Lake Burton is a 2,775-acre reservoir near Clayton featuring beautiful scenery and large lakeside homes. Managed by the Georgia Power Company, this lake holds an impressive quality spotted bass fishery. Burton is home to the state record spotted bass catch - a whopper caught in February 2005 that tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 2 ounces.
Guide to Lake Burton Trout Fishery available in PDF (395 kb). This guide discusses tactics and offers expert tips for fishing Lake Burton in spring, summer, fall and winter.
Georgia Power: ph. 706-782-4014
Prospects and Fishing Tips
SPOTTED BASS, LARGEMOUTH BASS & BROWN TROUT
Largemouth bass in the 1 to 2 lb weight range will dominate this year’s catch. Largemouths less than 10-inches are super abundant this year, which will improve the largemouth fishery in the coming years.
Largemouth bass in Lake Burton prey mostly on blueback herring. Fishing with live herring is naturally the best bait, but soft-bodied jerk baits that mimic herring have a unique advantage over other artificial lures. Other proven tactics include drop shoting with finesse worms, bouncing Carolina rigged worms or pig-and-jigs along points, humps, brushpiles and creek channels. Crankbaits and spinner baits attract strikes at certain times of the year.
During the fall and winter months, herring and crayfish account for the bulk of the bass’ natural diet. Fishing with live herring, shiners or trout are effective cold weather baits, but pig & jig combinations are the best artificial bait. Anglers should always have a big swim bait ready in case sudden and spontaneous topwater activity erupts nearby.
In the springtime, slow rolling spinnerbaits and jerk baits in creek channels and around docks and trees are good approaches for catching bass in shallow water.
Largemouth bass are structure oriented; therefore, anglers should target visible structure like fallen trees and boat house pilings as well as underwater topographic features like channel edges, points, humps and brushpiles. Largemouth bass are more abundant in the coves on the lower end of the lake, including Murray, Perrin and Cherokee Coves. The Murray Cove boat ramp is the closest access point to these areas.
During the spring months, largemouth bass will hold close to visible structure with overhead cover under which they build their spawning nests.
In the summer months, largemouth bass will feed on top in the early morning and evening hours. Cast big swim baits, a Spook or a Sammy into the surface frenzy. During the heat of the day, largemouth bass will hold up on top of structure in 20 to 30 feet of water along main lake points and the edge of creek channels. Drop shoting finesse worms on top of brushpiles in 20-30 feet of water can be very effective.
During the fall months, largemouth bass will actively feed at the surface over the open water near the back of most coves. Topwater, subsurface and crank baits are effective this time of year. A fall back strategy is to bounce crayfish imitations on the bottom along rocky points.
Spotted bass weighing 1-2 lb are very abundant this year; therefore, anglers should have no problem bringing fish to the boat. As a bonus, anglers will have a higher chance at hooking into one of Burton’s famous trophy spotted bass. Several spots were collected in DNR samples that tipped the scales over the 5 lb mark.
Lake Burton has bragging rights to the current state record spotted bass that weighed 8 lb, 2 oz. February is traditionally the month to catch trophy-sized bass on Lake Burton.
February and March are prime months to catch big bass in Lake Burton. Pig-and-jig combinations, drop shot finesse worms and live herring or trout are excellent bait choices during the winter months. Anglers should target downed trees and rocky points, but fishing along the face of dam can also be productive on warm winter days.
April and May are the best months to catch high numbers of spotted bass. Jerk baits in herring color patterns, floating worms and spinnerbaits are effective this time of year when fished around the corners of boat docks and downed trees. Finesse worms also are effective when rigged Carolina style and dragged across rocky bottoms.
After the spawning season, spotted bass will chase big topwater lures near points and over humps in open water. This technique works best around dawn and dusk. During the day, try drop-shoting finesse worms or down lining live herring on rocky points or brush piles in 20-30 feet of water, especially on the lower half of the lake.
When the leaves change into their fall colors, spotted bass will aggressively feed on blueback herring in open water and in the creek mouths. Pulling planer boards or live lining blueback herring near the surface is the best way to catch high numbers of spotted bass during the fall. Among artificial lures, a weighted fluke or white crankbait are the best baits to cast on main lake points. If that pattern is not working, then switch to drop shoting finesse worms into brushpiles, vertical jigging with spoons on rocky points or flipping a pig-and-jig into downed trees. Fishing on the bottom with live crayfish and nightcrawlers are also good live bait choices for fishing bottom structure during the fall months.
For most of the year, spotted bass roam the open waters of Lake Burton in search of their favorite food - blueback herring. If you can find a school of herring, then spotted bass will likely be nearby; however, knowing their predictable seasonal tendencies will help narrow your search area.
During cold weather when the water temperature is in the mid-40s, large schools of adult herring hold tight to the face of the dam and that’s where you will find the trophy spots. Drifting live herring around the face of the dam is very effective during cold weather but the bite can be slow. If spots are not willing to take your bait, then fish the rocky points and humps at the mouth of Murray Cove or the downed trees near Jones Bridge.
