Category Archives: How To Fish

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 https://www.gon.com/fishing/seminoles-fall-bass-with-matt-baty

Captain Mack’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

From Captain Mack Farr

Nice fish, shy fisherman

Last week I stated “lake
conditions had been pretty
stable” which has not been
the case this past week.
With the remnants of
Hurricane Delta creating a
big rain dump in the Lanier
watershed, we saw the lake
level rise over 3 feet in less
than 48 hours! We are
currently 1073.30, 2.30 feet
over full pool. That is up
2.50 feet from last week.


Fyi, the Corps is planning
to pull the lake down to
1069 by the end of
November to complete a
maintenance project on the dam. That means they will have to be releasing a lot of water to
reach that number, which could be a big plus to fishing! Check the generation schedule to use
this circumstance to your advantage.

The lake temperature is still right at 72 degrees, that’s
been pretty constant for almost 4 weeks now. That will likely fall as the weather forecast
indicates some cooler temps, lows into the 40’s for the weekend!


The Striper bite has been ok. The fish are scattered, vertically and horizontally, with a wide
range of applicable techniques and methods. Overall, I think the down line bite is still the best overall pattern, with many fish being taken in 30 to 50 feet over a 35 to 90 foot bottom.

The fish
may orient to the areas adjacent to the river channel or back up in the creeks. Flats, points and
humps near the channels are likely areas to look for fish. You do not have to see a ton of fish to
warrant dropping a bait, a few fish will often turn into a bunch once you start dropping the baits.


Blue backs have been the baits of choice, with a few anglers reporting taking some fish down
lining small Gizzard Shad. If you get them really piled up under the bait, try dropping a spoon to
them, a Flex-it or Super Spoon, or Jig n Shad will be effective if the fish are grouped up Densely
enough.


Casting top waters or swim baits to points and humps will account for a few fish, the key here is
to move fast and cover plenty of water, it’s very much a numbers game. This pattern varies in
intensity from day to day, and can be very weather influenced. This bite is also often good in the
middle of the day or into the afternoon, so don’t give up on this technique after the first part of
the day. As a general guideline, keep your boat positioned in 30 feet and cast to the point or top
of the high spot, expecting the bite to occur over a 15 to 25 foot bottom.

These parameters may
change on any given day so watch the sonar to see where the greatest activity is, take note of
what depth the boat is positioned in, and where the fish was on the strike. Sometimes you’ll be
able to establish a pattern that will increase your efficiency.


The Bomber bite has been somewhat slow to ramp up, not sure why that is, perhaps as the
water cools that will become stronger. While there have been a few anglers taking some fish
casting Bombers and Jerk baits to the points and saddles, the dock lights are probably a more
productive pattern. Small buck tails, jerk baits, Keitech’s on the lead head, or live baits on the
pitch rod are all likely choices for the lights. Lights in a variety of depths in the creek backs or
towards the main lake may produce.


While the schooling fish are sporadic at best, they may show up so be prepared when they do.
Many anglers have reported being in some nice schools of fish that were really hard to catch?
Often at this point in the year they will key on very small baits and it your bait does not match
the size of what they are feeding on they will often totally ignore your offering. Small buck tails
or Flies under a casting bubble, 1/2 Flex -its or Jig N Shads, and the 95 Sebiles will give you
some options that are size appropriate.

Down sizing your line will be a plus allowing you to fish
these smaller baits effectively and increasing casting distance.
The bass bite has been pretty good, with many applicable baits and patterns. Top waters have
been producing well, the type of bait varies with the weather, but the small Chug Bug and the
Magic Swimmers have been consistent producers. The fish are locking in to smaller baits so the
smaller Sebiles, 110 and 95’s may also be good choices to “match the hatch”, as is the 1/2 Flex
it or Nichols Mojo Spoon.


Another good pattern is to fish small secondary points with a Weedless Wonder with either a
finesse worm, trick worm or Senko, The fish may be anywhere from 10 to 20 feet deep, in cover
of roaming around a clean bottom. While you are soaking the worm, watch for schooling fish to
show up. If there is bait around chances are the fish will push the bait to the top so have a bait
ready to cast.

Tim Hawkins from Hammonds recommends casting the 72 Duo Spybait to the
schoolers. It is small enough to match up with the small Shad but weighs in at 1/2 oz., allowing
that little bit of extra distance on the cast to reach the fish that like to appear about 10 feet
further than you can cast.


Casting subsurface baits over the brush is also a good tactic, a lightly weighted fluke and the
Keitech 3.3 or 3.8 inch baits on a 1/4 head are very good choices for this pattern. After you have
throughly worked the brush with the moving baits, cast a drop shot to the brush to get a couple
of add on bites. Rig the drop shot with your favorite finesse worm or the Roboworm Alive Shad!


Good Fishing!
Capt. Mack

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Happy Captain Mike Gerry Client

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 9/19/20


It won’t be long before the B.A.S.S. elite will be here on Guntersville with that occurring the
first weekend of October; I believe it will be a great showing for them as we are experiencing
a unusual fall with cooler temperatures, and hence cooling water temps. This is making the
bass more active than many of the past years this early in September and producing some
good times on the lake. There always up and down times in the fall but its looking good sofar.


Baits this past week I stuck mainly to search baits, Picasso buzz baits, Picasso spinner baits,
Picasso chatter baits, and Tight-line swim jigs ¾ oz to get down into the grass. We also fished
some Missile bait 48 stick baits when they were not chasing and fished over the top some
with SPRO frogs with mixed results. We stuck in 6 to 10 ft. of water most of the week. Key
was bait fish as without it you just did not get bit.

Come fish with me I have guides and days available to fish with you no one will treat you
better or work harder to see you have a great day on the water. We fish with great sponsor
products, Ranger Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Boat Logix mounts, Mercury Motors, Vicious
Fishing, Duckett Fishing, Navionics mapping Power Pole and more.
The SPRO frog tournament deadline to register is near as the tournament is 10/3/20 get your
registration in today.

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service
www.fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com
www.facebook.com/FishGuntersville
Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Call: 256 759 2270
Capt. Mike Gerry

How To Catch November Reds, Trout and Flounder in Mobile

November Mobile Reds, Trout and Flounder

with Captain Dan Kolenich

    “November is one of the two best months of the year for catching reds, trout and flounder in Mobile,” Captain Dan Kolenich said. As the water cools and freshwater starts flushing out the bay, shrimp move toward the ocean and you can catch all three species. The shrimp are mature and as big as they get, so they are even more attractive food in November. Only in May, with the shrimp are moving in and the fish are following them, is as good.

    Captain Dan moved to the Mobile area in 1979 and fell in love with the fishing, learning how to catch reds, trout and flounder in the bay as well as all the species available in the area.  He started guiding 18 years ago, and has also fished some of the professional redfish tournament series like the Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) Redfish Tour and the Oberto Redfish Cup.  They do not fish Alabama waters so raveling to different areas like Florida and Louisiana in those tournaments helped him learn to find even more fish in Mobile.

