Category Archives: Map of the Month – Alabama

Where and How To Catch April Bass At Lake Guntersville

April Bass at Lake Guntersville

with Curt Staley

    Most bass fishermen would pick April as the best month of the year for fishing. And most bass fishermen would pick Lake Guntersville as the best bass lake in Alabama for an incredible catch. So, put the two together and pick Guntersville as your lake to fish every chance you get right now.

    Guntersville is an incredible bass fishery with most major tournament trails scheduling events on it each year.  State trails, local pot tournaments and club tournaments are held there every week.  The lake is often covered with tournament fishermen practicing or fishing an event and hundreds of other bass fishermen are on the lake testing its waters.

    Built in 1939 on the Tennessee River, Guntersville is a Tennessee Valley Authority lake with 67,900 acres of bass filled waters and has 890 miles of shoreline.  But the shoreline is not as critical as it is on other lakes since the lake has vast shallow flats and grass beds even in the middle along the old river channel.  Guntersville is definitely a bass factory.

    In the 2008 Bass Information Team Report, (BAIT) Guntersville showed the highest average weight for a bass in tournaments and also was the lake where it took the least amount of time to catch a bass weighing over five pounds. 

    But it can be tough fishing. Guntersville ranked 19th out of 20 lakes in the survey in percent of success and dead last in the number of bass caught per angler day. Part of those low numbers are due to the 15 inch size limit, making it harder to bring in a keeper bass in a tournament.

    So, you have a better chance of catching a five pound plus bass on Guntersville than any other lake in the state but you will not catch a lot of keeper bass. The ones you do catch will be fat and healthy, and the 15 inch size limit insures a good future supply of bigger bass, but there will be frustrating days where the catch rate is very low.

    Good advice will help you catch more bass this month on Guntersville and Curt Staley can provide the information you need.  Curt moved to the Guntersville area as a teenager 16 years ago when his father moved there for a job. Since Curt has been fishing since he was big enough to walk, and his father was a bass tournament fisherman, competing on the old Redman trail as well as others, it was like throwing a rabbit into a briar patch.  It was a perfect fit.

    Curt took advantage of living near the lake and studied it carefully.  For the past ten years he has been guiding on Guntersville as well as fishing as many tournaments there as possible.  He fishes about 290 days a year and 240 of them are on Guntersville, so he knows the movements of bass there very well.

    Last year Curt placed second in the BASS Weekend Series Alabama North circuit, after winning the points race in 2008 on that trail.  He placed third in the regionals and then came in 18th in the nationals in 2008 and 9th in 2009.  Curt is on the Triton Pro Staff through The Boat House in Athens and is a tough competitor, and Guntersville is his favorite lake.

    “Our major spawn on Guntersville is in mid-April, but waves of bass move into the spawning flats from late March to May,” Curt said.  He expects to catch bass shallow from now through April, and will catch prespawn fish, fish on the beds and post spawn fish.

    One great thing about Guntersville is the way you can find huge spawning flats that may contain hundreds of bass at any time this month.  You can start on the contact points where the prespawn fish first move in and where they hold in post spawn, and go just a short distance and find others on the bed.

    Curt fishes shallow this time of year, fishing water two to six feet deep. But he slows down.  Curt says the bass are less aggressive now, especially the bigger ones, so gone are the rattle baits and other fast moving baits. He will have a split shot Baby Brush Hog, a Senko, and a Lil Hustler jig and Zoom Craw rigged up for catching fish now.

    Curt does not look for bass on the bed to sight fish for them but will cast to them if he spots a big female.  His methods catch bedding bass but it is often hard to spot the beds on Guntersville so he fishes the bedding flats knowing he will drag his bait across beds.

    He will also watch for light spots that indicate a hole in the grass on them, It might be a bed, it might be a stump, or it might just be a hole in the grass where the bottom is hard, but bass will be there no matter what caused it.

    On a cold, windy day the last weekend in February Curt showed me some of his best spots on the lake for April bass. The bass were still in the winter pattern but a few were trying to move up to the pre spawn areas even that early.  Check out these ten spots now, they all be loaded with fish.

    If you put in at the ramp across from Waterfront Grocery and Fishing Tackle you will be in the middle of all these spots and can get everything you need from tackle to grub at the store. The day we put in there were several tournaments out of this ramp and both parking lots were full, but a trailer set up there provided some fantastic BBQ for hungry fishermen.

    1.  N 34 31,513 – W 86 09.825 – Run up to Preston Creek and stop at the middle point between the two forks. It is a steep point with riprap around it and nice houses on the hill.  Curt likes to start on the point where the rock seawall ends and the riprap starts and work to the right, toward the fork of the creek with the small island in the mouth of it.

    “Bass move into this creek by the thousands to spawn,” Curt said.  They will hit this main point and the island then move on back on both forks to spawn.  After the spawn they move back out to the point and island on the way back to deeper water, so you can catch them coming and going off the point and island and on the beds back in the shallow flats.

    Keep your boat out in about ten feet of water and work a jig and pig, Senko or Baby Brush Hog on the rocks around the point. Concentrate on the areas where there are bigger rocks and also the wood cover.  Fish around the docks carefully, bass often hold on them. Jump over to the island and fish around it, too, working the shallows where there are rocks and blowdowns.

    After hitting these areas work on into the back of the creek, slowly working each of your baits along the bottom, dragging them through the beds that will be there even if you don’t see them. The bass will bed all over the right fork in two to six feet of water so don’t just cast to the bank, work the whole flat in those depths.

    2.  N 34 30.756 – W 86 08.419 – Across the lake you will see a line of islands across the mouth of a big slough. There is a church in the back so this is called Church House Slough and it a major spawning area.  The bass will hold around the islands then move back into the slough to bed.

    Start out in front of the islands and work them, fishing through the grass beds with one of your slower moving baits for bigger bass. We got a good keeper here the day we fished and bass will feed around the islands year round, so it is a good spot to hit.

    Work on back into the slough, fishing slowly and looking for light spots in the grass in two to six feet of water.  If you cast and hit a stump, work it hard.  Hit it from all anglers. Curt says he is sure there is at least one bass beside every stump this time or year so he does everything he can to make it hit.

    It is not unusual to catch more than one bass off a stump, too. Curt says he often takes three or four good fish off the same stump, so don’t move too fast.  Give the bass a chance to bite. Remember that these bass tend to get sluggish near the spawn, so even if they are holding in the same areas where a rattle bait worked a few weeks ago you will do better now by slowing down.

    3.  N 34 29.293 – W 86 09.654 – Head down the lake to the next big slough on your left.  Curt says this is Murphy Hill and it is just downstream of a big island. There is a small island in the mouth of Murphy Hill.

    The downsream point of this slough has some rocks and as you go into the slough on that side there are a lot of blowdowns on the right bank back in the slough.  Bass often hold in the wood cover to feed both pre and post spawn and will spawn around the trees, too.

    All over the cove in the middle you will see lily pad stems sticking up and bass will feed and spawn around them, too. Work all around these shallow flats, probing for stumps and casting to light spots. Fan cast the whole area to drag your bait by a bedding bass.

    Curt says one of his tricks it to rig the Baby Brush Hog on a split shot rig. He crimps two small split shots about 12 inches up the line from his bait and fishes it slowly over the flats. He says the split shot rig seems to catch more bass than either Texas or Carolina rigged baits. The light shot come through the grass and also makes you slow down.

    4.  N 34 29.019 – W 86 10.576 – Run downstream and you will pass two riprap points that run well off the bank. Past the second one a slough will open up on your left just past a duck blind on the point.  Go into the slough and start fishing just inside the duckblind.

    Curt said last year he and a partner fished this slough for three hours and landed 65 bass in April.  That gives you an idea of the numbers of fish that can be spawning in these coves.  This one has a little deeper water in it that some others and seems to attract bigger bass.

    One of the reasons Curt likes this slough so much is he landed his best Guntersville bass here. He caught a 12 pound, 4 ounce beauty here in April and released it to spawn, and possibly be caught again.

    As you fish this slough work both arms of it. As you round the middle flat point with another duck blind on it, you will see a refrigerator on the bank, which will tell you this is the right area to be working.  There are also some blowdowns on the bank past it toward the river that hold fish.

    5.  N 34 28.172 – W 86 11.321 – A little further downstream a string of islands sits out from Mountain Lakes Resorts and you want to fish around them.  Go in behind the first island, the one out from the campground, and fish the back side of it up to the firs gap. Work the gap, especially if some wind is blowing through it. Wind will move the baitfish through gaps like this and bass will follow to feed on them.

    Fish the front side of the next island and work it carefully. Wind blowing in on this bank will improve the fishing it is not too strong.  Keep your boat well off the band make long casts, probing for underwater cover like rocks.

    Behind the islands look for shallow flat points running out and you will find bass spawning on them.  Fan cast all over shallows you find here.  Stumps hold bass here as in other places.

    Curt likes to fish his Lil Hustler jig on 17 to 20 pound fluorocarbon line and uses 15 pound fluorocarbon on his split shot Baby Brush Hog and Senko. The heavier line is necessary for the big fish you will hook and the grass they can get into.  But the clearer line helps you get more bites.

    6.  N 34 33.605 – W 86 07.947 – Head back up the river on the other side to the first opening into Mink Creek.  There are several islands across the mouth of the creek and the main channel is upstream, but go in through the first gap you come to running upstream.

    Ahead of you when you come through the gap you will see a shallow flat point with a two door beige boat house to the left of it.  Out on the end of the point there are several stumps and rootballs piled up on the bank right at the water’s edge.

    There are lots of shallow flat points covered with stumps in this area.  Curt starts at the boathouse, fishing around it then working out onto the big flat point.  Work all around it, staying way out on one pass then closer in on the next. Try to cover all the water two to six feet deep in the area.

    There are some incredible five-fish limits caught at Guntersville each April.  Curt’s best was five weighing 27 pounds, nine ounces and he sees 30 pound plus limits in many tournaments.  Fishing areas like this are where many such limits are caught.

    7.  N 34 34.644 – W 86 07.255 – Go to the bridge and under the tunnel in Mink Creek and start fishing the riprap on your right. Work it to the bank, crawling your jig and pig along the rocks and grass in this area. The riprap holds both pre and post spawn fish.

    When you get to the bank fish across the mouth of the small inlet and up the bank past the area where people fish from the bank. Further up the bank you will see an old boat filled with tires in the shallow water. Fish past it, working the grass. Curt got two nice keepers here on his jig and pig and a smaller keeper on a rattle bait the day we fished.

    Toward the bank of the creek you will see a power line crossing and on the right bank there is a sign about dredging.  If you head toward the sign, as a 90 degree angle to the power lines, you will find a spring.  You can see it by the green water coming out of it.  The bottom around it is two to four feet deep but it drops to 15 feet in the spring. 

    The GPS coordinates on the spring are N 34 34.885 – W 86 07.335.  Fish all around the spring.  Fish often hold in the deep hole and feed on the edges, and the water coming out is a stable temperature.

    After fishing this hole ease toward the power lines there is another hole that drops to over 20 feet deep. There is no water flow here to see but fish still hold in the deep water and come to the edges to feed. The holes are just a few yards across so you may have to look hard to find them.

    8. N 34 32.266 – W 86 06.314 – Run across to South Sauty Creek and go in between the upstream bank and the first island. The main channel is downstream and there will be big open water to your right past the island.

    Ahead of you there is a group of houses then banks with trees and some pockets with reeds in the back.  Curt starts fishing on the clay point on the left  across from the last house and works around the point, then across the big flat. Fish into the pockets with reeds in the back. Bass bed all over these flats and in the pockets between the clay point and the houses.

    If the water is fairly clear Curt likes a watermelon, watermelon/purple flake and watermelon candy Baby Brush hog on his split shot rig. He will use a black and blue jig in stained water but go to a watermelon jig and trailer in clear water. For his Senko fishing Curt usually uses green pumpkin or black.

    9.  N 34 31.723 – W 86 06.573 – Out in the middle of the big open water the creek channel makes a sharp bend around a four foot deep hump and bass hold on the channel and feed on the hump, and will bed around it, too.  To find the hump line up the last downstream island out in the mouth of the creek with the red boat house on the far bank.  Also look to the bridge and line it up with the last upstream gap in the islands. That will put you near the hump.

    Fish all around this area, watching your depthfinder until you find the shallow hump. Then work around it, fishing the edges of the channel and on top of the hump, too.  This area is especially good when water is being pulled at the dam and current moves across it.

    10.  N 34 31.154 – W 86 05.252 – Run to the bridge in South Sauty Creek and go under it. To your left you will see a campground on a big point across from a big two story house sitting by itself on a flat bank. Go toward the front of the house and look for a seawall just to the right of it, going into the big cove there.  There are two big trees standing in the open behind the seawall.

    The seawall is hard to see but you need to start fishing out in front of it and work all the way around the cover to your right.   Fish to the big shallow point on the other side of the cove. Bass will hold on the points and bed all over this shallow area.

    These ten spots will give you a starting point for catching April Guntersville bass. Fish them and get an idea of the kinds of places Curt likes to fish, then you can find similar places all over the lake, from the day all the way up the river.  Get in on some of the fabled spring fishing at Guntersville right now.

    To book a trip with Curt to see how he fishes the lake call him at 256-990-0376 or visit his website and email him through it at 

Where and How To Catch March Bass at Lake Tuscaloosa, with GPS Coordinates

March Bass at Tuscaloosa with Brandon Ligon

     March is a magical month when the world seems to be waking up after a long winter nap. Signs of spring are slowly emerging as the days get longer and warmer. And best of all, bass are becoming more and more active and getting easier to catch.  Lake Tuscaloosa, a nice surprise in a small package, is a great place to take advantage of those active bass right now.

     Lake Tuscaloosa is five miles north of the cities of Northport and Tuscaloosa and covers 5885 acres with 177 miles of shoreline.  It was created at a water supply reservoir for Tuscaloosa and Northport by damming the North River in 1971.

     The lower lake has steep rocky shorelines and the water is usually extremely clear.  All the rain this year has put a little stain in it, making it a little easier to catch the spots that predominate in that area. 

     The upper lake is more river-like and the water is usually a little stained and more fertile than the lower lake.  You can catch more largemouth the further up the river you go, and you will find more shallow water cover to fish.

     Although there were only five tournaments sent in from there, the Bass Angler Information Team survey shows Tuscaloosa as the second highest lake in the state as far as angler percent success, so you can catch a lot of bass there.  In tournaments it ranks first in bass per angler day of all Alabama lakes in the survey, so catching large numbers of bass is not a problem on the lake.

     But the bass tend to be small, with an average bass caught in a tournament weighing only 1.47 pounds, 16th of the 20 lakes in the survey.  Just over half the bass weighed in are largemouth but that is skewed by the fact tournament fishermen target the heavier largemouth and cull spots with largemouth.