In April and May, spotted bass move into shallow water nesting areas located on rocky banks along the main shoreline as well as around boat docks located on steep, rocky shorelines. Cast toward these structures using jerk baits, floating worms or plastic lizards. Other effective techniques that work well on rocky banks during the spring are a wacky-rigged Senko worm and Carolina-rigged finesse worms.
Warming water temperatures from June to September motivate spotted bass to follow the schools of herring offshore into deeper open water. At dusk and dawn, spots will chase bait on the surface over main lake points and humps but during the day, they retreat into the cover of brushpiles that are scattered along the bottom of the lake in 15 to 30-feet of water.
In the fall months, spotted bass frequent rocky points in the major cove arms to feed on crayfish or yellow perch and will frequently cross over rocky points in search of a school of young, three-inch long blueback herring. Points and creeks in Moccasin, Dicks and Timpson Coves hold good numbers of fish from October to December.
Black crappie are not abundant in Lake Burton, but the ones that swim its waters grow quite large and are worth your fishing effort during the spring and fall months.
A lively shiner tipped onto a small hook is hard for a hungry crappie to resist any time of the year. Small curly-tailed grubs and doll flies in white, yellow or chartreuse are suitable alternatives to live bait.
Crappie are structure oriented and will be found holding tightly to downed trees, boat house pilings, and underwater humps. Dicks Creek Cove seems to hold the most crappie in the lake.
During April, crappie will be in shallow water near visible structure located in the back of coves. In the summer and fall, crappie will move to deeper water. Anglers should target rocky points, boat house pilings or other structures in 20 to 30-feet of water. In the winter months, crappie will congregate in the deeper creek channels. Troll these channels very slowly with a light weight crappie jig to entice a strike.
Lake Burton supports a fishable population of chain pickerel that is under-utilized by anglers. Chain pickerel are exciting to catch because they will aggressively attack a variety of baits and lures and they put up a hard and sometimes acrobatic fight. They are relatively easy to catch in the spring and summer months if you target the right areas.
Chain pickerel will take a variety of artificial baits, including Shad Raps, Rapalas, Flukes, and flashy spinnerbaits. Natural baits also attract their attention, especially shiners. When fishing for pickerel, anglers should not be timid about casting around thick tangles of woody debris. Using braided line will help prevent break-offs by these sharp-toothed critters. An alternative technique is to drift live shiners or troll perch-colored crankbaits above the weed line along the edge of a shallow creek channel.
Chain pickerel hide in shallow water structure and along weedy flats in order to ambush their prey. The shoreline along Wildcat Creek near La Prades Marina is a great starting place to fish for chain pickerel. Other good areas include the back of Cherokee Cove, the channel in the back of Dicks Creek and the flats in the back of Moccasin Cove near Moccasin Creek State Park.
Lake Burton supports Georgia's only reservoir trout fishery. Brown trout are stocked annually each fall to maintain this fishery. Trout anglers commonly catch fish in the 2 to 3 lb weight range, but several brown trout are caught each year that tip the scales at 8 lb.
The current lake record is 11 lb, 3 oz, but that record could be broken this year.
The best bait for catching brown trout in Lake Burton is live blueback herring; however, trout will also take trolling spoons and small crankbaits all year long. From late-winter into spring, trout will frequent the shallow backwaters of the major coves and cruise along rocky seawalls feeding on blueback herring.
In the summer months, trolling very slowly with live herring or spoons on the lower half of the lake over the river channel at depths from 30 to 60-feet is generally the best approach.
From October to December, anglers should cast in-line spinners around the dam, Murray's Cove boat ramp, and around the Moccasin Creek boat ramp to catch recently stocked trout.
In the winter months, most trout will be found near the dam but some fish also find their way to the upper end of the lake around Jones Bridge.
During the spring, trout will move closer to the backs of coves and feed on the surface during early morning. Moccasin Cove is a great starting place to look but also look at Murrays Cove all the way to the dam.
During the summer months, trout move to deeper, cooler water on the lower end of the lake. Troll along the river channel from the safety marker located on the main lake near Moccasin Cove and work your way toward the dam. In October and November, trout can be widely scattered around the lake. Recent stockers will be abundant around the dam and near the boat ramps in Murrays Cove and Moccasin Cove. Anglers may also want to fish the mouth of other creek channels like Timpson and Dicks Creeks, in hopes of catching a trophy brown that is making its way into the shallow streams to spawn.
Free boat launching facilities are available at Moccasin Creek next to Lake Burton Trout Hatchery and Moccasin Creek State Park located on Highway 197 North, as well as at Georgia Power's Murray Cove Boat Ramp located on Murray Cove Road. For a small fee, boats can be launched at two private marinas located at La Prades Marina on Highway 197 North and at Timpson Cove Marina located on Charlie Mountain Road.