    Until a few years ago most of his guide trips were with clients that wanted to catch fish on spinning tackle, with one or two fly fishing trips per year.  But now 60 to 70 percent of his trips are fly fishing trips and he is able to help fly fishermen catch trout and reds, with the occasional flounder, in the bay and rivers.

    Although he sometimes uses live bait like pogies, bull minnows and shrimp, he prefers artificals.  His favorites for spinning tackle are High Tide plastic shrimp and minnows on their B52 jigs and he sometimes makes them into spinnerbaits by adding a Hildebrant blade on a wire.  Those baits are soft and flexible but hold up well, allowing you to catch many fish on one bait before you have to change.

    He also casts a Mirror Lure 32 M lure as well as their Top Dog Jr. topwater plug. As the shrimp become scarce the fish feed more on baitfish that these plugs, as well as the soft minnow lures, imitate.

    “When you start catching freshwater drum where you had been catching trout and reds a few days earlier, its time to move further out,” Captain Dan said.  Starting somewhere around Thanksgiving and lasting until Christmas, the water cools and fresh water flushes saltwater out of the bay and fishing becomes difficult for desired species.  But until that happens, fishing is excellent, and you can follow the bait and fish as they move further out.

    Early this month start fishing about five miles upstream of the causeways and by the end of the month you should be fishing within a mile of the causeways. Start up the Tensaw and Raft Rivers around Gravine Island and work down those rivers as the fish move out.  The Blakeley River is another good place to try.  Later in the month concentrate on the Spanish and Apalachee Rivers.

    The pilings on the causeways that cross the bay are also good, with some fish around them all month, but they get better later as fish in the rivers move down and join resident “piling” fish.

    Early in the month you can catch trout around shallow wood cover up the rivers and reds over grass beds on high tide.  An east wind will often push an additional foot of water into the bay, making the shallow bite better.  For shallow water, plugs work well since you can keep them over the cover. Birds feeding back in bays and sloughs are a good sign the fish have pushed bait into those places and are active in them.

    For trout, find logs and trash on the bottom in two to three feet of water and work the Top Dog Jr over them.  Their C-Eye Suspending Twitch Bait will suspend 12 to 18 inches deep, allowing you to work it over the cover.  Trout seek water in the 70 to 80-degree range, so look for those temperatures for the best fishing.

    For reds, work those same baits over the grass beds in shallow water three to five feet deep.  Sometimes you can see reds feeding in the shallow water or the mud stirred up by them. They are in these areas feeding on crabs and minnows. Cast far enough ahead of feeding fish that you don’t spook them and start working it when they get close to it.

    As the tide moves out it pulls water, bait and fish out to deeper water near the channels. In the rivers the bottom slopes off in a shelf out to one to 10 feet deep then flattens out to about 12 to 14 deep before falling into the channels.  Captain Dan says about one-third of the river will be this creek bottom at the 12 to 14 feet deep and that is the depth trout and reds hold and feed.

    That is a lot of water to cover but Captain Dan says it is easy to find the fish since lines of boats will be drift fishing around them, and you can join them.  Go up current to the head of the line, put out your lines and drift through the fish.  When you stop getting bites reel in, crank up and go back to the head of the line to start another drift.

    This is the accepted method of fishing in the crowd. Captain Dan warns that you should not anchor when you catch a fish, it lessens your chance of catching more fish and, worse, it messes up everyone else fishing the correct way, drifting through them.  The only anchored boats are going to be fishermen that really don’t know how to catch the fish.

    Until Thanksgiving a good day trout fishing will produce 30 to 40 keeper size fish.  After Thanksgiving you may catch only four or five, but they will all be gator trout, over 20 inches long.

    For both trout and reds a High Tide shrimp or minnow behind a jig head work well.  Both will hit them when drifted near the bottom.  Vary the weight of your jig head depending on your drift speed, starting with a three sixteenths head, to keep your bait near the bottom. A red head High Tide jig head is Captain Dan’s go-to color. You can use live bait, but Captain Dan prefers artificials for ease of fishing as well as reducing costs.

    Reds like a bait right on the bottom and this is when Captain Dan likes to put a spinner over his jig.  It gives you more depth control as well as attracting fish to the bait.  Try to keep it within a foot of the bottom.

    Flounder also feed in the rivers this time of year and will hit jigs, but they tend to hold on points where rivers and creeks come together.  They sit on the bottom and feed, not really moving around much. You can catch them by drifting and casting to the points along your drift, but a good tactic for flounder is to anchor next to a point and cast up current on it.

    Use a jig and let it sink and work it with the current just over the bottom.  When a flounder hits there is no doubt, according to Captain Dan. When they take a jig it is a hard hit and they tend to hook themselves.

Bull minnows are also good for flounder and you can catch them “Carolina Rig” style, with the hook on a two-foot leader behind a sinker.  Cast or drift this rig on points and drag the sinker along the bottom, adjusting the weight of it with the current so it stays on the bottom.

Don’t “set the hook” hard on a trout, just tighten up and raise your rod tip. A hard hook set can tear the hook out of their mouth.  A red will hit hard and run and set the hook itself but you do not want to jerk your rod tip since their rubbery mouth can tear.

For all three species Captain Dan uses a seven-foot medium action Falcon rod with a Okuma spinning reel.  The rod’s light tip helps keep from tearing the hook out of the soft mouth of trout but is strong enough to hook the rubbery mouth of a red, and it has enough backbone to fight them efficiently. 

The reel has an extremely smooth drag, important when fighting a red on the ten-pound test line he uses.  He does tie a 12 to 18-inch 17-pound fluorocarbon leader on his main line, which is either Power Pro braid or monofilament. The leader helps since there are a lot of things to abrade your line.  

Although red’s mouths are tougher than trout’s, they are soft and the rod action and light line, as well as a smooth drag, are all very important to keep from losing hooked fish.

Captain Dan an Orvis endorsed fishing guide.  He uses nine-foot, eight weigh rod and says you need a fast sinking “depth charge” line to get down to the fish.  He drifts with a Clouser minnow fly and it needs to be fished at the 12 to 14-foot depth where the trout and reds are feeding.  You can cast the same bait for flounder but it, too, must be near the bottom for them.

The pilings on the bridges are good places to cast a fly or jig for all three species.  Contrary to what seems to be intuitive, Captain Dan has found fish hold on the up current side of the pilings rather than in the eddy on the downstream side.  There may be some fish on the eddy side, but, much like dolphins riding the bow wave of a ship, fish hold in the upstream ‘dead zone” break better.

Hold your boat on the up current side of the piling and cast your Clouser minnow or jig up to the front of the piling rather than past it, and let your bait sink down in the dead zone there. Try letting the bait sink to different depths to see if the fish prefer a certain depth.  Live shrimp or minnows can be fished on the pilings in the same way.

Captain Dan encourages catch and release on all fish but he does not mind if you keep just enough for a fresh meal.  Releasing all or most of your catch helps insure the fishing will be good in the future.  The size restrictions on reds and trout has really helped the fishing, too.

