Monthly Archives: October 2020

Fishing West Point Lake in September

  As expected, the weather threw me a curve in our club tournament in September at West Point Lake. I was hoping the bass at West Point would be feeding in response to the cooler water but was disappointed.

    The water temperature was around 80 degrees, the coolest it has been since last May.  But it was still too soon, I guess, for the bass to really respond.  And the day was hot with  no breeze and bright sun all day so it was not as comfortable as I had hoped.

    In the Spalding County Sportsman Club tournament 12 members fished eight hours to land 41 bass weighing about 54 pounds.  There were four five-bass limits and one person didn’t catch a keeper.  There were only two largemouth, all the rest were spots.

    Raymond English won with five at 8.53 pounds and his 2.76 pound largemouth was big fish. Kwong Yu was second with five weighing 7.03 pounds, Billy Roberts came in third with five at 6.58 pounds and my five weighing 6.05 pounds was fourth.

    I started fishing around the ramp, thinking some of the bass released in tournaments there might hit, but they didn’t.  The third place I stopped my biggest fish of the day, not very big at all, hit a Texas rigged worm in about 8 feet of water in a cove around some brush.  Then I caught a keeper spot on a rocky point in about six feet of water on a jig head worm.

    I tried a few more places then at 11:00 I went to what I hoped was my ace in the hole. There is a brush pile in about 17 feet of water and I have caught a lot of fish around it.  When I rode over it to mark it my depthfinder showed it covered in fish.

    Almost as soon as my drop shot worm got to the top of it a keeper spot thumped it.  Then a couple of minutes later I got another one.  But after fishing it for thirty minutes I had not gotten another bite.

    I left and tried another place, then went back to the brush and quickly caught two more keepers.  It is strange. Jordan and I caught two off that brush the last tournament we fished then didn’t get another bite for an hour.  The pattern seems to be catch two and leave.

    The water at West Point is clear and to fish a drop shot worm, a good tactic in clear water, you get right on top of the brush and drop it straight down. Although 17 feet deep sounds pretty deep, when you stop and think it is less deep than the boat is long.

    I think the boat right on top of the fish scares them and they quit hitting.  If you leave and come back after they settle down they will hit again – for a few minutes until they get scared again. I have tried staying out from that brush and casting to it from distance but can’t seem to get bite that way.

    I fished a lot more places and caught several short fish before quitting time at 3:00, but no more keepers.  As I said, the fish were much harder to catch than I had hoped!

Fishing with Matt Baty on Lake Seminole

Back in August, 2017. I drove down to Bainbridge and met Matt Baty at Wingate’s Lunker Lodge Saturday morning to get information for my October Map of the Month article in both Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News. Since Seminole is a border lake between the two states the same article will run in both magazines.

    Matt grew up in Faceville, right on the lake, and has fished it all his life. He now guides there and on nearby Lake Eufaula and keeps up with the bass and knows where they are and what they are eating.

    He and his partner had won an evening tournament on Seminole on Thursday night, landing five bass weighing 14 pounds in the three-hour tournament.  It amazed me when he told me the tournament launched in Bainbridge, a 30-minute fast boat ride up the Flint River from where he caught the fish.

    And he had to make the run back in the dark.  That meant they had less than two hours to actually fish when they got to their honey hole at the mouth of Spring Creek.  I have made that run many times in tournaments and you have to follow a twisting, turning channel. Its a good thing he knows the lake well to make it in the dark.

    Matt took me to the grassy flat with hydrilla forming a mat on the surface along the edges of the deeper Spring Creek channel.  We started with topwater but got no bites, but when he switched to a crankbait he caught five keepers up to two pounds each on five consecutive casts. That is hole #1 in the article.

    I landed a three-pound largemouth on a worm there but then it got tough.  We fished all morning without another keeper but then, on what is hole #7 in the article, he landed three bass about three pounds each by punching a plastic bait through the hydrilla behind a 1.5-ounce sinker.

    I don’t even own a sinker that big and did not try his method.  He offered me one but you have to stand up to fish that way and my back will not let me do it more than a few minutes.

