The notoriety this man made Coosa River Lake has received, just in the last decade alone, is phenomenal. Since it was impounded in 1914 – a lake, over one hundred years old to date — Alabama’s Lay lake just keeps on getting better!
This was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt during the February, 2010 Lay lake Bassmaster Classic held out of Lay Lake’s now famous, Beeswax Creek Park boat launch, located at mid lake during a cold, late winter week, featuring some very serious bass fishing.
As 51 of the world’s best bass anglers converged on Alabama’s Lay lake (for the fourth time the Bassmasters Classic has been held on Lay lake), that exciting, 2010 Bassmaster Classic revealed a lot of big, Lay lake spotted bass and largemouth bass, brought to the weigh-in scales, held at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center.
Michigan’s Kevin Van Dam won that world-renowned fishing event.
In terms of an excellent bass fishery, Lay lake easily rates as one of Alabama’s top three best, big bass lakes. Including, its an impoundment that can be known for providing anglers with sheer numbers of bass on any outing.
Not only should Lay Lake be heralded in terms of producing some rather big, largemouth bass (some weighing in excess of ten pounds have been taken in years past), but it should also be recognized for its excessive population of supreme-sized, Alabama Coosa River spotted bass.
Spotted bass, some exceeding 8 pounds, have been taken in years past from Lay lake.
During the spring spawning season some anglers — those that are not familiar with the “lay” of Lay lake — may struggle in really figuring out how to achieve this big bass bite.
Lay lake is a rather long lake, at about 50 nautical miles –from dam to dam– in length.
Lay lake has over 12,000 surface acres of water for avid bass anglers to explore, with some huge, incoming feeder creeks. Where a lot of these springtime bass will be spawning. With 289 miles of shoreline, during the spring season, a bass could be discovered bedding about anywhere on Lay lake.
Stretching from downstream Lay lake dam, going northward on the Coosa River System to upstream Logan Martin lake dam (in Lay lake’s headwaters), is some of the fishiest-looking aquatic weeds, varied wood, and rock-infested, bass holding cover an impoundment has to offer.
But knowing how to navigate your boat up the cover-filled waters of Alabama’s Lay lake (a lake that still displays both visible stumps and standing timber, including some wood cover hidden just beneath the water’s surface), requires a little knowledge and knowing the entire “ lay ” of Lay lake…
Investing a few dollars in a good lake map of Lay Lake (See Carto-Craft maps in Birmingham, Al.) will help keep down the costs of major boat and motor repairs.
April is the Spawning Month on Lay Lake
It does not matter if the quarry you are after on Lay lake is a largemouth bass or of the Coosa River breed of spotted bass. There are plenty to go around!
Both bass species usually bed in April and both bass species can often be found mingling together, in select locations. And they can be found in abundance lake wide…all throughout the spring spawning month of April!
As waters begin to slowly heat up in early April so does the fishing action! The perfect bedding water temperature of 72 degrees, coupled with the season’s next full moon, is all it takes to trigger a mass wave of both male and female largemouth bass and spotted bass to head towards the lake’s shallow, spawning grounds.
New growing aquatic weeds are found all throughout Lay lake and they enhance the spring spawn as well. Largemouth bass will both feed, and then make their beds, and then even hang around (to protect the newborn baby bass fry), while also mingling with other big, female bass, cruising daily in and around these many types of aquatic weeds. From March on into summer months is the time to think shallow water bassin’!
The bigger of these bass, the female bass, feed here prior to bedding during the pre-spawn period and they even hang around this lush, oxygen-rich, new green aquatic weed growth (often in huge numbers and then they feed even more), just after laying their eggs.
Right after the post-spawn months of May, the early portion of the month of June can show recuperating bass getting back to their normal, feeding habits while fattening up for the hot, summer months ahead.
Within the security of these thick, aquatic weeds are many meals these largemouth bass will dine on, prior to going on a feeding binge, eating very little while actually bedding.
Anglers will find that when using lures that look like or ”mimic” these many types of Lay lake prey, the end results can produce some very violent strikes.
While concentrating your fishing efforts both in and all around these many types of aquatic weeds, you increasingly better your chances of getting more quality-sized bass to bite.
Anglers should keep in mind, your lures will be in front of more big bass and always closer to their strike zone, while targeting these bunched-up bass, that will be gathering around Lay lake’s many types of aquatic weeds this spring season.
Frogs, minnows, crayfish, worms, snakes, eels, lizards, insects (such as dragonflies) and a variety of smaller bait fish such as bream, threadfin shad, gizzard shad, small catfish, bream, minnows and crappie, all inhibit these weeds and any one (or all), of these hapless prey can easily become the day’s next meal! Even smaller bass…beware!
These prey find the security of Lay lake’s thick aquatic weeds, a place that is literally, a matter of enjoying life or sudden death. Usually the latter of these two. Especially if these very susceptible prey venture to far from the security of their thick, green, oxygen-rich and very weedy, sanctuaries.
Weeds are places of which both predator and prey alike will call home, for at least nine months out of the year. Most weeds on Lay lake (but not all weeds), will wither and die from a period of around late November on into the late winter month of February.
Coosa River Spotted Bass are found lake wide. Although they will choose to bed in a sandy bottom or a small pebble bottom, right along with their cousins the largemouth bass, a lot of spotted bass would prefer to mingle and bed with their own kind.