There is a ten fish, 12-inch minimum size limit on flounder.  Trout also have a ten-fish creel limit and must be over 14 inches long.   There is a three-fish limit on reds and you can keep fish between 16 and 26 inches long, but only one over the 26-inch length.  Reds over 26 inches long are the brood stock and all should be released, and Captain Dan says they are really not very good to eat at that size, anyway.

More than the usual amount of rain in the fall can flush out the saltwater earlier and muddy up the rivers, make fishing more difficult. Strong winds can also create problems.  It helps to have an experienced guide to adapt to daily changes in conditions. 

When you find the kinds of places these fish feed, don’t get stuck fishing familiar places. Captain Dan says finding new, similar places is one of the thrills of fishing here, and there are a lot of them to explore.

All you need on a guided trip with Captain Dan is what you want to eat and drink to put in his ice chest, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, and clothing like a long sleeve shirt and rain gear.  He asks you to wear soft sole shoes.  Although he provides all tackle he says you are welcome to bring your favorite rods, reels and tackle to use.  You do not need a saltwater license when fishing with him but if you go into freshwater you do need a freshwater license.

Contact Captain Dan for a guided trip fly fishing or spinning tackle fishing, at 251-422-3474 or email him at info@captaindankolenich.com.  His website at captaindankolenich.com has fishing reports as well as more information on his trips.

Where and How To Catch September Lanier Bass with Rob Jordan

September 2013 Lanier Bass

 with Rob Jordan

    Tired of summer doldrums fishing for bass in deep water and not catching much? There is light at the end of September, when water starts cooling and bass get more shallow and active on our lakes. But why wait several more weeks?  You can catch some big spots at Lanier right now.

    Lanier is a big lake at 40,000 acres and since it is just northeast of Atlanta it gets heavy pleasure boat traffic, especially on weekends. And it gets a lot of fishing pressure.  The lake is known for its big spotted bass that took advantage of the introduction of blueback herring.  Five pound spots are caught often and most tournaments are won on spotted bass, with five-fish limits weighing 15 pounds common.

    Rob Jordan grew up fishing Lanier and now lives in Swanee.  His cousin Jim Murray, Jr. got him started tournament fishing and taught him a lot about catching bass.  Rob also worked with Jim painting custom lures and Rob has a business making realistic looking baits.  He also guides on Lanier and fishes tournaments.  Next year Rob plans on fishing the FLW Everstart and BASS Opens.

    This year Rob fished the Savannah River BFL trail and is right on the qualifying point to fish the Regional at Lanier with one tournament to go.  He hopes to do well in the Regional on his home lake.

    Rob’s best five spots in a tournament on Lanier weighed 21.5 pounds. This summer he has had big fish in two night tournaments.  Two years ago he placed third in the Weekend Series on Lanier and was in the top ten in the BFL there that year.  He knows the lake and how to catch good spots.

    “Lanier is a fantastic lake but you have to understand the waters and when the bass bite to do well,” Rob said.  It is a unique lake and you won’t catch the big spots by fishing like you do on other lakes.

    “The biggest spots are hard to catch since they roam the lake, living in water 50 to 60 feet deep,” Rob told me.  Weather and moon phases are keys to figuring out the bite. And you have to fish in the right places to catch the quality spotted bass.

    September is a transition month for spots on Lanier and you can catch some really big fish, especially late in the month.  Last year Rob got a six pound, six ounce spot toward the end of September on a guide trip.  But you can catch quality fish starting right now.

      A wide variety of baits will catch spots on Lanier this month. Rob will have a drop shot worm and a shaky head worm ready for slower fishing.  When the bite is good he likes a swim bait or a top water plug. All these baits are fished in deep water, with his boat often sitting in 80 plus feet of water and fishing water that is 30 feet deep.

    Rob will try a variety of depths and lures until he finds where the bass are feeding, and that depth will usually be consistent all over the lower lake.  The key is a long point or hump that drops off into very deep water. Standing timber in the deep water and brush or rocks on the humps and points make those places much better.

    Rob took me to the following ten spots in early August and we caught fish on most of them.  They are good right now and will get even better as the month progresses.

    1.  N 34 10.029 – W 84 02.492 – Green channel marker 3SC in Shoal Creek sits on a rocky hump right by the channel.  There is also a danger marker on it and one small bush stuck out of the water when we were there.  The hump is right off an island, too.  It always holds bass, according to Rob, and it typical of the type place he fishes this month.

    There is brush all over and around it as well as the natural rocks to hold feeding fish. Rob says it is important to locate the brush piles and fish them, so ride it with your electronics and mark the brush. Good electronics will even show the fish in the brush and how they are setting up on it.

    Start on the upstream end and work the whole area, keeping your boat out in the channel.  Wind rippling the surface of the water is critical here and on other spots to make the fish active, and overcast days help, too.

    If there is some wind and some clouds try a big swim bait like the Bucca Bull Herring hard swim bait or a Zman Grass KickerZ over the brush. Topwater plugs like a big Spook or Sammy will draw the bass up to the top from the brush.

    If the water is slick or it is sunny Rob will fish a Zman StreakZ on a drop shot or a Big Bass Baits jig head with a worm on it in the brush.  It is important to get the baits right on the fish so work each brush pile carefully, especially if you see fish in or around it.

    2.  N 34 11.681 – W 83 03.607 – Run over to Young Deer Creek and right in the mouth of it on the left side going upstream marker 1YD sits on a hump with a danger marker and some bushes on top.  Again, it is right on the channel where deep water is very close to shallow water. 

    Your boat should be in about 100 feet of water and you want to fish brush around 30 feet deep. Rob says 30 foot deep water is usually a good depth in September but they may feed a little shallower later in the month. If you are not catching fish in the deeper brush, or if you see them in more shallow brush, try it.

    Rob says bass are caught here every day. There are a lot of brush piles and big rocks on the hump to cover.  Try all your baits around them.

    A big swim bait is Rob’s go-to bait if he wants quality fish. In a tournament where five bites from big fish is all you want, try the Bull Herring worked slowly over the brush.  Rob’s custom painted versions are best since the spots on Lanier see so many swim baits but all will catch bass.

    3.  N 34 11.766 – W 84 03.499 – Across the mouth of Young Deer Creek channel marker 2YD sits on a deep rocky point that is excellent.  Rob fishes the downstream end of the point where it runs out parallel to the channel.  You will be sitting in 70 to 100 feet of water when fishing the end of the point.

    First try the swimbaits and topwater. Always keep a topwater plug ready to cast immediately to surfacing fish.  We caught a couple the day we fished when they came up near us. They may not stay up long so be ready.  If the spots are consistently schooling on top but not staying long, Rob will stand in the front of the boat with a topwater bait ready to cast, waiting on them to come up again.

    4.  N 34 12.494 – W 84 01.432 – An island sits in the mouth of Six Mile Creek and marker 4SM sits just off it. The creek channel is on one side and the river channel on the other.  Rob says this is one of the best big spot holes on the lake and he caught a six pounder here. 

    There are stumps and brush piles on the point on the downstream side of the island where the big spots live. Rob says a big swim bait or topwater is the way to go here for the big ones.  Work both baits all around the point, concentrating on brush piles and stump beds you find with your electronics.

