December Bass at Neely Henry
Thanksgiving Holidays. Christmas Holidays. Lots of people
hunting. What a great time to be on the lake!
Compared to much of the year there are few people on the lake and the
bass are biting from the end of November through December. A good choice for catching spots and
largemouth right now is Neely Henry.
Located on the Coosa River just downstream of Lake Weiss, Neely
Henry is a long river-like lake with just over 11,000 acres of water. It runs 77 miles from dam to headwaters and
has a wide variety of structure and cover, although many creeks and ditches are
silted in. Dammed in 1950, this old lake
has lots of grass and there is still a lot of wood cover in the lake.
According to the Alabama DNR there are a lot
of 15 to 18 inch largemouth in the lake and the spotted bass population is
“exceptional” for large fish.
The numbers of spots in the 14 to 20 inch range is one of the best in
the state. Just over half the bass
weighed in during tournaments are spots, according to the BAIT survey.
Johnny Osborne grew up in the area and has
lived near Neely Henry all his life, except for a stint in the navy. He has fished all his life and in the 1970s a
co-worker got him started tournament fishing.
Fishing has been a passion all his life.
This year Johnny fished the BFL series and
made the regional tournament. He also
fishes the BASS Weekend Series and the ABA as well as many local
tournaments. He does some guiding on the
lake and has helped many pros locate hotspots for big tournaments.
Last year in the in the St. Jude’s Charity
Tournament on Neely Henry he and his partner had five spots weighing 19 pounds,
2 ounces. His best five from Neely Henry weighed
over 26 pounds and his best tournament catch was five at 24-14. He has landed a 6 pound, 3 ounce spot and an
8 pound, 2 ounce largemouth on Neely Henry.
“Bass are following baitfish and feeding shallow from
Thanksgiving through Christmas,” Johnny said. You can catch them on a variety of baits and
in several kinds of cover and structure.
Current makes a big difference and they bite much better when it is
Most of Johnny’s fishing this time of year concentrates on the
mid-lake area, from City Ramp in Gadsden to the Rainbow Landing area. Bass move to creek openings and shoreline
cover and feed on shad as them move with the current, and you don’t have to
make long runs to cover the area.
Johnny will have a Stanley
spinnerbait with a one gold and one silver willowleaf blade and a chartreuse
and white skirt and an Academy XPO chartreuse crankbait for faster
For slower fishing he will rig a jig head that he pours himself
with a watermelon red worm with a chartreuse tail, and have a Arkie tube Texas
rigged and ready. The tube is his favorite
bait and Johnny likes a green pumpkin color.
He will also rig a Trick or Finesse green worm on a Carolina rig with a
32 inch leader behind a three-quarter ounce lead.
A topwater bait like a Pop-R or a Sammy is also ready for low
light times like early in the morning or during cloudy days. Johnny says he catches bass at Neely Henry on
top until the water gets to the low 50s so you can catch them on top most of
Put in at City Ramp or Rainbow Ramp and you can fish these spots
without a lot of running. There were fish on them a couple of weeks ago when we
fished and they should be even better now.
1. N 33 59.191 – W 85
59.996 – Head downstream from City Ramp and go under the bridges. On your right
you will see a campground then a big white house on a narrow point between the
river and Big Wills Creek. The end of
that point runs parallel to the river and is deep on both sides and is covered
Stop on the river side and cast across the point. You can run a crankbait or spinnerbait over
it if there is current running and the fish are active. If there is little current, work around the
point casting a jig head worm up almost to the seawall and working it back down
the point and across it at different angles.
The day we fished there was not much current here in the early
afternoon but we caught over a dozen bass on it on jig head worms. All were
spots and the biggest was about two pounds. Johnny says you often get a lot of
keeper size spots here since they stack up on this point.
Before leaving Johnny will fish up the river side of the point
for a hundred feet, working the steep drop along this bank. Bass will feed here, too, especially if there
is a good current running along the bank.
