Without hesitation the talented bass angler quickly swept his rod to the side and drove the steel hook deep into the jaw of a hungry largemouth bass. The lunker bass fought like a demon, but was quickly subdued, admired and released by the expert angler.

Arriving at Pickwick Lake, we were greeted by 54-degree nights and 80-degree days while pursuing our quest for some of the finest bass fishing in the southeast.

Former FLW and WBFL tournament winner Ken Murphy was my guide and host for an action-packed fishing trip at Pickwick Lake.

All indications pointed to a successful Indian summer fishing trip as almost everyone was raving about the fantastic bass fishing that had occurred throughout the spring and summer on Pickwick this year.

As a result of a recent cold front, the river was blanketed by a thick layer of fog on the morning of our trip. As bass boats zipped by us mere feet away in almost black-out conditions, Murphy changed his plans and turned up into Indian Creek Cove. After stopping and working one stretch of shoreline, the gifted angler quickly deduced that the bass were not yet holding on the shallow grass along the banks.

"Let's go check out a ledge and see if there's any grass and shad," he said.

As we stopped to cast into the open water near the middle of the rear portion of the cove, it was obvious that Murphy knew the bottom structure, as nary a hint of anything was showing above the surface. Minutes later, he bowed up on a feisty 3-pound largemouth, and our first bass was history.

A few casts later, a nice bass struck my Carolina-rigged Zoom Trick worm, and almost tore the rod from my hands. Another 3-pounder was promptly landed, admired and released to live and fight another day.

As we continued working the ledge that was located in 6 to 8 feet of water, the action heated up.

"These bass are keying on the shad and are ambushing them from the submerged grass beds," Murphy said. "Right now, the grass is growing up off of the bottom, and it holds both bass and baitfish. Once it tops out on the surface, you can still catch them along the outer edge and adjacent to the grass line as well."

On this day, the bass were striking red, junebug and watermelon seed worms with a passion. Some bass were schooling on top, but the majority of the fish were feeding ravenously along the bottom in the grass. As we pulled the worms through the grass, bass would strike once, twice, sometimes three times before taking our offerings.

The fishing stayed pretty hot until about 10:30, when the action slowed for most of the anglers around us. We continued to catch and release bass on the Carolina-rigged worms, though more infrequently than earlier.

Arriving back at Indian Creek after lunch, the cove had seemingly transformed. There were so many pleasure boats anchored in the area that it looked almost like a marina. Most were anchored in areas that were unproductive for fishing, though. There was one line of boats that were anchored side by side, smack dab on top of one of our hot fishing holes.

Murphy wasn't fazed in the least, as he was confident there were plenty of bass in the area.

Moving only about 100 yards away, we detected a couple of bass surfacing along another shallow-water ledge, and the confident angler quickly sailed a Carolina-rigged worm in the vicinity. Before Murphy could pick up the slack, a largemouth sucked the worm in and headed for parts unknown. Murphy quickly set the hook, and landed the bass after a short battle.

"The bass are keying on shad, so cast up toward that slick in the water," Murphy advised.

No sooner had my worm disappeared into the dark water when a lunker bass sucked it in.

For the next two to three hours, Murphy and I followed the school of shad and bass back and forth along a 50-yard stretch of water. On many occasions, we had doubles. The afternoon turned out to be one of the most action-packed fishing trips that I'd been on in a long time.

Pickwick Lake annually hosts some of the best fall bass fishing to be found anywhere in the country, and as of late, the bass action has been fantastic by all accounts. Tournament anglers regularly weigh in limits of bass in the 4- to 6-pound range.

While some lakes have winning stringers with a 3-pound average, that might not even place in the money in some tournaments on Pickwick now.

Try a few of Murphy's favorite fishing spots, and then find similar locations of your own.

 

No. 1: N34 55.962 x W 88 09.938 - Leave the landing at J.P. Coleman State Park, motor slowly through the marina cove and turn right.

"I'll fish the rip rap from the entrance point of the marina all the way around and in front of the rock bank in front of the hotel," said Murphy. "You want to fish the rocks at first light and then again in late afternoon."

Lightweight jigs, shaky heads, crankbaits and topwater lures are productive when the bass are feeding on shad along the rocks.

"If the bass are active, I'll cast a modified bone-colored Rattlin' Chug Bug, and work it down the rocks in a walk-the-dog retrieve," he said. "If you work the Chug Bug by a hungry or aggressive bass, they're usually going to nail it."

 

No. 2: N34 55.778 x W88 09.910 - Leaving No. 1, move approximately 100 to 125 yards straight out from the motel until you get to GPS stop No. 2. This location is home to a ledge that regularly produces quality bass when the time is right. The ledge runs from 10 feet deep on top and drops off into 20-plus feet on the outside edge.

"This is a hit-or-miss ledge, and they're usually stacked up and turned on, or there's nothing there," Murphy said. "Carolina rigs, football-head jigs and deep-diving crankbaits are productive in this area."

On occasion, some anglers have weighed in five-fish limits of bass weighing over 25 pounds from this ledge. Though anglers may catch bass here anytime, current will almost surely enhance the probability of finding and catching fish.

 

No. 3: N34 55.669 x W88 09.815 - Leaving No. 2, head straight across the mouth of Indian Creek, and stop just short of the point and clay bank. Entering into Indian Creek from the river, this point is on the left, or east, side of the cove.

"This ledge is pretty wide and runs out to a sharp underwater point typical of many river ledges," Murphy said. "Lure choices will be about the same as the ledge at No. 2. I'll start out by casting a deep-diving crankbait, and then follow up with a Carolina rig and work the bottom thoroughly. If the bass are active, I'll follow up with a football-head jig and try to catch a bigger fish as well."