    Seminole is a beautiful lake and has a lot of three and four-pound bass in it.  Fishing there seems much better this time of year than around here and is well worth the four-hour drive!

This Map of the Month article is available to GON subscribers at

Alabama Anglers Get More Snapper Fishing Opportunities to Meet Quota

Redfish Catch

Anglers have yet to reach this year’s quota, and next year promises even greater opportunities thanks to new stock assessments indicating far more red snapper than previously believed.By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
from The Fishing Wire

If the recent blustery weather caused anglers to forgo a red snapper trip during the weekend extensions, don’t fret. Scott Bannon, Director of Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD), assures that private recreational anglers will have the opportunity to harvest the remaining quota.

The original plan was for a three-day extension from October 10-12, but Hurricane Delta foiled that plan. With snapper remaining in the quota, Alabama Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship and Bannon amended the extension to include Saturdays and Sundays until the quota is projected to be met.

“Remember, we are fishing to the pounds available in the annual quota, not to the dates,” Bannon said. “We expected a relatively low turnout for that three-day weekend. The only day with decent weather was Monday. We decided to leave that weekend open if anybody had the opportunity to go.

”What MRD officials discovered through Snapper Check was that a few brave anglers decided to venture out in the rough seas. Bannon said there were Snapper Check reports on Sunday and Monday of the Hurricane Delta weekend.

“That was not the weather I would have fished in,” Bannon said.

“Although the weather was better Monday, some people in smaller boats went out and turned around. They didn’t feel safe or comfortable. I think that was a wise decision, but they will get opportunities later.

“Looking at the public access boat ramps, there were a few trailers, but they were not full. I think there are some Hurricane Sally residual effects. People are still trying to clean up from the impacts, whether it’s their homes, docks or boats. Some marinas are not capable of putting boats in the water. Some of the dry storage facilities are damaged. Wet slips are not available. The two hurricanes are playing a factor in the reduced effort. I think it will be a while before the Gulf Coast is back up to full fishing force.”Bannon said the best way to manage the season was to leave it open on weekends until the quota is met.“This time of year, we will continue to have challenges with the weather,” he said. “People will have multiple conflicts with their schedules based on kids being in school and hunting seasons. We know the weekend effort won’t be like summertime weekends. We will keep up with the harvest through Snapper Check and post it on our webpage (

“We will try to give people as much notice as we can about when the quota is anticipated to be met. But I think it will take several weekends now.”As with any hurricane makes landfall along the Alabama coast, the storm can cause artificial reefs to be displaced, which was the case with Sally.

“We are already aware that some lighter-weight material, like the chicken transport devices, were moved,” Bannon said. “Some of the state’s nearshore reefs have been moved. But they are relatively close to where they were deployed. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) has identified some spots that have moved. We’re doing some surveys in our nearshore reef zones to determine the impact, and we’ll do some checks of offshore reefs later.

“Pyramids and larger items that have been there for a while and are planted in the bottom, they’re not going to move. Some items have turned over, but that’s fine. They still provide structure. We don’t think it will negatively impact the fish. I’ve also seen some social media posts where people have been looking for spots and located them nearby.”More good news for red snapper anglers came recently when preliminary results from the Great Red Snapper Count were presented to the U.S. Congress. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby was among the legislators who pushed a $10 million appropriation through Congress to fund the research.“I have not seen the full report, but the estimate from the Great Red Snapper Count is that the snapper population is about three times larger than what was previously thought,” Bannon said.

“One of the interesting portions of the report is the number of red snapper that are not on natural or artificial reefs. The number of snapper that are out on the flat areas, so to speak, are much higher than previously thought. Those fish are not accessed by anglers, so those fish will continue to be there based on the current fishing methods.”Bannon said the Great Red Snapper Count information will be used by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to create an interim stock assessment for red snapper. The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University was the lead for the Great Red Snapper Count. The work off the coast of Alabama was led by Dr. Sean Powers of the University of South Alabama.