2. N 33 58.191 – W 86
00.004 – The mouth of Big Wills Creek is very wide since it makes a big bend,
hitting the bank at the point above then swinging across to the far bank before
turning and entering the river near the downstream point. Since the channel
enters here, the downstream point of Big Wills Creek is good, too.
Stop on the river side of the point. You will be across from the playground and
old ramp at Dub Parker Boat Launch. Fish
the point that runs upstream parallel to the river and the flat on either side
of it. Bass hold on the point and feed on the flats.
Johnny starts on the river side and casts up on top of the point
with a shaky head or his Texas rigged tube.
When sitting here you can see a three door white dock on the far bank of
Big Wills Creek and the restaurant on the road across from it, but you will be
a long way from it.
Fish from the bank to the drop into the old creek channel. Bump the bottom, probing for any cover where
bass will be hiding. Current running
across this point makes it much better.
3. N 32 58.220 – W 85
59.331 – Run down the river and watch for the opening to a slough on your
right. It is near the end of a gently
bend of the river to the left and is just downstream of a brown roof dock with
a big wind chime on it. The house behind
it also has a brown roof with a white chimney. There was a “for sale”
sign in the yard in early November.
Keep your boat out in the river and fish the downstream point of
this slough. The river channel runs right up to the mouth of the slough. There was a stump sticking up out on the
point and there is a hump in the middle of the slough.
Run a crankbait across the shallows, casting from the river
channel and working your bait from shallow to deep. Bump the bottom as long as
you can on each cast. Make sure you work
out from the point to cover the hump, too.
After trying the crankbait try both a shaky head and tube. Drag
them along the bottom, hoping them and then letting them sit still for a few
seconds to wave in the current.
4. N 33 57.475 – W 85
58.119 – Head downstream until you can see the upper end of Freeman’ Island,
the big island in the middle of the river.
On your right you will see a small island just off the bank and upstream
of it a big brown brick and wood house on that side. The upstream point of the island has chunk
rock on it and the flat from the island to the dock and ramp at the house holds
Start at the island staying on the river side of the island and
cast across the upstream point. Keep
working toward the dock, staying way out and making long casts. The flat has
stumps on it and bass hold around them.
This is a good area to fish a Carolina Rigged worm since the
heavy sinker will allow you to fish it quickly and find the stumps. Your jig had worm and tube will work well,
too. Fish the area carefully, some big
bass hold here.
5. N 33 56.910 – W 85
57.480 – Downstream of Freeman’s Island on the left going downstream you will
see a electric pole on the bank surrounded by a chain link fence. It is not
easy to see in the brush but it is the outlet for the Tyson plant wastewater
holding pond. Waste from the chicken
processing plant dumps into the river here and it has a colorful local name
that recognizes the “stuff” that comes out.
This outflow draws in big schools of baitfish and big bass feed
here. You will see a path on the bank
coming down to the water and out from it a pipe runs out to dump waste. This
pipe is covered with riprap and you can see humps of rocks if you ride over it,
but be careful if the water is low.
Keep your boat out from the bank and end of the pipe and make
casts to the bank with a crankbait, running it back across the rocks at
different angles. Johnny likes the
Academy crankbait since it works well, runs right and is not too
expensive. You will lose crankbaits here
on these rocks, but can catch some big stringers of bass.
There are three different drops along here and bass will hold
along any of them. Johnny says a lot of
six to eight pound bass have been caught here and many tournaments won on this
spot so don’t pass it by.
6. N 33 57.037 – W 86
01.005 – Run a good ways down river past the right turn bend to where the river
starts a left turn. On your right a creek enters upstream of the bend and
Tommy’ Marina in the back of it. There
are some danger markers on the upstream side of the opening.
The mouth of this creek has several humps and drops across it
where the river runs in close and many bass hold here. Be careful, you can go from 20 feet of water
to nothing in a few feet, and not all the humps are marked.
Work this area with Carolina rig and shaky head and tube. The
humps and drops are covered with stumps and chunk rock and you will get hung up
a lot. Johnny says a crankbait would work well here but you lose too many to
make it worth throwing them.
