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Autumn Fishing The Warrior River / Bankhead Lake


Autumn Fishing The Warrior River / Bankhead Lake Autumn Fishing The Warrior River / Bankhead Lake
By Reed Montgomery

The old Warrior River is loaded with some of the fishiest-looking cover an angler could ask for. Even as the river widens downstream becoming more of an impoundment the cover is evident. Howton's camp, a long time landmark at the junction of the Big and Little Warrior Rivers, has weighed in their share of big, old Warrior river largemouth’s, chunky spotted bass and stripers in the 30 lb class. Up The Warrior River (to the left) will take you to Lost Creek, Bluff Creek, Wolf Creek and many other feeders including the Lakes headwaters, The Sipsey River.

Heading up the Little River (to the right) as you leave Howton's you will see a few pockets and main river flats loaded with log jams, stumprows, brush piles and various weedbeds. These are ever-changing, due to constant barge traffic and annual flooding. In September and October baitfish and bass stack up around these logs and other weed and wood cover. November shows bass still feeding heavily until Winter arrives.

These ambush spots hold some of the Warrior’s biggest bass, with some always holding around logs, brush, stumps and other wood cover. Laying logs along flats, near deeper water, can have a huge school of bass relating to one specific spot. This calls for precise casts, for the first throw may be the most important one. Isolated brush can be fan-cast along the sides and middle portions with topwaters, spinnerbaits, soft plastics and jerkbaits.

Isolated logs often have a bass or two underneath. The mistake most anxious anglers make is casting across or on top of this cover, often spooking the bass. Waiting until you are close enough, while making a perfect cast parallel of the log, will get better results. Any bass in a school will often follow the lure (or another hooked bass) exposing themselves to more casts, with various lures, until more strikes are generated.

Laying trees often hold bigger bass, either on the thick “root jam” at one end, or along a trunk and limb junction, usually halfway down the log. First casts should be with a topwater lure for anxious feeders and for bass suspended alongside or the outer edges the log. Jerkbaits, floating worms, soft jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and shallow-running crankbaits, should be included on your next few casts, when targeting the middle portion around these logs. Even daring anglers throw topwaters right in the middle, often with success.

Some bass won't come out on high pressure days when holding tight to cover. This is when deep divers, rattletraps, worms, lizards, jig combos and even spoons can entice a strike. Again, make your casts count, by fishing from one end of the log to the other and always make it a point to “bump” the cover with your lures during your retrieve.

Often several logs will cross each other and create a home for some very big bass. Small cracks between these logs, washed-in debris or brush, will also hold bass that must be coaxed from cover with precise and often repeated casts. Weeds break loose during Fall on the Warrior River, as rivers fluctuate some varieties start dying. Many weeds float up on these logjams, enhancing the wood cover with a thick canopy for bass to relate to.

This isolated cover holds, a more dominant bass, looking to homestead a decent piece of cover. Many bass hold tight to their homes and won't move far. Flipping a heavy jig, lizard or oversized tube bait, will often penetrate this thick cover and drop the lure right on the bass's nose. Often repeated casts, with a variety of lures, fished from several different angles, may be needed to anger these BIG bass into striking.

There are many places on Bankhead Lake to find bass in the Fall. Like other impoundment's, the feeder creeks attract these feeding fish as they follow the baitfish that forage up in these tributaries. The colder it gets the better the action can be. Schooling bass will take place as waters cool. Finding them only involves looking as you cruise the lake. Deeper, main-lake drop-offs, ledges, creek mouths, islands and rock bluffs along deep river bends, also hold schools of bass, for not all fish go shallow during fall. This calls for the deep water arsenal. Deep-diving crankbaits, half-to-three quarters of an ounce rattletraps, spoons, dropping heavy spinnerbaits and slowly fishing worms, lizards and plastic crawfish, either Texas or Carolina-rigged, will determine the bass's holding depth on each outing.

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