Reed Montgomery

Spring Lake Reports
By Reed Montgomery
Tallapoosa River
Mid-Eastern Alabama
Lake Harris

Looking back on past fishing records I see some excellent fishing on Lake Harris in Spring. Many times over the past few years this lake has shown to be loaded with bass as the waters warm into the 70's. This is when the majority of the bass population will be in less than 10 feet of water. Many males and females are holding in the deeper water leading into the spawning grounds in March. Spawning bass in April and post spawn bass in May.

Main lake and secondary points hold schools of bass just waiting for some angler to discover. Irregular underwater features such as humps, ledges and channel drops also hold bass a little farther into the spawning stage. These bass are just waiting for the right conditions to move even shallower and proceed with the rituals of spawning. Then there are those bass that have bed early and have already staked claim to some very shallow territory. What this all means to the angler is bass everywhere and now more bass shallow than during any other time of the year. In other words, there are many bass in shallow water to fool into hitting your lures.

Lake Harris will stay at winter pool until May so cover is limited. However, there are still plenty of stickups, brush, stumps, trees laying logs, logjams and standing timber for bass to relate to. There are also plenty of rocky areas, bluffs, small pebble banks, red clay banks, man made rip-rap rock lined banks and sandy bottoms for the bass to choose as excellent bedding sites.

Lures? Like I said, "anything in the box." Deep divers to shallow runners, rattletraps on points, jigging spoons along drop-offs, jigs, worms and lizards at all depths, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters in shallow water will all take bass. They will be in three spawning stages this March, April and May, so be there!

Tallapoosa River

Mid Eastern Alabama

Lake Martin

Still down during April, Lake Martin is lacking in shallow water cover for spawning bass. But as in most situations the bass adjust and cover becomes second choice to good spawning grounds. Lake Martin has miles of sandy bottom and small pebble shoreline. When you are fishing here in March, April and May look for these features and apply your fishing to whatever cover is available.

With low water until April many bass will bunch up in choice areas especially male bass. The piers and boathouse that make up this lake get a lot less attention during spring but many bass make their beds around this man made cover. In addition there are ambush areas in brush put out by many residents and most cover is visible during low water periods.

Main lake points hold schools of spotted bass that spawn in deeper water than their largemouth cousins. Secondary points found up in the mid creek areas and small cuts, flats and pockets all hold a lot of spawning largemouths. Often both bass species can be caught in the same areas. Big logs, trees, stumprows and brush washed up on shallow flats hold the bigger, more dominant female bass.

There are many lures for fooling these bass from shallow to deep water in March, April and May. Not all bass are shallow and many can be caught in water less than 10 feet deep on deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits, rattletraps, spinnerbaits and finesse lures. Shallow bass will hit smaller spinnerbaits, small topwaters and a number of shallow running crankbaits and jerkbaits. Bedding bass will take worms, grubs, crayfish, lizards, jigs and creature baits when aggravated into striking or when moving these lures slowly out of the bed.

Coosa River Northeastern Alabama

Weiss Lake

Currently down for winter. Weiss Lake will return to full pool in late April. Until then use caution when navigating out of the main river and creek channels. I would say this calls for a lot of idling around due to the miles of shallow water cover.

The bass don't know the lake will rise so they are making their move shallow to whatever cover is available. There are a lot of stumprows that were left in this lake during impoundment. These are homes to some big bass spawning nearby. In the backs of creeks, along main lake flats, up in feeder rivers such as the Little River and Chatuga River are vast flats loaded with washed in logs, trees, stumps and debris.

New grass will begin to grow in spring and this oxygen rich enviornment is a definite factor in the spawning bass habitat. Big bass move into less than one foot of water when new green weeds provide them with oxygen and plenty of baitfish to feed on. The greener the weeds are and the more thicker they are the better chance of getting a good bass out of it.

With clearing water the upper lake will turn on first in early spring. However, heavy rains can muddy these lake headwaters and calls for a clear water search down river. There are some big bass over 10 pounds caught on Weiss lake each spring. Be prepared for these monsters with stout tackle, sharp hooks, strong line and a good net.

Best lures are spinnerbaits and topwaters such as zara spooks, popping type topwaters and buzzbaits when fishng on overcast or cloudy and rainy days. When its bright and sunny slow your approach with jigs, worms of all sizes, tube baits, creature baits, and lizards.

Even try slowing down on high pressure days with normally faster moving lures, such as shallow to mid running crankbaits, suspending jerkbaits fished slow and with erratic movement and with stop-and-go retrieves on shallow running lipless lures such as rattletraps. This doesn't mean having to fish deep, just fish slow and fish your best, in less than 5 feet of water.