    Rob fishes both hard and soft swimbaits with a steady retrieve and keeps them near the surface is there is cloud cover or wind on the water.  When a fish hits he sets the hook with a sweep of his rod, not a hard set, and does not drop the rod tip. 

    If there is little wind or if the spots just don’t seem to eat the big bait, Rob will drop down to the smaller size Zman SwimmerZ soft swim bait.  He fishes the soft baits on a three sixteenths to three quarter ounce jig head depending on how the fish set up. The lighter head is better for running the bait shallow but the bigger head will allow you to fish it a little faster and deeper.

    5.  N 34 13.464 – W 84 01.406 – Further up Six Mile Creek it narrows way down right at channel marker 7SM.  There are several good humps and points in this area. The left side going upstream, between the last cove on that side to the point where the creek narrows way down, have the better ones.

    The danger marker on the left sits between two long points that are excellent. Sit out in 45 feet of water and cast up into 25 to 30 feet of water.  There are a couple of road beds, an old house foundation and brush piles on the points.  Fish them all.

    The pinch point where the creek narrows way down funnels fish into this area as they move up the creek in the fall. Rob says when the water temperature drops into the 70s it is like a switch turns on and the bass get into action chasing bait. Swim baits and topwater are even better when it cools down.

    6.  N 34 14.772 – W 83 56.843 – Run up the river to the mouth of Flat Creek. A big island sits in the mouth of it and red channel marker 26 is on a point where the river channel swings in toward it. Rob says bass live here year round and it is always good, but in September even more bass get on the point while moving into the creek.

    Sit out in 40 feet of water and cast up on the point with all your baits, starting shallow and working deeper. There are rocks and brush piles here that hold the fish. If you can’t find the brush with your electronics, drag a jig head worm along the bottom until you hit rocks or brush and work it.                                                                           

    7.  N 34 13.602 – W 83 55.772 – For a change of pace run into Mud Creek all the way to the narrow creek channel in the back.  Rob fishes docks back in places like this. Spots and some big largemouth can be found back around docks in creeks as the water cools.  Fish all the docks from the ones on the left past the big rocky point where it narrows down all the way around the creek.

    Try a one eighth to three sixteenths ounce jig head with a Zman finesse worm on it.  Fish all of each dock, from the deepest water in front of it to the back under the walkway.  The bass may be feeding anywhere around the docks. 

    The bass will be on the outside deeper docks early in the month but move further back as the water cools. Since the weather this summer has been fairly cool and the rain and cool weather in the middle of August kept the water temperatures down, they may move further back sooner this year.

    8.  N 34 13.967 – W 83 56.271 – Going out of Mud Creek Old Federal day use park with a boat ramp is on your left.  Past it a long point runs out toward the main lake and there is an island off the bank, with danger markers between it and the main point. 

    Stop about even with the island in Mud Creek and idle over the ridge that runs out on that side toward the Mud Creek channel.  This ridge runs way out and has rock and brush on it, and bass stack up on it all summer long. Even more move to it as they follow shad back into the creek in the fall.

    Sit in about 40 feet of water and cast up on top of the ridge to 20 to 30 feet of water.  Try all your baits.  When using a drop shot in the brush Rob likes to pitch it ahead of the boat a little rather than fishing it straight under the boat. He will let the lead hit bottom, raise his rod tip to keep the bait up off the bottom and twitch it in one place, moving the lead very slowly as he works it around the brush.

    9.  N 34 13.447 – W 83 57.774 – Out off the end of the point with Old Federal Campground there is a big flat point with a danger marker off a small island with bushes on top.  There are brush piles all over it but Rob’s favorite area of this big point is downstream of the island and danger marker. 

    As in other places, start with topwater and swim baits over the brush piles you locate with your electronics, then try the dropshot and shaky head.  Rob likes a light one sidxteenths to one eight head, as light as conditions will allow, since the slow fall will often draw a strike.

    Rob lets the shaky head hit bottom then slowly drags it along with an occasional snap of the rod tip to make it wiggle and jump. Many people shake it in one place, as the name implies, but Rob moves it slowly along the bottom without constant shaking.

         10.  N 34 11.424 – W 83 58.442 – In Flowery Branch across from the Van Pugh ramp a long underwater point runs off the upstream side of the danger marker between the small island and the main point.  This point actually runs off Van Pugh park out to the island then on out toward the creek channel.

         Stay out on the creek end of the point and work it with all your baits.  Resident fish live here and more move in during the fall.  If you are fishing a tournament use big baits for a few quality bites. Use smaller topwater baits like the Sammy 100 early in the fall but go bigger later. For numbers the shaky head or drop shot will get more bites.

         All these places hold bass right now and will get better as the month progresses and the water gets cooler. Give them a try and you can find many more just like them.

         For a guide trip with Rod to see first hand how he fishes Lanier call him at 770-873-7135 and check his web site at http://robjordanfishing.com  Also check out his custom painted baits at http://www.xtremelurecreations.com

California Catch of Swordfish Takes Off as Anglers Embrace New Technique

Catch Swordfish

From NOAA Fisheries
from The Fishing Wire

Researchers have tagged swordfish off Southern California for studies evaluating new ways of fishing for the species. Credit: Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER)Recreational fishing for swordfish off southern California has surged over the last year. Fishermen have started borrowing a strategy from East Coast anglers and the commercial fishing world: going deep during the daytime.

Tagging and tracking research by NOAA Fisheries and the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research (PIER)revealed that swordfish spend most of the day at depths greater than 700 feet. Commercial fishermen on the West Coast originally began fishing in deeper waters for swordfish. They used buoy gear in part to avoid protected species such as sea turtles and marine mammals.

Now recreational anglers on the West Coast have caught on to the technique and have seen their catches increase dramatically. Chugey Sepulveda, PIER Director and Senior Scientist, said anecdotal numbers suggest that recreational swordfish catches off southern California have jumped. They’ve gone from fewer than 30 in a typical year to hundreds in a matter of a few months.

“It’s been a real boost for the recreational fleet because it now offers anglers a new and exciting quarry that was previously considered extremely difficult to target,” he said.

Research shows that swordfish spend most daytime hours at depths of 700 to 1,400 feet, coming only occasionally to the surface. Recreational fishermen had once primarily pursued them only when swordfish were spotted basking on the surface. Days of excitedly dragging a bait in front of a sunning swordfish have turned into long days of staring at rod tips.

“Swordfish have always been considered the pinnacle of fishing success since the days of Zane Grey,” said Bill DePriest, publisher and editor of Pacific Coast Sportfishing Magazine. “Now it’s something more people are experiencing.”

Catch and Release Ethic Emerges
As catches have increased, many fishermen are now discussing bag limits and potential catch-and-release measures to prevent exploiting the swordfish stock, Sepulveda said. Swordfish populations in the North Pacific include two stocks: an eastern Pacific Ocean stock and a Western and Central North Pacific Ocean stock. There continues to be discussion as to which stock southern California fish belong. This is one reason why Sepulveda and his team have headed up NOAA Fisheries-sponsored research on stock structure.