     It may surprise many anglers that it takes less time to catch a bass weighing over five pounds in a tournament on Tuscaloosa than many other more well known lakes.  Tuscaloosa ranks above Lay Lake, Weiss, Logan Martin, Jordan and several other lakes in the amount of hours an angler has to fish to catch a five pound plus bass.

     If you go to Tuscaloosa expect to catch a lot of small spots and largemouth, but if you target bigger largemouth you can catch a five pound plus bass.  For those reasons Tuscaloosa ranks fifth in the state in the overall value ranking on the BAIT survey.

     Brandon Ligon grew up just five minutes from Lake Tuscaloosa and still lives there. He considers Tuscaloosa his home lake and has fished it all his life, making many trips there when very young with his father.  He has become an accomplished tournament fisherman and does well in pot and charity tournaments on the lake. 

     For years Brandon would fish Tuscaloosa several times each week, hitting it after school and at night, and fishing all the local tournaments on it. He keeps up with the bass there and knows where to find them.

     After fishing a few tournaments with the West Alabama Bass Club Brandon started concentrating on pot tournaments on other lakes, too. He became a member of the Grammer Marine Fishing Team and fishes many local tournaments and trails. Last year he slowed down some while he built a house, but the year before he won the Woods and Waters Solo Trail point standings and has done well in many other tournaments on Tuscaloosa.

     A five fish limit over 16 pounds is Brandon’s best weigh-in at Tuscaloosa and he has landed a five pound plus spot and a couple of seven pound largemouth from the lake.  He says a 15 pound five-fish limit is a good catch here and most limits will weigh less than ten pounds since most will be small spots. 

     “In late February the bass here start the transition from deep water toward the spawning areas,” Brandon said.  The bass move up shallower on points and into the first parts of the creeks. Warm days make them move up more but a cold spell can move them back, so they tend to hold near deep water.

     As the days get warmer into March this movement becomes more pronounced and greater numbers of bass can be found shallow. By the end of the month you will catch more bass but they will still be in the same areas, feeding and getting ready for the spawn.

     There are grass beds all over the lake and they are a prime feeding area for bass, even before its starts greening up and growing. Baitfish are attracted to the old brown grass to feed and bass follow. As the grass puts out new growth it just gets better.

     Rocks are common and rocky points and bluff banks hold bass year round. They move up toward the points at the ends of bluff banks and then up onto the shallow areas of the points as they make their seasonal migration.  And wood cover like blowdowns, stumps and logs hold them on those points and other shallow areas.

     A variety of baits will catch bass right now and Brandon will have several rigged and ready.  A crankbait like a Bandit 200 or 300 series works well on the points, especially early in the morning.   In the clear lower lake Brandon will throw a natural color but switches to chartreuse in the stained water.

     In late February and early March a jerk bait will often pay off in the clear water, too. Brandon likes a Rogue but says your favorite jerk bait will catch fish, so use the one you have the most confidence in.  Rattlebaits like a half-ounce Rat-L-Trap or an XR 50 also catch a lot of fish this time of year.

     For slower fishing Brandon says a Carolina rig is hard to beat and will catch a lot of spots on the lake.  He likes a Zoom Finesse worm or small lizard in watermelon, green pumpkin or pumpkin in the clear water or something with chartreuse in it if the water is stained.  He also throws a small worm on a shaky head a lot on the lower lake and says spots love it.

     For a kicker fish up the lake, Brandon will use a jig and pig and flip or pitch it around heavy cover for largemouth.  Since the water is usually stained a black and blue combination of jig and trailer usually works well.

     Brandon showed me around Lake Tuscaloosa a couple of weeks ago on a cold, sunny day.  We hit the following ten spots and fish were on several of them and more will move onto them now.

     1. N 33 17.493 – W 87 30.671 – If you put in at the dam run up to the first bend to your left and  you will see the North River Yacht Club back in a cove on your right.  The up stream point of this cove runs way out and is very shallow on top, only five feet deep 50 yards off the bank. It is a perfect place for bass to move up to feed this time of year since it runs out to very deep water, is shallow on top and leads into a good spawning cove.

     You will see some picnic tables on the bank on the point and there is a dock on the upstream side of it where it transitions into a bluff bank. The dock had a rusty tin roof on it.  The water near the bank in shallow but it drops  off very deep on both sides out on the point.  

     Brandon says you can catch a thousand small spots here on any day but he got a nice two pound plus spot here the day we fished. It hit his Bandit crankbait and Brandon said he would love to have a limit of them in the tournament he was fishing the next weekend.

     Start well off the point and work all the way around it, casting a crankbait over the shallow water and covering it at all angles. Then go back over it with a jig head or Carolina rigged worm. Work from shallow to deep then try deep to shallow.

     Before you leave fish up the bluff bank, casting a jerk bait near the rock wall and working it back to the boat. Bass will often hold along this bluff bank and this pattern will often catch fish on all the bluff banks on the lake, but the ones that end in a shallow point near a spawning cove are better this time of year.

     2. N 33 18.696 – W 87 31.787 – Running up the river it makes a big sharp bend back to your left. If you go straight ahead and a little to your left you will see a green boathouse with two white doors on the water and a green house on the bank ahead of you. Just upstream is a nice brick house on the bank. Start fishing at the green dock and fish toward the point to your left.

     The bottom here is clay and sand but there are good grass beds in the shallows that attract baitfish and bass.  Brandon says spots will pull up to the edge of the grass to feed and largemouth will get back in the grass and feed, especially on a warm sunny day. The sun hits this bank all day long, warming the water.

     Fish a crankbait or rattlebait along the edges of the grass then work a worm or jig through the grass, hitting holes and pocket in it.   Fish all the way out to the point and a little ways around it, as long as there is grass to fish.

     3.  N 33 20.051 – W 87 32.490 – Run upstream past the two creeks that enter the lake, one on each side, and slow down just before the river makes a hard left turn.  Downstream of the point on your left you will see a cove with a no wake buoy in it and a dock with a big “Private No Trespassing” sign on it. There is a gazebo on the flat area of the point and a boat ramp on the bank, too.

     Start fishing upstream of this cove, near the point. There is a lot of grass here to fish and you will see a metal post in the water near the point. Fish the shallow grass to the point then work out from the bank, following the point.  It drops off fast on the upstream side so cover the drop, then work back to the bank and hit the grass there, too. It does not run too far up that bank and it turns into a bluff bank rock wall.     

     This point is a good example of the type place Brandon likes to fish from both directions. He says sometimes Tuscaloosa bass will orient one way or the other and want a bait coming shallow to deep or deep to shallow.  It is not because of current since there is seldom a current here.  But you need to try all directions and let the bass let you know what they want that day.

     4.  N 33 21.318 – W 87 33.024 – Run up the river to the Highway 69 Bridge and go to the small creek just downstream of it on your right. There is a bluff bank on the last point on the upstream side of the creek and a roadbed comes out off a bank across a small cove from the bluff bank. The roadbed has a danger buoy on it and there is a dock on the bluff bank side.

     The road bed runs out shallow from the bank where a barricade has been put up and there is a stop sign there.  After the road crosses the cove it runs along the bluff bank, making a shelf off it.  The roadbed holds bass from the bluff bank all the way to where it comes out of the water.

     Fish from the end of the bluff bank across the cove and out on the shallow area around the danger marker with a jig head worm of small jig and pig like a Bitsy Bug rigged with a small chunk.  Green pumpkin and brown colors are best. Work your bait along the bottom of the whole area. Brandon says a these baits are the most effective way to fish this spot.

     5. N 33 21.326 – W 37 36.184 – Further up the river the Tierce Patton Road bridge has a long causeway on the right side going upstream.  Brandon says if he had to catch a bass on the lake this would be where he would go. Riprap on bridges is almost perfect cover and structure and bass hold and feed on it.  There is deep water off the rocks on both sides and the sun warms the rocks, attracting baitfish and bass this time of year.

     Keep your boat out from the rocks and cast to them. Brandon says he has tried paralleling the rocks, but there is a good bit of wood cover out from them so it is best to make cast that cover the water from the rocks out to the boat well off them.   There is also grass along parts of the rocks to fish. Fish both sides of the riprap like this.

     Brandon will start with a crankbait and fish it on both sides of the bridge then work the area with a jig head worm or small jig and pig for less active bass.  Some tournament fishermen work this riprap all day, knowing the bass will bite at some time.

     6.  N 33 21.469 – W 87 36.286 – Just upstream of the bridge is a creek on your left.  The upstream point of this creek has an A-Frame house with a red metal roof on it and there is a cut rock seawall running around the point. There is a little pocket just upstream of this seawall where is ends and a dock is in the pocket. The upstream point of the pocket is a block seawall and is rocky.

     Brandon will start in front of the A-Frame house and fish a jerk bait up to the next point, casting it right to the seawall and working it back. He will also cover the area with a crankbait and jig head worm. We caught one keeper spot here when we fished and missed a couple of hits so they are already holding on this point.  Brandon will hit it quick to see if they are feeding then move on.

     7.  N 33 22.069 – W 87 35.313 – A little further up the river opens up and makes a bend to your left. There is a big flat point on your left at the bend and it has four danger markers on it. The point runs way out, forming an underwater island, and has some big stumps on it that hold bass. We got one keeper here when we fished and missed several bites.

     Back well off the danger markers and make long casts up onto the top of the point and island.  Fish the edges of it all the way around the area, probing for the stumps. When you hit one make repeated casts to it.  Use all your baits. Brandon says crankbaits, Carolina rigs, and shaky heads all catch fish here. The bass hold here year-round and move up into the shallows in the early spring.

     8.  N 33 22.821 – W 87 35.323 – Across the open water to the right you will see two big islands. The river channel swings around them to the right on the upstream side of them.  There is a channel between them but Brandon says it is full of stumps so don’t try to run it. You can go between the bank and the island closest to it, but you want to fish that island, and you need to fish all around it.

     The upstream side of the second island going up is sometimes is a little better and that is where we took the GPS reading, but Brandon will fish all the way around this island, working his jig and crankbait on all the little points and pockets, and fishing the grassbeds and wood cover hard.  

     This is a big area and you can stay on it all day, going round and round and catching bass. Fish will move into the cover and start feeding all day long so you can keep working it and keep catching fish in the spring.

     9.  N 33 23.264 – W 87 34.682 – Go up across the big open water toward where the river comes in and you will see a sail boat club back on your left in a cove right where the lake narrows down.  From that cove upstream there is a flat bank on your left to the next small pocket.  There is a lot of wood and grass to fish along this bank.

     Start on either end and fish the whole bank. Wind may make it easier to fish it going one way or the other, and wind sometimes helps when it blows on grassbeds like you will find here.  Fish the whole bank with a crankbait and a jig and pig. This is a good area to catch largemouth.

      10. N 33 24.088 – W 87 34.826 – Run up above the Highway 69 Bridge and the river will stay to your left. To your right is a creek coming in and you want to go into the mouth of it. A point on ahead of you where two arms split has a “Swimming Water Quality” sign on it that was green the day we were there, but the color can change.

     Start near the sign and work all around the island it is on. There are lots of logs and blowdowns to fish here and this is the kind of area Brandon would look for a kicker fish. Flip or pitch your jig and pig to each piece of cover and work it hard. Also fish the grass beds, working points and dips in them, as well as fishing back in them.

     These places will show you the kind of spots Brandon catches late February and March bass on Tuscaloosa, and the way he fishes them. There are many other good spots on the lake you can find if you check these out and then look for similar places. You will catch a lot of bass, and there could well be a five pounder in the mix.

Where and How To Catch February Bass at Coffeeville Lake with GPS Coordinates

February Bass at Coffeeville

with Tom Abate

    With the severe cold weather we have been having this winter it is hard to think about bass fishing.  But there are some things you can do to improve your odds and be a little more comfortable, too. You can go south, and you can fish a lake with extensive shallow backwaters that warm from the sun. Coffeeville on the Tombigbee River offers both.

    Coffeeville was created by a lock and dam on the Tombigbee River and contains 8500 acres of water stretching over 97 miles upstream to the Demopolis Dam.  It is mostly river channel with a few big creeks and many small sloughs and creeks off the river.  These creeks and sloughs are full of cover ranging from docks to cypress trees.

    Tom Abate is the police chief of Gilbertown and lives just a few miles from the lake.  Although he has lived in the area for many years, he did not get into bass tournament fishing until three years ago. Charles Owen, one of his council members, invited Tom to fish a tournament and he was hooked.

    Saying he is the biggest fish Charles ever hooked, Tom told me how he went into bass fishing in a big way, selling his hunting guns and buying a bass boat.  He joined the Gilbertown Bass Club with Charles and fishes as many tournaments on area lakes as he can.  Charles and Jerry Roberts both taught Tom a lot about bass fishing and he has been very successful.

    Tom is now the president of the Gilbertown Bass Club and they put on a series of charity tournaments as well as fishing club tournaments each year.  They are the closest club to Coffeeville Lake and fish it a lot.

    One day a week Tom works at A & D Sports in Gilbertown, selling fishing supplies.  He gets to talk to a lot of area fishermen at the store and keeps up with what the bass are doing through work as well as through his bass club.

    Tom says the pattern for bass in February is very simple on Coffeeville.  If the water is colder than 52 degrees the bass will hold at the mouth of creeks and sloughs in deep water.  They will be on cover from eight to 20 feet deep.   If it warms a little they will move into the sloughs and creeks to feed around cover, but they usually won’t stay long until later in the year.

    You don’t need a lot of rods and reels on your deck right now on Coffeeville.  Tom will have a deep running crankbait for fishing the deep creek mouths and a shallow running crankbait for fishing around the cover back in the sloughs.  A Bandit in different sizes works well for both, and he likes the baby bass colors in clearer water and a brighter bait if the water is stained.

    A Carolina rigged creature bait or a jig and pig with a Paca Craw trailer both work well when fished on the shelves and drops at the mouths of creeks.  Both can be worked slowly through cover  where the bass hold in cold water.  Back in the shallow water Tom likes a big lizard Texas rigged to work around the cover.

    Tom and I fished on a miserably cold day in early January to look at the holes and find out what the bass were doing. The water was unusually cold, showing 47 on the river and only 44 back in the sloughs, but Tom still managed to catch a couple of keeper bass.  Fishing should be much better now if we have a few warm, sunny days.

    Check out the following ten spots. They will get better and better as the month progresses and the water warms.  And you can find many more similar places, especially up the river, but these are all fairly close together so you won’t have to make long runs.

    1. N 31 51.675 – W 88 09.737 – If you put in at Lenoir Landing you will be right in the middle of the places to check, and the first one you can idle to. Go into Tallawampa Creek to where it opens up into a big lake area. Locals call this 30-Acre Lake and there are some grass covered islands to your right, between the creek channel and the river channel.

