Veteran angler Keith Ramage pulled out his go-to bait, and began combing the shallow-water ledge with an old trusty crankbait when a feisty bass smashed the lure and almost tore the rod from his hands. Ramage quickly regained his composure and began to work the bass toward the boat.

"Now that's what I'm talking about," said Ramage.

It was hard for the excited angler to contain himself as he landed the hungry bass.

Ramage was brimming with confidence and excited about our trip to Turkey Creek Water Park even though a recent cold front had left us with high pressure and a bluebird sky, something that is tough on the fish and more so on almost all fishermen.

Before the day was done, however, Ramage showed that his confidence and persistence would pay off big time on this often-overlooked lake. Turkey Creek Water Park, located just southwest of Decatur, is not well-known outside of the area, but it is a favorite spot of local anglers offering both a challenge and opportunity to catch quality bass.

"This is the highest water I've ever fished on this lake," said Ramage.

In fact, the water was so high that you could hardly see the riprap rocks along the dam, and that's pretty rare indeed.

Undeterred, Ramage began systematically hitting all the prime locations in search of bass. His first fish of the day came on a 1/4-ounce Terminator spinnerbait fished right on the bank just off the side of our first point. The feisty bass struck the lure almost as soon as it hit the water.

Moving on down the lake, we began working an area right off a clay bank that had sparse structure with a small beaver hut. Almost as soon as I pitched my Baby Paca Craw onto the wood, a bass sucked it in and started moving off. I quickly set the hook on my spinning reel combo, and landed my first bass of the day.

As we continued hitting the hotspots, we noticed not a ripple on the water, except for an occasional breeze. There was not a sign of fish to be found anywhere on the surface either. But Ramage stayed confident as he related some of his success stories.

During the latter part of the afternoon, we started seeing baitfish flick near the surface, as larger fish became active on top.

After trying a variety of lures, I put on a crankbait, and we began working the clay banks and offshore drops. It didn't take long before I caught a bass on a Norman Deep Little N. When another bite didn't come quickly enough, I switched to a chartreuse/brown back Rapala DT 10, and continued working the bottom and banging the lure into any structure I could find.

Suddenly a larger bass smashed the crankbait, and our first pattern was established. Ramage switched colors as well, put on a crankbait with a touch of chartreuse and quickly hooked up with a nice bass.

Continuing to work the hard clay bottoms, Ramage had another bite and put another good bass into the boat. Shortly thereafter, I caught another one as we continued to pick up good bass all along. The key was to keep the crankbaits contacting the hard clay bottom or any wood that was down there. Almost all of our strikes came after deflecting off the bottom, or off a stump.

With only an hour or so of daylight left, we notice an increased amount of surface activity, and Ramage made yet another change in tactics that would pay off. With the higher-than-normal water level, many bass had followed the baitfish up into the shallow pockets that had pad stems and small pads. The key was recognizing that the bass were doing something different and adjusting to them.

Ramage quickly picked up his spinnerbait rod, and began working the shallows. After picking up the spinnerbait, it only took a few casts before he had hooked up with another bass. Minutes later, he enticed a lunker to take his tempting offering. Ramage fought the bass toward the boat, but lost him right at the last possible second.

Moving down the shoreline, he caught another nice bass and quickly released it in search of our picture fish.

"There he is - this is the one we've been looking for, if I can get him into the boat," said Ramage.

I scrambled for the camera and got in on the action just in time. Ramage had indeed caught the biggest fish of the day right at 7:25 p.m.

Though things had started slowly, they ended up with a bang as Ramage put us on the fish and saved the best for last, catching the lunker on one of his final casts of the day.

If you're looking for a change of pace or new waters to fish, try a few of Ramage's favorite spots at Turkey Creek, and then find similar locations of your own. Just keep tabs on the water depth and bottom contour as you travel around the lake fishing, then work similar locations and you just might catch the fish of a lifetime.

Sometimes anglers who fish new lakes see things that local anglers overlook and find new honey holes in the process.


No. 1: N32 24.351 x W89 09.680 - Leave the landing and go across the lake in a slightly northwest direction until you get to the point.

"I'll fish the drop-off right off the point, as it drops from 8 to 13 feet deep," said Ramage. "Sometimes you'll catch them schooled up right off the point."

Ramage usually starts with a medium- to deep-diving crankbait. He starts deep, and then works his way shallower until he locates the bass, or is sure that they're not in the vicinity.

On one trip last year, he caught two 6-pounders right in this area.

"I've got a 12-pounder on the wall, and I lost one at least 10 on the same day that I caught those two bass," Ramage said.


