The Fall Fishing Basics of the Coosa River / Lay Lake
The Fall Fishing Basics of the Coosa River / Lay Lake
By Reed Montgomery
When looking for, "Fall Bass Action", Lay Lake can't be beat. With its variety of cover the lake regulars boasts of a "Fisherman's Paradise" when it comes to fishing preferences. The most noted characteristics of Lay Lake, is the miles of weed-lined banks from dam to dam. The upper, more river-like headwaters have all but washed away any chance for this green growth, but even small tributaries, main lake banks and backwater pockets are loaded with a variety of aquatic growth in this upper lake region. Mid-to-downriver sections of Lay Lake have thick, matted weeds that often have year-round growth. Thin stands of weeds, scummy moss, cattails and lily pads are dispersed throughout the lake...and so are the bass.
Kept near full pool year-round, Lay Lake has attained its wood cover throughout the many years, since impoundment in 1914. Unlike the 3 upper Coosa River lakes Weiss, Neely Henry and Logan Martin, Lay Lake, downriver Mitchell Lake and Jordan Lake, are not drawn down for Winter pool. This creates a much better year-round fishery, when bass are not forced to relocate each Fall. Stumps still exist in many creeks, shallow backwaters and along main lake banks. Piers and boathouses are lakewide and also offer the bass wood cover. Also is shade, resident-planted brushpiles and ambush points out of the current. Offshore structure rarely gets fished on Lay Lake, due to the more attractive weed-lined banks. But often these old river ledges and drop-offs hold huge schools of bass.
When Fall arrives the bass migrate to the feeder creeks and Lay lake has lots of em'. The baitfish gather in huge schools and bass are always nearby "busting on top" or feeding down below, for both a variety of baitfish and crayfish. Tailoring your lures to "mimic" the many species of food the bass feed on, can increase the amount of strikes you get. When fishing the weeds during the cooler days of October and November, the bass will get more aggressive as the waters cool. Arm-wrenching strikes can occur in these weeds and are not for the faint hearted.
Even on into December topwater is possible on Lay lake. Buzzbaits are weedless and can be maneuvered among the dying weeds. Look for paths, points or small lanes between patches and direct your lures with long casts past the cover, retrieving slowly through this strike zone. On buzzbaits and spinnerbaits, trailer hooks are more weedless than believed, and can become a necessity when encountering several missed strikes. You can add a grub to these buzzbaits and spinnerbaits, by embedding the soft plastic in both the original hook and the trailer hook. These weedless qualities are often needed when constant hangups take place in very thick weeds.
On some days the bass want a noisy buzzbait, such as head knocker models or clacker-type buzzbaits. On other days, smaller buzzbaits or models that create less surface disturbance may be needed. I use Rippler buzzbaits (1-800-TOP LURE or www.rippler.com) in the latter of these situations. These unique buzzbaits have holes drilled in the blades and create a swishing sound, similar to a school of surfacing shad and are often the ticket for skittish bass. Rippler also makes the loudest jig on the market, complete with Gamakatsu hooks. And new, "The Rippler Rattleleg" rattlin' spinnerbait. Give em' a call or look them up on the Internet at: www.rippler.com.
A trip to Lay lake just would not be complete without chunkin' some weedless frogs and rats. Weedless means the lure not rolling over or grabbing weeds or brush on every cast with exposed hooks. Two very weedless models made by Southern Lure Company (now Zetabait) are Scumfrog and Bassin' Rat. Best colors can vary. Many choices such as white, lime, chartreuse, black, brown, pumpkinseed or dark green can be had. There are even glow in the dark models. Experimenting is the ticket to getting bites.
These frogs and rats have Eagle Claw lazer sharp hooks that lay snug against the body. This creates a very weedless lure with better hookups and less frustration from lost bass and hangups. Slow, one foot hops, get the best results when fishing these lures. Missed strikes are common for newcomers to this exciting sport of bassin' on top in the weeds. Pay close attention upon each retrieve and give the bass a 1-2 count when blow-ups take place...before setting the hook. These light lures cast very well (and long distances) with a 6 to 7 foot rod and 20 lb test Trilene Big Game monofilament line. Go to: "articles" at www.fishingalabama.com look for, "Fun with frogs and rats", for more on fishing these exciting topwater lures.
Floating worms, lizards, shad imitations, crayfish and even dragonfly plastics will generate explosive strikes in Lay Lakes weeds. Fishing with no weight and sharp 3/0 to 5/0 hooks on 15-20 lb test Trilene Big Game line is recommended on all these lures. Mentioning every lure and technique could run into some pretty lengthy fishing tips for Fall fishing on Lay lake. Check out Paradise Point Marina (205) 669-1515 site of this years 2002 Bassmasters Classic launch, at mid-lake, for all your fishing needs and bass tournament info. Similar Fall fishing can be had on down the Coosa River on other Impoundment's. Keep reading. More ahead on these and other Fall fishing techniques on Mitchell and Jordan Lakes.