The Coosa River / Logan Martin Lake Fall Fishing Guidelines
The Coosa River / Logan Martin Lake Fall Fishing Guidelines
By Reed Montgomery
There are lakes in Alabama that undergo a lot of fishing pressure during Spring and Summer. Logan Martin is at the top of the list in this category. Not only have the bass on this 50 mile long lake (built in 1964) been pounded by weekly tournaments all year, but when Summer arrived the weekly night tournaments began as well. The result is hundreds (OK thousands) of bass are transported from one end of the lake to the other, to be weighed and dumped at various weigh-in sites.
This is good for marina operators, who can catch bass off their docks when the business is slow. But can the bass survive such an over harvesting? Obviously the answer is yes, an ever-increasing amount of fishing pressure has shown a considerable difference at the weigh-ins as opposed to 10 years ago. I know, because I have been there competing on Logan Martin for 20 years.
Previously, from the 70's to the late 90's, it was common to win a variety of bass tournaments with 7 bass limits weighing 25 lbs or more. Now, it is now taking about 17-18 lbs to win, with a standard 5 bass limit. Although there are still some exceptional 5 bass limit bags of bass brought to the scales, most limits weighing 15-18 lbs are winning major tournament trails and annual events. Ten to twenty years ago, many 7 to 8 pound bass, often took Big Bass of the Day, with a 5 pound bass hardly even noticed. But nowadays, if you catch a 5 lb + bass you can count on BIG Bass money!
Well, Logan Martin has been strong and survived many years of overharvest, bad spawns, annual lake drawdown and bass tournament pressure. But recently the evidence has surfaced. The toxic dumping in major feeder creeks such as Broken Arrow Creek and Choccolocco Creek has now imposed a lakewide fish consumption advisory. Don't eat the fish ! Well, catch and release by those that know, will help replenish the lake...if we can keep the poisons out!
As for Fall bassin' its still as good as it gets. Quality bites, only fewer bass, are now taken. Unlike 10 years ago, some lake searching may be at hand to find active bass. By October, Logan Martin will be dropped for winter pool. Usually 4-5 feet down, can be the stopping point for Winter pool. This causes hazardous navigation, especially for the inexperienced angler running this lake. Caution is advised. For Logan Martin has many hidden dangers, just below the waters surface during winter pool.
Low water also concentrates bass, bass that were once in the weed-lined banks of Logan Martin Lake for the entire Summer. This forces them to relocate to the security of deeper water. Bass around shallow backwater stumprows, brushpiles, rock piles, flats and shallow piers, will also have to travel some distance, to reach the security of deeper water, as the lake is gradually drawn down this Fall. Baitfish, crayfish and other edible creatures will now be dined on heavily by the bass, as both prey and predator are bunched-up in specific locations. As far as the weather, just like every season, we’ll just have to wait and see what this Fall season holds.
Full grown prey are now targeted by the "Bigger Bass" looking to fill a big belly fast. Many shad, bream and minnows, can be seen "skipping" across the surface of the water during Fall, as these monsters move in for the kill. Crayfish are heavily dined on, even during the colder winter months, as evidenced by the pieces of claws or body parts found in the livewell. This means tailoring your lures to these gluttonous bass, with oversized offerings, tempting enough to generate a strike. Matching lure colors is also important to really fool these age old bass, most of which feed year-round and have see a lot of lures.
Big, noisy buzzbaits are pounded by bass feeling their best in comfortable mid-70 degree water. Clacker-types and head knocker models should include trailer hooks for short strikers. The new Zara Super Spook has rattles, is bigger and attracts the BIG bass bite during Fall. Heavy line (20-25 lb Trilene Big Game) and strong tackle (Garcia Rods & Reels) is recommended on both of these lures. Sharp, Gamakatsu hooks should replace factory models or sharpen originals by hand.
Big jerkbaits, simulate the oversized shad big bass are feeding on. Utilizing erratic retrieves while using floating and suspending models, attract bass looking for that "injured look" in an easy meal. Excaliber jerkbaits by Pradco, are good in both these categories. Spro’s suspending jerkbaits are also excellent in looks and producing quality bites. Shad-colored models in clear water and brighter colors in off-colored water, are best. Spinnerbaits are always good search lures in Fall and often attract the bigger, more selective bass. Adding a grub or pork trailer increases the profile of the lure. Bigger blades may be needed, in muddy or stained water conditions. Also, when dropping, slow rolling or just using a lift and fall retrieve, heavy, half-to-one ounce model spinnerbaits, featuring bigger blades and trailers, slow the fall. Big blades also produce more flash and vibration, and represent the larger baitfish of Fall, all for the bigger bass to home in on.
As lake waters fall, deep-diving crankbaits and half-to-three quarters of an ounce rattletraps will combine with worms, lizards and crayfish imitations (both Texas and Carolina-rigged) on main lake points for some exceptional bassin'. Hitting several points in a day's time will eventually discover the motherlode. These are one of those rare times, when a "bass on every cast" can take place. Various depths must be probed to find these often tight holding schools of bass, sometimes numbering dozens in a school.
During Fall, on most lakes, the creek fishing is always good. On Logan Martin this also holds true, but finding a good creek with enough water in it is the answer to finding quality bass. They will inhabit 1-2 feet of water in search of food, but bass must have deep water within 100 yards to escape to. The backs of many creeks are often unnavigable with low water. But the persistent angler will often find a hole, depression or old silted in creek channel (with bass bunched-up in it), often after crossing over a mile of seemingly endless shallow water flats. If the lake stabilizes, these bass will remain in these deeper holes, often going untouched until the lake is brought back up next year in the Spring. Searching out small cuts and pockets on the main lake, with 5 feet or less of water, is the easiest way to find these shallow feeding bass from September through and November.