Written By Reed Montgomery /Reeds Guide Service
Its official, the actual cool days of Fall have arrived. This is an excellent time to fish Alabama’s northern impoundment, “Lake Wedowee” located on the upper Tallapoosa River System, near the town of Wedowee, Al.
You can choose to fish for the very fighting breed of some often mislabeled but Big, Spotted Bass! Or you (like most bass anglers), may really want to tackle its bigger bass quarry, the native and Trophy-sized Largemouth Bass! When? Now! Before the very harsh, miserable, and often very cold days of winter arrive, from early January on into late February.
You owe it to yourself to spend at least a few days fishing for some big bass on Lake Wedowee. The cool days of Fall have begun, and even on into the early winter season of late December, this is still the time for Trophy bass anglers to begin applying their, ”cool weather tactics” for at least two more months, before the year’s end.
This can also be the time of year when bass anglers experience some excellent shallow water action, usually resulting in fooling numbers of big bass! Schooling, feeding and cruising the lake’s shallows in wolf packs, these bass are now fattening up for the cooler winter months ahead.
* So, The Time is Now For Targeting Lake Wedowee’s Trophy-sized Largemouth Bass!
These are some very big, largemouth bass (some weighing in the teens), that few bass anglers have ever even personally seen and they are scarce. Targeting “big bass” anytime, calls for applying yourself and means being ready for some “big bass action” whenever the time does come.
Many bass anglers have made some very long distance trips, often with high hopes to Alabama’s now famous Lake Wedowee. It is located only 30 miles due east of I-20 (by the Anniston area on the Mount Cheha State Park exit.)
But some anglers still come to this lake un prepared, especially for the tackle-testing strength that these very big bass can exhibit. With some anglers only going back home, often empty handed with the old tale of, “the big one that got away.”
But maybe, your next “trophy bass trip” to Alabama’s youngest, man made impoundment, Lake Wedowee , will hopefully show a big, trophy-sized largemouth bass on the end of your line! One, that you have prepared for and you will successfully land. Yes, there are some big, largemouth bass (those exceeding ten pounds), to be discovered during the Fall and early Winter season’s on Lake Wedowee!
* Some largemouth bass weighing in the teens have been caught on Lake Wedowee in year’s past! In addition, now is the time for anglers to even be actually “daring” those fighting-breed of Tallapoosa River spotted bass, to viciously attack, your often very tempting offerings! Or you can be fooling both breeds of these bass all in one day!
As owner of Reeds Guide Service “Alabama’s oldest, professional – bass fishing only – guide service, for over 50 years”, I have spent many of those years fishing, guiding and exploring the 40 plus navigable miles on these varied waters of the Big and Little Tallapoosa River System’s.
These two incoming, timber-laden river system’s, including the mid-to-lower lake region, all the way to Lake Wedowee’s lower lake dam (actually named, R. L. Harris lake dam), is some of the clearest water on Lake Wedowee.
Every since the lake was built and then opened to the public in 1983, I have learned a lot about fishing for both breeds of bass, of what I can say are, “a very healthy looking bass population” on this lake. I have spent many years showing bass anglers how to catch bass on this man made impoundment, all throughout each and every season. Including each year after it was actually unfolded to the public, since its impoundment, almost 35 years now.
Fall is still my favorite time of year (of the four seasons), for targeting those big bass on Lake Wedowee. It’s also a time I often choose to go fishing all alone. Just me and these big bass. But often, even on week days, I’m not alone.
There are some very avid bass anglers, both the professional and the novice, that come to this 10,660 acre Northeast Alabama lake — some hailing from all over, including Alabama — just to experience the often phenomenal days of Fall and early Winter fishing to be had on Lake Wedowee.
Unknown to many, there are those anglers that come from afar. Those true, trophy-sized big bass anglers, with some traveling here from all over the United States! With a hopeful end of their search on each trip, by successfully finding, just one trophy-sized bass!
Yes, its possible! I know, because I’ve taken many anglers fishing on Lake Wedowee in many year’s past. Some anglers that have succeeded in their quest for that bass of a life time. Some that have not.
For some, they cannot find the time. While others cannot afford to go on a few fishing trips on their own (or split the fee with a friend), this Fall and early Winter season, with fishing expense and today’s economy. And it is understandable.
Or there are those that have not had the pleasure of spending, “A Fall Season Day…Fishing for Big Bass on Lake Wedowee”. A day spent fishing, targeting big bass specifically on Lake Wedowee. Maybe on a fishing trip with me, Reed Montgomery owner of Reeds Guide Service.
For over 50 years I’ve been exploring all of Alabama’s lakes. Over 30 of those years I’ve fished and guided on Lake Wedowee and I have discovered the many ways, and the many lures, it takes to fool a lot these big bass! Believe me, it is truly only one of a few man made lakes in Alabama, where you really have a good chance at fooling a big, trophy-sized largemouth bass! One weighing in the “teens”!
