Fall Fishing The Coosa River / Mitchell Lake
Fall Fishing The Coosa River / Mitchell Lake
By Reed Montgomery
There is a small lake nestled in the woods of mid Alabama, that receives very little fishing pressure in the Fall. Mitchell Lake, has been producing good catches of bass since impoundment in 1923. This small lake, near the town of Clanton, rarely gets the fishing pressure of other Coosa River lakes, with major cities nearby. To bad. For those that never sample her waters, due to such Fall duties as football, school in session, hunting season and fishing elsewhere, are taking their time away, from a chance at some excellent cool weather bassin’.
When waters begin to cool in early Fall the bass go on a feeding rampage. This not only means the Coosa River Spotted bass of which Mitchell lake is so noted for, but also the miss-labeled lazy, largemouth’s that spend their Summer months lazing in the weeds and shade. Like upper Coosa River Lay lake, Mitchell lake is also noted as having similar varieties of weeds, with many types of aquatic vegetation throughout the entire lake. Small in comparison to other Alabama lakes, Mitchell Lake is only 14 navigable miles from dam to dam and has 147 miles of shoreline.
Mitchell Lake makes up for its diminutive size with some big time fishing. Huge numbers of spotted bass, largemouth’s, stripers, hybrids and white bass are caught during Fall's cool down period. The lake headwaters, just below upper Lay dam, has all of these species of bass. This upper lake region can be an all day fishing hole from late September through December.
Water generation at the dam, induces these fish to feed. The best times are immediately after water is released, during the discharge and when they are running more than one turbine. Schooling bass are common here in the Fall, be rigged and ready with topwaters, spoons, rooster tails, rattletraps, crankbaits, grubs and shad imitations. Drifting in the current will take all these species of bass, when they are not actively feeding on top. Use caution in these tailraces, life jackets are required near the dam.
As mentioned for Lay Lake, many lures are weedless and have been taking bass for years in the weeds of Mitchell Lake. Other means do exist, for fooling bass in these miles of seemingly endless varieties of aquatic growth on Mitchell Lake. There are certain areas you should explore, coupled with as many techniques. To utilize, several different types of offerings may be needed. As mentioned for Lay Lake buzzbaits, soft plastics, spinnerbaits, frogs and rats will all take bass right up in the thickest of weeds.
Fishing the weed edges, points, holes and lanes within these weeds, can be done expertly with accurate casting, even with weed-grabbing treble hook lures. Look for clean, weedless and leafless paths, to direct your cast's to. Topwaters such as Zara Super Spooks, baby torpedoes, crazy shads, pop-r's, Excaliber's Spittin' Image and even old black, broke back jitterbugs, all have 2-3 dangling treble hooks. These are not weedless lures and will grab every little piece of weed, twig, leaves and grass on the surface of the water. Casting practice, will direct these lures to places where other anglers wouldn't think of casting. These accurate casts, are usually rewarded, with the results being strikes... other anglers are missing.
Compensating for overhanging limbs, wind, lure choice, size and casting distance, must also be figured into this weed fishing pattern. The rod, reel, and line, you use when trying to be accurate, is also important for fishing success. Small reels are the norm nowadays, most are narrow spooled and usually get the job done. But long casts, heavy line and wide-spooled reels, go hand in hand, when targeting Big Bass in the weeds. Practice makes perfect and persistence pays. More on targeting weeds in Jordan Lake tips.
The weeds are not all Mitchell lake bass are noted for inhabiting. Spotted bass and stripers will search out the middle-to-back ends of feeder creeks such as Hatchet Creek, Weogufka, Pennemotly and Walnut creeks, as waters cool and they migrate up these huge feeders. Some of the lakes bigger largemouth’s are taken up in these creeks when fishing wood, rock and weed cover. These tributaries are loaded with piers, weeds, stumprows, brush, rock bluffs and boulders. Most have current and stained water, due to the rains of Fall. Many bass have migrated to the backs of these feeders and stayed here this Summer, due to the cooler water, along with plenty of baitfish, crayfish, minnows and other washed-in edibles.
Others will soon join them in their search to fatten up this Winter. Lures such as jigs with plastic crawfish or pork trailers, simulate the crayfish bass dine on here. Even crankbaits in colors of brown, orange, gold, red and blue get strikes from crustacean-eating Spotted bass and some huge Largemouth’s. Stripers and Hybrid-stripes join their smaller cousins in these creek headwaters and Mitchell has plenty of these tackle-testers, some in the 10-30 lb class ...if you can land them!
All of these bass species will hit jerkbaits. Excaliber's suspending and floating, shad colored jerkbaits, are the best I've tried. Pradco's signature series are backed by pros such as Mark Sosin, Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston...no wonder they catch Big bass! This goes for lures on top too. The Zara Super Spook and the Baby Torpedo will draw vicious strikes, often all day, during the late September through November on Mitchell Lake.