 

No 4: N34 54.079 x W88 10.302 - Leaving No. 3, head due south into the cove, and continue on toward the back of the cove until you get to this location, which is about 200 yards straight north of a plastic pipe that is situated in the middle of the cove. A ditch runs near the pipe and runs straight out for a ways, and the water depth ranges from 7 to 10 feet deep.

As we worked this area, Murphy and I caught and released several quality bass that were holding along the 10-foot depth.

"This is a typical area for casting a Carolina rig and searching the bottom for bass," said Murphy. "Many times you can find them schooled up and catch them for a couple of hours without moving."

While we were fishing this spot, Jeff Wilbanks and son Tyler Wilbanks hooked a lunker bass that escaped right at the boat. One cast later, the Wilbankses hooked and lost yet another 6- or 7-pound bass. No doubt about it, the big ones were there.

 

No. 5: N34 54.030 x W88 10.258 - Leave No. 4, head toward the white pole about 100 yards and turn east about that distance as well.

"Continue fishing and working the bottom breaks that form an irregular edge dropping from 5 to 8 feet deep," said Murphy. "Depending upon the water level and depth of the grass, you can catch bass all along this ledge break."

On our trip, we continually caught and released bass in the 3- to 4-pound range along an area about 100 yards long and wide. As the bass chased shad, they were continually schooling and moving along the bottom break while following the schools of shad.

"If the bass are on the bottom, I'll use a Carolina rig or Texas rig," he said.

If the grass makes it to the surface, you can also work the area alongside and on top of the grass line edge and have great success.

 

No. 6: N34 54.045 x W88 10.221 - Leaving No. 5, continue working in an easterly direction for another 150 yards until you get to this spot. This area runs 6 to 8 feet deep with some water in the 9-foot range.

During late afternoon, the wind had blown the schools of shad back into this area, and the bass were busting the surface and attacking them with a vengeance. They were working their way back and forth through the area some 75 to 80 yards.

As the bass moved near us, we would pick up six or eight apiece before they moved out of range following the shad.

We followed the bass for the next couple of hours. Before we left, we heard someone whooping and hollering, and as we turned to check on the commotion, Jeff Wilbanks was holding up an 8-pound bass.

 

No. 7: N34 53.937 x W88 10.332 - Leaving No. 6, move back out to the white pole and work the ditch back south toward the shallow water approximately 100 to 150 yards south of the pole.

"If the bass are not out deeper, you might want to follow the ditch past the white pole marker and work your way farther south until you get to (No. 7)," said Murphy.

On our trip up this ditch during the early morning hours, we located a spot along the slight ditch, and promptly caught about a dozen bass before the action slowed down. When it did, we continued working the channel farther south, and picked up an occasional fish or two along the shallow-water ditch.

Occasionally a bass would slash the surface chasing and attacking shad. A worm cast in the vicinity almost always resulted in a bite.

 

No. 8: N34 54.096 x W88 06.130 - Leaving Indian Creek cove, turn right and head approximately four miles downriver until you get to a small cut on the left, which is Beech Branch. The mouth of Bear Creek is right across the river on the right. This is a ledge located approximately 125-150 yards due west of the cove mouth. The ledge runs from 4 to 8 feet on top, and has an almost vertical drop on the southernmost end.

"I'll fish this ledge any time of day, but early and late are prime times, and if they're pulling water it's even better," Murphy said. "I'd cast a spoon along the top edge in the grass and maybe even top water baits if the fish are active."

On our trip to the ledge, the bass were located on the southernmost point and attacking almost anything that came near.

 

No. 9: N35 00.383 x W88 11.923 - Leaving Indian Creek Cove and J.P. Coleman State Park, turn left and head upriver about five miles until you get to State Line Island. Once at the island, angle slightly west and stop at this GPS location, which is near the middle of the lake. Yellow Creek comes into the lake on the west side of the river almost straight across from State Line Island. The old river ledge meanders back and forth, and several key points are found along this stretch.

"Fish this section of the river ledge anytime, but especially when the current is flowing well," Murphy advised. "I'd cast a crawfish-colored football-head jig or Carolina rig. Keep your boat in the deep water in the 25- to 35-foot depths, and cast up onto the ledge, which is 15 to 20 feet deep on the top."

It didn't take long for me to get my first bite on this ledge as a lunker bass struck my 10-inch tequila-shad Culprit magnum worm.

 

No. 10: N35 00.457 x W88 11.954 - This area is 75 to 100 yards south of No. 9, and is basically another good underwater river point that holds good fish. Once again, use football-head jigs and Carolina rigs along this ledge.

"If the bass are here, you'll get bit pretty quickly," said Murphy.

True to Murphy's word, I hooked up with a lunker bass on my second cast. Though there was no current on this day, the bass were keying along the outer edge of the ledge and feeding during midday hours.

It's not uncommon to catch bass in the 4- to 6-pound range stacked up when they are pulling current, Murphy said. Anglers might catch smallmouth, spotted bass and largemouth from the same section of the deep-water ledge. If you hit the ledges when the time is right, you'll be able to experience the catch of a lifetime.

 

Whether you find and catch largemouth bass in the coves, or target smallmouth and spots along the river ledges, fantastic fall fishing awaits your arrival. With thousands of river ledges and many coves scattered around the lake, there is plenty of room for everyone to fish. While Ken Murphy has shown us places to fish in Indian Creek, there are also similar coves that hold bass in Bear Creek, Yellow Creek and numerous others.

If you're looking for fantastic fall bass action, head to Pickwick Lake and try it for yourself. It's worth the drive from anywhere.