Yes, maybe even a new state record largemouth bass exists, one weighing Seven “teen” pounds! So how many lakes can you endorse with that figure? Not many, I’m sure and I’ve fished all of them, in all seasons, for over 50 years now.
* On Lake Wedowee Since 1983; There have been dozens of big largemouth bass some weighing from ten to twelve pounds, several fourteen pounders, a few weighing over fifteen pounds, a couple of “monster bass” weighing over sixteen pounds (close to the Alabama state record of 16 1/2 pounds), and floater found deceased), in the lake many years back, exceeding seventeen pounds!
So here is what I would consider, with ideal conditions, if had to choose a day fishing on Lake Wedowee during the months of November and December. Including some very tedious equipment preparation before every trip I take to Lake Wedowee. Or any lake.
GETTING YOURSELF AND YOUR TACKLE READY FOR FALL FISHING
To begin with, a trip to Lake Wedowee (or any lake) always means being prepared. Getting your boat and truck ready is first on this list! Then preparing your tackle and checking the weather and lake conditions beforehand is next. All of which is very necessary for you to expect any degree of success!
Preparing Your Truck and Boat – I always check the necessary items; like airing up the truck tires and boat trailer tires, and making sure the spare tire for my boat and tow vehicle are aired up. All batteries are always fully charged (hooking them up to a battery charger the night before my trip) and I check all fluid levels, like water, gas and oil for the truck, and gas and oil in the boat.
I always make sure all the necessary items are already loaded in the boat, usually already taken care of the day before I head out for the lake. Rather than sadly discovering some things were left behind. If I’m all rigged and ready beforehand, all I have or do is launch the boat when I get to the lake. Which means more time spent fishing!
I always bring plenty of life jackets, several rain suits, two pairs of polarized sunglasses and yes, even sunscreen that will be needed even in the Fall and Winter season’s. If cold weather is expected I always have toboggans, hats, gloves, goggles for running the boat and jump suits and heavy coats. Two of each item for both anglers (or a spare set of clothes too!), already checked off my list and already loaded in the boat.
Of course having fishing licenses and boat registration papers are mandatory. A fully charged fire extinguisher and emergency first aid kit too! And a tow rope and throw cushion!
I always bring plenty of food and snacks. Just in case the fish do not cooperate and we get hungry. When the weather is cold (or in case of an emergency), I bring hot food like soup or chili, both of which can really warm a body fast. I always have a thermos full of coffee (or hot chocolate), on those cold days and two cups, in case another angler forgot to bring one! Cold drinks, water and ice will be needed to, enough for two or three anglers. Cell phones too!
Tackle, Rods and Reels – Most anglers know, fishing with the right lures and having good dependable equipment can always help contribute to their success! But when I’m planning a trip to Lake Wedowee, I always think big. Big Bass! So my tackle selection, my line choice, the hooks and the reels and rods I select are vital to my success…which is catching and landing those big, tackle-testing bass this lake is known to hold!
* I leave the light tackle outfits at home.
I’m the type of angler, no matter what kind of fishing trip I’ve got planed I’m prepared. I may spend an entire day beforehand preparing my tackle and making sure my equipment and boat is in perfect working order. Then nothing is left to fault.
This means replacing or sharpening all hooks on each lure I plan to use. Having all the lures I need and the necessary hardware like worm hooks, weights, rattles and jig heads is very important to being organized and successful!. Organization of each tackle box I have, is of the utmost importance. So I will know where each categorized lure is located, for when I will really need it. Its no fun frantically looking for that one particular lure, while your fishing partner is catching all the bass!
I always replace old fishing line with fresh, new line on all of my reels. For Trophy Bass Fishing, I use nothing less than 15 pound test monofilament line or florocarbon line and often I’ll be fishing with line in the 20 pound test category, on at least half of my pre-rigged rods.
* With some lures…you want nothing less than heavy line.
Oiling all reels, tightening up the reel seat on the rod, tightening up all nuts and screws on each reel, and checking the reel’s drag system is mandatory. Check rods eyes for chips or cracks. When I get to the lake I will then spray all the line on my reels with “Reel Magic” an oil that relaxes my line and helps prevent open-faced reels from back lashing.
I’m also going to have at least ten pre-rigged rods ready, for all conditions I’m expecting. Keeping in mind, I could backlash a few reels, or I may have to change over, from one type of lure to another lure type later on, often using the same rod.
I may have a top water lure like a Heddon Zara Spook, a Buzz bait, a Heddon Baby Torpedo or an old Rebel Pop-r already pre-rigged on a 6 1/2 foot medium action rod. A rod or two, rigged with a reel featuring 15 pound test Trilene Big Game monofilament line and 20 pound test on larger lures.