Neely Henry Lake

Neely Henry is still down for winter but will return to full pool this month. This lake has been visited by Bassmasters and the FLW Outdoors, B.A.S.S. Federation and other major tournament trails during the spring. The results have been evident with 5 bass limits of bass showing 20 pound plus weights on some days not uncommon.

Right before the lake is brought back to full pool the bass bunch up in shallow creek flats, creek mouths, river flats and around the hundreds of shallow water piers that make up the mid-to-lower lake regions. There are also many feeder creeks and bass will make their way all the way to the back ends in search of secure spawning grounds. Navigating some creeks and main lake areas is hazardous until the lake is returned to full pool in April. Use extreme caution Neely Henry is loaded with shallow stump flats.

With little rain the bass will turn on first in small creeks and pockets found from just abouve Gadsden City launch to the upper lake headwaters. These places heat up fast and can remain clear. If heavy rains muddy the upper lake, the mid-to-lower lake areas will remain clearest the longest.

The lower lake feeder creeks have vast creek flats. Feeder creeks, such as Canoe Creek and Beaver Creek stretch for over a mile, from the main lake way back in the scenic woods, to small streams in the far back ends. Many bass can be found while fishing all the way from the mouth of these creeks (in early to mid spring) to the creeks headwaters. The warmer it gets, as far as you can go up in these tributaries, will show these and other lower lake feeder creeks holding more and more bass seeking cooler water as summer nears.

There are shallow flats and small cuts and pockest found all along the main lake, from Hwy. 77 at midlake all the way down to Neely Henry dam. These lower lake areas recieve less fishing pressure in early spring, when most anglers are fishing the fast warming pockets and smaller creeks in Neely Henry Lake's upper lake headwaters.

Lures? Anything in the box! Fish shallow, very shallow.

Logan Martin Lake

Spring time and Logan Martin Lake. What more could an angler want? For an impoundment to be so close to a major city (Birmingham - 30 miles) and recieve so much angling fishing pressure - this 50 mile long lake on the Coosa River system has survived the test of time and man.

Still down in March but scheduled to return to full pool in April, Logan Martin Lake still has a lot of lake for the astute angler to explore. Interstate 20 thats runs from Birmingham to Atlanta crosses the midlake area and is a halfway point of the lake, showing 25 miles to either Neely Henry Lake dam north or Logan Martin Lake dam going south. From here upriver to the lakes headwaters also separates the early season upper lake pre spawners, from the later spawning bass found downriver.

As the lake returns to full pool in April the bass will move up shallow with the rising lake waters. Small pockets, cuts and feeder creek flats have little water in them, that is until the lake comes up after being down all winter about 4-6 feet low. Yet some bass don't know this. They will spawn in shallow water with their backs sticking up. These upper lake spawning flats warm fast with heat holding cover such as stumps, brush, laying logs, blowdowns, rocks and coming soon - aquatic weeds, all holding bass.

Bass will take up residence around anything to hide and shade their eyes during these shallow water bedding times. Targeting shallow cover calls for stealth, for many of these bass are shallow for the first time in months and they are very spooky and aware of any unusual disturbance such as your presence.

Lures such as worms, jig combos, crayfish imitations and lizards should be thoroughly fished in and around all kinds of fish holding cover for finicky bass that refuse to move far from bedding sites. Fan-casting rattling lipless lures such Bill

Lewis rattle traps or Cordell rattling spots, shallow running crankbaits, suspending and floating model hard bodied jerkbaits and spinnerbaits in all colors and sizes in areas found away from the main lake banks, will show an angler take numbers of bass in unpressured water from 3-5 feet deep.

Downriver on Logan Martin Lake the creeks are much bigger, they have deeper water, and bass in these feeder creeks turn on around mid to late April, as the lakes waters rise and the lake is returned to full pool. Topwater lures fished on Logan Martin Lake in April and in May, always shows fishing at it's best. Please practice catch and release.

Lay Lake

Weigh in sites show a lot of released bass caught during spring. Lay Lake has its share of bass tournaments. Around these marinas where on any weekend as many as 500 anglers can bring in over 1000 bass, are hundreds of freshly caught and released bass. Some bass stay and bed here. Others just leave. Meanwhile, new groups of bass move in and before long there are a lot of bass competing for food (and your lures) all found mingling together as it gets warmer.

This can take place from the mouth of these areas to the far reaches. Check them out on weekdays and you can have a honey hole all to yourself. Unfortunately, most tournaments state no fishing within 100 yards of any marina or gas pump or within tournament release site boundries. So these places are just for non-tournament anglers.

