The Tallapoosa River / Lake Martin Dure Fall
The Tallapoosa River / Lake Martin Dure Fall
By Reed Montgomery
I often wonder how a lake impounded in 1926 can still produce quality bass under such adverse fishing pressure conditions. But Lake Martin still has quality spotted bass, largemouth’s and striped bass of which any angler would be glad to do battle with. Although dropped each year for winter pool, it still has lots of cover and offshore structure for bass to relate to. The wood cover such as stumps, brush and trees have deteriorated from the elements when exposed each winter during drawdown, but plenty of cover both natural and man-made still exists. Anglers planting brushpiles, fallen trees (blowdowns), along with washed-in debris with each passing rain, creates new cover each season.
Resident-built piers, boathouses and boat ramps are springing up every year and provide bass and baitfish with both shade and cover. Lake Martin can become very clear, especially downriver during the Summer. This will slow the shallow water bite or create spooky conditions for hard-to-catch bass. Before the lake is dropped for Winter, Fall rains will stain the lakes headwaters and feeder creeks, creating current and providing various washed-in edibles. This stained shallow water security, will help bass foraging in water less than 5 feet deep a lot more susceptible to lures that emit noise, flash and vibration.
Feeder creeks and streams, lake headwaters and any place that receives an influx of sudden rain, will now have bass migrating towards the shallows to feed and fatten up for the upcoming Winter. The backs of pockets, small cuts and along flats bordering deep water, are also good places to begin your search this Fall as cool, stained waters begin to move bass and baitfish shallow. Upriver, Lake Martin's headwaters and incoming feeder creeks, are best for these conditions.
Downriver, the water can remain fairly clear during Fall, even with constant rain. This is one of the rare times when bass in these lower lake regions will feed shallow. Cooler water, along with cloudy or overcast days, allow more security among these generally deeper-dwelling bass. The regular array of shallow water offerings will work on Lake Martin this Fall when fishing both up and downriver.
Stained or clear water conditions, show most active bass will bust topwaters, until water temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Buzzbaits, Zara Spooks, Pop-r's and prop-baits are proven favorites. Jerkbaits are at their best when fished with fast, erratic retrieves. Suspending models are excellent for picky, spotted bass and big, lazy largemouth bass on Lake Martin. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and rattletraps are good search lures, especially when looking for active schools of bass feeding and scattered in shallow water. These lures get the active bass bite and cover a lot of water fast. Lures that are fished at or near bottom are good in both upriver and downriver situations.
Upriver, Lake Martin has a lot of wood & rock cover. Whether your flipping, pitching or casting lures such as, worms, lizards, crayfish imitations, tube baits, or jig combos, you should always approach these bass with caution, especially in very clear or lightly stained water. Oversized lures will get the Bigger Bass Bite, especially when faced with stained water conditions, by creating more sound, smell, vibration, sight appeal and water displacement.
Downriver may call for a different approach. The underwater visibility can be 10 feet or more. These much clearer, lower lake waters, are where most spotted bass and largemouth bass utilize their "sight" attributes. Most targeted fish species, can clearly see your lures and can be hard to fool. Rather than relying on the use of their inner ear and lateral line, like when foraging in stained-to-muddy water conditions, these bass track down your lure, and can turn away from the boat at the last second.
Working various lures with fast, erratic, retrieves will result in some very rod-jarring strikes. These are attained from otherwise lure-conscience bass, bass that usually will not strike the array of slower moving lures most anglers fish. This "erratic lure action" also goes for topwaters, crankbaits, floating worms, rattletraps, spoons, soft and hard jerkbaits, and while slow-rolling or "dropping" heavy spinnerbaits.
Much slower (and deeper) bass can be fooled on or near bottom, in both shallow and deep water situations, by downsizing your lures and utilizing light tackle. Small worms, lizards, grubs, tube baits, and shad imitations, can be "finessed" with monofilament of 6-12 lb test to fool these clear water bass. Going deeper, can also show trophy-sized spotted bass and largemouth's during Fall, for all of Lake Martin's bass don't travel shallow at these times. Some huge bass, (of both species), have been found as deep as 30 feet during Fall. Vertical jigging spoons, dragging bottom with Texas and Carolina-rigged lures, deep-cranking crankbaits, and fan-casting likely looking areas with 1/2 to 3/4 ounce rattletraps, will all fool these deep water bass.