    Work the outside edges of the islands with a shallow running crankbait and a Texas rigged lizard.  Concentrate on areas where the creek channel swings in closes to the bank and work the little cuts, dips and points in the grass.  You should be fishing areas where there is five feet of water just off the bank.

    Also fish the creek channel from the lake area down to the ramp.  There are some good blowdowns and stumps in the area to work with a lizard or crankbait. Fish will hold in them as they move up and down the creek with the warming water.

    2.  N 31 51.502 – W 88 29.155 – Go out to the river and head upstream.  Watch for old dock pilings on the river and iron frames back off the bank a little ways. This was an old oil dock and the small opening upstream of it goes back into a big three finger lake area called Oil Dock Slough. 

    Stop out at the mouth of the slough and fish  your crankbait around the cover here.  The floods this past year moved a lot of the wood cover away but some has washed back in and bass will hold on it. Fish any trees coming off the bank but also work any brush or logs out in the river down to about 20 feet. 

    Make long casts with your crankbait to get it down as deep as possible.  Try to bump the cover with your crankbait. Then drag your Carolina rigged creature bait across the same cover, pausing it when your lead hits the wood. 

    If it has been sunny for several days it is worth your effort to get back into the slough and fish the shallow cover there. This time of year the bass are more likely to be near the mouth of the slough where they can run back to deeper water quickly.

    3.  N 31 52.009 – W 88 08.418 – Headed upstream, watch for a house on the right on the river then houses back in a slough off the river. You can see a good many of them from the river itself.  They are in Little Grove Hill Slough, a big lake off the river.

    Stop at the entrance to the slough and fish around it with your crankbait and creature bait. Go into the slough and fish the docks and shallow water cover it the water is warming. The water back in here is very shallow so it warms fast, but bass will not usually move long distances in very shallow water this early, so the best areas to fish are closer to the river.

    4.  N 31 53.071 – W 88 08.111 – Running upstream you will see a dock and house on your left at the mouth of Suck Branch. There is riprap and rock around the mouth of this creek to fish with your crankbait and wood cover out off the bank to fish with both the crankbait and creature bait.

    Current can make a big difference when fishing these creek and slough mouths.  There will usually be some current moving but the bass will often turn on when the lock downstream operates.  Since there is no schedule for this, be ready to take advantage when it does turn on.

    Keep your boat downstream and cast up the current, working your bait back with the current. Concentrate on areas where an eddy forms and brings baitfish to the bass.  Fish fast when the current is fast since the bass will be more active. A crankbait is usually the best bet when current is flowing.

    In slack current, slowly work your plastic bait through the cover in deeper water.  The bass will move back deep when the current slacks off and are less active to you have to slow down to get them to hit.

    5.  N 31 54.394 – W 88 07.688 – Run upstream and watch for green channel marker 130.2 on a tree. Just downstream of this marker is the entrance to Coppersaw Slough.  The mouth of it has good wood cover and a drop to fish. 

    Watch your depthfinder to locate fish and cover. The current will move wood in and out of the area and reposition it, so you need to keep up with it.  You will see a lot of fish near the bottom but they may be anything, from catfish to drum, so key on baitfish with fish under them to improve the chances they are bass.

    Before you leave go back into the slough and fish the grass and wood cover in it, too. There is a house back in it sitting on a high hill and the water had good depth going back to it. Work all around the slough with your shallow baits.

    6.  N 31 50.622 – W 88 09.625 – Head downstream from Lenoir Landing and you will see a pipeline crossing with warning signs on both sides of the river.  Just downstream of it on the right is a gas terminal for barges. The opening to the Blue Hole is on your left going downstream, across from it.

    This opening is hard to spot going downstream since it angles off upstream and is not big. And you can’t see much of it back off the river channel. It does open up back in the woods. There is a while pole in the water just downstream of the mouth if it that will help you find it.

    Work around the mouth of this slough like the others.  Try fishing both directions.  Start with your boat in deeper water and fish from shallow to deep, then move in closer to the bank and cast out, working your baits from deep to shallow. Try both directions here and on other spots to see what the bass want.

    7.  N 31 50.174 – W 88 10.002 – Further downstream on your right going downstream is Alligator Slough and Duck Pond Landing.  As you go into this creek there is a boat landing on your left.  It then opens up into a big lake area full of cypress trees. 

    One of the key things Tom looks for this time of year is clear water. If the river is muddy you can sometimes find clearer water back in the sloughs, and bass will often hold near the transition between clear and muddy.  This slough is almost always has clear water back in it and is a good one to fish when the river is muddy.

    Work all the cypress trees going back into the slough. Keep your boat in the deeper water and fish the trees near it first.  Keep going back as long as you are getting bites, and try more shallow water when you find a school of bass. When you catch one you are likely to catch more. The day we fished Tom caught two bass here almost back to back.

    8.  N 31 49.390 – W 88 10.856 – Downstream on your right is the mouth of Okatutta Creek.  This is one of the bigger creek area on the lake and it runs way back off the river. But before going into the creek idle around at the mouth of it. There is shelf well off the bank that comes up from 40 feet in the river channel to 12 feet on top, then drops back off at you go to the mouth of the creek. It will come right back up to four to five feet deep right at the mouth of the creek.

    Fish this shelf with your crankbait and Carolina rig. Work it from different angles and probe for cove on it. Tom said the biggest bass he has seen in a tournament on Coffeeville, one over eight pounds, was caught here on a crankbait.

    9.  N 31 49.691 – W 88 10.860 – Go back into the creek and watch for a riprap point on your right at the mouth of Judy’s Slough.  This big creek has many smaller creeks entering it and you should fish them just like the creek mouths on the river itself.   Judy’s Slough is one of the biggest and there is a deep hole at the mouth of it. It is on the outside bend of the creek, too, making it even better.

    Work all around the mouth of the slough, fishing both sides at different angles with crankbait and Carolina rig.  Work into the slough, covering any trees lying in the water.  Tom says this creek is a good place to catch spotted bass.

    There are several more similar sloughs on up the creek and you can work them all. If you catch fish in a certain way on one, fish the others in the same way. Bass will often be on a similar pattern on several of the sloughs. You can fish always up to the Barrytown Road Bridge.

    10. N 31 47.371 – W 88 10.020 – Turkey Creek is downstream on your right and is a big creek with lots of arms to fish on it. It was the most popular place to fish for bass for a long time.  Big grass mats offered bass a good hiding and feeding places but there is not as much grass now.

    Fish back in the arms of the creek, working any cover you find. If you find some grass mats work them carefully.  Tom will switch to braid line around the grass but uses Trilene 100 Percent Fluorocarbon line the rest of the time.  Try a white jig with a white Paca Craw trailer round any grass you fish.

    Check out these spots and look for others. Bass fishing in February can be tough anywhere you fish but Coffeeville offers several options to make your fishing better.

Where and How To Catch January Bass at Jordan Lake, with GPS Coordinates

January Bass at Jordan

with Greg Vinson

    January weather often drives bass fishermen indoors since watching others catch fish on TV is much warmer than fighting the cold in a bass boat. But wise bass fishermen are out on Jordan Lake fighting big spots this month.  Jordan is an excellent place to catch some quality fish right now.

    Jordan is a 6800 acre Alabama Power lake on the Coosa River 25 miles north of Montgomery.  It backs up to the Mitchell Lake dam and connects to Lake Bouldin with a short canal.  Jordan was built in 1928 and Bouldin added in 1967.  Bouldin is a better largemouth lake but the big spots live in both and are the target of most bass fishermen this time of year.

    Coosa River lakes are known for big spotted bass and Jordan is one of the best for them.  Its has many steep rocky banks and points that are favorite structure for spots this time of year and the current that usually moves through the lake make them feed more, even in the colder water.

    Greg Vinson grew up in the area and has been bass fishing all his life. He fished many tournaments with his father and joined the Kowaliga Bassmasters bass club in Tallassee as soon as he was old enough to be a member. His first full year in the club he won the point standings.

    For several years Greg fished local tournaments and did well.  In 2004 he made the state team and qualified for the Southern Regional Bassmasters Tournament. There he was the top fisherman on the Alabama team and made the national championship. That really fired him up to fish bigger tournaments.

    In his first BFL tournament ever, he won on Lake Martin in 2005.  That year he finished 4th overall in the points standings and qualified for the Stren series, where he was the top rookie.  He made the top ten in that series the next two years and that was his introduction to professional bass fishing.

    Although he had a good job he decided to go for it and fish professionally in 2006.  In 2008 he qualified for the Bassmasters Elite Series through the Southern Opens and was the fourth place rookie on that top trail last year.  He will be fishing the Elite series again this year.

    Skeeter Boats and Yamaha Motors are two of Greg’s major sponsors on the Elite trail and he is also sponsored by Davis Baits jigs and spinnerbaits and NetBait plastics.

    Greg writes a fishing column for Lake Martin Magazine and co-hosts the Sportz Blitz TV show with Brent Pritchard on Charter Network Channel 80.  You can see that show on Sundays from four to five PM and on Saturdays from eight to nine AM.  Although he grew up on Lake Martin and still fishes it, he considers Jordan his home lake and spends a lot of time on it.

    Greg says spots are easy to pattern on Jordan in January. They are holding on main lake and major creek points and banks with easy access to deep water. Although they have not started to move to a pre spawn pattern, they are feeding heavily on baitfish getting and can be caught on a variety of lures.

    A variety of baits will catch those spots and Greg relies on a Davis jig, X Wire spinnerbait and Shakey Head jig head.  He rigs a NetBait T-Mac or finesse worm on the Shakey Head and puts a three inch NetBait twintail trailer on his jig.  He says the twin tails give a little more action and resemble swimming shad, and he often dyes the tips of the tails chartreuse, a color Greg says drives spots crazy.

    A Bandit 300, Bomber Fat Free Shad or Norman Deep Little N are his choices in crankbaits and Greg starts off with a shad color but also goes to a chartreuse bait, especially if the water is stained.  Each of those crankbaits have a little different action and Greg tries to offer each to the bass until he finds what is working best that day.

    A jerk bait will sometimes pay off in the cold waters but it has to be worked slowly. Greg says he will let his Pointer 78 sit still for up to ten seconds between jerks, giving the sluggish bass time to hit it.

    On some spots a Davis X Wire spinner bait with one willow leaf and one Colorado blade imitate the shad and slow rolling one right on the bottom can be the best tactic to use. 

    A Carolina rig will catch bass on Jordan, too, and Greg sometimes uses a finesse worm on one but he keys on bigger rocks this time of year. A Carolina rig is harder to work through the chunk to boulder size rocks he fishes but if the wind is strong it may be needed to keep your bait on the bottom. 

    Try all these baits on the following ten spots Greg showed me in early December.  They will hold bass now and the bass will feed on them some time during the day.

    1. N 32 35.670 – W 86 17.253 – If you go into Lake Bolton and head toward the dam you will see a point on either side with big signs on them.  This is an old dam built so they could work on the main dam and when it was taken out a lot of rubble was left on the bottom.  It narrows the lake down above the dam so there is a strong current here is there is any power generation.

    Greg says he catches fish anywhere on this rubble field that stretches across the lake between the danger signs, but he likes to start on the left side facing the dam and works across it.  He positions his boat so he can throw up the current and work his baits back with the flow of water in a natural action.

    On this spot Greg starts with his jig and pig and tries to find “seams” in the current. What he is looking for is a break in the current caused by a big rock under the water.  He throws his jig upstream and lets the current wash it down into the eddies at the seams. That is where the bass hold, waiting on food.

    This is also one of Greg’s favorite places to throw a Davis X Wire spinnerbait. He ties on a bait with a silver willowleaf and gold Colorado blade and a glimmer blue skirt and cast it upstream. After letting it fall to the bottom he fishes it very slowly, almost like a jig, pumping it up and letting it fall back. 

    Keep your spinnerbait in contact with the rocks. Greg says spots will hit this bait hard and you will feel a definite thump when they take it.  Use a heavy enough bait to keep it on the bottom, depending on how strong the current is running.

    2. N 32 37.344 – W 86 16.340 – Go back through the canal and stop on the right side point when you get to where it opens up. There is a long ledge of rock running out off this point and you will see some kind of cement structure on it with a pole holding swift houses.  This point causes a current break and the water moves into the canal when power is being generated.

    Hold on the down current side and throw a jig up toward the lake and work it back over the point. You will feel the rocks as your jig washes along with the current.  You can usually see the seam or current break here and you want to get your jig on the bottom where it breaks.

    Also throw a jerk bait across the point and work it slowly in the cold water.  Reel it down then jerk it and let it sit and move with the current.  Greg says bass really don’t want to chase a bait in the cold water so offer them an easy meal. The jerk bait should look like a dying shad, fluttering then suspending before fluttering again.

    3.  N 32 37.475 – W 86 15.607 – Run across the lake just above the dam and you will see a clay point on the left side going toward the dam. It has a big danger sign on it.  Go upstream past the pocket to the rocky point upstream of it. There is no house on the point but there is a ladder coming out of the water and a rope swing hanging from a tree.  A platform to stand on and swing out over the water is on the point.

    This is one of the first spots on Jordan Greg learned to fish and it consistently holds bass.  It is ideal, with as steep drop into deep water and it has big rocks, not gravel, on it. That is a key in the winter.

    Start on the downstream side of this point and work up the bank, casting your jig and pig or jig head worm at an angle so you can work it slowly down the drop but moving it with the current.  You can also get in close and cast your jerk bait upstream and work it back parallel to the rocks out a few feet off the bank.

    There is almost always a good flow of water here and the black rocks seem to warm from the sun and attract the bass. This is also and example of the points that stick out a little further than the ones around them, making them even better.

    4.  N 32 27.869 – W 86 15.895 – Go into the mouth of Sofkahatchee Creek past the boat ramp to the second point past it.  This point starts a series of rocky points on the right side going into the creek that Greg says are real consistent areas for January spots. 

    Start fishing the second point with your boat out in 25 to 30 feet of water and work in, casting your jig and pig right on the bank and working it down the drop. The channel of the creek swings in here and the bottom drops fast.  Current flows out of the creek across these points, encouraging feeding here.

    Both a jig and pig or a jig head worm work well, and a jerk bait will catch fish here, too. Get your boat in a little closer with the jerk bait and work it more parallel to the bank, fishing it slowly for suspended fish.

    5.  N 32 38.225 – W 86 15.919 – Go into the creek past all the danger markers and straight ahead a big cove opens up. The creek channel goes off to your right.  The point between the creek and the cove is a steep rocky hill and there is a steel bulkhead seawall around it.  There is no house on the point but there is a dock on the cove side.