The 2018 stock assessment for the Western and Central North Pacific Ocean swordfish stock found off the West Coast shows that the stock is not overfished. It is also not experiencing overfishing. The assessment also found that the stock can support more fishing while remaining sustainable. It found that the biomass shows “a relatively stable population, with a slight decline until the mid-1990s followed by a slight increase since 2000.”Figure.

Recreational fishermen have employed similar methods on the U.S. East Coast and other areas. Recreational anglers on the West Coast have caught on to the strategies and techniques more recently as the new deep set commercial fishery has taken off. The main season for swordfish off southern California is roughly from late summer into winter, DePriest said.“It’s a healthy hobby. And with swordfish, it’s definitely always exciting,” DePriest said. “It’s great to see so many people interested.”

Pacific swordfish are highly migratory and often travel thousands of miles across international boundaries. Since many nations target the species, effective conservation and management requires international cooperation as well as domestic attention.

Scientists are now seeking funding for a study to collect more data on the growing recreational fishery. Data is needed to evaluate the survival of swordfish that are caught and then released. While there are best practices for choosing the right gear and handling with care when catch-and-release fishing, survival rates vary by species.

Recreational anglers can also contribute to swordfish research by participating in our Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Cooperative Billfish Tagging Program. The program, started in 1963, provides tagging supplies to anglers. It helps us better understand movement and migration patterns, species distribution, and age and growth. Anglers tag the fish before releasing them.

Kayak Panfish

Kayak Panfish Fishing Photo courtesy of Hobie

Kayaks, ultralight tackle and panfish make a successful combinationBy Noel VickPhoto courtesy of Hobie
from The Fishing Wire

“Panfish” is perhaps the biggest catchall category in fishing. Essentially, if it’s round and measures somewhere between the size of an adult hand and the fateful frying pan, it’s a panfish. We’re talking about the zillion species of sunfish, a couple styles of crappies, as well as – in the opinion of many including myself – white bass.

Drumroll please… And now you’re being urged to pursue the commonest freshwater fish in North America with the uncommonest of approaches: pedal kayak trolling. Take a breath and a moment to get over the weirdness. It’s an extraordinarily effective technique.For this discourse, it’s best talking lure selection first, as it’ll dovetail into techniques. My panfish trolling portfolio consists of two primary categories: hardbaits and spinners.

Hardbait Pedal Trolling
Not too many years ago, the marketplace was inundated with downsized bodybaits, including lipped crankbaits, jerkbaits and lipless rattle baits. Manufacturers miniaturized existing models and developed entirely new micro hardbaits. I’ve trolled and tested them all from my Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14.

Panfish of all stripes – especially larger specimens – either make a living off bait and fish fry or will opportunistically eat forage with fins and tails. Hardbaits also ferret-out the most aggressive fish and can be trolled faster than spinners, letting you cover more water in less time. Hardbaits are unquestionably the best search tool.

Trolling by pedal kayak simply means casting the bait back, letting out additional line – minimum of 100 feet – and you’re fishing. Whatever species you pursue, the odds of success are improved by getting the lure as far away from the boat as possible, especially in depths of 10-feet and less where fish more easily scatter. Experience has proven, however, that the darker the water the closer you can run baits.

As with other forms of pedal trolling, longer rods are recommended. Think about the common practice of spider-rigging for crappies; it’s about spreading the field of coverage. In a kayak, where legal, two long rods can be easily managed. 

The best all-around panfish trolling rods hail from St. Croix’s Panfish Spinning Series. The blanks are constructed of a dynamic blend of SCVI and SCII graphite providing responsive touch, balance and finesse. I employ either the 8-foot (PFS80LMF2) or 9-foot (PFS90LMF2), light, moderate-fast, 2-piece models. They curve concentrically on the move, and natively sweep-set upon strike. For added machismo with larger baits, or bigger-billed ones with greater resistance, I carry the 7-foot, light, extra-fast-action model (PF70LXF).

Rods are paired with 2500 size spinning reels. Smaller 1000 and 2000 sized reels don’t take up line nearly as fast. And personally, I like the feel of a larger reel. And when you opt to stop and cast, they yield greater distance. Daiwa’s affordable Regal LT is a solid and widely available choice.

Like all my pedal kayak pursuits, braid is the word. Braid has better sensitivity and buffers the softness of long panfish rods with stoutness to produce ideal, hands-free hooksets. Braid also lets the rod communicate to me that lures are running true. Consider either 6- or 8-pound test of Daiwa’s super narrow diameter J-Braid x8.

Leaders are mandatory, too, long ones (24-inch minimum), which combat panfish species’ exceptional vision. Fluorocarbon makes are best. I tie in sections of Daiwa’s J-Fluoro in 4- or 6-pound test, finishing with a tiny snap for speedy lure changes.

LIVETARGET’s 2 ¾-inch Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait does it all, never discriminating against species, including bass. Although designed to replicate a rainbow smelt, fish in waters dominated by shad and other shiner species don’t seem to care. I theorize that the Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait’s precision anatomy, pure trolling path, and seductive action make it universally effective.Rapala has a major stake in the panfish market, too, and their baits are always onboard.

Fish fawn over the petite, 2 ½-inch Rapala Husky Jerk, a downsized rendition of the popular, slow-sinking series. To that, Rapala also tenders the Ultra Light series, catering specifically to panfish anglers. The 1 ½-inch Ultra Light Crank is not only cute as hell, but has the surprising capacity to run deep on the troll, nearing the 10-foot mark.

Daiwa also comes to the plate with a couple diminutive heavy hitters. The 2-inch Dr. Minnow Jerkbait turns fish heads. And when you’re in the midst of larger, meat-eaters, consider Daiwa’s 3.75-inch TD Minnow.

Color selection is an exercise in experimentation. For the most part, I stick to natural, baitfish tones – the silvers, whites and blues – but often opt for more color in stained water. And for whatever reason, panfish respond exceptionally well to greens, especially ones with lighter bellies. 

Spinner Pedal Trolling
Let’s first clarify, I’m talking about hairpin spinners, not inline spinners. Years of pedal trolling have proven that bags are basically doubled with hairpins. I believe it’s the flash combined with a juicy, baitfish profiled target – the jig and soft plastic.DIY is the only way to go with hairpin spinners. Certainly, there are hordes of pre-rigged variations available, but none matching my surefire assortment. To this, entirely, my hairpins are founded on Betts Spinners. The series affords Colorado blade sizes 0, 1, and 3, the heartier 3-size providing the best loft, especially with smaller jigs. Both silver and gold options are available, too. I employ silver in most scenarios, but swap to gold in dark water.Z-Man Slim SwimZ and Finesse ShroomZ jighead with hairpin spinner.

