Lake Rabun is an 834-acre lake located a few miles downstream of Lake Burton near Clayton. This mountain reservoir is long and narrow with miles of steep, rocky shoreline. The upper two miles of the lake are relatively shallow and contain mud flats with weed beds along the river channel and long sections of blown down trees. Spotted bass, largemouth bass, bluegill and shellcrackers are favorite targets of local anglers.
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Prospects and Fishing Tips
LARGEMOUTH BASS, SPOTTED BASS, BREAM & WALLEYE
The abundance of largemouth bass in Lake Rabun is near a record high; so, anglers should enjoy above average catch rates. Bass in the 2 lb range dominated DNR samples and will also likely dominate the angler catch. Small largemouths less than 10-inches are super abundant and will ensure good catch rates for several years to come.
Bass in Lake Rabun will take advantage of any opportunity to grab a blueback herring, so fishing with live herring will usually out catch manufactured baits. When selecting artificial lures, anglers should choose designs that look and move like a distressed herring, but those lure choices may vary seasonally.
During the spring and fall months, cast a big-bladed spinner bait with a white skirt or a 3/8-oz jig-head tipped with a fluke around hard structures like boat docks, downed trees, and rock sea walls. When fast moving subsurface lures are not attracting strikes, drop shot finesse worms into brush piles or use a Carolina rig to bounce soft plastics along creek channels, ledges and points.
When the water temperature drops below 55 degrees, largemouth bass will hold tight to woody structure and rocks in 5 to 15-feet of water. Bass tend to be more active in the late afternoon after the sun has warmed up the water a bit. Under these conditions, floating a live shiner under a cork or pitching a pig-and-jig with a crayfish trailer are effective tactics.
The highest catch rates for largemouth bass come from the "Big Basin area on the upper end of the lake. Anglers should target the boat docks, down trees and small creeks and cove pockets scattered around the shoreline in this area. Largemouth bass also seem relatively abundant in the cove pockets and creek channels from Hall’s Marina, to the dam.
In the summer months, look for largemouth bass in 20 to 30 feet of water along main lake points and in creek channels in the mid-lake section. During the fall months, largemouth bass will actively feed at the surface over open water during the early morning and evening. The river channel on the upper end of the lake within the vicinity of the U.S. Forest Service Ramp downstream to the "Big Basin" is the best area to catch bass on the surface during the fall months.
The number of spotted bass in Lake Rabun will be typical for this reservoir, but anglers can tip the odds in their favor by targeting the lower end of the lake where spotted bass are much more abundant. Anglers should be pleased to know that spotted bass over 3 lb will be more abundant this year. Spotted bass under 10-inches are also numerous and will maintain the fishery in the coming years.
Spotted bass are generally aggressive feeders that take a variety of natural and artificial baits. In the winter months, spotted bass feed less frequently but they will still take advantage of any opportunity to grab a blueback herring that comes within striking distance. Your best bait choices during the cold weather months are live herring or minnows fished around woody structure. Slow moving pig & jig combos tipped with a crayfish trailer can also be effective at times, especially when fished around rocky bottoms and main lake points.
In April and May, spotted bass spawn in shallow water ranging from 5 to 15-feet deep. Soft-bodied jerk baits, shallow-running plugs, floating worms, and plastic lizards are effective when cast near visible structures where bass nests are visible. Live nightcrawlers, crayfish and shiners are effective natural bait alternatives when fish are holding tight to their nests and seem reluctant to take an artificial lure.
In the summer months, spotted bass will roam the open waters in search of schooling blueback herring. These schools are often located at depths from 20 to 30-feet deep. Anglers should use their sonar to locate brushpiles in this depth zone and then methodically work each brushpile with drop shot tactics.
During the fall months, spotted bass gorge on blueback herring at the surface over open water during early morning and evening. Cast topwater baits into surface feeding activity or troll live herring or their artificial counterparts like an Alabama rig. On sunny afternoons, bounce crayfish imitating baits along the bottom of rocky points or in brush piles. If that pattern does not produce some strikes, then switch to vertical jigging with spoons or drop shot with finesse worms.
