September is the Transition Month in Alabama

bass and kidsbass and kidsBy summer’s end the bass of Alabama’s Coosa River impoundment Lay Lake, have gotten pretty set in their ways. After all, they are prisoners of their environment.

Meaning (no pun intended), that these Lay Lake Coosa River breed of spotted bass and largemouth bass must as they say, ”go with the flow ”. Living out their lives, going wherever the prevailing conditions influence them to go and going wherever the meals they dine on, go as well.

This means — in order to survive — they must constantly stay with those easy-to-catch schools of bait fish. Schools of bass can follow schools of prey all summer long.

Prey these bass dine on daily, such as threadfin shad, gizzard shad and even schools of bream (or sunfish) and crappie are plentiful, with the bass gorging themselves on any or all of these prey throughout the entire summer season.

By the end of the summer season these bass have gotten pretty set in their daily routines, but not necessarily getting set up on any one location, for any length of time. If the prey moves…they move with them.

These are characteristically nomadic bass. Those constantly roaming bass of summer that stay on the move. They go wherever the meals go.

But they do have stop-off spots. Places where at times several deep water schools of bass may gather in huge numbers, often for days, or often for weeks at a time.

Then there are those isolated bass, what some anglers could call, “home body bass.”

These are usually the bigger bass of Lay Lake. It can amount to a half dozen or so big, spotted bass. Or these “home body bass” can turn out to be a small school of big, largemouth bass.

It can even pertain to a school of mixed in bass such as a school of bass consisting of a half spotted bass and a half largemouth bass population.

Either way, these two bass species of Lay lake can often be found mingling together in one preferred location. This is their temporary home for the summer season. Thus labeling them, “home body bass.”

Or, in some cases a “home body bass” can be a big, trophy-sized bass. A huge largemouth bass few anglers get the chance to ever hook up with and usually a bass that does not prefer the company (or competition for food), with other bass.
A big, old loner bass that usually spends the latter part of its life all alone. With the exception of them mating during the spawning season a lot of these true, trophy-sized bass of Lay Lake rarely leave the safety of their deep water sanctuary.

Now, getting back to the subject at hand. September, the transition month on Lay Lake;

Throughout the months of June, July and August these bass have gathered in their preferred locations, often remaining in one particular area for the remainder of the summer months.

They are either in or near deep water retreats found on the main lake, or some of these summer school bass may be holding in some major feeder creek, one that features deep water.

So how deep is deep water on Lay Lake?

Finding bass schooled up in deep water on Lay Lake can call for fishing depths of over 50 feet deep on the main lake. But only if there is a reason for them being that deep!

If these summertime bass cannot find meals such as baitfish or crayfish to dine on at those depths, then there is no reason for them to be there!

Lay lake has a lot of water found lake wide that is considered deep water. But generally water deeper than 30 feet deep is seldom fished by most of the many thousands of Lay Lake regulars that visit this age-old impoundment during the summer season.

* Lay Lake is a man made lake, that is now almost 100 years old since it was impounded in 1914. Loaded with many types of aquatic weeds. Many anglers just turn their attention more towards fishing the lake’s weedy banks.

During this transition month, lasting from early-to-late September, keep in mind, water temperatures on the main lake have remained close to 90 degrees for about the last three months.

* Air temperatures can match that water temperature in September. Even when the air temperatures are in the mid-90’s, the water temperature can be the same.

During this transition period, anglers can rejoice, there will inevitably be a change for the better! Summer’s over!

As the hot month of September slowly comes to an end, the early fall season days of October will — to the delight of most anglers — bring in much cooler nights, feature much cooler days than September and suddenly, display much cooler water temperatures.

Which means, much more active bass, than what has been observed by most avid bass anglers for the last 3-4 months.
So, these bass that were gathered in some very predictable summer time haunts are then triggered to make a move again. Towards the lake’s major feeder creeks.

Where traditionally, the bass of the fall season will soon gather together as they end up following baitfish schools into the lake’s cooler water found in the fast-cooling shallows.

En route to these fall feeding frenzies Lay lake’s nomadic bass may travel many miles
(some go far back in these major feeder creek), before stopping at a preferred location.

So during this change — from the transition period of late summer bass living in a deep summertime spot, to a much shallower location during the beginning of the fall season — there are some very predictable locations for anglers to gather in as well…just like the bass their after!

When water temperatures suddenly drop into the 70’s its time for a move. Lay lake’s bass are triggered to move by the sensation the cooler water provides.

Not only do they continue to follow the schools of bait fish, but again, there will be those stop-off areas these schools of bass gather in. Often bunching-up in huge numbers, en route towards the lake’s shallows.

Creek mouth points are the first places anglers should look for numbers of bass gathering together, usually taking place from early September to the early October period.

Secondary creek points (found about midways of most creeks) may be places to look for bass that are farther along in their annual fall movement.