    The point runs way out under water and there is a good drop to 50 or more feet of water on it on the creek side.  Greg likes to sit inside the point on the cove side and cast his jig and pig and jighead worm across it, working up the creek side over the top of the point.  He will also run a crankbait across it.

    Start out in 25 feet of water and cast up to eight feet or so on top of the point toward the bank. Work the whole point with all three baits, running the crankbait over the point and bumping the bottom with the jigs.  Greg says many tournaments are won by fishermen getting on this point, staying all day and weighing in 16 to 18 pounds of spots. They will feed here some time during the day.

    6.  N 32 39.451 – W 86 18.148 – Back out on the lake run up to the upstream point on the mouth of Weoka Creek.  The main point has some camping trailers on it and a small cabin, with a post and wood seawall. Just upstream of the main point is a pier on a flat point with some grass on it and that point runs out and doglegs down toward the dam. There is a danger buoy on the point and it drops off on both sides, with over 20 feet of water between it and the main point.

    Greg says this is a good place to throw a Carolina rigged finesse worm since the rocks are smaller here,  but a jig and a jig head worm both work well, too.  And don’t leave before running a crankbait across the point.

    Sit on the creek side of the point where it drops off and fish the end, out in 20 or more feet of water, then work up the point, casting across it and fishing the top of the point. Work all the way in until you cover the eight foot depths on the point.

    7.  N 32 39.327 – W 86 16.674 – Run across the lake and watch for a point with a cabin with blue siding up on the hill.  The point has riprap around it and there is a flag pole on the point and a duck crossing sign on the upstream side of it.

    This is a good example of a main lake channel point where the water drops off fast and there is good current running past it. When the current hits the point it turns out and makes a seam and an eddy to fish on the downstream side of it.  Bass hold here in the eddy and feed on the seam in the current and on the upstream side of the point, too.

    Watch your depthfinder for schools of shad. If they are present the fishing will be better. The day Greg and I fished we stopped here first and he got a nice 3 pound spot. We came back to it just before dark and I got a big striper on a Sebile Magic Swimmer swim bait, so all kinds of fish feed here.

    Stay out from the point and cast your jig and pig close to the bank. Let the current move it naturally and wash along like an injured baitfish.  Also run a crankbait with the current, trying different speeds but letting the current do most of the moving so it looks more natural.

    Greg says he likes to hit a spot like this for ten to fifteen minutes then run to the next one. He says fish will move on these places so he may hit them several times during the day, but does not stay on them a long time each visit.

    8. N 32 39.279 – W 86 19.640 – Run into the creek upstream of this point, known locally as Blackwell Slough, to the bridge in it.  Greg fishes the riprap points on both sides of the bridge. There is a big bay above the bride where spots live and he says they move to the bridge to feed.

    Stay on the downstream side and cast up the current.  Work your jig and pig or jig head worm back down the rocks, hopping them along until you get out to about 20 feet deep. Also fish the base of the outer two pilings with both baits. There are rocks piled at the base of them and bass often hold on them.

    On each end of the bridge watch for eddies or seams in the current where it breaks as it comes under the bridge. Big spots often hold just inside the calmer water and watch for bait being washed along the current break so make your jig move along the break where they are used to finding food.

    9. N 32 41.013 – W 86 20.061 – Run up to where the lake bottlenecks down into the river channel. There is a power line crossing here and you want to stop just downstream of it on the right side going upstream, at the last small pocket on the right before the powerlines.  The upstream point of this pocket is the start of a bluff wall that runs upstream.

    There is a dock with for sale sign on it – it was upside down the day we fished.  Current breaks off the wall there and bass sit in any eddy they can find and watch for bait. Big rocks cause the current breaks and sometimes you can find them by the way the current moves.

    Throw your jig and pig or jig head worm upstream at an angle and work it back with the current.  Greg says he works his bait at about a 40 degree angle to the bank.  He will fish up the bank for about 200 yards, fishing at that angle as he goes upstream.

    There are dozens of places like this that hold bass on up the river all the way to the Mitchell Dam.  You may have to fish for 200 yards along a bluff but when you catch a fish you should catch several in a 50 yard stretch where the school if feeding. Greg says this is a very consistent pattern all winter long since there is nowhere else for the bass to go in the river and they don’t leave.

    10.  n 32 48.356 – w 86 26.666 – For a change of pace, run to the Mitchell Dam and fish the dam buttresses on it. These concrete wings stick out from the dam and bass live around them all the time. There is about 20 feet of water at the base of some of them and Greg will cast his jig and pig or jig head worm up to the dam and work them in short hops along side them.

    Current here may make the bass hit better but these walls are often in eddies, and Greg says bass will feed on them all the time. This is a good pattern when fishing is tough. Greg will use a one – eighth ounce jig when he can since if falls slower but will go to a heavier jig when current or wind call for it.

    Give these spots a try and you will catch fish. Then use what you learn from them and find others on the lake. There are many similar places to catch some big spotted bass on Jordan right now.

    Greg is guiding some for stripers and will guide for bass on Jordan and Lake Martin when his tournament schedule allows. You can call him at 334-546-1151 or contact him through his web site –  

How and Where To Catch August Weiss Lake Bass with GPS Coordinates

August 2019 Weiss Lake Bass

with Hadyen Marbut

Rocks, docks, grass and bass. Lake Weiss is full of all four. Fish the first three in August for a good catch of spots and largemouth.

Weiss is a 30,200-acre Alabama Power Lake on the Coosa River. A small part of the upper Coosa is in Georgia, but an Alabama fishing license is required on most of it. The small mountains surround it will fool you as you drive to it the first time. The lake is flat and shallow, with huge stump filled flats except for the area near the dam.

The 447 miles of shoreline has rocky banks with seawalls and docks in some areas and flat banks with shallow grassbeds and docks in others. The lake has long been known at the Crappie Capitol of the World, but the same conditions that produce quality crappie fishing also produces good populations of Coosa spots and big largemouth.

Hayden Marbut is a rising junior at Xavier High School in Birmingham and has been on the fishing team the past two years.  He is considering transferring to Briarwood Academy this year where Curtis Gossett is the fishing team coach.  Weiss is his favorite lake.

Hayden’s father, Brian, grew up 15 minutes from Weiss in Hokes Bluff and has been fishing Weiss all his life. He had taught Hayden how to catch bass there under all conditions.  Hot summer fishing can be tough on any lake, but Weiss produces good bass all summer.

This year, Hayden and his partner won the High School King of the Coosa tournament on Weiss and they came in third at the ASABSA tournament at Pickwick with 17.38 pounds, so his skills on Weiss transfer to other lakes.

“Weiss has a lot of big spots you can catch early around seawalls and rocks,” Hayden said. Grassbeds produce good largemouth early, too.  After the sun gets on the water the most consistent way to catch largemouth and some spots is to fish docks.

Fishing deep ledges and points is also good in August, especially if water is moving.  But the most consistent fishing is getting your bait in the shade under docks, and there are plenty of them to fish on Weiss.

For August, Hayden will have a Spook and a buzzbait tied on for early fishing around rocks. A frog works best in the many water willow grass beds for largemouth. For dock fishing, a jig and pig, Texas rig or shaky head is his choice.   He also has a Carolina rig and drop shot ready for trying for deeper fish.

We fished the following places in late June and the fishing was slow. It was hot and no moving water or breeze helped us out. But Hayden landed seven or eight keepers, including a 5.92 pound largemouth and a three-pound spot. His best five weighed 13 to 14 pounds, a good catch under tough conditions.

1.  N 34 11.348 – W 85 42.368 – Going upstream from Bay Spring, the upstream point of the second cove is a good rocky one that drops into deeper water.  It is a round point with a cement seawall and there are natural rock under the water.  It is a good place to start first thing in the morning.

Fish around the point, then jump across to the next one upstream.  It and the next one above it are all good and they get morning shade, keeping bass up shallow later in the day. 

Hayden get in fairly close to the point and cast right to the seawall ahead of the boat, working his bait back at an angle to keep it in close. His first choice is a big bone Spook, spots seem to hate it.  He twitches it back with a walk-the-dog zigzag action until it is near the boat.

A buzzbait is another good choice for fishing places like this.  Cast it against the seawall, try to actually hit it, and buzz it back at an angle to the boat.  Casts close to the bank are important since big spots will often seem to keep their nose against it and grab it as soon as it hits the water.

2.  N 34 14.231 – W 85 39.757 – Go into Little River behind Hog Island. If you are careful, you can go through the “Cut Through” on the downstream side of it but the channel goes in upstream of it and is safer.  Where the river narrows there are three islands on the left. A green channel marker without a number is on a post off them, marking where the old river channel swings to that side.

The lip of this channel for 200 yards on either side of the marker is a good summer ledge.  It drops from six to 25 feet deep and there are stumps and rocks on it.  Hayden will keep the boat in 22 feet of water and cast up on the top of the ledge and work it.  If you have time it is worth fishing the whole section or you can ride it with good electronics to look for fish.

Cast a Carolina rigged Old Monster or big lizard in black or plum tied about 30 inches behind a three-quarter ounce sinker and drag it until it falls off the ledge. Do the same with drop shot or jig and pig.  Current really helps here as does some wind moving water across it.

3.  N 34 14.217 – W 85 38.689 – Go to the double cove at Little River Marina (the old JR Marina) and fish the docks in both pockets.  Tournaments held here constantly “restock” the area, making the coves a high concentration place for bass.

Hayden especially likes old docks, those falling down into water seem to be bass magnets.  Docks on small points are also high value targets as are those with lights and pole holders, indicting possible brush piles.  Pitch a jig and pig, shaky head worm or Texas rigged creature bait to each dock.

Watch for angles and shade lines.  Work each pole on each dock.  Pay attention to where you get bit, bass in an area will often set up on the same places on other docks.  Hayden likes a black and blue Dirty Jigs Finesse Jig with a matching Rage Craw on it.

4.  N 34 13.806 – W 85 38.821 – Going out past the marina, on your left on the downstream point of the cove, an old roadbed runs off the bank and old bridge rubble is on it.  The roadbed runs out from a clay point with a pine tree on the end of it.

Keep your boat in 25 feet of water and cast up on top of the road about five feet deep.  Probe for the rubble and rough stuff on it, it is a fairly small area.  Work your Carolina rig, drop shot and jig and pig through the cover.  Hayden fishes an Aaron’s Magic Robo worm about a foot above a three eights ounce sinker on his drop shot.

5.  N 34 12.965 – W 85 36.477 – Run up under the causeway to the ramp at Weiss Mart on the left just upstream of the main bridge.  This is a similar place to hole three, with a marina that has tournament released fish around it.  Fish from the boat ramp all the way around the cove, working every dock.  Also hit the ramp, Hayden says he never passes up a boat ramp.

Hayden caught several bass in this cove, including a 5.92 pound largemouth and a three-pound spot.  He works each dock carefully and will come back to prime docks since they often reload quickly.  The big largemouth hit the second time we fished that dock.

Wind blowing into docks makes them better but harder to fish.  If the wind is blowing, fish into it for better boat control. Like the coves at Little River Marina, this cove has a channel in it.  Coves with ditches or channels giving bass a “highway” are much better than flat coves.

6.  N 34 11.190 – W 85 37.148 – Go across to the right side of the lake above the causeway.   The old river channel runs along this bank so it drops off fast. The docks from the causeway upstream are all good.

Current moving under the docks makes them much better, as does some wind.  Work against both if you can for better boat control, giving you more time to pick them apart.

Pitch a jig and pig, Texas rig or shaky head to them.  Hayden rigs a natural blue or green pumpkin finesse worm on a one quarter ounce head and tries to hit ever post until he finds a pattern. Outside post are often better and it is easier to land fish that hit on them but cast into the deepest shade you can hit with your baits, too.

7.  N 24 11.521 – W 85 37.685 – Go back to the causeway and fish the small bridge and riprap closest to the left bank going downstream.  If there is any current the bridge concentrates it and turns on the fish.

Hayden will fish all the rocks as well as the pilings under the bridge and shade lines from it.  Both spots and largemouth set up facing up current here so position your boat so you cast up the current and your bait moves back naturally with it.   A drop shot and shaky head work well for this but a small crankbait, worked slowly with the current, will catch fish, too. Make multiple casts to any spot you catch a bass; others are likely to set up there.

8.  N 34 11.433 – W 85 39.504 – Going down the left side of the lake, two small islands sit off the bank just upstream of Little Hog Nose Creek.  They are surrounded by water willow grass beds where bass feed. Early and late in the day are the best time to fish them, but bass will feed in them all during the day.

Start on the upstream point of the upstream island and cast your Spook, buzzbait and a frog through the grass.  A bluegill color Spro Popping Frog will allow you to fish the thickest grass.  Work the buzzbait and Spook along the edge and in cuts in the grass.  A silver blade Big Bite Baits Buzz with a Suicide Shad on it is his choice for buzzbaits.  Points on the grass are especially good.

9.  N 34 11.859 – W 85 40.101 – Out in the middle of the lake, straight between Little Nose Creek and Hog Island, green channel marker 20 sits on a good channel ledge. You can not safely run from hole 8 to it, you should go upstream and follow the channel around to it.

The top of the ledge is ten to 12 feet deep and drops into 25 feet of water.  There are stumps and rocks on it that hold bass, and the area right at the marker is very rough. 

Keep your boat in 25 feet of water and cast jig nd pig, shaky head and drop shot up on the ledge, dragging all three back and letting them fall.  Keep an eye on your electronics and fish your drop shot worm vertically when you see fish directly under your boat.

As in other places, current really turns on the fish here, making them feed, and wind blowing across it helps, too. Cast your baits up current for a natural action since current moves baitfish across the drop and bass expect food to be coming in that direction.

10.  N 34 11.932 – W 85 41.534 – The lake narrows down where Yellow Creek enters on the right going downstream.  Red channel marker 14 sits off the left point of the main river going downstream and there is a small island downstream of the point.  Docks along this bank are good.

Start at the first green roof dock and fish all the way down to the yellow boat house at the end of the line of docks. There is 18 feet of water not far off the docks and bass move from deep water to feed shallow around them. The pilings, shade and some brush piles all attract bass.

Current helps here and if it is moving, or if the wind is blowing, start at the end of the line of docks that gives you the best boat control.  Cast jig and pig, shaky head and Texas rig to them. Hayden lets his bait fall straight down. When it hits bottom, he shakes it a little then reels in for another cast.

These places were holding bass in late June, with some quality fish on them, and will be better now. Give them a try to see the kind of places you can catch summer spots and largemouth on Lake Weiss

Do you find these Map of the Month articles helpful?  If so visit – you can get an eBook or CD with an article for each month of the year on Clarks Hill and Lanier.

