Successful Fall Fishing on Alabama's Demopolis Lake
Successful Fall Fishing on Alabama's Demopolis Lake
By Reed Montgomery
It has been a tough Summer (for some) on the Warrior River in south Alabama. The lower lake near the town of Demopolis junctions with the Tombigbee River about one mile above the city launch. Here anglers have a choice of fishing up the Tombigbee River or traveling far up the Warrior River, just below Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The lake level has been low for quite a while. Hot days and hot shallows has slowed the bassin'. But soon all that will change. Fall's inevitable rains will swell both rivers back to (or over) the original shoreline. This will be good for all the small sloughs, creeks, pockets and backwaters. These are places in the Fall where bass are so noted for inhabiting, when the waters begin to cool in October and on into December.
Most of these shallow backwaters have cleared considerably and a good flushing is needed. As water temperatures drop into the 60's bass will invade these areas as they forage for crayfish or follow the baitfish that migrate here each Fall. The mouths of these backwaters will have bass that were already here for the Summer, bass now moving shallow and some bass that travel back and forth among these funneled-down areas, all in search of food. During Fall, cool days and nights creep in slowly lowering the water temperature. The shallow flats, that always heat up the fastest in the Spring, will now cool down the fastest. The cooler waters of Fall always induce bass into a more active mode. They feed more often, to fatten up for the upcoming Winter.
In these places off the main river is where most bass tournaments are won. This is where most anglers concentrate their efforts and where bass congregate every Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter period. Cover abounds throughout both rivers in these scenic backwaters and bass utilize each piece of weed and wood cover including brush, stumps, laying logs, blown-down trees and...only in South Alabama, cypress trees. As they begin their trek, from the deeper creek mouths to the far back ends in search of food, these bottom irregularities are stop-offs for the bass to temporarily occupy, as they either go in search of food or to temporarily occupy for ambush purposes. Some are BIG BASS, often loners, but schools of bass each weighing five pounds or better do exist. Others are schools of spotted bass and largemouth’s often mixed, that invade these cuts and pockets in huge numbers, usually ranging in weights from 1-4 lbs.
Many bass will forage all the way to the back ends of these cover-filled backwaters. Some schools of both species, will stack up in the mouths, along points up in these creeks, around deep, outside creek bends, up on shallow flats, around isolated stumps and other wood cover. Schools of bass will usually “scatter or fan out” to different pieces of cover along the way, usually re-grouping later in the day. But the really “Big Bass” most anglers pursue, will usually dominate thick cover, and await an easy meal or a precise offering by some adept angler.
Weeds are another target for most anglers in Demopolis and a variety exists in both rivers. During September and October aquatic vegetation will continue to grow, produce shade and oxygen, attract the baitfish and the bass, and provide excellent ambush spots. Even with a mild Winter, November and December can still show new green growth, in most aquatic weeds down South. Some pockets have weeds, some have wood cover, others have both, but regardless, there are many lures and techniques for both types of cover. Weedless model lures are best for less frustration.
The mouths of these creeks and sloughs can exhibit an area from 10-50 feet wide. Many have been dredged out and the constantly changing bottom shows new ditches, stumprows, laying logs or trees, rocks or man made rip-rap and washed-in debris along an ever-changing bottom. The constant barge traffic along the river creates silt in the mouths of these backwaters and bass must constantly adapt to the current and changing environment.
Most of these river bass are susceptible to crankbaits and rattletraps, of which covers these small creek mouths fast and thoroughly. Topwaters around these mouths will take schooling bass and anxious feeders. Well placed first cast's, to these areas will often attract the bigger bass, who not yet alerted to your presence. Making long casts with Buzzbaits, Zara Super Spooks, Spro’s prop baits and jerkbaits, Pop-r's and various prop-baits, across points or past any visible cover, will generate explosive strikes. This especially holds true at dawn or very late in the day, when the low light period has the bigger bass on the prowl. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, shallow-to-mid running crankbaits, soft jerkbaits and floating worms, will also take suspended bass around these main river creek mouths.
There are irregular bottoms around these mouths and some bass hold tight to cover and refuse to surface or chase fast moving lures. However, these are often the bigger spotted bass and old river largemouth’s that must be tempted to bite. Bigger than average lures such as worms, lizards, plastic crayfish and shad imitations, will fool the big bass that dine on creatures similar to these types of lures. Jigs with rattles and oversized pork or crayfish trailers in colors of black and blue or brown and orange are good. Vertical jigging spoons and varying your leader length on Carolina rigs will cover the deeper water around these creek mouths. Also try deep-diving crankbaits, made with long casts and using line in the 14-17 pound test category.
Midways, as you travel most of these backwaters, you will have water 5-10 feet deep. Here you will find old creek channels, humps, points and some visible grassy islands. There are also some cypress trees that grow at these mid-creek depths, many are isolated trees with huge root systems. Many storms come through south Alabama and is evidenced by the many lay down trees in these backwaters. These creeks can hold many bass at times and thoroughly covering every little piece of cover, may expose more than one big bass bite. Topwaters, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and bottom-bumping lures, will all take bass around weeds and wood cover in these mid-creek areas.
As October and November brings cooler weather, cooling water and Fall rains, the bass will forage very shallow. The far back ends of these backwaters will hold many scattered-out bass. At times it will seem to have a bass on every little piece of cover in water from 1-3 foot deep. This especially holds true with stained or muddy water conditions. Very shallow water calls for buzzbaits and spinnerbaits, fished around wood cover and along weed edges.
Frogs, rats, floating worms, soft jerkbaits and lizards can be fished in the weeds without hangups. These and other lures fished near the surface are known for their BIG BASS appeal in the Fall. Big, submerged logs and trees lay in these backwater bottoms and hold the bigger bass. Some huge stumps are also homes to these largemouth’s, especially when mixed in with weeds. Cypress trees are often bunched up in these shallow backwaters. These shady and thick cover areas, deserve many casts, from several angles, to thoroughly cover the trees and their huge root systems. From top to bottom some huge bass will hold tight to these trees and their root systems, many different types of lures must often be retrieved, at various depths, to generate a strike.