Shallow Water Should Dominate at Clarks Hil

Published on 03-03-2022

Shallow Water Should Dominate at Clarks Hill

By Pete Robbins

Clarks Hill has been a constant presence on the Big Bass Tour schedule, but since moving the tournament back to March two years ago – after three years during other months – it has really showed its big fish potential. In 2020, the field weighed in five fish over 7 pounds, and last year things got better, with five over 8 pounds, including an 8.85 pound beast that turned heads. Local tournament angler Joey Sabbagha said that anyone who wants to take home the top prize this year better be prepared to go shallow and not settle for anything much under the 8 pound mark.

“In January the water came up around 4 feet but lately the water level has been stable at about full pool,” he said. “For the last couple of weeks the best fish have been coming off the bank, in the 10 foot range, on crankbaits and jigs, but the way the weather pattern is looking it could be a full blown spawning tournament.”

He said that the lower end of the lake should be clear, with color starting to develop above the Highway 378 bridge, “but some of the feeder creeks have a lot of color. If they’re not blown out, someone could get back there with a spinnerbait, or a square bill or a Chatterbait and really catch them well.” For bedding fish, he’d look to pockets in the lower end of the lake, targeting grass edges. He’d flip either a Berkley Rocket Craw or a Berkley Chigger Craw to likely spots.

The water has been consistently warming, but if a cooling trend sweeps in before the tournament and stalls out the move to the spawning grounds, Sabbagha might employ a Berkley Warpig lipless crankbait in shad colors, or chrome with a blue or black back.

In either weather situation, one way to get a really big bite is with a buzzing toad. Color doesn’t matter as much as covering water to trigger a bite from a big sow on the move.

“As soon as the water temperature crosses 55 degrees, if you can get that bite it’s usually a big one,” he said. “Go to the clear water and go super-shallow.”

The great thing about Clarks Hill as a big bass factory is that anglers won’t be limited to any particular section of the lake in their search for the winning fish or hourly winners.

“There’s big ones all over that place,” Sabbagha said. “I’d probably fish up in the creeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the field spread out and lots of big fish caught from a lot of different places.”

Clarks Hill is absolutely loaded with hard-pulling 4- and 5-pound bass, the types that can win hourly prizes if used judiciously. Anglers who employ strategy, either fishing close to the weigh-in site, or running back at opportune times, can arbitrage a solid fish into a big prize. Just be sure to pay attention to the live leaderboard. This is an event where ounces and timing can make a huge difference.