How and Where To Catch December Bass at Upper Bear Creek with GPS Coordinates

December Bass at Upper Bear Creek

with Gary Don Fleming

    December and big spotted bass go together almost as good as December and Christmas.  It may be the best month to catch a grown spot.  Upper Beaver Creek is a sleeper lake in North West Alabama that often gets overlooked but is full of big spots feeding this month.

    Formed in 1978 by a dam where Bear and Little Bear Creeks come together south of Russellville, this 1850 acre lake has a good big bass to little bass ratio.  Based on the 1995 to 2005 Alabama Bass Anglers Information Trail reports on all Alabama lakes, upper Bear has ranked first five times and second three times for the fewest number of hours it takes to catch a bass weighing over five pounds.

    The two arms of the lake are locally called Phil Campbell and Quarter Creek arms, with the Phil Campbell arm running mostly north and south and the Quarter Creek arm running more east and west. Both arms have bends and turns with smaller creeks and coves off them. The shape of the lake means it is a good place for a trip when the wind is strong since you can find protected waters to fish.

Gary Don Fleming grew up near Russellville and hunted the fields and woods that are now under water at Upper Bear Creek so he has a good knowledge of the terrain of the lake.  He fishes many tournaments in the area, qualifying for the BFL Regional on the Bama Division this year, and also fishes many local tournaments on Upper Bear Creek

He guides on the Bear Creek chain and Tennessee River lakes in northwest Alabama and also guides hunting trips.  His time on the lake and the knowledge he has of it can help you catch fish at Upper Bear Creek this month.

    “I was told Upper Bear Creek has the highest number of quality bass in the area second only to Guntersville,” Gary Don told me.  That confirms his experiences on the lake, where winter tournaments often take 30 pounds to win.  The highest weight he has seen weighed in there is 36 pounds. There are a lot of five and six pound spots and largemouth in the lake, and he knows of a 15.2 pound largemouth weighed in during a tournament there a couple of years ago.

    “In December the bass are holding on main lake structure and moving in to feed,” Gary Don told me.  They feed heavily as the water gets cooler and you can catch them on a lot of different baits.    A key is the presences of baitfish. If shad are in the area bass are likely to be nearby.

    Gary Don will have several rods rigged with a variety of baits for December fishing at Upper Bear Creek.  A buzzbait might surprise you this time of year, but he says he catches a lot of good fish on it on top, especially early in the morning.

    A red Rat-L-Trap is a good fast moving bait that works well here as is a small Bandit crankbait. Both will take active fish chasing shad and allow you to fish fast and cover water. A suspending jerk bait is a third plug he will have tied on and it will take slightly less active fish. 

    When he wants to slow down Gary Don keeps a jig and pig rigged up as well as a jig head worm and a Carolina rigged Baby Brush Hog. Those baits can be fished slowly and kept in contact with the bottom, even when it drops fast.  If the bass don’t seem to want to chase a bait it is a good idea to slow down and offer them something right in their face.

    We fished Upper Bear Lake in early November and the water was much higher than normal for this time of year. It was a tough day, with bluebird skies after several rainy days. And there was a full moon.  The lake should be back to normal by now and fishing will be good.

    The following ten spots will all hold good bass this month and you can catch them using Gary Don’s methods.

    1.  n 34 16.416 – w 87 41.235 – The big island between the two arms of the lake right where they join just above the dam has a long shallow point with a roadbed on it crossing the mouth of the Quarter Creek arm.  There are pole danger markers running from the island across to the far bank and you should not try to run through here, especially if the water is down any.

    Bass hold from the point on the island all along the roadbed and drops on the downstream side of it and feed on top.  Gary Don will fish from the end of the island across the roadbed, keeping his boat on the dam side and casting across the shallow water.

    He often starts with a topwater bait like a buzzbait here, especially early in the morning. The day we fished he got a keeper largemouth on a topwater plug but says he has more confidence in the buzzbait in December.  Work it all the way across to the other bank and down that bank to the first point.  There are a lot of stumps on this bank.

    Also work the top of the point and roadbed with a Rat-L-Trap and a jig and pig.  Cast across the shallow top and work both baits back to the boat in deeper water.  When you get to the far bank probe for the stumps with your jig and pig.  Big fish often hold and feed around them.

    2.  N 34 16.412 – W 87 41.61 – Run to the dam and stay to the left, toward the water intake tower. Start at it and fish the riprap out to the point above the spillway. Be careful, this is an overflow spillway and there is nothing to stop you from going over the dam, and the current can be strong here.

    Gary Don says you could fish this area all day and catch fish.  If there is any current on the lake at all it will be on the point here.  Work your jerk bait and crankbait, casting to the rocks and fishing them out. When you get out to the point go across toward the far bank. There is a shallow ledge running across the mouth of the spillway going to the dam and big rocks on it hold bass, too.

    Go back over the same area with a jig and pig or jig head worm. Use a fairly light bait to get hung less often in the rocks.  Cast up shallow and work the bait back.  Between the point and the intake tower you will be in deep water but it is shallow out near the point.

    3.  N 34 16.177 – W 87 40.577 – Run up past the long point with the campground on it, keeping to the right and go up the Quarter Creek arm.  The first creek on your right, across from the campground, is not real long but the left side of it going in holds good fish in December.

    Start at the two big pines standing with one old dead pine leaning at a sharp angle on the bank.  There are stumps and rocks all along this bank so fish it with your buzzbait and then cover it with a jig and pig.  Gary Don likes a football head jig with a Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer on it and works it on the bottom here.

    Fish back until you stop feeling rocks and stumps. The back of this creek is silted in and bass usually do not hold far back in it in December.

    4.  N 34 16.806 – W 87 40.275 – Run up the creek above the power lines that cross and to the sharp horseshoe bend back to your right.  As you go into the bend ahead of you on the left bank going upstream are two small coves. Start on the upstream point of the second one and work up the creek.  This bottom here drops fast to very deep water and is rocky. You will be sitting in 25 feet of water a very short cast off the bank.

    This is a good area to slow down and bump a jig and pig or a jig head worm down the rocks. You have to fish slowly since it drops so fast. Gary Don likes a green pumpkin finesse worm on his jig head and a one-eight ounce head will get hung less than a heavier one.

    Fish up the bank until you quit feeling rocks, about 75 yards.  The bottom will change to sand and Gary Don will sometimes run this bank with a crankbait. Fish it fast to see if the bass are holding on the sand rather than the rocks.

    5.  N 34 17.808 – W 87 39.533 – Head on up the creek and you will pass several houses and docks on your the left bank. Across from this area is a rock cliff that area with danger markers around it. It is an old coal mine.  Further upstream you will see a point on your left and the tin roof of a house up on it in the trees.  Stop on the downstream point of the cove downstream of the point with that house.

    Fish a Carolina rig and a Trap across this point at all angles.  Fan cast and cover it from downstream then work around it casting toward the bank, continuing until you are casting across it from the upstream side.  Since there is little current here the bass may position anywhere on the point.

    There are several points in the area similar to this one and all will hold bass.  As you leave the point you will see exposed rock on your left and there was a waterfall coming off it when we were there. A brick house is on the next point.  The water in this area was very stained from the rains when we were there but should clear up quickly.

    6. N 34 17.180 – W 87 41.078 – Going up the Phil Campbell arm of the lake, go under the bridge near the dam and the main lake will swing around a point and go off to your right. A small creek enters on the left and runs up parallel to the main lake.

    Start out on the point between the creek and main run of the lake and work into the creek. Stay way off the bank and make long casts with a Carolina rigged finesse worm or jig and pig.  Gary Don says this is a good place to get a limit of fish or to fill out a limit since it is very consistent.

    There are brush piles along this bank that hold bass so slow down and work it when you hit one. Gary Don likes a football head jig with the Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer on it and will crawl it along the bottom probing for cover, fishing it much like a Carolina rig.

    You can continue fishing on into this creek, working the bank and small points along it. Don’t leave as long as you are catching fish.

    7.  N 34 8.164 – W 87 40.632 – Running up this arm of the lake you will go by a broomstraw field on your right.  When you get where you can see houses way ahead of you, with yards down to the water you will also see a rock ledge running into a cove on your right. Across and just downstream of this ledge you will see a double point on your left.

    Gary Don says this point comes out pretty good and drops off fast. There are stumps on it and you will see an old logging road enter on the downstream side of the downstream point. Fan cast both points with your jig and also try a jig head worm here. Cover all of both points.

    8.  N 34 18.470 – W 37 40.504 – Run on up to the point just downstream of the big brick house on with a nice yard running to the water. There will be a big shallow cove between the point you want to start on and the point the house is on. Both are on the left going upstream.

    Work all around this point, sitting out in deep water and casting across it at all angles.  There is a big brush pile on the downstream side of the point and more brush scattered around on it.  There are also rocks here.

    Fish a jig and pig or jig head worm on the point, probing for the brush and rocks.  Work slowly around the point. It drops off fast and if you fish too fast you will miss the brush. Also watch your depthfinder for brush way out off the point and fish it, too.

    Gary Don say this they call this the Five Points area and there are five points here you can fish. All of them are good at times and they have hard rock bottoms. He says this is the best area on the lake.  Try them all.

    9.  N 34 19.210 – W 87 40.154 – Head on upstream and you will see a high rock bluff on your left.  Stop on the upstream point of it and fish that point into the cove to the dock.   Fish all around the dock, too.  A jig or a Carolina rig is good on these points and there are stumps and rocks on it to hold bass.

    10. N 34 39.944 – W 87 39.217 – Just downstream of the next bridge and boat ramp is a creek on the left side called Gas Branch. A small island sits off the bank on the upstream side of it.  Fish all around the island then work up the bank all the way to the boat ramp on the next point. Gary Don says many tournaments are won in this area.

    Fish all your baits. Try crankbaits and jerk baits then work the area with a jig and pig, Carolina rig worm and jig head worm. Fish the swimming area as you go by.  If you catch fish continue to work the area, switching baits and giving them a choice.

    These ten spots all hold good bass this month and there are many others like them all over the lake. Check out these and learn how Gary Don fishes them, then try to find similar spots to fish where you can work the pattern.

    You can contact Gary Don for a guide trip at 256-627-2903 or email him at

When Where and How To Catch November Bass at Lake Martin

November Bass at Martin
with BJ Barnett

November is a wonderful month for bass fishermen. The cool water has the bass active and feeding and the lakes are not crowded. It is a fun time to fish. Lake Martin, full of hungry spots and largemouth, is a great place to spend some time right now.

Lake Martin is a 39,180 acre lake with 700 miles of shoreline and is located on the Tallapoosa River near Alexander City. It is a deep, clear lake full of rocks, docks, humps, brush piles and spotted bass. There are also lots of largemouth in the lake. You can find just about any kind of fishing you prefer somewhere on the lake.

Dammed in 1926, Martin is an old lake and much of the natural cover has disappeared over time. Fish now relate to rocks, stumps, drops and man-made cover like docks and brush piles. It is also a very clear lake and bass can be spooky since they can see you far away.

B. J. Barnett grew up on Lake Martin. Until he was eight years old his family had a cabin on Blue Creek then they moved to a house across the road from Bay Pines Marina full time. At 11 years old he was putting his 16 foot Fisher boat with a 25 horsepower Johnson in at the marina with a 4-wheeler and fishing every chance he got.

After earning a fisheries biology degree at Auburn B. J. returned to the Alexander City area and worked with his father – and fished. He competed in local tournaments as well as the BFL, making the All American in 2005. He has a top ten finish in the Stren Series on Martin and fishes the BASS Weekend Series in the area.

Now B. J. owns Fish Tales Bait and Tackle in Alexander City. He is running a new tournament trail with Bay Pines Marina and also helps out with charity tournaments when he is not competing in them. He considers Martin his home lake and keeps up with what the bass are doing there.

“Bass will feed in shallow brush until the water cools below 60 degrees, usually around the first of November,” B.J. said. There is a lot of brush around docks in shallow pockets and the bass will be there, but as the water cools it also drops and both make the bass move to a more consistent pattern.

This year the water has been unusually high from the rains in late September. That may keep the bass shallow a little longer. But soon they will move to deeper banks and humps and hold on stumps, rocks and man-made brush piles. They will feed there, fattening up for the winter.

B.J. keeps his tackle fairly simple. He will always have a Sammy tied on and expects to catch bigger fish on it. In the past five years he has landed three spots weighing over six pounds each on the Sammy and one of them came last fall. It is especially effective on calm days when there isn’t much ripple on the water.

A spinnrebait is B.J.’s go to bait and he likes the Davis Pro Vibe X-Wire and he is also having good luck with the newer Hole Shot spinnerbaits. The Hole Shot has holes in its blades and it can be fished faster without breaking the surface. Both spinnerbaits have silver blades and white skirts and he likes a fairly big three/eights to one half ounce bait.

Spinnerbaits are best on windy days when there is a chop on the water. He makes long casts and works them fast over any cover in the area. Spinnerbaits will pull bass, especially spots, up out of deeper water to hit it. He fishes them on 12 pound fluorocarbon line.

A three sixteenths ounce Tightline Wood Thumper jig or a Davis jig rigged with a Paca Chunk in greens and browns is another good bait. Both jigs are compact and B. J. throws them around rocks and wood cover. Both are fished on PLine Fluorocarbon line. Bigger bass also like the jig and pig.

A Davis HBT Standup Jig head with a T-Mac or finesse worm also works well when the bass want at thinner bait. It is more subtle than the jig and pig and will get bites when other baits fail.

All these baits are available at Fish Tales and B.J. also pours his own line of jigs called Nervous jigs. They work well on Martin, too.

B.J. showed me the following ten spots in early October, right after the heavy rains. The lake was about a foot low and the fish were scattered. The lake is dropping pretty fast and by now they will be more concentrated and you should be able to catch them all month long on these holes.

1. N 32 50.522 – W 85 52.687 – Bay Pines Marina caters to fishermen and is a good place to put in for the spots B.J. likes to fish. If you put in there you can idle around the first point to your left as you come out of the cove the marina is in. You will be going into a big bay with a small island in the back near where it splits with a grave yard on it.

As you round the point watch for pink stucco and brick house on your left. Start just past it at the gray block boathouse. Stay way off the bank. There is a row of stumps in about 18 feet of water at full pool you want to fish over. The stumps will be more shallow as the lake is drawn down, and this is a good example of the kind of place the bass pull out to as the water cools and drops.

Blind cast with your Sammy if the water is smooth or your spinnerbait if some wind is blowing in on this bank. Work down the bank to the dock on concrete posts and look for brush. There is a lot of brush around this dock and it holds bass. Run your Sammy or spinnerbait over it then fish through it with a jig and pig and a jig head worm.

Fish on down past the dock to the little pocket and seawall coming out of it. There is scattered brush all along here you can hit if you probe for it, and spots especially like this area.