Next in line is the actual jig. Betts offers several workable styles, too, but I prefer a couple others. Z-Man’s capsule-headed Finesse ShroomZ are the defacto heads for Ned Rigs, and I find them equally amazing with hairpin spinners. Featherweight sizes of 1/15- and 1/10-ounce are the magic bullets. Keep a pool of red, black, green and white heads onboard to color match bodies.Northland Tackle’s RZ Jig is another winner, and easily found above the Mason Dixon Line.For my druthers, there are three failsafe brands of bodies: Z-Man, Bobby Garland and Bass Assassin. The throbbing paddletail of Z-Man’s 2.5-inch Slim SwimZ is a crappie menace. Its narrow girth prompts the hairpin to run single-file. And, constructed of ElaZtech, a single Slim SwimZ can easily burn through a limit of crappies. 

Nationwide, Bobby Garland Crappie Baits own the most shelf space. This is warranted. The popular bodies – specifically the Original 2” Baby Shad – are to panfish what peanuts are to elephants. Ideally shaped like fish fry, they are squishy in the fingers, causing fish to hang on, and come in a staggering 75 colors. The flamboyant Cajun Cricket is a sunfish favorite. Baitfish-toned Blueback Shad Diamond Mist tempt everything in clear to lightly stained water. Glacier Blue, a white body peppered with blue, is a frequent flyer as well.Grab a few packs of Bass Assassin’s 3-inch Baby Shad to mix things up. They, too, come in a wide pallet of colors.

Northland Tackle’s legendary Rigged Mimic Minnow Shad come pre-rigged with physically accurate bodies and fish-fry-shaped heads. The color matching is already done. 1/32- and 1/16-ouncers are the chosen ones.  Pedal trolling hairpin spinners is elementary. Locomoting slower than you would with hardbaits, even as slow as 1 MPH, is enough to keep the blades turning while riding high in the water column. Hairpins are at their best lazily humping along above targeted fish. In 10-feet of water, I want the hairpin mobilized 3 or 4 feet down, and no deeper than 5. Sometimes, I’ll run a hairpin rig in both rod holders, crack a cold one and light a cigar, and make sequentially spaced passes over suspect water.

Even though many missions are in less than 10-feet of water, my eyes are glued to the electronics, a 9-inch Raymarine Axiom. Even in shallow water you can mark fish. But more importantly, the Raymarine reveals weeds and other fish holding elements, not to mention signaling depth breaks. And if you find panfish pasted to the bottom, it’s time to hit the brakes and go to a vertical presentation; just the jig and plastic or a weensy jigging spoon. The Raymarine will reveal these tiny baits beneath the kayak in real time. Turn on the A-scope feature and experience the same, live drama you enjoy when fishing vertically through the ice.

Assuming you’re the results-oriented type of angler who has gotten over the stigma of trolling in general (you likely wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t), expand the technique into your panfishing – preferably by pedal-driven kayak – and see what happens. A cooler of crappies and sunfish does not lie.

Summer Catfishing

Tips for Summer Catfishing

Randy Zellers, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Assistant Chief of Communications
from The Fishing Wire

The catfish may be one of the most misunderstood of all Arkansas’s sportfish. It occurs in practically every body of water in the state, grows to gigantic proportions, and is easy to catch with inexpensive equipment. Top off those features with its fantastic flavor, and it’s amazing that anyone would look down on these hardy fish.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stocks thousands of catchable-size channel catfish through its hatchery system each year to small ponds and lakes that cannot keep up with fishing pressure. Mother Nature produces millions more of the fish in Arkansas’s rivers and lakes every year. All it takes to catch them is a little patience and the proper lure to tempt them into biting. The secret ingredient to all good catfish lures is scent.

Catfish can “smell” baits much better than many fish species. Highly sensitive membranes inside the fish’s nostrils detect compounds in the water. The more folds these membranes have, the keener the fish’s sense of smell. Trout have 18 or so of these folds, while largemouth bass may have only 10. The channel catfish is blessed with 140 of these specialized folds to sense smell, enabling it to detect compounds as minute as one part per 100 million.

So what odors make the best bait for catfish? Here are a few tried and true offerings to keep you hooked up this summer.

Smelling Fishy
The best smells of all are going to come from the foods catfish are used to eating. Shad, small bream and chunks of less desirable species like carpsuckers and skipjack are top producers for many catfish anglers.

Justin Homan, lead biologist in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s catfish team, says many veteran catfish anglers, especially those on the big rivers of east Arkansas, favor cut shad and skipjack. These oily fish will put out a scent big catfish are looking for.“When I’m running jugs with my wife and little girl, we tend to use cut bait as well, especially fish with a tougher skin,” Homan said. “Chunks of carp or buffalo stay on the hook well and will bring in a lot of fish.”

Homan says flathead catfish are much fonder of live baitfish than cut bait, so targeting these big fighters may require a little more effort to care for your lures. Many anglers use goldfish purchased from bait dealers, and he’s personally done well on Lake Conway running trotlines at night with live sunfish.

“You have to catch the sunfish first, and can’t move them from another body of water, but they work very well,” Homan said. “One trick is to check your bait at about midnight. Channel cats may beat the flatheads to your bait, and the flatheads are most active after about midnight. Rebaiting then can really help bring in some bigger cats.”

Any fish or crayfish caught in the wild can’t be transported to another body of water and used as bait there unless it is used as dead bait. The risk of spreading disease or invasive species is too high when moving live, wild-caught baitfish. If you want to use live baitfish but don’t have time to catch them in the body of water where you’ll fish, goldfish, shiners and minnows that can be purchased from bait shops come from baitfish farms that are certified to be free of diseases and other nasties live fish may carry.

Creepy Crawlies
Catalpa worms, nightcrawlers and other crawling critters from the flowerbed also make great bait, and they can be pulled up from the dirt can be transported without issue. Flipping a few bricks from the flowerbed or scraping aside some leaves and digging at the surface of the dirt should garner enough worms for a quick trip.

Some anglers have taken the collection of worms to the next level, using a special technique called “worm grunting” or “worm fiddling” to get gobs of bait in a hurry. 

Compost bins also are great places to find active red worms nicknamed “red wigglers,” that don’t grow as big as the nightcrawlers you find on the ground after a rain but give plenty of action to entice finicky cats to bite.

SPAM-tastic
One of those overlooked grocery store baits that definitely works wonders is good old canned meat. As outdoor writer Don Wirth always penned in issues of Bassmaster Magazine’s humorous Harry ‘n’ Charlie columns, SPAM isn’t cured and ready to eat until it has a half-inch of dust collected on the top in the back of the convenience store shelves. Believe it or not, Arkansas’s current state record and once world-record 116-pound, 12-ounce blue catfish was caught on this easy-to-store bait in 2001. It doesn’t hurt to keep a can handy in the tackle box, and if the fish aren’t biting, it’s not half bad with crackers and a little hot sauce. You can’t say the same for nightcrawlers.

Vampire-proof Weenies
Clint Coleman, assistant coordinator for the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program, has seen his share of stinky lures, as he helps run dozens of fishing derbies each year. His favorite bait is pieces of hot dog soaked in a mix of cherry Kool-Aid and garlic powder. For some reason, that combination sets catfish in fishing derbies on fire.“It’s easy to get at the store, and it’s easy to handle with kids,” Coleman said. “Some kids may not want to mess with worms, livers or stink baits, but everyone will pick up a hot dog. The garlic will put out plenty of scent to get the fish honed in on your lure.”

