September Bass at Neely Henry
with Dustin King
September finally offers bass fishermen some hope that things are getting better. The first of the month it is still uncomfortably hot during the day and bass are still on their summer patterns, but slowly things get better. Days get shorter and cooler, water temperatures start to drop and bass get more active. If you want to take advantage of these changes head to Neely Henry.
Neely Henry is a river lake on the Coosa River at Gadsden. It has lots of big largemouth and Coosa spots to catch, and they get more active in September. The grassbeds that line much of the shallows become more attractive to bass and the shallow ledges see more feeding activity. You can find just about any kind of fishing you want on Neely Henry this month.
Dustin King grew up on the lake and still lives in a house on its shoreline. He guides on Neely Henry and fishes most tournaments on it. After fishing with a local club for a couple of years Dustin now fishes some of the trail tournaments like the BASS Weekend Series, BFL and Coosa River Team Trail. He has a 5.5 pound spot and a 6.5 pound largemouth from Neely.
Even at his young age Dustin has done well enough to have a good many sponsors, including Go2Bait plastics, Lews Reels, Greg’s Custom Rods, Rock Hard Tackle jigs, Tackle Doctor spinnerbaits and Topwater Clothing.
“In late August bass are still suspending off river and creek ledges and running in to feed for short periods of time,” Dustin said. If you hit the right ledge at the right time you can catch some good fish fast, but feeding often does not last long. You have to be there when they feed.
“Later in the month, bass move toward shoreline grassbeds and tend to hold a little more shallow,” Dustin told me. Both spots and largemouth tend to be a little easier to catch when holding out from the bank and they feed more around the grass beds and for longer times on the deeper holding areas.
A variety of baits are always rigged and ready for September fishing in Dustin’s Skeeter. He will have a Tackle Doctor spinnerbait, a big deep running crankbait, a Rock Hard Shaky Head, and a Carolina rig ready. A topwater bait like a Spook or Pop-R and a rattle bait like a Rat-L-Trap is also handy for throwing as schooling fish that often come up during this month.
In early August Dustin had a guide trip and let me ride along to get information. We fished the following spots that will still be holding bass most of September and looked at some places that will get better later in the month. Dustin landed a big largemouth off one, probably his biggest largemouth from Neely.
The following spots will show you the kinds of places Dustin catches bass in September. Try his tactics and baits on them.
1. N 33 55.743 – W 86 02.674 – If you put in at Rainbow Ramp you will be fairly close to all these spots. Head down the river and watch for three small islands right on the right bank. Downstream of them a little way is a yellow boathouse. Straight out in front of it in the middle of the lake on the river ledge Dustin has some brush piles and rocks on the right ledge. You will be about even with a big open hillside on the other bank where there are no trees and the grass is short.
You can idle around to find the brush. It is where the river channel makes a slight turn. When you find it back off and sit in about 12 feet of water and cast toward the yellow boat house. The brush runs for about 75 yards upstream and you want to fish it all with a Carolina rigged worm. Dustin will try different sizes, from the Go2 finesse worm to their 14 inch curly tail worm.
Bass have been on this spot all summer and will feed most of September here. Fish the whole area carefully, trying to hit all the rocks and brush on the ledge.
2. N 33 55.412 – W 86 03.467 – Further downstream on the right Lakeshore Drive runs right along the river bank. There is riprap lining the water’s edge. Dustin starts at the first dock past a stretch of bare bank and fishes downstream. Bass feed here early in the morning the first of September and feed longer as the water cools.
Fish a buzzbait or topwater plug along this bank, throwing right on the bank and working out. Also fish a jig head worm like the RockHard quarter ounce green pumpkin head with a Go2 Swim Craw on it. Bass feed on crayfish along these rocks and the swim craw imitates them.
Fish down this bank past two or three docks. If you catch fish keep working this bank, it often loads up with bass. Dustin will often make a pass with a topwater bait then go back over it with the jig head if he catches anything. If two of you are fishing, you should try the different baits to see what they want.
3. N 33 53.508 – W 86 04.278 – Run downstream around the bend to the left and watch on your right for a dirt road entering the water between two docks. It is across from a big slough on the left bank and the upstream dock is an open wood dock with a gray roof. The downstream dock is a brown platform with no roof.
The roadbed entering marks an old ferry crossing and there is a lot of gravel on the bank around it. Bass move into shallow water here to feed later in September and you can catch a lot of fish as they eat shad. The top of the old road is about nine feet deep a long cast off the bank.
Work all the area between the two docks with a shad imitating plug like a Rat-L-Trap, making long cast to the bank and fishing it back out. Dustin says you could sit here all day and catch bass when they move into the area to feed. Shad are the key, if you see shad the bass will be there.
4. N 33 52.290 – W 86 04.055 – A little further downstream the river makes a sharp turn to the mouth of Big Canoe Creek. On the right just before the mouth of the creek a smaller creek enters and there is an island on right on the upstream point of this creek. Grass is all around it and a point comes off it toward the creek channel.
You can catch fish around the grass early in the morning on topwater and spinnerbaits but Dustin concentrates on the point, working a big crankbait and a shaky head across it. He usually sits on the downstream side of the point and casts back across it, working from the shallows out to the creek channel.