2. N 32 50.843 – W 85 52.268 – Toward the back of this big bay on your left before it splits you will see a danger marker way off the bank. It marks a rock ridge that runs way out off the bank from a small island near the bank. It is a very good feeding area for spots.

Keep your boat out in 15 to 16 feet of water and make long casts across the top of the ridge with a Sammy and a spinnerbait. Wind controls the bite; bass will hit the spinnerbait better if wind is blowing in on this spot. Wind always makes a place better, creating a ripple on top that makes it harder for the fish to get a good look at your bait and creating current that moves baitfish. Fish your bait with the wind, casting into it, on this spot and all others when there is some wind.

Work around the ridge, concentrating on working the wind. The downstream side is usually best. Also, watch for fish following your bait and not taking it. B.J. says sometimes you have to convince them to hit. Back off and make longer casts and also try other baits. If you see fish you know they are there, you just have to find the combination they want.

Also try a jig head worm here before you leave. Stay out in deep water and cast it up on top of the ridge. Work it around the rocks on this ridge, fishing from shallow to deep.

3. N 32 51.603 – W 85 50.830 – Run to the back of Madwind Creek to where it splits. Ahead of you will be two big houses with nice yards on a point and there is a small cove to the right of them. On the right side of the cove is a smaller house with a gray tin roof. In the middle of that small pocket, about even with the points on both sides, is a hump that rises to 12 feet deep at full pool. If the water is down five or six feet you can see it. The water drops off to 20 feet deep all around it and bass pull out on it as the water level and temperature drop.

Fish all around this hump with all your baits. There are logs and man-made brush piles on it so probe for them. When you find one work it hard from several angles with a jig and pig and a jig head worm. This spot holds largemouth and spots.

4. N 32 51.518 – W 85 50.901 – Across the creek on the left bank going in, about even with the point and hump, is a ridge running down the bank. There is a big sandy flat point between the bank and the ridge that drops off into the creek channel. The top of the ridge is just a few feet deep and you will see some brush sticking up out of the water from at least one of its brush piles. The channel drops to 20 feet deep.

The flat and point are in front of a gray house and there is a small pocket downstream of it. Keep your boat out in 20 feet of water and cast up into the shallows with your baits, working them back out over the drop. There is a good bit of brush and some rocks along this drop to fish.

5. N 32 50.019 – W 85 51.537 – Run out of Madwind Creek and stay near the left bank. Near the mouth of Manoy Creek is an island with a pirate flag flying from a tree. There is a sign on the tree warning “Ye Who Enter Beware” and some decorations like a fake cannon, skeleton and chest. This island is near a smaller island.

A ridge runs off the lake side of the island and is 17 feet deep on top well off the bank. There is 40 feet of water on either side of this ridge and it has stumps and brush on it that holds bass. Wind really helps here and a spinnerbait is your best bet when the wind is blowing in on it. Fish all round it from different angles, working the wind, with all your baits.

6. N 32 49.953 – W 85 51.014 – Go into Manoy Creek and it makes a hard left. The point is rocky and so is the bank for a good ways, then it turns to clay just past a small pocket. Out from this transition, well off the bank, is a hump with brush on it. It was an old state brush pile at one time but the marker is gone and fishermen have kept the brush fresh.

Say way off the bank and watch for a light color marking the top of the hump. You could barely see it the day B.J. and I fished but it should be more visible now. It tops out about four feet deep at full pool. The brush is on the deeper side, away from the bank.

Make long casts and work the hump and fish over the brush with Sammy and spinnerbait. Then probe for more brush with either of your jigs. The day we fished B.J. got a solid 2.5 pounds spot here on a spinnerbait and two bigger fish were following it.

7. N 32 50.270 – W 85 50.887 – If you follow the bank on straight ahead it runs into a small creek right where the main creek bank turns sharply to the right. Going back into this small creek there is a little pocket on the right bank. On the upstream side of it is a big tree in the water. Past the tree there are a lot of stumps, some of which you can see but many others underwater on the clay bottom.

Start at the small pocket and work into the creek. Fish faster-moving baits first then go back over the area with your bottom bouncing baits. Probe for the stumps and there is some brush here to hold bass, as well as the big blowdown and some smaller logs.

8. N 32 48.504 – W 85 52.061 – Come out of the mouth of Manoy Creek and head toward the mouth of Sandy Branch. Stay near the left bank. About half way between them, off the rocky point that runs out a little more than the others in this area, there is good hump. The point is in front of a pocket that runs back as a small angle almost parallel to the lake rather than straight back from it.

The hump is 13 feet deep on top at full pool and drops off to very deep water. It is big, about 50 yards wide, so you have to find the sweet spot on it. Look for where it drops fast from 12 to 20 feet deep on the lake side. This spot holds some big spots and B. J. says a four to five pounder is a good possibility here.

Slow down for the big fish and work your jig and pig down the drop. Sit on the lake side in deep water and cast up on top of the hump. Work your bait slowly down the drop, out to about 20 feet deep. Try different things. Drag your jig and pig on the bottom on one cast, then hop it on the next. Try to make the big spots that live here hit it.

9. N 32 48.031 – W 85 52.725 – Across the mouth of Sandy Branch off the upstream side of Pace Peninsula there is a small pocket with a danger marker on a pole out in the mouth of it. This big sandy hump doesn’t have much cover on it and it does not have a sharp drop, but if the wind is blowing in on it like it often does fish will be feeding here.

Fish from the left side of the marker facing it out to where it gets deeper then work the back side of it, too. This is a spot to fish fast and cover quickly. If the wind had fish feeding here you should catch them quickly. B. J. says you are wasting your time to fish this spot if there is no wind, but it can be real good with some wind.

10. N 32 48.048 – W 85 53.893 – Run across the lake and downstream to Wicker Point, the big rocky point straight across from Pleasure Point. There is a danger marker on some big rocks on the upstream side of the point near the end of it. A green cabin with a screen porch all around it and a block chimney sits on the bank behind the big rocks. There is a dock with pipe post near the danger marker, too.

Fish all around the big rocks you can see, and work the area for other rocks under the water. Fish around the dock for bass holding in the shade under it. This is a good place to catch spotted bass. B.J. says he will hit this point and the next five points going in toward New Hope ramp like this, hitting them all fast for active fish.

Give these spots a try. B.J. has found them by spending many hours on the water, but there are many more like them in the area that hold big bass. Try his tactics and baits and you will catch bass.

Where When and How To Catch August Bass at Smith Lake

August Bass at Smith with Don Hubbard

     It’s hot, lakes are covered up with skiers and jet skis and the fish just don’t bite very well during the day.  So what should the smart bass fisherman do? Go at night!  It is cooler, the fish feed and pleasure boaters are at a minimum.  Smith Lake is a great choice for night fishing right now since its big spots are feeding in the dark.

     Lewis Smith Lake, usually just called Smith Lake, is a few minutes west of Cullman and about an hour north of Birmingham.  It is a beautiful mountain lake with steep rocky banks covered with trees and nice houses. But it gets very crowded in the summer and most bass tournaments are held at night.  There are several pot tournaments held there each week starting in the late afternoon.

     Smith was filled in 1961 and has 21,200 acres of clear water and 500 miles of shoreline.  There has been a problem in the past with overcrowding of small bass so the size limit now a little unusual. You must release all bass from 13 to 15 inches long.  Not only can you keep any size bass shorter than 13 inches long, the fisheries biologists recommend keeping all bass under 13 inches long. So if you want a few bass for a fish fry, you can keep the smaller bass. Smith is a very clean lake so they fish taste great, too.    

     The slot limit seems to be helping. The most recent electro fishing survey in 2007 showed 16 percent of the bass are over the 15 inch size limit. That is an improvement over the 2003 survey.  Spots have done better under the slot restriction, with a greater increase of spots over 15 inches than of largemouth over that size.  Local fishermen have taken to the slot limit and it is common to hear them refer to the days catch with something like “five over and ten under.”

     Smith can be a tough lake to fish.  It ranks last in the 2007 BAIT survey for percent success of anglers. But it ranks much higher, at 7th, for average weight of bass and tenth for the average time it takes to catch a bass over five pounds. Smith bass may be hard to catch but when you do find them you are more likely to catch a good one.

     Don Hubbard lives in Cullman and has fished Smith since 1975.  He fished with the Cullman Bass Club for a time then started concentrating on bigger tournaments. For many years he fished three night pot tournament every week on Smith during the summer.  He loves bass fishing and enjoys the competition of tournaments.

     In 1990 Don and his partner won the Anderson Boat Works tournament on Smith with five spotted bass weighing 23 pounds. For years the Anderson Boat Works tournament was the biggest in the state, drawing over 500 boats each year.  Not only did Don and his partner win it in 1990, he has finished in second place four different times over the years.

     Don weighed in a 7 pound, 2 ounce spot in a tournament but it is not his biggest from Smith.  One winter day while fishing alone he landed a 27 inch fish he estimates at over nine pounds.  He did not have a scale to weigh it and wanted to get it back in the water so it would survive and did not take it somewhere to be weighed.  He has no doubt there is a record spot in Smith.

      “Bass are deep in Smith in August,” Don told me.  He looks for schools of fish down 15 to 30 feet deep this time of year and expects most of his catch to come from water 18 to 20 feet deep. That is where they feed.  And he expects the bite to be much better after the sun sets. Even on days the boat traffic doesn’t make fishing uncomfortable, the bass just don’t bite very well with the sun up.

     A variety of kinds of structure and cover pay off for Don this time of year.  He likes humps, points, steep banks and deep brush piles around docks.  Cover like brush, stumps and rocks help on all kinds of structure and a hump or point will often have a small sweet spot where there is good cover.  Finding the structure that holds a school of bass and the sweet spot where the biggest ones can be caught takes time on the water.

     Don keeps a variety of baits rigged on his Shamino rods and reels.  A big spinnerbait is his favorite bait when fishing after dark for tournament fish.  He does not mind fishing for five bites during tournament hours if they are the right bites. He has fun catching all size fish but concentrates on the big ones to win a tournament, and a spinnerbait is the way to go.

     A heavy home-made spinnerbait with a #5 Colorado blade is his choice for fishing deep cover.  Don likes a black blade, black and red skirt and big trailer on dark nights and a white skirt and silver blade bait on moonlight nights.  One trick he has learned about blade color may help you. If you are feeling bites but not hooking the bass, they may be hitting at the blade. Switch from silver to copper to get them to hit the skirt and hook.

     The trailer doesn’t make a lot of difference. It can be the same color as the skirt or a contrasting color.  And Don will use a variety of trailers like Zoom Brush Hogs, Toads and even lizards to slow the bait down.  He wants the bait to crawl along the bottom, ticking the cover, and a bulky trailer helps slow it down and keep it there.

     A three-quarters ounce jig and trailer is another good bait.  Don rigs the jig with a trailer that will slow it down and provide action, like a Zoom Chunk or twin curly tail grub.  He lets the jig hit the bottom, just like the spinnerbait, then slow rolls it along, ticking the cover, just like he fishes the spinnerbait.

     Don said his finesse jig was a half ounce jig with a smaller trailer. He may swim it or just hop it along.  He also uses a jig head worm, fishing it on spinning gear.  Green pumpkin colors for both baits are good if there is some light and Junebug or redbug are good at night. A Carolina rigged Zoom Fluke, Trick worm or Brush Hog and a Texas rigged worm completes his plastic arsenal. The Texas rig works better when fishing brush, especially around docks.

     Crankbaits will also catch bass on deep cover if you can get them to run deep enough.  Bass feeding at 15 feet can be caught on crankbaits when they are worked over the cover.  They are harder to fish deep than spinnerbaits or plastics, though.

     Don showed me the following ten spots he fishes at night and fish were on several of them a few weeks a ago, and will stay on them all summer.  Look for baitfish and bass holding deep and you can catch bass on these spots right now.

     1.  N 34 04.620 – W 86 58.134 – Leave the Smith Lake Park ramp and head downstream.  Look to your right just before the lake opens up to go around Goat Island and you will see some docks.  Look for the double decked dock with two picnic tables on the upper deck and lights on it. This is a good example of the kinds of deep brush around docks that Don likes to fish.

     If you look at a contour map you can see how the channel swings in near these docks then turns and goes across the lake. Don says you need at least 15 feet of water under the docks with the brush and deeper water just off them.  Lights at night will help.  

     This dock and the two downstream of it are all good and have about 23 feet of water under them.  Don will keep his boat out in front of the docks and cast past them and the brush, letting his spinnebait or a Texas rigged worm hit bottom. He then works the baits back across the brush. Jiggle and shake your worm in the brush.  Fish it and the spinnerbait as slowly as you can.

     There are many similar docks on Smith to fish. Look for them where the water is at least 15 feet deep with deeper water just off them. Brush is needed and lights help. Some docks that look good may not hold fish. The only way to find good docks is to fish them.

     2. N 34 03.903 – W 86 57.973 – Run down to the point on Goat Island that sticks out the most on the upstream end. Across and downstream of it a little you will see a small house trailer on the bank then a two story house with brown shingles. Out in the middle of the lake, about 200 yards off the trailer, is a hump that comes up to 20 feet on top. If you idle in a line from the upstream point on Goat Island toward the trailer you will cross it.

     This is a good example of the deep structure Don likes to fish.  The channel runs right by it and there is 45 feet of water a cast off the top of the most shallow part.  On this one Don likes to stay on the side toward the bank since it drops faster and he casts up to the top of the hump. He then brings his baits down the drop, fishing so slowly they stay in contact with the bottom.

     You can fish all the way around a hump like this but pay attention where you get the bites. Often the fish will orient a certain way on the humps and hold on a small spot of cover and you need to find what they like and repeat it.

     3.  N 34 03.443 – W 86 58.750 – Run downstream and watch for a blue top dock on your left where the river narrows back down after joining together below Goat Island.  A good ways past it you will see two small sycamore trees leaning out over the water and big rocks right at the water line under them. That is where you want to start fishing.

     Don’t fish the bank here, although it sometimes holds fish. Back off a long cast and you will find a hump or ridge that runs parallel to the bank. It swings out from near the small sycamore trees and then swings back in near the biggest tree you see up on the bank.

     Don will sit on the outside of this ridge and cast his baits across it, working them up the bank side then down the river side. It may look like he is fishing the bank with very long casts.  This is a good example of the kind of structure it takes a lot of time on the water to find and learn to fish.

     The day we fished there was a lot of baitfish and other fish stacked up in the trough between the bank and the ridge.  Although we didn’t catch anything there, the presence of fish tells you they will feed at some point. A place like this, where you find bait and bass on your depthfinder, is well worth repeated checks to try to hit it when they move onto the ridge to feed. That applies to all the spots Don likes to fish.    

