I sat down for lunch the other day with my First Sergeant, and like most of our conversations, we talked shop for about 10 minutes, and then fishing took over. If I have to hear him talk about bass fishing one more time, I’m going to implode. I finally told him that if he wanted to talk about fishing with me, then he needs to write a fishing article for my blog. Because I am his only friend (and he is mine), he agreed. A few things you should know about my First Sergeant before I spit his wisdom at you: 1) he’s a crusty old infantryman 2) he’s obsessed with his dog, Ralph 3) he’s a back-woods West Virginia boy through and through…and 4) the man spends every waking moment of his free time fishing. “First Sergeant, what are you up to this weekend?”…”Bass fishing tournament ma’am…” Of course…why do I even ask? Anyways, what follows is the Fort Benning area’s bass fishing gospel according to First Sergeant.
“First things first, get a boat. You can fish from the shore all you want, but don’t come crying to me when yer leg gets bitten off by an alligator.” Solid advice if you ask me.
“Ok, now if you wanna make it home for dinner, then there’s 6 places I’d recommend for bass fishing near Fort Benning: West Point Lake, Lake Harding, Lake Oliver, the Chattahoochee River, Lake Eufaula and Lake Martin.” First Sergeant would like me to remind you that all of these lakes aside from Lake Martin are offshoots of the Chattahoochee.
Located less than an hour North from Fort Benning, West Point lake produces pretty large fish. This may be because it’s a major pleasure-boating lake and therefore it makes it harder to fish undisturbed. But rest assured, when you do catch one, your chances are higher of catching a larger fish. Additionally, Spring is the ideal fishing time for this lake.
First Sergeant’s Tip: Use a lipless crankbait near the rocks.
Also known as the Walter F. George Lake, Eufaula is about an hour South of Fort Benning and produces the best quality fish seasonally year round. Only thing is they’re hard to catch, so you have to know what you’re doing.
First Sergeant’s Tip: Do your research. Check out the Navionics fish app that you can get on your phone for about $10. Totally worth it if you’re serious about catching fish here.
If I had to choose a lake that was best for beginner fishermen, then Lake Oliver would be it. It’s not far from Fort Benning proper and it’s small, so you don’t have to search around for hours for a good spot to drop your line. There’s also well-defined points and grass that are easily fished along with lots of hydrilla. WTF is hydrilla? It’s grass that grows thick under the water where fish can congregate. Fish are able to grow big in the hydrilla because it’s dark…the smaller fish can go and eat the algae, which entices bigger fish to come and eat the smaller fish. Duh. First Sergeant just shot me that “you’re so stupid” look.
First Sergeant’s Tip: Fish this lake during the fall. Use Rapala DT-10s around schooling fish.
Less than an hour from Fort Benning and about 30 minutes North of Columbus, Lake Harding is a great place for spotted bass because of its rocky bottom and stumps. There’s also a lot of privately-owned docks, which make for good spots for fish to congregate. This is especially true in the Spring when the bass make their beds under the docks to spawn.
First Sergeant’s Tip: Learn to fish a drop shot rig.
If you don’t know where the Chattahoochee is in relation to Fort Benning, then meet me outside. Bring your 2-quart. The great thing about the Chattahoochee is you can fish anywhere up and down the bank, which is great for all levels of fishermen. The snakes and alligators up on the banks make the river better fished by boat.
First Sergeant’s Tip: Fish during the fall and focus on the grass and trees that fall into the river. Also, the river is very accessible by MWR Boat/Equipment Rental at Uchee Creek. You have to take a course ahead of time, but it’s pretty painless and is worth your time.
Although a little further out of the way in Alexander, AL (1.5 hours away), this lake is good for deep water fishing and spotted bass. Spring time on the South end of the lake is clear and good for sight-fishing for spawning bass.
First Sergeant’s Tip: Throw a shaky head with a Zoom trick worm on it…whatever that means.