Current running across these drops makes a big difference. The fish will feed when the current is
running so position your boat so you can cast upstream and work your bait back
with a natural movement with the current.
Work around the area until you find the bass feeding.
7. N 33 56.737 – W 86
01.407 – Go around the bend and downstream toward the bridges. Stop just upstream of the upstream boat shed
on your right at Bucks Marina and work upstream. There is a house here with satellite dish in
the yard and a boat shed with a pontoon under it with a yellow and white cover.
Fish all along this bank, working the cover and cuts along the
bank, staying out in 20 feet of water or so.
Use your shaky head, tube and Carolina rig. There is a good bit of wood cover on the
bottom here so probe for it.
The channel makes a good ledge along this bank and bass hold on
the lip of it and run in to feed. It was
along this bank where Stacey King got 2nd place in a PAA tournament
and where Johnny’s fishing partner, Gary Howington caught a huge seven pound,
six ounce spotted bass.
Work the bank and all cover from the boathouse all the way
upstream to gray and white dock with a boat with a Mercury motor on it. Just
downstream of this dock is a ridge or hump and this is where Stacey King caught
8. N 33 56.499 – W 86 01.610 – Go to the upper bridge of the
Highway 77 crossing and stop out from the riprap on the left side going
downstream. Johnny says this is a great place to find bass pushing shad into
the corner and feeding, especially in the morning.
Throw a spinnerbait, starting on the end of the riprap and
working it into the grassy pocket and fishing upstream about 50 feet. Work it
at different speeds as much as you can in the shallow water. Watch for fish
busting bait on top. Current makes this
spot much better.
This pocket and pattern gave Johnny the bass he needed to win the
two day BFL finale last year on Neely Henry. He said he was surprised to get
here each morning and find it open, with no boats ahead of him stopping here.
Work the upstream pocket then go around the point and fish the
downstream pocket, too. Sometimes the current will make the bass go into this
pocket and eat the baitfish here.
Johnny will fish down to the second bridge, the bigger one, and
work around the second piling from the left bank going downstream. There is a
big rock pile around this piling and it is a good place to throw a jig head
worm or a tube and catch spotted bass.
9. N 33 56.051 – W 86
02.322 – Go downstream to the first small island on the right bank downstream
of Rainbow Landing. It is several hundred yards down that bank. Start at the
small pocket just upstream of the island and fish upstream all the way to the
Some bass released in tournaments at Rainbow Landing stay here
and feed along this bank. You can fish it in either direction but current
usually makes boat control better going upstream, and current helps the
Fish all the shoreline cover including docks, wood and rocks along
this bank. It is shallow and your boat will be in only a few feet of water, but
you can often catch a lot of bass here.
There are several private boat ramps along here and Johnny says you
should never pass a boat ramp on Neely Henry without casting to it.
We got our best two bass on our trip here, a 3 pound spot and a
3.5 pound largemouth. Both hit a jig head worm. Fish topwater baits along this
bank and also work it with a crankbait, tube or jighead worm along this bank
and work it carefully. If you are
catching fish it is worth more than one pass.
10. N 33 55.283 – W 86
03.615 – Past the small island in the hole above the river channel moves to the
left bank then makes a swing back to the right bank below a big flat. Near where it swings back to the right bank
there is a small marina with boat sheds. Start fishing just upstream of the
boat sheds and fish upstream.
There are a series of small points and three riprap areas along
this bank to hit as you go upstream.
Work the riprap and points with your tube and jig head if there is not
much current and throw a spinnerbait and crankbait when the current is
strong. Watch for any wood cover along
this bank and fish it carefully.
Johnny says big spots often get on these riprap banks and you can
catch a big stringer quickly when you hit the right spot. Fish all the way upstream to the brick house
on the upstream side of the third patch of riprap.
These places will give you a good idea of the kind of places
Johnny catches bass on Neely Henry this time of year. Give them a try then find
similar places on the lake that will hold fish, too.
You can contact Johnny at 256-492-1162.