Coleman says don’t worry about adding water to activate the Kool-Aid. The juice from the hot dogs is all it takes.

Chicken Liver
Trey Reid, host of Arkansas Wildlife Television, has had the opportunity to fish for big catfish on the Mississippi River with some real sticks, and he agrees that cut skipjack is the prime rib of the catfishing world, but for his excursions to smaller waters, he still tends toward the bait he was introduced to catfishing with — chicken livers.

“You can pick it up at nearly any grocery store on the way to the lake or keep it in the refrigerator with a little less complaints from family members than other wild concoctions,” Reid said. “Sometimes it’s good to just keep it simple and remember that fishing doesn’t have to be a huge expense or take a ton of time to prepare for.

Keep it Clean
Strange as it may sound, you may not need to get stinky to get on a good channel catfish bite. Jon Stein, district fisheries biologist for the AGFC in Rogers says soap is one of the best baits used for sampling channel catfish in nets.

“Biologists used to use a manufactured soybean cheese log for bait, but we caught a lot of turtles, too,” Stein said. “Staff now use Zote Soap to bait nets. It attracts the channel catfish without the turtles so we can focus on getting valuable information on Channel Catfish including lengths, weights, population size (catch per net), age and can evaluate how much of the population is from stocked fish.”

Stein says that although he’s personally never baited up with soap, he’s talked to many anglers on the water that swear by it.“It needs to have a high animal fat content in it,” Stein said. “Some anglers say they melt it, pour it into ice cube trays and place a hook in it so the soap hardens around the hook, then they can keep things clean and organized on the water.”

Zote is even scientifically proven to catch catfish, so-to-speak. A study conducted by Russell Barabe and Donald Jackson at Mississippi State University and presented to the American Fisheries Society in 2011 found that the catch rates of catfish between Zote soap and cut bait on trotlines was statistically insignificant. The study was in an effort to find alternatives to catfish baiting that would not catch some species of endangered aquatic turtles. The soap caught zero turtles while nabbing 193 blue catfish and 462 channel catfish when fished from 11,000 trotline hooks in six coastal rivers overnight in the Magnolia State.

Have a favorite formula for catfish success? Send a comment to randy.zellers@agfc.ar.gov. If we can stomach it, we might just feature it in an upcoming edition of the AGFC’s Weekly Fishing Report.

Where and How to Catch Neely Henry Bass

July Bass at Neely Henry

with Waine Pittman

     Its hot and muggy but that is no reason to stay home in front of the air conditioner.  Catching a big spot or largemouth will make you forget the heat, and there are few better places to do that right now than the Coosa River on the upper end of Neely Henry Lake.

     Neely Henry is just downstream of Lake Weiss at Gadsden.  From the Tillison Brend Park Ramp upstream the river is narrow but there are feeder creeks with grassbeds and other cover.  Docks are scattered on the river and in the creeks.  Current runs in the river most days from power generation at the Weiss dam and the Neely Henry dam. 

     Current seems to make the spots and largemouth grow big fat and strong.  Hook a three pound spot in the current and you will swear you have one twice that big or a striper.  The current also makes them hold in predictable places and you can catch both species without dredging the depths in July.

     Waine Pittman lived the dream, as the BASS Federation Nation motto goes.  In 2008 he qualified for the Georgia Top Six in his club, the West Georgia Bass Hunters.  At the state tournament he placed 4th at Lake Seminole, making the State Team.  At the Federation Nation Southern Divisional at Santee Cooper he was the top man on the Georgia team, qualifying him for the Nationals.

     In a dream trip that almost turned disastrous due to the weather Waine was the top man on the Southern Division team which made him the Southern Division representative at the BASS Masters Classic, arguably the most important tournament there is each year.

     Waine is sponsored by Nitro Boats, Mercury Motors, Minkota Trolling Motors, JJ’s Magic, Cull Buddy, Triple Fish line, Net Bait lures, Cold Steel Lures, TC Cranks, Costa Eyewear and Tillman Eye Center.  He uses Revo reels exclusively and says they are the best reels available.

     I asked Waine what his favorite lake was and he didn’t hesitate to say “Neely Henry.”  His club fishes the lake every year, usually in July, and he also fishes pot and local tournaments on Neely.  He loves to fish the river for big spots and largemouth and knows how to catch them. 

     Waine started tournament fishing while in college and likes tournament fishing.  Next year he plans on fishing the Southern Division BASS Opens tournaments all his kids are now out of high school.

     Waine has a 5.5 pound spot and a 7 pound largemouth from the river, and his best tournament catch there was a five-fish limit weighing 23 pounds.  The river is the perfect place for Waine to skip, pitch and flip a jig and pig, his favorite way of fishing.  And it catches fish there.

     “By late June bass are set up on their summer pattern,” Waine said. That means they are holding in the river and bigger creeks on ledges and deeper cover and running in to shallow water to feed. Creek mouths are a key area this time of year, giving bass a short route to grass beds in the creeks and to cover that breaks the current on the river banks. 

     Waine will start at daylight on shallow grassbeds near creek mouths, then move to the river banks after the sun gets up.  He fishes the grass fast with spinnerbaits, frogs and buzzbaits on one pass then come back and flip them with a Net Bait Paca Punch.  After an hour he moves out to the river channel and flips them with a jig he makes.

     Flipping, skipping and pitching a jig and pig with a Paca Chunk SR. behind a five-sixteenths ounce jig works well.  That combo has a lot of action and works catches fish in the current on the river.  Flipping is his bread and butter method of catching bass.

     Waine showed me the following ten spots where he catches bass in the river in early June. We were a little early for the pattern but caught some good spots and largemouth, but not the quality fish Waine hoped we would catch. By now the bigger fish will be more active on these spots.

     1.  N 34 00.779 – W 85 55.412 – If you put in at Tillison Bend Park Ramp run up to the mouth of Cove Creek, the first creek upstream of the ramp on the same side of the river. Go into the creek to the 4th dock on the right, in front of a brick house, and fish upstream. There is a good grass bed by this ramp and it is a good place to start.

     Fish the small patch of grass quickly then work on upstream, fishing the seawall and small point at the next dock. Past it is a big point. Fish it then go around the point. A huge grassbed lining the bank starts there and runs into a cove, out of it on the other side and on up the bank.

     Throw your buzzbait to the bank and work it back across the gap.  Try a spinnerbait, too.  A frog works well over this water willow grass in the thicker parts of it and that is where the biggest bass will hold. Waine likes the Cold Steel frog since it is thin and tough.

     Waine usually fishes around the first pocket with those baits then turns and fishes the same grass with the Paca Punch. That bait is a solid body bait that stays up on the hook well and has lots of action.  He will drop the bait into holes in the grass and also punch through the thicker mats.  A half ounce sinker is heavy enough to get through most of this grass and works well.