On other areas of the lake the weeds are back by mid April. These weeds are where the majority of Lay Lake's bass population live, excluding spotted bass. When April arrives the largemouth bass move shallow and spawn in and around these aquatic weeds.

Many lures take these bass when the weeds are in full bloom by May. Early foliage is thin and bass remain spooky in sparse cover in early April. Floating worms and soft jerkbaits take a lot of these bass, especially when these enticing little morsals of plastic are worked very carefully through their territory. Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits also take some of the bigger bass in and around these new weeds on Lake Lake. Running a floating lizard across the tops of the weeds can result in some big bass and very explosive strikes.

When things are slow fishing with worms, jigs, crayfish imitations, creature lures and lizards is best. Flipping, Swimming and Pitchin' techniques with these lures can be deadly tactics on Lay Lake's big bass population. Look for boils, weeds moving and baitfish fleeing to determine bass in the area. Shallow piers and wood cover also deserve your attention when searching for spawning bass on Lay. Practice catch and release this month.

Mitchell Lake

Spawning bass go virtually unmolested on Mitchell lake. This small lake on the lower Coosa River chain gets little fishing pressure in Spring, when compared to other lakes in Alabama. But thats fine with the many anglers that have sampled Mitchell Lakes fine bassin' during spring.

The spotted bass and largemouth population is tremendous on Mitchell Lake, with many 4 pound bass of both species caught often in March - May. Spawning bass have many choices for bedding sites. Some spawning bass are found far up in major feeder creeks that supply fresh incoming water and a variety of incoming meals. Creeks such as Hatchett, Weogufka, Walnut and Pennemotley creeks are worth exploring each month.

Weeds, stump flats, logs and brush are homes to many bass that will be very shallow this March, April and May. The usual lures for weed fishing will take these spawning bass but some lures outdo the others. Buzzbaits are deadly, spinnerbaits including an old favorite the snagless sally (or a new lure the chatter bait) are good in and around these weeds. Soft jerkbaits, floating worms and weedless spoons are proven favorites that avoid aggravating weed hang-ups.

Flipping jigs with crayfish trailers, plastic chunks or pork trailers in and around Mitchell Lakes weeds (and in any thick, matted weed cover), takes big bass on Mitchell Lake. Bass that may refuse to move far for other conventional lures. This includes techniques such as Pitching a jig combo, worm, lizard, tube bait, etc. or swimming various lures along weed edges.

Upriver areas are homes to some spotted bass in the 5-8 pound range. These hard fighting bass let their guards down during the springh spawn and many trophy sized spotted bass are taken (by the angler lucky enough to land them), as they move shallow for the bedding rituals in spring. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs and topwaters, lures that cover water from top to bottom should all be tried in eddy areas and up in small cuts and pockets in these upper lake headwaters.

Jordan Lake

Bass tournaments last month on Jordan lake showed 5-7 fish limits weighing near 25 pounds. Some were all spotted bass and some were largemouths. Often some consisted of mixed bags of bass. The lake is just as good (or better ) in March, April and May. Spawning bass will be found in the numerous small cuts and pockets that make up the upper lake. These can be spots or largemouths that bunch up near the shallow backwaters in numbers this month.

Downriver has a few feeder creeks such as Weoka Mill Creek-made up of weeds, piers, brush, cypress trees and small islands. Or across the lake is Blackwells Slough. A big creek made up of shallow stumprows, piers and weeds. This is the third lake on the lower Coosa River system that is kept at or near full pool year round. This creates a tremendous bass factory loaded with aquatic weeds. Like Lay and Mitchell lakes the weeds are homes to the majority of the largemouth bass on Jordan Lake.

The spotted bass will relate to the weeds by hanging along weed edges and on drop-offs or points within the weeds. Still spots are more likely to be found in open water, around main lake islands, points and along rocky or bluff banks. The largemouths the lake give up, generally come out of the weeds or in the backs of creeks along stump flats.

Warrior River

Bankhead Reservoir

Heading west about 25 miles out of Birmingham you encounter the Warrior River. This old winding river is impounded and actually known as Bankhead Reservoir. Known to the locals as 'the Warrior' this river has survived the test of time. Impounded in 1916 this backed up the waters of the Warrior River all the way to the Sipsey fork and includes the Little Warrior River as well.

There is daily barge traffic and this keeps the water stained and current moving. In addition there is loads of cover for fish to relate to. This constant current, stained water and abundance of cover is what keeps the Warrior River bass on the move. Huge logjams, a variety of aquatic weeds, fallen trees, stumps, brush, piers, rock bluffs, islands and dozens of feeder creeks provide the bass enough places to take up residence and change locations daily if necessary.