After the morning top water bite has slowed (or if it ceases all together), I can then simply cut off that top water lure and then quickly replace it with a small-bodied crank bait like an Excalibur Fat Free Shad deep diving crank bait, or a lip less lure. I’m then ready for a new approach, with some new offering’s!
The same goes for fishing a buzz bait on a long rod, using 17-20 pound test line. I can later change it over to a half ounce rattling lip less lure like a Strike King Red Eye Shad, a Bill Lewis Rattletrap, a Cordell Rattling Spot or a Rapala Rattlin’ Rap, in just a matter of a few minutes. Which means more time for fishing! Not rigging!
THE WEATHER AND LAKE CONDITIONS – Call Alabama Power Company Tallapoosa River System at 1-800-lakes-11 the day before your trip, or even a week or so beforehand. If I’m planning my trip several days in advance and want to know the previous lake level and lake conditions, this is very convenient.
On the Internet anglers can keep a check on Lake Wedowee lake levels (or any Alabama lake) by going to: www.lakelevels.org And see seasonal fishing tips for Fall and Winter on Lake Wedowee and other Alabama lakes at www.fishingalabama.com
When you call the Alabama Power Co. 1-800 number you will hear a recording giving you the Tallapoosa River, then the current daily lake level, and the water generation schedule for the next few days. You can also check out these conditions for a day or two ahead of time, on other Alabama lakes.
* A good weatherman will always give a week’s weather prediction.
Checking the predicted weather the night before your trip is always advisable. Even during the early morning hours (before I leave my house), I will often call and re-check the lake level to see if it has risen or it has suddenly dropped over night. I will also listen to the morning weather prediction on the television or radio.
So as you can see there is a lot of preparation, long before I actually make my fishing trip. I don’t want to leave anything to chance or leave anything out, and I for sure want to always prevent any unforeseen problems, that could arise otherwise. * Don’t ever leave anything to chance. For if it can happen it will.
LURES FOR TARGETING BIG, TROPHY BASS
Now that everything is in perfect order I can go fishing. Then, that long awaited morning arrives and in the dim morning light, I finally find myself staring down that long, tapered end of my favorite fishing rod…and now, I’m ready. So what lure will I fish with first?
Like picking up a soup spoon (when I plan on eating soup), I automatically reach for my trusty Zara Super Spook rod every time. Pre-rigged with Trilene Big Game (green or clear), 20 pound test monofilament line. Rigged on a wide-spooled ABU Garcia Ambassador reel and a three hook, James Heddon Zara Super Spook top water lure (with new #2 size Gamakatsu treble hooks, on the front and back)…always first!
“A long awaited cast, then the top water lure sets sail for its intended destination.”
The wood and rock cover of Lake Wedowee (there are no weeds in the winter due to lake draw down) are my cool weather targets. The Zara Super Spook is my arsenal. This big, walking-type, three-hook top water lure, fools big bass, year round!
Always be ready, on every cast, for a big bass explosion! To me, when bass fishing, year round, there is no better lure I would rather catch a big bass on than that, James Heddon Zara Super Spook top water lure. On Lake Wedowee I have caught dozens of big bass on this lure alone. And I’ve seen some lucky bass anglers fool some big bass, some weighing in the “teens” on this lure and many other lures.
That’s enough to convince me and others in my boat, to throw it often.
But its not the only lure I fish. You have to be versatile and fish the entire water column, from top to bottom, with a variety of lures and presentations. I may see a certain situation involving a piece of fish-holding cover that could call for a number of other lure selections.
That’s why I have a dozen pre-rigged rods laying at my feet at any time! I may not fish with just any one lure I have pre-rigged, not a whole lot. But I’m going to fish each and every one of those pre-selected lures at some time or another, some time during that day! You just never know…unless you throw! So, what other lures would I rig up the night before my intended fishing trip? Many.
TOPWATER LURES – First of all, there are always several different types of top water lures I will have pre-rigged on about every fishing trip I take to Lake Wedowee. Often, I will have as many as four-five pre rigged rods featuring various types of top water lures. A zara super spook, a noisy clacker-type buzz bait, a baby torpedo, a top water prop bait and even a Snag proof frog. Yes, I fish a frog on a lake with no weeds!
SPINNERBAITS – Next, I’m always going to have a half ounce white spinnerbait (chatterbaits too!), tied on a long rod, pre rigged with 17- 20 pound test monofilament line. Or maybe fluorocarbon line.
White, because it works very well most of the time in fairly clear to lightly stained water conditions or certain situations on Lake Wedowee. I will add a white or pearl colored twin-tailed grub or a curly-tailed plastic grub trailer, to most spinnerbaits.
