad. During that time, if an angler caught a fish during a tournament, he would be in the money, and might even win the tournament with two bass. Today, the bass fishing is better than it has been a long time.
Since the Chattahoochee River channel seems to meander from side to side during its trek from the headwaters to the dam, the bass fishing is heavily affected by the numerous ditches and creek channels that crisscross the shallow flats, and act as avenues to the submerged river channel. These paths, plus the main creeks entering the lake, all have either highly defined ledges or smaller edges that hold bass. This situation is ideal for fishermen who enjoy structure fishing, or for those who want to learn how to fish channel ledges.
Usually by the end of June, bass are stacked up on the ledges, which makes July the best month for ledge fisherman at Walter F. George. In fact, every ledge from the mouths of the creeks all the way out to the Chattahoochee River channel on the main lake will hold feeding bass that have already recovered from the spawning ordeal.
These bass will normally be in 10 to 25 feet of water along the edge of a channel that is close to deeper water and near some type of cover. As long as good numbers of these fish remain in this pattern, they are relatively easy to catch. If they move deeper, they become much more difficult because they feed less often, are harder to find, and the magic lure for this period is harder to work at those levels.
Big, deep-running crankbaits are the key to catching lunker bass along the ledges at Lake Walter F. George in summer. One should be fishing some distance from any visible shoreline and pretty deep.
Regardless of the manufacturer, pick a plug that will bump the bottom 10 to 20 feet deep during early July, 15 to 20 feet deep later in the month, and something that will dredge 18 to 22 feet deep by the end of the month. Those are the depths where the bass are most likely to be holding as the water continues to warm.
For those not familiar with Lake Walter F. George, running a boat outside the marked channels can be hazardous. Lots of shallow flats just outside markers contain stumps or other debris that washes with the current.
Also, stumps are the only wood structure that can be counted on to remain in place at Lake George. If an angler can locate stumps along any ledges near the main channels, bass are generally nearby. All other brush, debris, or blowndown trees get moved constantly with the current. A hotspot this year may be gone next year, but a bare spot now may hold a brushpile full of fish on the next trip, so keep your eyes on the sonar screen for previously unseen “honey holes.
Plenty of hungry, summer bass are available for everyone to catch at Lake Walter F. George. It just takes some patience, persistence, and lots of casting and winding, but a limit of bass that may average more than five pounds each is often the reward!