No. 2: N32 24.328 x W89 09.851 - Leaving No. 1, continue into the back of the cove until you get to the pad field. By May, the pads should be up and growing providing an early morning bite in the vegetation.

"I like to fish topwater lures in this area first thing in the morning," Ramage said. "I'll fish a Stanley Ribbett rigged weedless around the pads, which are in 3 to 5 feet of water.

"In addition to being an early morning spot, this area is also good during the late afternoon hours as the fish become active again. Try your favorite frog, rat or plastic creation, and hold on.


No. 3: N32 24.199 x W89 09.618 - After fishing No. 2, head back out into the main lake, and go south until you get to the next point on the right. The point is shallow on top, around 3 feet deep, and falls off into about 15 feet in the distance of one cast.

"Fish will stack on this drop, and it's simply a matter of finding where they're located on the drop-off," said Ramage. "I'll start out working the ledge with a crankbait and then follow up with a Carolina-rigged Lake Fork black/blue Fork Secret."


No. 4: N32 24.114 x W89 09.783 - After fishing No. 4, head back up into the cove and stop at the beaver hut on the right-hand side of the cove.

"I've caught fish around the wood cover in this beaver hut on jigs and spinnerbaits," Ramage said. "There's also a shallow ledge running out in front of the beaver hut about a cast, and it will also hold bass at times."

Of course, there are also pads in the upper end of the cove, and they will hold baitfish and bass as well. When bass are actively feeding on the surface, don't miss out on some quality topwater frog fishing.


No. 5: N32 24.117 x W89 09.734 - Leave the back of the cove, head back toward the main lake and hit the area directly in front of the narrow point that juts out into the cove from the south side. The water is 9 to 13 feet deep off of this point, and will sometimes hold quality fish as well as numbers.

Work the area thoroughly with crankbaits and plastics, and hold onto your hat as bites are oftentimes ferocious when you catch a ravenous sow resting on the first drop from the spawning flats.


No. 6: N32 24.132 x W89 09.676 - Continue toward the main lake, and stop on the main-lake point to the south. This is a wide point that gradually curves back south into the main lake, and is not your traditional sharp point.

"I'll work this area pretty thoroughly with a crankbait," Ramage said. "You should keep your boat in 12 to 16 feet of water, cast up onto the shallow drop and work it in a zig-zag pattern covering the entire area. I like to work back and forth along the ledge and make a semi-circle while working toward the white buoy."

Ramage starts deep, and then works shallow. If crankbaits don't draw a strike, or the crankbait bite slows, the veteran angler will switch to a Carolina rig, and cover the ledge thoroughly before moving on.


No. 7: N32 24.115 x W89 09.495 - Leave No. 6, head toward the dam and fish the rip-rap area.

"I'll fish a crankbait or lizard along the dam," said Ramage. "There's a 15- to 20-foot ditch that runs parallel to the dam also."

Ramage advised that the rocks will heat up first in the early morning, sometimes creating a good early morning bite, with the evening and night even better.

As the water warms, there will also be a good bit of grass growing out from the rocks.

"I'll throw my crankbait up close to the rocks and bounce the lure off them," he said.

Ramage also likes to cast an Eakins finesse jig with a peanut-butter-and-jelly-colored craw trailer. He also dips the pinchers with orange dye for added enticement on occasion.


No. 8: N32 24.274 x W89 09.400 - This point is located just to the north of the boat ramp, and is the first point to the north as you leave the landing.

"I'll fish a series of stair-step ledges right off the point and along the west side of the point where the bottom is very irregular," Ramage said. "The water depths vary from 6 to 9 feet to 9 to 13 feet up and down."

Carolina rigs and deep-diving crankbaits are good bets in this area also.


No. 9: N32 24.503 x W89 09.581 - After fishing No. 8, head north and stay on the east side of the lake following the shoreline until you see the fishing pier that juts out into the lake, right past the picnic area on the right.

"I'd start fishing the area right adjacent to the picnic tables, and work the submerged brush, stumps and wood structure that is located just off the bank," said Ramage. "Continue fishing all the way to the fishing pier and work the area just off the pier thoroughly, as there are Christmas trees sunk all around the pier."


No 10: N32 24.650 x W89 09.861 - Leave No. 9, head due west across the lake and stop right off the point.

"I'll work the clay bank and then continue back into the pads and pad stems," Ramage said. "Sometimes the fish will turn on early or late in this area also."

No truer words were spoken as Ramage fished this spot on the last stop of the day, caught several bass and hooked a couple of lunkers. Regrettably, one of those got away, but the lunker of the day struck only a few casts later. Ramage ended our day on a high note by catching his largest bass of the day.