Or (like the bass), anglers may consider a more sudden move towards the lake’s shallow creek flats and smaller, incoming feeder creek head waters. This may take place following the creeks rapidly cooling waters, from the fall season’s first few cold fronts.

But there are many other bass and lots of other early fall locations for anglers to consider dabbling their lures in as waters begin to cool during this transition period.

Traveling throughout Lay Lake’s 50 plus miles of navigable waters, from dam to dam, can be time consuming. Lake waters can be slow to cool in some places (like the deeper water in the lower lake), so timing is important as well.

Its all according to where you fish on a daily basis on Lay lake. The upper part of the lake, the middle portion of Lay lake or the lower end of this almost fifty mile long impoundment.

The waters found in Lay lake’s headwaters may be the first place to cool as this transition period begins. All summer long, water has constantly been released out of Logan Martin Lake dam upstream, providing a much cooler environment in Lay lake’s headwaters.

This water is taken from the deeper portion of Logan Martin Lake. Right off the lake’s bottom. Although it may be low in oxygen content from the hot, stagnant summer season, it will always be cooler than Lay lake’s surrounding head waters, found right below Logan Martin Lake dam.

Water generated for electricity at this dam provides a constant source of current, providing high oxygen content, cooler water and plenty of stunned bait fish as it is discharged into Lay lake’s headwaters.

So naturally it needs less time to cool. Meaning the bass will be more active here…sooner. Feeding on the meals provided here as well.

From Logan Martin Lake Dam, traveling downstream on Lay lake to the Highway 280 bridge crossing, you will see many rather small, feeder creek mouths. These are the first places for early fall season anglers to target, as waters slowly begin to cool.

Also try fishing the upper and lower ends of islands, deep, outside river bends, ledges or drop-offs close to main lake flats, far up in the creeks, or explore the mouth of smaller cuts and pockets, places many anglers pass up.

These are all excellent places in Lay lake’s headwaters, great choices for targeting Lay Lake’s big bass, when September shows Lay Lake’s waters slowly begin to cool.

As waters begin to cool the many creeks displayed at mid lake can cool fast. Bass that were located on deep, summertime drop-offs, on main river ledges, or along main lake flats can suddenly make their move towards the mouths of major feeder creeks.

Or if no creeks are available the shallower water found along main lake flats and in small pockets and cuts nearby, will hold bass. Some bass do not make a long move unless they have to, in order to reach shallow water.

* Some bass were already shallow all summer long.

Again, these transition bass, may be deeper water, nomadic bass. Bass that travel all the way from the deeper waters of the main river — with their travels taking them to the far back ends of major feeder creeks — from September to early October.

Where fall rains can stain the water fast and cool it down considerably.

If your looking for creeks, the lower portion of Lay Lake has some major feeder creeks. Some creeks that run for miles back in the scenic hillsides and surrounding farm lands.

Waxahatchee Creek (right below the narrows) and Paint Creek (near Lay dam) are both huge feeder creeks, with both creeks located only a few miles from Lay Lake dam.

Both of these lower Lay lake creeks feature aquatic weed-lined banks, small cuts and pockets, lots of resident-built piers, boat houses and marinas.

There is also plenty of natural wood cover like stumps, brush piles, laying logs, trees, log jams and plenty of some very visible, standing timber.

Not only do these lower lake creeks have loads of weed and wood cover there is plenty of rock cover to explore as well.

Rock bluffs, rocky points, sea walls, rip-rap rock lined causeways and the Lay lake dam area (nearby Paint Creek), have rocky banks that hold these early fall transition bass too.

* Keep in mind the lower lake’s deeper water is the last to cool during the fall season.

As the fall season nears and waters slowly start to cool these bass begin to make their annual fall migration movement towards the shallows of Lay Lake.

But be forewarned. It may be a lonely fishing trip, unless you bring along a fishing buddy in September!

School is back in session, football season has begun and deer hunters are all out in the woods! You may find very little company on Lay Lake as September rolls around!

Make plans now to interrupt the travels of these early fall season bass. Long before they all make that major mid-fall move to the mid-to-back portions of Lay lake’s major feeder creeks, including the main lake’s shallow cuts, pockets and flats.

There are schools of big bass “bunched up” on some very predictable locations on Lay lake. Often these are some of the biggest bass of the fall season.

Those big bass that are taken by some very fortunate angler. Taken when the odds are increased with less fishing pressure and…there are lots of them, all located on the same spot!

Thanks and Good Fishin’

Reed Montgomery / Owner of Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504
“ Lay Lake’s and Alabama’s Oldest, Professional, Bass Fishing Only, Guide Service ”

Reed Montgomery

About Reed Montgomery

Alabama's Oldest, Professional "Bass Fishing Only" Guide Service For Over 40 Years Fishing all of Alabama's Lakes for all Species of Bass and Striped Bass.

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