They can usually be found bedding in a preferred habitat or along the lakes many rocky, bluff-type banks, small cuts and pockets found within these rock bluffs.
Spotted bass may build their beds right along the lake’s rocky shoreline or along rock bluffs. Or these “spots” can be found bedding along the shallows, around man made rip-rap rocks, or they will bed around natural, rock-lined banks.
Spotted bass can even be found (by the more astute angler) while they are feeding and preparing for the actual process of bedding during the pre spawn period, while they are holding along rocks that are found underwater, like those found around the base of supports or bridge pilings, or they can be found bedding in front of, or actually bedding right up in culverts, along rock-lined causeways and the lower Lay lake dam area.
These spotted bass also prefer the comfort of nearby rocks, boulders, rock walls or sea walls. They may even be discovered bedding on a hard, red clay bottoms like those void of weeds featuring scattered rocks, stumps, or a sandy bottom.
Most of both the largemouth bass and spotted bass species will avoid bedding in lake bottoms that have a muddy composition. That is, unless that is all they have to choose from!
Lures and Techniques For Lay Lake’s Bass
Just like the fact that these bass will bed in the same types of locations, they will also hit the same types of lures presented to them all throughout the spring season.
Choosing a list of lures that are needed for each fishing situation can be mind-boggling, especially with the selection of today’s never-ending lure choices. It seems like every time you pick up a fishing magazine or watch your favorite weekly fishing show on Television, there is always a hot new lure on the market.
But today, most astute anglers do at least have a tackle box jammed full of the original bassin’ basics. Those lures that everybody collects of every shape, size, color and action they can in, all types and models.
Here’s just a few suggestions of the basic lures an angler will need while fishing Lay lake’s shallow, weedy waters, and wood and rock cover, this spring season.
These types of lures are most anglers favorite lure choices. Seeing a big bass explode on a well placed top water lure cannot be compared to fishing with any of the many other types of lures, those that run beneath the waters surface.
When it comes to choosing top water lures for Lay lake’s bass you have two types of lures to choose from. Weed less and not-so-weed less lures.
Weed less Lures – You can cast these lures and retrieve them, right through the thickest of weeds. Lures like fake Frogs (both single-hook, soft-bodied frogs and duel-hook hollow-body frogs, rat or mouse imitations, floating worms, lizards, swim baits and shad imitations / rigged weedless, or buzz baits and spinnerbaits, are all great lure choices.
Even Texas-rigged weightless lures like a Gary Yamamoto’s Senko or Zoom’s air- injected Trick Worms are very weedless soft plastics and they are great lures for this type of application.
Not-So-Weedless Topwater Lures – Some topwater lures feature 2-3 dangling treble hooks. These types of topwater lures are not-so-weed less. Knowing where to throw what, can reduce a day of frustration. Going after (or losing) a bunch of hung up lures all day can easily be avoided. Just watch your lure selection and look where your casting!
LURES FOR FISHING AWAY FROM LAY LAKE’S WEEDS
Shallow-to-mid diving crankbaits, both suspending and floating hard-bodied jerk baits, and rattling, lipless lures (like Bill Lewis rattle traps and Strike Kings red eye shad), all feature weed and wood grabbing treble hooks.
These types of Lay lake lures can be fished in open water situations like along spawning flats, around rocks, boulders and bluff-type banks, around laying trees, stumps and logs, right in the middle of standing timber and fished parallel along rip-rap, rock lined banks.
Even around piers, boat houses — and especially around bass tournament release sites (where hundreds of tournament-caught released bass are let go each week) during the spring season, like Paradise Point Marina found at mid lake and Beeswax Creek public boat launch — you can fish these lures and a variety of other types of lures on or close to the lake’s bottom in water less than 10 feet deep.
LURES FOR FOOLING LAY LAKE’S BIG, LARGEMOUTH BASS
Getting your boat in close to Lay Lake’s weed lined banks and utilizing a technique called “Flipping” is a great way to fool Lay lake’s noted big, largemouth bass. Jig combos are popular lure choices for this technique. Always have plenty of colors, jig trailers and various weights for these kind of lures.
Also try “Swimming” a jig combo along weed lines. Or try “Pitchin“ a jig combo along Lay lake’s weedy edges, and around wood and rock cover. Soft plastics like worms, lizards, crayfish, tube baits, sweet beavers and creature-style soft plastics all work well, while utilizing these springtime techniques too!
Even when fishing with small, finesse-type plastics, coupled with light line and light tackle outfits, some anglers successfully fool and land some big, bass on Lay lake. Fishing with small plastics placed on jig heads, or utilizing Texas-rigged or Carolina-rigged plastics, are also popular techniques for fishing on Lay lake.
Make plans to visit Alabama’s Lay Lake. Not only during the spring season but during the summer, fall, and winter seasons as well. It is an excellent bass fishery for anglers to target year round!
Or you can always call on Reeds Guide Service…first!
“ Lay Lake’s Oldest, Professional, Licensed and Insured, “Bass Fishing Only” Guide Service. Guiding on Lay Lake and all other Alabama Lakes For Over 40 Years!”
Please practice Catch and Release!
Thanks and Good Fishin’
Reed Montgomery / Owner of Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504 Birmingham, Alabama E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.fishingalabama.com See us, Reeds Guide Service, on face book too!