     4.  N 34 03.036 – W 86 59.124 – Run downstream to the right bank across from the mouth of Simpson Creek. This steep bank has no houses on it on the upstream side and drops off very fast.  There are rock piles all along this bank as well as some brush out in 20 feet of water. It is the kind of bank Don likes, with dips and small points, not just a straight bluff wall.  He says some of his biggest bass from Smith have come off this bank.

     Start on the upstream end of this steep bank, near where there is a small point downstream of a cove. Fish on down the bank to the spot in number 5.

     To fish steep banks like this one Don keeps his boat in about 35 feet of water and makes angled casts to about 12 feet. Working his baits back at an angle keeps it in the productive 15 to 20 foot range longer than if you cast straight in toward the bank.   He probes for hidden rocks and brush in the 15 to 20 foot range while watching his deptfinder for fish holding even deeper. If you are seeing bass holding out in 30 to 35 feet of water, back out and work your bait at that depth to see if they will hit.

     5.  N 34 02.875 – W 86 59.58 – As you fish downstream on the bank above you will round a point and see a dock landing way up on the bank. The wind got the dock but the small deck where the walkway was anchored is still there. Just downstream of it is a big willow tree sitting in a small pocket.  A shelf runs out from this willow tree and is another of the kinds of hidden sweet spots Don tries to find.

     You can idle across this spot, staying parallel to the bank, and you will see the shelf come up then drop back off.  Fish get on top of this shelf to feed. Don likes to sit in front of the willow tree and cast downstream, landing his bait on top of the shelf. He then works the spinnerbait, or plastic down the upstream drop.

     Don says current does not play much of a role in fishing on Smith so he usually keeps his boat in deep water and casts to shallow water, working his bait down the drop. You are less likely to get hung up fishing in that direction, too.  You can fish all around this shelf and work your bait across it at different angles, but Don’s best luck has been casting downstream.

     6.  N 34 03.423 – W 87 00.720 – Start into the mouth of Millers Creek and you will see a shallow flat point running out on your right. Just upstream of the point there is a bunch of small willows or button bushes in the water. There is a red roof dock up on the bank on the upstream side of the point.

     This point runs way out and comes up into a hump. It tops out at about 15 feet deep then drops again into very deep water. There are stumps, rocks and man-made brush piles on this hump and point.

     Don likes to get out on the creek side of the hump and fish across it from this direction, but he will work all around it, casting at different angles.  Fish can be feeding anywhere on the point and hump but the bigger fish seem to concentrate nearer the deeper end.  Fish it with spinnerbait and crankbait, then try different plastics and jigs on it, too.

     7.  N 34 03.177 – W 87 01.055 – Across the lake going downsream you will see three danger markers in a line way off a point on  your left, across from the mouth of Miller Creek.  The river channel runs right along this point and it drops off fast on both sides. The ridge is very sharp and narrow and tops out at about nine feet at full pool   There is also a dip or saddle between the bank and the first marker out from it.

     Keep your boat out on the upstream side of the ridge and cast parallel, keeping your bait in the 15 to 18 foot range. Work the whole ridge, from the third marker out all the way into the bank. Don says bass often stack up in the saddle, too, so make some casts across it when you pass the marker closest to the bank.

     Bass will hold on the downstream side of the ridge, so it can pay off to circle it, fishing both sides. Wind blowing across this ridge will move water and position bass on it so work the wind. Don says wind generated water movement is much more important than any current here from power generation at the dam.

     Jigs and worms are Don’s best baits here and he will sometimes go to a Zoom Finesse worm on his jighead. It is better for numbers of bass but it will get bites when other baits fail.  Work it on eight pound line, fishing parallel to the drop in the 15 to 18 foot range.

     8.  N 34 03.193 – W 87 01.743 – Running downstream look to your right and you will see a series of coves and a small creek entering the lake as the river swings to your left. There are finger points between each of these coves that run way out and drop off into the channel. The ends of the points may be 17 to 18 feet deep then suddenly drop to 110 feet.   All of them can be good and all hold bass.

     Don usually starts out from a cabin that is all windows on the lake side.  There are several docks along here and there is usually an American flag flying on a pole.  If you start here and idle toward the big point downstream, on the downstream side of the deepest cove, you will cross the points.

     Since bass often school up on one of the points and several near it may not have many fish on them, Don will watch for bass and bait on his depthfinder.  Or you can fish them all, trying to find the schooling fish. There are sometimes single fish scattered here, too.  Keep your boat in deep water and cast across the points in 15 to 18 feet and work out to 30 feet deep here.

     9. N 34 03.134 – W 87 02.998 – Go into Lick Branch and you will see a long bank with a series of “For Sale” signs on it. There is one dock along this bank. Across from it, on your left, watch for a cove a little over half way back from the mouth to the split.  There are no houses on the bank from the cove upstream that you can see. The upstream point of this cove runs out and drops off and holds good fish.

     Ride over the point and you will see the bottom come up from 40 feet to about 16 feet on top.  Stay out on the end of the point in deep water and cover the whole point with your baits.  Don says he has caught a lot of good bass here.

     10. N 34 02.061 – W 87 02.909 – On the far bank, the one with the for sale signs, a ledge runs along the bank out then drops off into very deep water. Bass feed all along this ledge. If you get in close you can see small red lot marker signs on trees near the edge of the water.  Start near the #15 sign and fish downstream, past the dock and the small cove.

     Keep your boat out in 35 feet of water and cast parallel to the bank. The ledge runs out to 15 feet deep and you want to cover the 15 to 20 foot deep edge where it drops off.  Cast up into about ten feet of water and let your bait hit bottom, then fish it back so it stays on the bottom out to at least 20 feet deep.  When you get to the dip in the bank fish the edges of the dip where the ledge drops there, too.

     These spots are holding bass right now. Get on the lake before dark and find them and others like them, and fish them hard from sundown on.  Bass will bite all night long if you can stick with them.

How and Where To Catch April Bass at Lake Wheeler with GPS Coordinates and Lure Selection

with D.D. Murphy

    May is a transition month for bass, especially on northern Alabama lakes. The bass are moving and you have to follow them to have good catches.  But they do travel on predictable paths and they hold on predictable spots.  Wheeler is an excellent lake to pattern May bass and catch numbers as well as heavy sacks.

    Covering 60 miles on the Tennessee River, Wheeler is the second biggest Alabama Lake.  This TVA lake runs from the Guntersville dam to the Wheeler dam and goes from a river run to huge flats near Decatur to a highland type reservoir toward the dam. Dammed in 1936, it contains 67,000 acres of water and over 1000 miles of shoreline.

    D.D. Murphy grew up in the area and has fished Wheeler for 36 years.  As a youth he fished the lake with family members for anything that would bite. When he was 16 Coach Ronnie Hindman took him bass fishing on Lake Eufaula and he was hooked. Since then he has concentrated on catching bass and has learned Wheeler’s secrets.

    Owning a bait and tackle store in the area as well as fishing many tournaments on Wheeler helped D.D. figure out how to catch Wheeler bass. He has fished the BASS Weekend series the past two years and placed fourth on Wheeler last year and third there the year before.  His best tournament catch on Wheeler was a five fish limit weighing 28.12 pounds and he has landed a 9 pound, 15 ounce lunker from the lake.

    “Most tournaments are won on the flats between the nuclear plant and Limestone Creek,” D.D. said.  The big flats in that area produce heavy tournament strings and it is the area he fishes.  May is an excellent time to find schools of big fish moving across the flats and holding at the mouths of creeks.

    By late April 90 percent of the bass have finished bedding, according to D.D.  You might find a few still in the very shallow flats spawning but most are following ditches out to deeper water.  Find a bend in a creek channel or ditch and bass will be holding on it.  Points where the channels hit the main river also hold big schools of bass.

    The flats on Wheeler are very shallow, with two to six feet of water covering huge areas.  It does not take much of a drop to hold bass and give them something to follow. D.D. will watch for a change as little as six inches to one foot to know he is in a good place.

    Hard bottoms are a key. Shell beds are a favorite feeding place for May Wheeler bass. Those shell beds attract baitfish, the key to finding active bass on Wheeler.  Also, there will be some shad and bream spawning in May and they are attracted to the hard bottoms which brings the bass in to them.

    The flats and ditches have many stumps on them and bass love to hold around a stump.  That is also a good cover that D.D. searches for and if he can find a good stump bed near a shallow hump with shells on it he knows bass will hold there.

    A variety of lures will catch bass right now on Wheeler.  D.D. will have a Terminator spinnerbait, a Rapala or Strike King crankbait, a jig and pig, a Carolina rigged lizard and a Zara Spook tied on when he goes out.  All are thrown on Castaway or GLoomis rods and he uses heavy line, usually 17 pound mono.

    The water is usually stained at Wheeler but not muddy so shad colored baits are best and the heavy line does not spook the fish.  White with some chartreuse is a good color for the spinnerbait. In late April smaller blades work well but as May progresses and the baitfish get bigger he will go with bigger silver blades on his bait.

    Crankbaits that run ten feet deep or less are the best on Wheeler.  Most areas D.D. will be fishing may drop off to deeper water but he expects the fish to hit in four to six feet usually.  Shad colored crankbaits are the best for fishing this shallow water.

    D.D uses a homemade jig and tips it with a craw trailer.  Greens and browns are best in May. A jig and pig is his go-to bait for big bass. D.D. says more big bass have been caught on a jig and pig and more tournaments won on them than any other bait.

    He will also drag a Carolina rigged lizard and uses one-half to three-quarters ounce leads unless the wind or current is strong. Heavier sinkers help locate the shell beds and rocks as you drag your Carolina rig along but since the water is less than ten feet deep you don’t have to go to a full ounce sinker.

    The Spook is a great big-fish bait and chrome is a good color. It will draw strikes from fish holding at the depths D.D. likes to fish and a Spook walked over a drop with stumps on it will produce good bass.

    The following ten spots all hold May bass and are some of D.D.’s favorites. The GPS coordinates are in degrees, minutes and seconds.

    1. N 34 34 39.5 – W  86 53 13.4 – Creek mouths are good because bass migrating out of the creeks to deeper water will hold on cover and structure as they move out. But not all creek mouths are created equal.  Limestone Creek is a good example of the kind of structure you need to look for to hold bass.

    The upstream side of the mouth of Limestone Creek has flats and shallow water.  There is a river ledge that runs between the flats and the mouth of the creek, dropping off at the end into the creek channel and on the side into the river channel. This point is covered in stumps and is the kind of point or ledge that will hold bass.

    D.D. will position his boat in deep water off the end of the ledge, keeping it on the river side.  He will make long casts with his baits so they work across the point from different angles but always coming downstream.  You can work around the end of the point starting with one bait like the Spook then as you get into the creek side turn and fish back with another bait like a Carolina rigged lizard. That gives bass holding there a look at two different kinds of baits.

    If you catch a fish continue to work the bait it hits. After going some time without a bite try one of the other baits. Sometimes a change-up will get bites from fish that won’t go after the bait that has been working. Try to hit stumps with your Carolina rig and crankbait here.

    2. N 34 35 06.6 – W 86 55 32.9 – The mouth of Flint Creek is different in that it has more bends and flats on both sides with a river ledge on each side where it hits the main river.  Start at the upstream river ledge and fish it from several angles. It is best. Then try the downstream ledge.  You can also fish into the creek, keeping your boat in the creek channel and casting to the lips on either side.

    There is a sharp outside bend that swings over close to the bank not far into the creek.  Outside bends of channels always offer a hot spot where bass will hold up. The drop is usually sharper and it gives bass a quicker escape route.  Always watch for bends like this one and fish them carefully.

    Fish into the creek until you stop catching fish.  In late April and early May bass will still be filtering out of the creek and more may be back in it than later in the month. 

    3. N 34 38 31.7 – W 87 0 31.3 = Go downstream under the Highway 31 and railroad bridges and watch to your right.  At the second black channel marker buoy upstream of the Swan Creek Daylight Marker 302.3 slow down and idle across the river ledge. Watch your depthfinder and head straight toward the north bank.  You will be in shallow water about six feet deep or less but you will cross an old lake that drops into 11 feet deep.

    Start fishing as soon as the water drops off, working the lip of the old lake. Keep your boat out in the 10 to 11 feet of water and cast up across the flat, bringing your bait from shallow to deep. Fish all the way around the lake working like this. It will take some time to outline the lake bed but it can hold bass all around it.

    This is a pretty clean bottom with no stumps. There may be a little grass growing here. Milfoil used to fill the shallows and make the lake better but low winter pools have killed off most of it. If you hit any grass fish it carefully.

    This lake bed attracts lots of baitfish so watch for them. You will often see them skip away from your bait while it is in the shallow water and that is an excellent sign bass will be nearby. 

    Since the bottom is clean D.D. will often fish a lipless bait like a Rat-L-Trap here, one of the few places it can be worked without hanging up.  If he needs a bigger bass or is looking for tournament fish he will go with a big bait, starting with a three-quarter ounce and even fishing a full ounce Trap.

    This is also a good place to fish a crankbait, bumping bottom as you come across the lip of the old lake.  A spinnerbait slow rolled across the drop is also good.

    4. N 34 38 32.8 – W 87 01 28.9 – The mouth of Baker’s Creek is good but different.  Upstream of it the plant on that side has two water discharges so there is often current here even when the river is not moving.  There is a small island with trees on it in the mouth of the creek and flats on both sides of the channel. Where the creek enters there are rock piles on either side.

    Fish all around these rocks. Shad may spawn on them and bait fish are drawn to them. The current improves fishing here as it does on other spots but it is more consistent here due to the discharges.  Fish with the moving water as much as possible, keeping your boat on the down current side and casting back up and across the rocks.

    Current makes bass feed and you will often find it flowing over the points at the mouths of creeks. Current coming down the river and out of the creeks will create eddies that confuse baitfish and offer bass a good place to ambush them. Watch for any changes in the current if it is moving.

    5. N 34 39 11.6 – W 87 02 25.1 – Going downstream watch for the channel split where it goes on either side of Finley Island. The island is underwater but the shallows split the channel. Right at the head of the island, on the upstream end, is a red and green striped buoy marking the point of it.  This point is three to six feet deep and holds bass.

    D.D. will fish both sides of the point, positioning his boat downstream of the point out in the channel on either side and casting upstream, working his baits across the end of the point and down the sides.  You can throw a crankbait, spinnerbait, jig and pig and Carolina rig here, fishing with any current coming down the river.

    6. N 34 39 54.1 – W 87 03 28.4 – Across the river channel you will see Byrd’s Island Daylight Marker 299.3.  Go to it and fish the river ledge on both sides of it.  There are no ditches across it but there are shell beds on both sides that hold bass. You can feel them with a Carolina rig or heavy jig and pig to locate them and then fish all your baits over them.