If I’m confronted with lightly stained to fairly muddy water conditions, I will go to a chartreuse and white spinnerbait (or an all chartreuse color), on both the skirt and the spinnerbait’s added, plastic grub or twin tail trailer. Both the spinnerbait and grub trailer will always be chartreuse, if confronted with muddy water.
I will also increase the weight of my spinnerbait from a ½ ounce to a ¾ ounce model and I will go to bigger # 6 to # 7 size blades on my heavier model spinnerbait, which are much better lures on windy days. Even adding an oversized trailer and trailer hook helps.
JERK BAITS – I usually rig up both a floating model jerk bait and a suspending model jerk bait. These minnow type lures will be pre-rigged on two medium action 6 foot to 6 1/2 foot long rods, with 12 – 15 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. These can be 2 hook or 3 hook model jerk baits.
With a floating model jerk bait I can fish it right in wood cover such as standing timber, brush piles, stumps and lay down trees, with far less hang-ups. When allowed to stop, a floater will rise and usually come clear of any branches it has made contact with.
* Floating model jerk baits are easily retrieved around wood cover with fewer hang-ups.
Suspending model jerk baits can be fished along the outer perimeter of wood cover, along tree trunks, or right down laying logs and they can be made to maneuver between any of the trees branches. They are good lures for targeting suspended bass holding along rocky or boulder-strewn banks with mixed in standing timber, easily found on Lake Wedowee.
* Fast, erratic actions with a slight pause between jerks, works best when fishing both suspending and floating model jerk baits.
CRANKBAITS – I pre-rig at least two-three rods with Trilene Big Game green, 12-15 pound test monofilament line or 12-15 pound test “Vicious” brand fluorocarbon line. One rod will be a medium action 6 foot rod and it will have a shallow diving crankbait like an Excalibur Fat Free Shad in pearl white or lemon-lime colors, good for all kinds of water clarity.
Or I’ll rig a No. 5 Normark Rapala Shad Rap in a natural color for clear water, or crayfish or bream colors for off-colored or dingy water clarity, on the other rod. I may have another longer, medium action rod of 6 1/2 to 7 feet in length. That will have a medium runner or a big bodied, deep diving crank bait, rigged on 12-17 pound test monofilament line or fluorocarbon line. Rigged on a wide-spooled ABU Garcia Ambassador reel.
JIG COMBOS – Lastly I’m going to have a ½ ounce to ¾ ounce jig combo, or a multi-legged creature bait like a Brush Hog, tied on a long, 7 1/2 to 7 foot 11 inch heavy action rod, (flipping rods are great). These lures can be rigged on 50 pound test braided line, or 20 pound test Trilene Big Game (dark green) monofilament line, or Vicious or Berkley brand 20 pound test Fluorocarbon line.
The jig colors are simple. Black and blue / if stained water or if fishing very muddy water conditions / Or pumpkinseed with green flake. Jig trailers can be many. I may have an old fashion pork trailer, or a plastic “sweet beaver”, or a big crayfish imitation, a twin tailed grub, a creature bait, or small crayfish, or even a paddle tail worm or half a lizard, for a jig trailer.
OTHER LURES – There are other lures like jigging spoons, tail spinners, spin heads, drop shot rigs, or blade baits that I will try in cold water as well. Including small to over-sized swim baits, rigged on a jig head.
During the day I may rig up a 10 -12 inch worm, an oversized 8 -10 inch lizard, a big creature bait, a large 6 inch tube bait or a big, 6-7 inch crayfish imitation. All fished Texas-rigged on a half ounce weight, and dragged very, very slowly along the lake bottom.
Again, Swim baits (both soft plastic and hard, jointed-type bodies too!), and even “Alabama rigs” work great in these clear water situations, for some really Big, trophy-sized bass, during the Fall and early Winter months on this lake. Be rigged and ready, and throw these two types of outfits and others pre rigged, off and on, throughout your day.
Especially fishing all of them, at all depths, around cover like standing timber, rocks, boulders or bluff-type banks, on Lake Wedowee this Fall and early Winter seasons! (Before the boat ramp freezes over this Winter season!)
Make plans now to spend a day or two, fishing for some big, spotted bass and true, trophy sized largemouth bass, some weighing in the “teens” on Alabama’s Lake Wedowee! During the Fall season and early Winter months of November and December you can fool both of these bass species.
* But a few words of advice. Be prepared!
For that, ”big bass bite of a life time” can attack your tempting offerings at any time. You don’t get many big bass opportunities. So take advantage of the ones you do get and plan on getting that big bass in the boat!
* Take pictures and let these bass go to live and fight another day and to give another angler a thrill in the near future! Practice C P R. Catch, Photo and Release!
Always call on Reeds Guide Service…first! “Lake Wedowee’s (and all of Alabama’s) Oldest, Professional — Bass Fishing Only — Guide Service now, For Over 50 Years”