“We’re anticipating hearing about the interim assessment in the near future, and that will impact the 2021 season for all sectors – commercial, for-hire and private anglers,” he said. “But this will not mean a three-time increase in the quota. The data from the red snapper count isn’t the only factor that goes into an interim analysis. It’s an important factor but only one source of data that goes into the analysis.

“However, this is excellent news. It is something we had anticipated. We expected the method used would reveal there were more snapper in the Gulf. It was a very important study, and Senator Shelby’s office was instrumental in providing funding for that.”Bannon said the results of the Great Red Snapper Count may relate to a number of other fish species in the Gulf as well.

“What we learned from this is whether we need to change some of the analysis methods for all species – the way we conduct stock assessments,” he said. “Do we need to continue to adjust our assessments closer to this model to ensure we’re getting accurate stock assessments.”

Bannon said the research that MRD and The University of South Alabama conducts in Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef zones, which cover more than 1,000 square miles in the Gulf, was the genesis of the methods used in the Great Red Snapper Count.

“Because of the research done in our reef zones, we have said for the last eight years hat we had a very good understanding of the abundance of fish off of Alabama,” he said. “Now that we have that information from across the Gulf, it is good to know that the snapper stock is in better condition than some people anticipated. It’s a very positive outcome for red snapper anglers.”

Bannon said private recreational anglers can pick the days best for them to take advantage of the red snapper weekend extensions.“We’re fishing to the quota,” he said. “If it’s not comfortable or safe to go, don’t go. The fish are still in the bank, so to speak. We will keep Saturdays and Sundays open until we anticipate the quota being met, and that could be as soon as the end of this next weekend.”

Ants and Nature

I remember the first time I saw an ant farm for sale.  It amazed me. I had my own free-range ant farm when I was growing up.  Although I could not see the tunnels, their cave mouth and small mound was plainly visible in the ditch in front of my house on Iron Hill Road.

    In the ditch in front of my house was a nest of big red ants.  I found out they are Florida Harvester Ants, but at the time they were just big red ants to me.  I sat for hours just watching their activities.  It was not unusual for one to crawl around on me but I was never bit by one.

    In the summer I would kill flies and take them to the ants to feed them.  It was amazing how fast they would discover the ant even if I put it a couple of feet from their tunnel entrance.  Scouts constantly moved around the perimeter of the bed, looking for food and danger, ranging out a long way from home. A long way for tiny ant legs anyway.

    An ant would find the dead fly and pick it up in its “jaws” and carry it to the tunnel then down inside. Often the fly was as big or bigger than the ant but they seemed to have no problem.

    To test their strength, I would drop small pebbles over the entrance hole.  The hole was in the center of a shallow bowl that had been cleaned of debris out about a foot. Around that clearing grainy pebbles ringed the bed, making it look like a target.

    When a tiny pebble was dropped over the entrance an ant would instantly move it away. They could carry pebbles bigger than their body. If I put one down too big for one ant two or more would work together to move it back to the edge.  They would seem to communicate someway, with an ant holding the pebble on each side and one moving backwards, much like two people carrying a heavy table.

    Rain would wash away the bed temporarily but it never took more than a couple of hours for the ants to unseal the tunnel and clear their little opening.   Again, they cooperated and seemed to be coordinated in their activity, not just running around like mindless bugs.

    At some point I tried to have a pet bed inside.  I would get a gallon jar and fill it with dirt, then put some ants in it, cover the mouth with cheese cloth and watch them.  I always found black ant beds and dug them up for my captives, never disturbing my pet red ant bed.

    No matter how many ants I managed to put in the jar my farm was never successful.  The ants would dig their tunnels and I could watch them work along the edges of the glass for a few days, but, even though I fed them plenty of flies, all the ants disappeared within a few days.

    I never realized I needed a queen ant to keep reproducing replacement worker ants.  I did get some eggs with the ants I put in my farm but even though the workers would take care of them, with no new eggs to replace the ones that hatched, the supply of workers soon ran out.

    Nature is amazing and fun to watch, even down to tiny ants.