    Watch carefully for any rise, even if it is only six inches.  This will often mark the shell bed so if you see your boat is coming up into more shallow water fish closer to it. You may be sitting on the sweet spot and casting past it.  If you do get your boat up on top of the shell bed mark it then come back later and fish it.  Your boat may spook the fish in the very shallow water but they will come back.

    7. N 34 39 26.5 – W 87 03 28.4 – If you go straight south across the channel from the marker in hole 6 you will cross the middle of Finley Island. When it gets shallow idle across the flat and watch your dephfinder.  The water will be three to six feet deep then suddenly drop off to 11 feet deep.  This is an old farm pond that was on the island and you can see it on good maps.

    Grass used to grow all around this old farm pond and hold fish. There are some stumps here and you may find a little grass now. Get your boat into the middle of the pond in the 11 foot deep water and fish all around it, casting your baits to the shallow water and working them back across the drop.   

    Here and other spots bass are more likely to be on the upstream side if the current is flowing.  They can hold in the deeper water in the old pond and baitfish coming downstream with the current will wash across the lip of the drop and make and easy meal. Try to make your crankbait or spinnerbait look like a baitfish coming downstream with the current.

    8. N 34 40 36.4 – W 87 03 17.2 – Several creek channels wind across the big flats in the mouth of Swan Creek and join up. There are also ditches off them and high spots on the edges of the channels and ditches.  Bass moving out of the vast spawning flats behind these ditches will follow them out, stopping to feed on bends and high spots.

    The mouth of the creek is between the marker in hole 6 and the power line but it is small and there are stumps here. Be very careful going it until you learn your way. You will be going across flats only two to three feet deep in many places and sometimes the deeper channels are lined with stumps. Idle speed is safer.

    Go in and find the sharp bend in the creek channel. It is due north of the downstream end of Finley Island, although a long way from it, and south of the big island in the mouth of Round Island, Briley and Mud Creeks where they all come together.

    There are two shallow humps just off the lip of this ditch.  Fish all around it and work up the ditches, following them looking for breaks and humps.  Bass will hold on any change and feed here.

    Your Spook is a good search bait here and in other places. Make long casts across the ditch edges and work it along them. A hit will usually mean other bass are holding in the same area.  Fish your Spook but also follow it up with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jig and pig and a lizard.

    9. N 34 40 32.7 – W 87 04 27.2 – If you follow the creek channel downstream it will run between two sets of towers on the power line.  One tower set is out near the river channel and the next one toward the north bank and the ditch where two creek channels join and make a bend before going out to the river between is them.

    Fish the ditches like the ones in hole 8 but also fish the towers.  The concrete piers of the towers have rocks around them and often draw in schools of shad to spawn around them.  Fish all around the tower bases with topwater then run a spinnerbait or crankbait right beside the legs.  Stay downstream and cast upstream to work your baits with the current if it is moving.

    D.D. says a big tournament was won here by fishing these towers.  The channels are like a highway the bass follow and the towers are like fast food joints along the highway. Bass will hold and feed around them all during May.

    10. N 34 40 33.9 – W 87 05 51.6 – The mouth of Fox Creek offers flats on both sides with a channel snaking across them to join up with the river.  D.D. sits out on the river and throws across the upstream point formed by the creek and river channel, fishing a crankbait or Carolina rig across it.

    Dark lizards seem to be better and D.D. likes the Zoom lizard in either black or Junebug.  He will vary his sinker weight with the current but likes lighter leads when possible, unless trying to find new shell beds.

    Fish both sides of the creek mouth and work into it, following the channel across the flat, especially in late April and early May.  Search for schools of bass with faster moving baits then fish them and your slower moving Carolina rig and jig and pig for bigger fish.

    Try these ten spots then find others by studying a map looking for ditches and humps. Spend time on the water fishing those places. Try D.D.’s baits and tactics and you will catch plenty of May bass at Wheeler.

Where and How To Catch April Bass at Aliceville with GPS Coordinates

with Steven Fikes

     If you like fishing for shallow bass you love April.  All over the state bass are in the shallows either spawning or feeding after the spawn.  If you really like fishing for shallow fish around grass and lily pads you should head to Aliceville on the Tombigbee River.  Its backwaters are full of bass feeding around shallow cover right now.

     Aliceville, also called Pickensville by some, is an 8300 acre impoundment formed by a lock and dam on the Tombigbee River west of Tuscaloosa right on the state line.  The dam was closed in 1980 and water from the river filled many sloughs and shallows on both sides.  There a couple of good ramps and some lakeside campgrounds for visiting anglers.

     Many bass fishermen from both Alabama and Mississippi fish Aliceville and it hosts a good many club and pot tournaments. In the 2007 BAIT Program it ranked in first place for the bass per angler day and pounds per angler day categories.  Combine that with a third place ranking in percent success, fourth in average bass weight and second in hours per bass over five pounds and Aliceville got the top ranking of the 27 lakes in the survey.

     Steven Fikes has lived all his live around Tuscaloosa and loves bass fishing.  He grew up fishing and got serious about tournament fishing about four years ago. Up to that time he had fished with the Tuscaloosa County Bass Club and some other tournaments with buddies and as a no boater in some BFLs.  When he started fishing the BFLs as a boater he did well, qualifying for the All American in 2007 and qualifying for the BFL Regional again last year.  He is on the Grammer Marine fishing team and also fishes their tournament trail as well as other local pot tournaments.

     Steven fishes Aliceville often and knows what the bass are doing there.  He says many bass will spawn on the full moon around March 11 and another smaller wave will spawn on the April 9th full moon.  That means right now there are post spawn bass in the shallows guarding fry and feeding as well as pre spawn bass looking at bedding areas.  By mid April there will be some post spawn fish guarding fry but most of the bass will be feeding in the shallows through the end of the month.

     In an April Aliceville tournament Steven weighed in his best five bass limit in a tournament at 16.25 pounds and had a personal limit while “fun” fishing weighing 21.5 pounds.  His best bass from Aliceville is just under seven pounds but he has seen many bigger bass caught there.

     Aliceville is full of sloughs and shallow flooded flats covered with hydrilla, milfoil, lily pads and several other types of grass.  Some sloughs have cypress trees standing in water six to ten feet deep.  All this cover offers bass great places to hold and feed and makes the lake look “fishy” everywhere you turn.

     Steven is on the Castaway Rods fishing team and uses their casting rods in a variety of actions to cover the baits he likes to fish in Aliceville right now.  He will have a couple of heavy rods and reels spooled with Power Pro braid for flipping creature baits, lizards and jigs into grass and around trees.  He will always have a rod and reel rigged with a Zara Spook for fishing open water and a buzzbait tied on for heavier grass cover.

     A Strike King spinnerbait is ready to run around grass and cypress trees and he will also use a Bandit Footloose shallow running crankbait to fish over grass that is still under the surface.  A floating worm is also a good bait to have ready.  He uses Bass Pro Shops Excel monofilament line for baits where it works best and will go to Segar Fluorocarbon if the he needs an invisible line in clear water.

     Steven and I fished Aliceville the last day of February – the day after the flooding rains. It was cold and cloudy and the river was running as fast as he had ever seen it and rising all day, pushing water back into the woods. Muddy water was also pushing into the shallows but we were still able to find some clear water to fish, which is important and you can almost always find it even when the river is muddy. 

     Even under the bad conditions we landed 14 or 15 bass up to three pounds. Most looked like bucks moving in to check out spawning areas so by now many will have spawned and the bucks will be guarding fry and the females will be feeding to recover from the spawn in the following areas.

     1. N 33 16.264 – W 88 18.814 – If you put in at Raleigh Ryan Access ramp run up the river to the second opening to your right. It is not the opening at the red channel marker; it is past it and is one of the entrances to Coal Fire Creek.  Be careful since it is shallow and there are stumps here. You will go back and turn to your left as you follow the bank. There will be standing trees on your left and you want to go around to the back side of them.

     When you get behind the timber there are two good pockets on your left across the timber field. There are lots of stumps under water as well as visible ones and standing trees. Go in carefully to the cove on the left and start fishing near the blown down tree with the big root ball sticking up on the bank. Work to your right, fishing around this pocket, across the point between them and around the next cove, too. 

     Steven likes to start fishing early moving fast with a spinnerbait or topwater in areas like this. There will be lots of grass to fish and the bass can be anywhere in it. When you catch one, especially if it is a good one, slow down and probe the area carefully with a plastic bait or a jig and pig. Pitch them into holes in the grass and also rig one on a heavy tungsten sinker that will punch through the mats to bass holding under it. Work a floating worm over and through the grass, too.

     2. N 33 15.757 – W 88 17.587 – Coming back out the way you went in watch for an opening to your left. There is a big island to the left side and a very small island to the right of it.  Start fishing on the point of the big island and fish back into the slough to your left. There is a lot of grass and pads in here and it will get very thick toward the end of April.

     Out on the point the water comes up from 11 to six feet deep pretty quickly and the bass will hold along this drop in the grass.  It gives them access to deep water so this is a very good place later in April.  They can feed all the way back into the slough so work your spinnerbait, shallow running crankbait and topwater all around this slough.  We caught four bass and Steven caught one of our biggest bass here when we fished. The water was a good color although many other areas were muddy.

     Watch for open areas between grass mats and work your Spook through them. If that does not draw a strike try punching through the mats with a creature bait like a Little Chigger Craw or a lizard.  Be ready for a hit as soon as it falls through the mat and set the hook hard. You will need braid and a heavy rod for this kind of fishing.

     3.  N 33 14.825 – W 88 88.954 – You can go all the way back out the point of the main river where you came in or start working the bank to your left a couple of hundred yards before you get to the river.  A ledge with grass growing on it runs out from this bank then drops off fast and is a good area for post spawn fish.  Overhanging brush offers some shade, too.

     Run a buzzbait over the grass then work your plastics through it.  Keep your boat out in deeper water and fish the edges of the grass then work back into it. Here and in all other spots pick apart the cover if you catch a good bass, there are likely more nearby.  Watch for patterns, too. If you catch a couple of bass from milfoil but not other grass, concentrate on the milfoil.

     4.  N 33 15.122 – W 88 18.286 – For something a little different run up to the big grain bins up the river from the campground on your left. Start working the left bank, fishing the docks and riprap along this bank all the way to the barge landing. Fish around the barge if one is there.

     A spinnerbait or crankbait is good here and you can also fish a floating worm or jig around the docks. 
Fishing upstream gives you more control of the boat and also allows you to fish slower.  Work your bait with the current as you work upstream, presenting the bait naturally like a baitfish moving with the current.

     5. N 33 15.580 – W 88 18.985 – Run upstream and you will pass some houses on your left.  Just above the green channel marker 310.7 in front of one of the houses is the opening to a big creek. Run back in it to the small island on your right. It is across from a big house with a screen porch that runs all the way around it, the fifth house from the end.

     There is deeper water around this island and grassbeds fill the shallows near it.  Bass hold here both post and pre spawn because of this deeper water refuge and feed in the grass. Fish all the way around the island covering it with all your baits.  Steven says grass will often grow to within six inches of the surface out away from the island and you can work a topwater bait like a Spook or buzzbait over it to pull bass up out of the grass.

     6. N 33 14.385 – W 88 18.467 – Head back down the river and go into the creek at the upstream end of the campground. Stay near the left bank, there are two more sloughs to your right.  Steven runs back to where there are permanent trailers and docks on your left going in.  Many of the docks have white PVC post on them. The day we fished the docks were under water and the posts looked like they were just standing in the water.

     Fish up this bank, pitching a plastic bait under the docks and to the poles on them. Work the scattered grassbeds around them, too.  Steven will fish all the way into the cove where the road runs near the water and there is a private boat ramp. If any bass are still bedding some will be back in this cove then they will move out to the docks and feed post spawn. You can look for beds and sight fish back in here around the full moon in April.

     7. N 33 15.014 – W 88 18.660 – Come out of the left pocket and run into the middle arm. Go back until you get to the trailers but watch for stumps in that area. You will be back behind the grain bins out on the river. 

     Many of the stumps back here have PVC pipe in them to mark them.  There is a bed of a half-dozen or so stumps out from the trailers and Steven likes to work the grass all around them. Try to drop your bait down by the stump, too.  It will be covered with grass but offers a good holding spot in the grass. Fish all around the back of this slough, working the grass here.

     8.  N 33 15.308 – W 88 16.677 – Run down the river and go into the cut just upstream of the red channel marker 309.3. This is actually the old river channel and it runs to the far bank with houses on it.  Run almost to this bank then swing left, following the bank. You will run past some standing trees on your right. When the open water narrows down to a small channel ahead and to the right there is a big slough full of cypress trees to your left. Steven still calls this the Eagle’s Nest although the nest is gone.

     Steven stops out from these trees and works in, casting a Spook around them then flipping a jig and pig or plastic bait to the.  The trees are in six to ten feet of water and run a long way up this slough.  You could probably stay in here all day fishing trees.

     Also try your baits around the grass on the banks of the slough. Steven says you will often catch males guarding fry around the grass but the bigger females are likely to be holding deeper around the base of the trees, recovering from the spawn. Steven said if he had to catch a five pounder he would concentrate on cypress trees here.

     Fish trees slowly and carefully and try to find a pattern. Are they holding on the shady side of the tree? Do they want a splash when your bait hits the water or do you need to hit the trunk and let your bait slide into the water? Paying attention to details like those can make the difference between fishing and catching.

     9. N 33 14.708 – W 88 16.025 – Go back out the way you came in and when the trees on your left end you will see a big point on your right.  It is the right side point of a big cove when facing it.  Start on the point and work the grass beds going into this side of the cove.

     This is a very big flat and the grass will be all over it. Work all of the right side, looking for keys like where two kinds of grass come together or where there is an isolated patch on top.  Keep fishing the area until you find the fish then concentrate on the smaller area and pattern where they are holding. The other end of the slough full of cypress in hole 8 opens here and you can fish all the way through it and come out here, or go in here too.

     10. N 33 14.748 – W 88 17.319 – In the back of the big cove above you will see a small island toward the left bank going in and there is a opening to its left. This goes back then opens up. Another cut to the left goes into another pond that is called Clear Hole.  The water almost always stays clear in here. Steven says many people go in here looking for bedding bass but they get hammered and are hard to catch.

     Check out the ponds and cuts in this area. Steven says he often starts out at the small island at the first cut and is catching bass as other boats go by him further back to look for spawners.  Fish all the grass in the cuts and ponds in this area.

     Check out these ten spots.  There are many others near them that hold bass, these are just some of Steven’s favorites.  Once you find the patterns the bass are on and which baits they want you can catch them in other similar areas.

     Steven did not fish as hard as he wanted to last year. After some numbness in his left hand he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  Fortunately, medication has stopped the progress of the MS and he is able to fish now. Please keep Steven in your thoughts and prayers.