In the winter months, spotted bass hold close to visible structure. Points and cove pockets in the "Big Basin" area and near the dam hold the largest concentrations of spotted bass during the winter. Target fallen trees, boat houses, rock walls and brushpiles. On warm afternoons, anglers should also fish along the face of the dam using live herring or herring-type crankbaits or even Alabama rigs.
During April and May, spotted bass seek rocky banks with overhead cover to build their spawning nest. Fallen trees and the corners of boat houses are favored spawning areas. The "Big Basin" area and the area from Hall’s Marina downstream to the dam support the highest concentrations of spotted bass.
As the water temperature cools during the fall months, schools of spotted bass will aggressively feed at the surface on small blueback herring. This is a great time to fish with small topwater baits, Alabama rigs or live-line with blueback herring. Schooling bass are most abundant in the narrow section of the river in the upper end of the lake between the U.S. Forest Service boat ramp downstream to the "Big Basin" area.
Lake Rabun supports fair numbers of quality-sized redbreast, shellcrackers and bluegills. Bluegill is the most abundant bream species and they typically weigh from 1/4 to 1/2 lb. Among this sunfish trio, redbreast is the smallest and least abundant of the three species, whereas shellcrackers are the largest and frequently reach weights over 1 lb.
Bluegills and redbreast readily take crickets, while the larger redear sunfish prefer red wigglers in deeper water. The best artificial lures for bream include small in-line spinner baits, like a Mepps Spinner or Rooster Tail, or small curly-tailed grubs. If you are into fly fishing, try casting rubber ants or spiders underneath overhanging branches during the early morning or evening.
During the full moon in late-May or early-June, bream will build spawning nests on sandy flats where creeks flow into the lake. Their circular nests are generally visible from the surface and are the best place to target bream in the springtime. Bank fishing opportunities are available on the upper end of the lake at the U.S. Forest Service boat ramp and its two public fishing piers, but a $5 parking fee is required.
For the remainder of the year, bream will concentrate around boat docks, downed trees and rock walls. Anglers can usually find large numbers of bream under the shaded overhangs at Hall's Marina, which is located on the lower end of the lake. Dabble worms or crickets around the dock pilings that are covered in shade.
Walleye stocked into Lake Rabun in 2015 are doing exceptionally well and currently dominate the population. Walleye from that successful stocking will approach 2 lb this year but larger walleyes are also present. A new state record walleye was caught from Lake Rabun in 2016, weighing 14 lb 2 oz. This record fish is a testimony to Lake Rabun’s trophy walleye potential.
There are three seasonal patterns for catching walleye in Lake Rabun. During March, fish the shallow headwaters at dusk and dark with floating stick baits, chartreuse curly-tailed grub, shallow running crankbaits or nightcrawlers. During the day, fish the deeper sections of the lower river by dragging nightcrawlers along the bottom or by trolling crankbaits in perch, shad or crayfish color patterns.
From June to September, walleye transition to a summer pattern. In the summer, walleye migrate to deeper water near the dam and into coves in search of cooler temperatures. Troll crankbaits, live herring or drag nightcrawlers slowly along the bottom at depths near 30 feet. If you detect bottom structure on sonar, then fish the structure thoroughly using tactics similar to crappie fishing by working crappie minnows in and among its nooks and crannies.
When cooler water temperatures return in October and November, walleye switch to a fall pattern where they move onto shallow water points at night to feed on small bream and perch. During the day, walleye hang tight to the bottom in nearby deeper water where they can be caught with nightcrawlers and minnows using the summer tactics.
During the spawning season, anglers can fish from the shoreline at Georgia Power's Nacoochee Park, which is located at the intersection of Low Gap Road and Seed Lake Road downstream of Nacoochee Dam. About an hour before sunset, start fishing at the Low Gap Road Bridge. As evening progresses, work your way upstream.
After the spawning season, walleye move down to the lower end of the lake. During the summer and fall months, troll the lower lake from Hall's Marina to the dam. Good electronics will help you identify schools of herring on which walleye are feeding. Be sure to cast nightcrawlers or herring into brushpiles as you encounter them. Walleye will be tucked under the branches, but will pop out to grab an easy meal.