These bass are hard to pattern on a two day basis. They can be in a feeding frenzy one day and be gone the next. In March you will see prespawn bass. April shows that many bass bed early and they can be seen cruising the banks and protecting the bed. Many are easily located when the water is clear. This calls for casting a lizard, gitzit, crayfish, worm or a jig combo right in the bed or just ahead of cruising bass. May is post spawn time and topwater lures are deadly.

With stained water these same tactics will work but the angler must look for signs of bass below. Other shallow water Warrior River lures are jerkbaits such as old Rapalas, Long A Bombers or Rattling Rogue. Or spinnerbaits or long forgotton spinnerbaits such as the Snagless Sally, buzzbaits, frogs, rats, floating worms and lizards to name a few. When these bass are aggravated into striking, the ultimate result is an ensuing battle in very shallow water. Please practice catch and release this month.

Warrior River

Demopolis Reservoir

South Alabama is the lower drainage for the Warrior River before joining the Tombigbee River at the town of Demopolis. From here the two rivers converge before heading south to Mobile. In 1954 the dam was completed at Demopolis. This backed up the river into some of the fishiest looking water Alabama angler's had ever seen.

There are cypress swamps, backwater slews, dozens of feeder creeks, small cuts, deep pockets and many main lake flats for finding shallow spawning bass. All of these off-the-river backwaters are loaded with lily pads, water hyacinths and a variety of aquatic weeds. These are homes to some big bass and dozens of meals for them to prey upon. In March there is an early weed bloom, in April the weeds will start to bloom and turn very green. May is post spawn bass and lots of shallow water action. This is when its time to hit the banks with the weedless lures.

Far down in South Alabama and deep in the woods Demopolis Reservoir has all kinds of creatures that venture to close to the domain of the shallow water dweeling largemouth bass. Lures that mimic these bank-running creatures get the best results. After all, this is what the bass are used to seeing and feeding on. Frogs and rats hopped across the weeds bring explosive strikes. Topwater techniques such as swimming a frog, snake, worm or lizard imitation around wood and weeds can be deadly on bedding bass. Buzzbaits won't be tolerated, the louder the better.

Spinnerbaits are very weedless and always provoke big bass into striking. Besides the weeds there are miles of wood cover. Cypress trees clog the back ends of pockets, sloughs and feeder creeks. Blow downs, stumps, brush and laying logs are everywhere and hold schools of prespawn bass awaiting their turn to bed.

Practice catch and release this month. See you on the water!


Monthly Feature;

Bedding Bass

March is prespawn times in Alabama. April brings to mind bedding bass. This controversial subject has anglers asking themselves, "Should I fish for bedding bass?" In years past fisherman were looking to put a meal on the table and feed the family with the days catch - no matter what time of the year it was. The subject of bedding bass was of no concern to most anglers 30 years ago. They knew of this springtime ritual and had seen bass making their beds for years, catching a few did no harm.

Many of today's anglers (including myself) now have many bass on the walls of their den. Back in the 1960's and 1970's catching 30 bass a day was not uncommon. Bringing home a few for a meal or (bragging rights) is evident by looking back through scrapbooks of all the stringers and pictures of trophy bass.

Times have changed. On many of our lakes and rivers you seldom hear of a 30 bass a day catch. The limit in Alabama per angler is 10 bass a day. Any angler catching his limit on a regular basis is fortunate. Most anglers fall way below this limit in a day of fishing. Why? No one knows. There are a lot more anglers than answers. Many reservoirs have been built long ago and the lake levels are controlled by man. Over-harvesting could be the answer.

Regardless, there is something we can all do to help this March, April and May. Release these bedding bass. Many anglers fish bass tournaments and releasing is done at the boat dock. This is the norm. Whether practicing for a tournament or just fun fishing, letting these hearty fighters go after they have given you a thrill, will assure them another day to live. It also gives future generations of anglers, a real chance to see these bass returned to their new underwater world and them fool them into biting their lures!

Practice catch and release year-round especially this Spring. You won't regret it!

Good Fishin'...
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service

Fish Species: Bass
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Reed Montgomery

About The Author: Captain Reed Montgomery

Company: Reeds Guide Service

Area Reporting: All Alabama Lakes

Bio: Captain Reed Montgomery a Birmingham, Alabama native Guides on all of Alabama\'s Lakes for all species of Bass. Alabamas Oldest Professional Freshwater Guide Service For Over 40 Years. Website

(205) 663-1504
Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Reed Montgomery