When throwing a big crankbait Dustin tries to hit the bottom then slows down, keeping it bumping along. That seems to attract the fish. Also try a topwater across the top of the point. Watch for schooling fish here, they often come up and you should be ready to throw to them.
5. N 33 51.606 – W 86 05.515 – Up Big Canoe Creek Perimeter Creek enters on the left. You can see a bridge not far back in the creek and a long point runs off the upstream side of it, between it and Big Canoe Creek. In the middle of the mouth of Perimeter Creek, about even with the end of the upstream point and a gray roof boat house on the other side, the creek channel makes a bend.
Dustin sits on the downstream side of the creek ledge in the channel and casts a big crankbait, Carolina rig or shaky head. Sit in about 14 feet of water and you will be casting up into about eight feet of water. There are stumps and shellbeds on the creek ledge and bass hold here all month long.
Dustin caught a bass here that would push seven pounds on a big deep running crankbait in the middle of the morning. He was bumping the bottom when it hit on the edge of the ledge. He got hung up several times on the stumps here but managed to get his bait back each time. It is worth the chance of losing a plug to catch the bass that hold here.
6. N 33 51.725 – W 85 05.570 – The long point on the upstream side of Perimeter Creek runs way out and holds bass. The Big Canoe channel runs in and parallels the point on the upstream side. There are lots of stumps on it.
Go way out to the end of the point where it is about six feet deep and throw a topwater bait across it. You will be fishing water less than six feet deep and bass often run in here to feed. After working the area with topwater go upstream until you drop off into the channel, then turn toward the bank.
Sit in the channel and work a Carolina rig or shaky head, throwing up on top of the point and fishing back down the drop. This is really just a very shallow creek ledge and bass feed on top and hold on the drop into the channel.
7. N 33 53.530 – 86 05.615 – Run up Big Canoe Creek past the last big slough on your right and watch for a grassbed in the middle of the creek channel. Be careful here, the channel is about 14 feet deep but the edges are very shallow, as the grass bed shows. The channel runs right along the outside of the grassbed.
Fish the channel side of the grassbed early with topwater like a buzzbait or spinnerbait then fish a shaky head worm along it. Throw the shaky head right to the edge of the grass and move it very slowly to follow the steep drop. Fish it down to the bottom then make another pitch to the edge of the grass.
Bass were feeding on shad here when we fished and Dustin and his client caught several spots and white bass. They often school up here and this spot can be good all day long. Watch for dimpling shad or swirls and cast to them.
8. N 33 50.592 – W 86 34.335 – Greensport Marina is on the right side going into the mouth of Beaver Creek. An old roadbed comes out just downstream of the marina and runs out to the river channel where another road hits it. Bass stack up on this roadbed in September and it is an excellent place to catch them. They are moving up into more shallow water and toward the grassbeds around the marina.
Sit on the downstream side of the roadbed and cast up across it with a Carolina rig and shaky head. Your boat will be in about nine feet of water and the roadbed tops out about six feet deep.
Current on this spot and all others is very important. When power is being generated at the dam current flows across points, roadbeds and ledges and moves baitfish. Bass move to feed on these easy meals so cast upstream and fish your baits with the current like the baitfish move.
You can get a generation schedule for Neely Henry by calling 1-800-LAKES11. Soon after they start generating with one or two units current starts moving across structure and turns on the bass.
9. N 33 49.103 – W 86 03.136 – Ottery Creek enters the lake on the left further downstream. The upstream point between the creek and river runs way out and is very narrow. Go into the mouth of the creek and past that point until you see a dip in it. There is a long point coming off it at right angles running out to the channel. It is out from a chain link fence along the bank, just upstream from where the seawall changes from wood to riprap.
This point is loaded with stumps so fish it with a Carolina rig and jig head. A crankbait will catch fish but Dustin says you will lose a lot of them to the stumps. Sit out in 15 feet of water and cast toward the bank in five to six feet of water. Follow the contour break around the point.
10. N 33 48.934 – W 85.04.051 – On the right further downstream Shoal Creek enters the lake. Right in the mouth of it a roadbed runs all the way across the mouth, out to the creek channel where an old bridge is blown out then to the far bank. You can see where it enters on the right going in at small dock.
Start well off the bank, keeping your boat on the downstream side of the roadbed in about 14 feet of water to start. Cast up and across it with a crankbait, Carolina rig or jig head. Dustin caught a good two pound plus largemouth here the day we fished on a crankbait.
Fish all the way across to the channel and the other side, too. Dustin says you can sit here all day and catch fish when they run in to feed. If you catch a bass cast back to the same area as quickly as possible since they often don’t stay up on it long.
Wind blowing across this roadbed and other spots helps like current does. Baitfish will move with the wind so take advantage of it. Current generated at the dam pulls water out of the creek, making it even better.
All these spots will hold bass in late August and September, with some of them getting better as the month progresses. Try them and see the types of places Dustin looks for and you can find others all over the lake.
To see how Dustin fishes these places in person, call him for a guide trip at 256-504-6659 or visit his web site at http://www.dustinkingfishing.com/