Summer Fishing on Alabama's Lake Harris
Summer Fishing on Alabama's Lake Harris
By Reed Montgomery
DAY: When the temperature rises in mid-eastern Alabama the fishing gets hot at Lake Harris . Wedowee , Alabama is the closest town near this first impoundment at the headwaters of the Big and Little Tallapoosa Rivers. What this impoundment means to the angler (and to the bass) is current, cool water and oxygen, with very little pollutants. This 30 mile long impoundment is loaded with baitfish, crayfish and trophy bass in the 10 pound plus category. Alabama 's youngest lake (17 yrs old), Lake Harris may also have the cleanest water in the state and a possible new state record largemouth bass.
Schooling largemouth and spotted bass, white bass and stripers can provide all day action all through the hot days of summer on Lake Harris , impounded in 1983. This surfacing action takes place lakewide, often enhanced by cloudy conditions, rain or evening thundershowers. Early and late in the day can also be excellent times for these surfacing bass to suddenly appear. Exciting, fun to catch, and quite easy (even for the novice angler) these schooling bass can number from a few dozen in one school, to over 100 in a frenzied wolf pack, feeding on everything that gets in their way.
Average weights on these schooling bass range from 1-4 lbs, but bigger bass are always nearby. They are either waiting down below, as they pick off injured baitfish the main school has attacked, or holding on some nearby piece of cover. When this feeding frenzy takes place bass go crazy and will hit about any lure, but there are certain styles and techniques that will increase strikes. When fishing for these schooling bass it often means having to cast lures long distances, so heavy lures with little wind resistance is the ticket to reaching these fast-surfacing fish, before they go back down.
Proven "schoolie" lures are half to three-quarters-of-an-ounce rattletraps, spoons (1/4-3/4 oz.), rooster tails (1/4-1/2 oz.), big crankbaits, topwaters such as the Zara Super Spook, jerkbaits such as Excaliber's suspending and floating models, Long-A Bomber jerkbaits, J-13 Rapala's (3 hook models) and Rattlin' Rogues. These and other heavy, minnow-type lures can all be cast long distances, are very wind resistant. Most models are very similar in appearance to the baitfish these spotted bass, stripers and largemouth’s are feeding on.
Besides schooling bass, some big bass (loners and in those in large schools) are always found around main-lake points, islands, deep river bends and creek channel bends. Texas-rigged worms in sizes of 4-12 inches, Carolina-rigged plastics with leader lengths of 1-4 feet (varies), deep-diving crankbaits, slow-rolling or dropping heavy, half-to-one ounce spinnerbaits, spoons, grubs, lizards and crayfish imitations (jig & pig combos) and tube baits all take these bass from 1-20 feet deep, some found even deeper!
Flipping or pitchin' to piers and stickups is always good for shade-seeking bass during the hot days of Summer on Lake Harris . All of these tactics are good during the entire summer, so when you find fish, chances are they will remain there for the remainder of the season. If it gets to hot, you can always go night fishing.
NIGHT: Braving the night on Lake Harris can mean catching big bass, avoiding the daytime heat, not having to deal with a lot of boat traffic and usually having fishing spots all to yourself. Aside from losing a good nights sleep a few downsides are, there are stickups are all over the lake (especially mid-to-lower sections) so navigation is hazardous. A slot limit of 13-16 inches means throwing back any bass under or over these lengths and water patrols are checking creels day and night. Also running lights are to be on at all times, even when fishing near the bank. Spotlights (for running) and black lights (for fishing) are suggested.
Catching bass at night on Lake Harris involves fishing very weedless lures among all the stumps, stickups and trees left during impoundment in 1983. There are some Huge bass in this lake, some have been taken weighing up to 16 lbs, including one floater weighing 17 1/2 lbs! Heavy line and stout tackle are a must for things that go bump in the night on Lake Harris . Big lures emit more vibrations and provide a bigger target for bass to home in on at night. Big worms with wide, swinger type tails (or paddle tails), in sizes of 10-12 inches, get the bigger bass bite. Jigs with oversized pork or crayfish trailers provide a large silhouette for the bass to target, on the fall, or when drug across the bottom.
Spinnerbaits with a single # 7 or # 8 size Colorado blade provides a helicopter fall (and more vibration) along deep drops where these big summertime bass spend their days and nights feeding. Concentrate on the same places you fish during the day, but always try shallow water after midnight when these bigger bass forage for baitfish and crayfish. Always fish late evening and early morning hours on these night fishing trips, these are times when most of the really big bass are active.