Heavy Rains Would Send Menendez Flipping at Clarks Hill

Published on 02-23-2020

Heavy Rains Would Send Menendez Flipping at Clarks Hill

By Pete Robbins

It’s been an unusual spring throughout the southern United States, with constant rain keeping the ground wet and lakes full. Clarks Hill Lake in Georgia is no exception to that rule, and just a couple of weeks before the Big Bass Tour descends upon the big reservoir it’s three feet above pool, putting lots of buck brush and willow bushes in the lake.

For veteran pro Mark Menendez, that means one thing when you’re chasing big bass: Pick up a flipping stick and go to work.

“Any time it’s pre-spawn and there’s bushes in the water, the bass go straight to them,” he said. “There’s a daily migration. As you wake up in the morning and it’s cold, they’ll be on the bushes on the points leading into the pockets, and then as the day goes on they’ll slide down the sides of the pockets towards the back. The banks at Clarks Hill are pretty vertical, so the water will run way back. If you find a stretch that their using, it’s worth your time to go back later in the day and fish through them again.” The best bushes, he added, will have hard cover like rock or pea gravel under them, not mud.

He’d focus on the middle section of the lake, and venture five miles up or five miles down from his starting point. That’s the section of the lake that tends to produce the most quality fish for him, and should have the perfect water color for flipping his favorite black and blue Strike King Hack Attack Jig with one of two trailer choices.

“If it’s cold, like below 52 degrees, I like the full-sized rodent, and if the water is over 52 degrees then I like the action of the Rage Craw.”

When it comes to flipping his motto is “lighter, faster, stronger,” so his tackle is critical in making as many flips as possible for three days in a row. He employs the silky smooth Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Magnum flipping stick, and pairs it with the Lew’s Custom Lite SLP casting reel, which has a 7.5:1 gear ratio and weighs a feather-like 4.9 ounces. He’d spool it up with either 20 or 25 pound test Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon.

If flipping doesn’t pan out, or the water starts to drop, or it’s not your thing, Menendez recommends focusing on secondary points with a Carolina rig featuring a 3 foot leader and a full-sized Strike King Game Hawg on the back.

“You’re waiting on those fish that are deciding whether to come up,” he remarked. “If the water starts to fall, that always points fish out. Look at the points of buck brush, or points of land and you’ll find the fish.”

Clarks Hill has been a frequent stopping point for the Big Bass Tour, although in the past three years we’ve visited in October, May and April, respectively. It has consistently taken a fish over 7 pounds to win the top prize, and almost always takes at least a 6 to squeeze into the top 10. Weights were even better the last two times we visited in March. In March of 2016, the big fish weighed 7.57 and there were a total of three fish over 7 caught, with 12 more over 6. In March of 2015 it took a remarkable 6.88 pounds just to make it into the top 10. The winner had an 8.10 pound giant, and there were six more fish over 7 pounds and 17 more over 6. This should be a slugfest of epic proportions.