Alabama River Fishing

The thunderstorms week before last did more than bring back memories of past storms and delay my trip to the Alabama River. Some areas of central Alabama had over five inches of rain that night. I saw the results of all that rain when I got to the Alabama River this week for the article. It was four feet high, muddy and the current was ripping.

I went out with one of the best river fishermen in the area, Erick Sommers. Erick wins a lot of tournaments there and knows it well. He warned me that fishing would be terrible with the conditions but due to my deadline I had to get the information for the article.

He showed me ten places on the river where he and his partners catch big spotted and largemouth bass. We fished hard but it was just about impossible to even fish most of the places due to the current. Erick said some current makes the fish bite better. When two or three turbines are running at dams upstream it is just about right. Four makes it difficult. There were five running the day we went!

On one spot we marked for the article he showed me a picture of his son, Chase, holding up two of the three five-pound spots he had caught in a youth tournament. One of them came off the place we marked. Chase had three spots weighing over five pounds each that day and won his tournament with three fish weighing over 16 pounds.

Erick also showed me pictures of some of the five and six pound largemouth he had landed in tournaments there. The Alabama River produces a lot of big bass on normal days. Erick’s best catch of spots ever was five weighing 29.83 pounds, an incredible catch anywhere but even more amazing that it was all spots. He says it takes five bass weighing 25 pounds to win most tournaments there.

Locals just call it the river but the official name is either Jones Bluff or Woodruff reservoir, depending on what government agency you check. No matter what the name, it runs 80 miles from the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers in Wetumpka down to the dam southwest of Montgomery.

If you plan a trip it is close to three hours to get there from Griffin. There are a lot of ramps and campgrounds open to the public. Go over there and catch your best spot ever!

The weather this spring has been its usual normal unusual. I always get excited when it warms more than expected in early March, but as often happens it turns colder in April than expected. And the bass often respond by doing unusual things.

One week it seems all the bass in the lake are shallow and getting ready to bed. They are fairly easy to catch no matter what you do. Then a cold front comes through and it gets tough. All you can do is wonder where the bass went.

Fish do not like bright sun most of the time. Even the bream in my pond won’t feed much when it is bright and sunny. On a cloudy day I can throw out floating fish food and they churn the water like a school of piranha. On a bright sunny day very few will hit the food as it floats along.

The usual response when bass fishing is to go to smaller baits and fish places where there is less light. You can fish deeper water or try to get your bait way back under a dock where the sun doesn’t shine. Sometimes those tactics work, other times you just get in a lot of casting practice. At least that is the way it seems to work for me.

There is a big BASS Elite tournament this weekend on the coast of South Carolina. It will be interesting to see how the top pros adjust to the high pressure cold front. They are fishing one of the rivers and swamps on the coast with miles of shallow water and cypress trees. I suspect those trees will play a big part.

Another group of fishermen are at Hartwell for the Ray Scott Championship. It is a very different fishery from the coast. Jordan McDonald qualified to fish it and I hope he does well, adjusting to the conditions and catching fish.