PART ONE / JUNE – Lay Lake on Alabama’s Lower Coosa River System
For Deep, Summertime Bass
Written by Reed Montgomery / Owner of Alabama’s oldest, professional — bass fishing only — guide service. Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504. Guiding on Lay Lake and all of Alabama’s Lakes for over 50 years! Located in Alabaster, Alabama. Internet Website www.fishingalabama.com Like us on face book too!
NOTE * This article includes info for fishing Lay Lake, including info on other Coosa River lakes, impounded from the early 1900’s to 1966. At the article’s end there is an example of some very similar, post spawn / early summertime fishing conditions, during the month of June. With information (and some of the top ten anglers and their 3-4 days weights, lures used and results), while featuring two previous, professional bass tournaments held on Lake Eufaula in south Alabama (Impounded 1963).
One tournament, featuring the world’s best bass anglers in the Bassmasters Elite Series, presented by Bassmaster (for 4 days) and another, featuring FLW Outdoors ( for 3 days). Like Lay Lake (Impounded 1914), Lake Eufaula is a weedy, flatland impoundment. An excellent lake for both shallow water anglers, and those deep water anglers utilizing their boats electronics, while fishing with an assortment of lures with some very unique deep water presentations. This summer season Lay Lake anglers can relate, while targeting bass holding along deep creek channels, river channel ledges and old river channel drop-offs. Including, some big bass feeding either shallow or near deep water. (Even shallow water anglers fool some bass in the summer!)
So, sit down, relax and read it all! And don’t miss Part Two – July. (Here’s more on that)
PART TWO – JULY will be more “in depth” (pardon the pun), with more Lay Lake deep water techniques and lure suggestions, including tips on how to use an assortment of some, “very tempting offerings” for some big, summertime bass! So bring along a big, long-handled net on your next preplanned, summertime fishing trip to Lay lake…your gonna need it! Included in Part Two will be more deep water lure applications, for targeting both big largemouth bass and those trophy-sized, Coosa River breed of spotted bass.
* Plus, get your Lay Lake topo map! I’m going to tell you where to find FOUR Deep water spots with water depths of over 50 feet deep on Lay Lake. Places where some of Lay Lake’s biggest bass are located all throughout the entire summer season! Including info that can be applied to fishing deep water on other Alabama lakes during this hot, summer season! So, read on and be sure to check back real soon for Part Two – July.
Lay Lake – Impounded in 1914. Way back then (over 100 years ago) Lay Lake was the first lake of six, man made Coosa River System impoundments built by the Army Corps of Engineers, located in mid Alabama, on the Coosa River System. By most standards of that time this was big! But today, some of these six Lakes are really rather small lakes. Like Mitchell Lake (situated right below Lay Lake dam discharge) and the next Lake downstream, Jordan Lake (situated right below Mitchell Lake dam discharge). Both of these lower Coosa River System Lakes are only about 20 miles in length. But when compared, Lay Lake is over twice as long as these lakes. Lay lake is close to 50 miles in length from dam to dam. It does talk a while to learn the entire lake.
When compared with other, much bigger, Alabama Lakes (like Alabama’s largest, man made impoundment, Guntersville Lake on the Tennessee River System at a length of over 80 miles, from dam to dam), Lay Lake is still comparatively small.
Upper Coosa River Lakes – There three lakes above Lay lake on the Coosa River System. Weiss Lake, Neely Henry Lake and Logan Martin Lake. Weiss Lake is located near the northern Alabama town of Centre. This lake’s headwaters feature the old, original, incoming Coosa River System, flowing out of the Northwestern section of Georgia. The next lake down stream (below Weiss Lake dam discharge), is Neely Henry Lake, located near Gadsden, Al. With an overall length of 50 miles, from Weiss lake dam discharge in the lake’s headwaters, to Neely Henry Lake dam discharge.
(For those that still do not know when these six Coosa River Impoundments were built), these six Coosa River System Lakes, in order, from north Alabama to south Alabama are; Weiss Lake 1961, Neely Henry Lake 1966, Logan Martin Lake 1964, Lay Lake 1914, Mitchell Lake 1923 and Jordan Lake 1928. (The last lake to be built in 1966 was Neely Henry Lake). When upstream reservoir Logan Martin Lake was impounded in 1964, they also added two turbines to Lay Lake dam downstream. This addition raised Lay Lake dam another 15 feet. The lake was also brought up 15 feet as well. Flooding many major feeder creeks, farm lands, flats, railroads, old houses and churches, standing timber, stump rows, and even old cemeteries. Including the old river channel that came up 15 feet. Very similar to Lake Eufaula, only Lay Lake is much older. Great lake for night fishing too!