     We hooked a couple of good largemouth here the day we fished. Both hit spinnerbaits the first few minutes before the sun came up.  Sometimes you can punch the thicker grass can catch fish in the bright sun, and if the fish are actively feeding a spinnerbait run through the grass will catch them even in the bright sun.

     2.  N 34 00.870 – W 85 55.309 – Go back to the mouth of the creek and start on the upstream point, fishing upstream. Pitch a jig and pig to all the cover along this bank. Trees and brush create eddies in the current that the bass use as ambush points 

     Always fish upstream. That gives you better boat control and also helps work your bait with the current in a natural action. Fish at an angle ahead of the boat, pitching or flipping your bait so it hits on top of the cover and falls in behind it with the current.

     Work on up to the first few docks along this bank, hitting them where the posts breaks the current.  Current is critical when fishing the river. When it moves, the bass bite, but you need a strong trolling motor to fish it. Waine uses a 36 volt Minkota for this reason.

     3.  N 34 00.744 – W 85 54.500 – A little further up the river on the opposite side, just where the river starts a gentle bend to the right, a small double mouth creek enters the river. There are grass beds in the mouth that hold good bass. Waine said he pulled up here one day and on back to back casts caught a 4.63 and a 4.75 pound spot. There was a big bass chasing shad here when we got to the spot but we could not get it to hit.

     Keep your boat out in the river and cast into the creek, working your fast moving baits over the grass. Fish both sides of the small island splitting the creek at the river edge.  Waine says he does not work back into the smaller creeks like this one since the bass will be set up right on the river this time of year.

     4.  N 33 59.479 – W 85 54.044 – Further up the river Tidmore Bend makes a big horseshoe bend.  Going upstream, watch for an old dead snag tree leaning out over the water.  Start well downstream of this snag and work up to it. You should stop across the river from the blue roof house on the far bank if you can’t see the snag.

     This inside bend is typical of a good type place to fish.  There is a little less current here so bass like to feed here when it is running strong, but still enough to make them active.  

     Waine says he usually catches bass in less than five feet of water, so he concentrates his casts to the base of trees in the water and brush or little cuts on the bank. It is worth fishing on out to the ends of the bigger trees some to see if bass are holding deeper, but unless you get some bites keep your bait in the more shallow feeding zone.

     5. N 34 05.552 – W 85 51.845 – Waine usually runs way on up the river from here, going past the Appalachian Highway Bridge. Upstream of the bridge Coats Bend makes a sweeping turn to the left.  Go all the way past it to where the next bend starts turning to the right.  A small island sits just off the bank and a small creek enters behind it. This is an excellent place to fish.

     Start just downstream of the cut behind the island and fish upstream, pitching your bait into the ditch and working it out. Cover both points. The downstream point will have current hitting it and turning into the ditch, creating a good feeding eddy. The upstream point has current swirling around it to make the bass feed. There is grass on both points that you should hit hard, but also fish out in front of it.

     Fish upstream a short distance, hitting the cover on the river bank. Fish will feed along it as they move to the mouth of the creek to feed so it is worth checking out.

     6.  N 34 07.637 – W 85 48.102 – Run all the way to the bend where the Weiss Re-Regulation pool empties into the river and stop on the right bank going upstream.  Fish the right bank along the inside bend of the river, starting well downstream of the turn.  Fish up to the turn past the dead snags in the water.

     Along here the current is very strong out in the river but you will actually find water moving upstream from the eddy behind the point.  There are cuts in the bank that create additional eddies and the wood in the water breaks the current, too. 

     Waine got a good keeper spot here on his home made jig and says it is a very good bank.  It is worth hitting every little hole and piece of wood along this bank.  Fish it slowly. With the current eddying around you can fish here fairly easily in both directions.

     7.  N 34 07.217 – W 85 49.057 – Headed back down the river go to the mouth of Ballplay Creek, on your left going downstream.  It is on the straight section of the river about half way before you get to the turn back to the right going downstream. There is a lot of wood in the mouth of this creek, especially under the overhanging tree on the downstream point.

     Waine says it is nasty under that tree and you will probably get hung up, but it is worth it since it holds good bass.  Start fishing just downstream of the creek mouth and work into it, hitting the cove under the tree as you go into the creek. This one is deep enough to fish into the creek about fifty feet then fish back out on the opposite bank. 

     Time of day is not real important but sun seems to help position the bass a little.  We caught more fish while the sun was bright than when it was cloudy. But current is more important than anything else, and Waine will fish this pattern from an hour after first light the rest of the day.

     8.  N 34 06.632 – W 85 51.505 – Going back down the river on the outside slight bend to the right watch for a small building on the left bank. Just downstream of it is a ditch with wooden retaining walls on it. This is the location of an old cotton mill.  You want to fish the right side of the river, across from the ditch.

     Idle in slowly here, especially if the water is down some. Old walls and humps come up to a couple of feet deep about 50 feet off the bank and make eddies in the main river current.  Waine will fish a Bandit 200 shad colored crankbait here as well as a spinnerbait.  You can reel the crankbait down to bump the tops of the cover and run a spinnerbait over it.

     This is a good place to pull in and make a couple of dozen casts to see if the bass are on the structure.  Waine says he will not stay long if he doesn’t get bit quick. Stay out a long cast from the bank and work your baits at an angle, casting toward the bank then coming back downstream. Also fan cast upstream to hit the cover further out. You can see it on your depthfinder.

     9.  N 34 04.074 – W 85 49.733 – Go back down past the big bend and the island in hole 5.  Just before you get to Coats Bend you will see some houses and docks on the right side. If you are headed upstream they are the first docks on the left above the bridge, but a long way from it. 

     Stop in front of the dock with a Rebel Flag with the words “In God We Trust” on it. It is in front of a big unusually shaped house. The house is long and thin running at a 90 degree angle to the river then wide at the end away from the river. There is also a high car unloading area with columns supporting the high roof. It looks like the front of a hotel.

     The three docks from the flag upstream are good ones to fish. Wood washes in and hangs on them, and small diversion walls just upstream of some of them make good eddies at the docks. Fish the posts of the docks and all the wood around and under them, and also make some casts behind the docks between them and the bank, with your jig and pig.

     10.  N 34 01.954 – W 85 50.274 – Running down the river there is a small creek on the left on the outside of Coats Bend.  The creek forks a little way back. It is upstream of the bigger Dry Creek. This smaller creek has a dock on the upstream point that has steel I Beams supporting the deck and a paving stone or wall stone wall on both sides of the walkway coming down to it.

     Fish both points at the mouth of this creek.  Then work on back into the creek, fishing the overhanging brush and wood in the water.  Waine says the water is deep enough here to work all the way back to where the creek widens out on the left fork going in.  He got a keeper spot off the point where the creek splits.

     All these places hold good bass and there are many more creek mouths, inside bends and other kinds of cover to fish in the river. Head to it this summer and get in on the incredible fishing when the current is running.

Where and How to Catch December Neely Henry Bass

December Bass at Neely Henry

with Johnny Osborne

    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 moving.

    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 fishing. 

    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 the month.

    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 with rock.

    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 feeding bass.

    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 his fish.

    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 ramp.

    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 fishing. 

    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.