* Note - For information on all Alabama Power Coosa River Impoundments Call 1-800-lakes-11. You can get current lake levels (important info for shallow water anglers), and find out water generation schedules for all dams, including how many units (turbines), will be running on a 24 hour schedule. (Very important info for deep water anglers!) More on that in Part Two – July!
Boy…have the times changed.
Now, over 100 years since its impoundment, Lay lake (only 40 miles from Birmingham), still baffles even the best of today’s, “modern day, bass boat equipped anglers” many that are constantly fishing for the ever popular, largemouth bass found in Lay lake’s weed lined banks. Including those tackle-testing, Coosa River System breed of spotted bass found lake wide.
Almost every week over 100 boats with bass bound anglers, pound the weedy waters of Lay Lake. Plus many anglers fishing weekly bass tournaments, (even at night!) and lots of other boaters as well! Lay Lake regulars, weekend anglers of all kinds, visitors in ski boats and pontoon parties with lake residents. All just having fun this summer or fishing for fish species such as white bass, bream, catfish, crappie and striped bass. Now, due to the popularity of modern day electronics, some anglers are beginning to probe Lay Lake’s deeper water.
To their delight, many of these very determined and patient, summertime tournament bass anglers, usually find numbers of both bass species, largemouth bass and spotted bass. While fishing and competing against some of Alabama’s best bass anglers in major bass tournaments. Many veteran anglers (some of a few dozen years or so years back), that know every spot on the lake, including many diverse, seasonal fishing tactics for big bass! An, up-and-coming bunch of much younger anglers as well, with all of the latest in fishing gear, lures, rods and reels, plus many utilizing their boats electronics, finding schools of deeper bass, that many anglers don’t!
So, twenty pounds or better each day. This is often what it takes for those tournament winning bags of five bass limits. To even hope of making the top ten payout spots in many one day bass tournaments, multi day major bass tournaments trails and annual events held on Lay Lake. Or for that matter, Lake Eufaula, Guntersville Lake or basically any Alabama Lake! You need five four pounders or better! So keep that figure in mind this summer season, you may not get many bites and every fish counts, meaning you have to boat them as well! Your goal is 20 pounds!
All throughout this 50 mile long lake, it is possible on any given weekend (one day bass tournament), to successfully fool five bass weighing over 20 pounds. No matter what the conditions, or where you fish, you can always count on that. With five bass limits still brought in weighing close to 30 pounds during the spring season on Lay Lake!
An average of five – four pound bass or better, to even hope of winning or placing in the top three in these 50-100 boat bass tournaments! Big Bass? Got to have a least 6 pounder! Yes, they still actually exist in Lay Lake, despite extreme fishing pressure, now found almost daily, every weekend, in all seasons and year round! There are still plenty of big bass (those weighing over five pounds) in this Lake, now over 100 years old!
But deep water fishing for bass? On Lay Lake? Yes, (like weedy, Lake Eufaula on the Al. / Ga. State line, known for its shallow, weedy water bass as well), this lowland lake can produce five bass limits of over 20 pounds! Even largemouth bass weighing in the five to eight pound range and trophy sized spotted bass exceeding five pounds are possible on Lay Lake!
Yes, even during the hot days of summer, while fishing in the sweltering sun often in the mid-to-upper nineties, big bags of bass are dredged from the depths of Alabama’s Lay Lake. By those very astute anglers that want to win. Especially targeted in deeper water situations, are somewhat dormant bass that are usually congregated together when discovered and enticed to bite. But only, by those very determined anglers with some of today’s very unique electronics. And plenty of time on the water. Like School, you have still got to do your home work!
These deep water bass are actually resting bass, recuperating from the rigors of the past spring spawning season. They can be found dwelling in the deeper depths in the lake’s mid-to-lower lake section, often located in water depths of 15 feet down to depths of 50 feet deep on Lay Lake! Actually waiting on the day’s next easy meal, to come to them! But how is this possible you may ask? Read on for more on fishing, “deep water only” on Alabama’s Lay lake this summer season!
Yes, Read on, there’s much more! Deep water fishing tips, old and new fishing techniques, old lures and new lures, and even some suggestions on some very dependable deep water spots! So get your Lay lake map and mark these good ol’ spots for all summer long while deep water bassin’!
All explained,” in depth” for targeting Lay lake’s deep water bass this summer season! * Coming soon in PART TWO – JULY. Techniques for deep water fishing, good for the next three to four months of the typically “hot” summer season…right on into late September. When daytime air temperatures can still hover in the low-to-mid nineties!
[But first, “a summer lake comparison”, like two recent Bassmasters and FLW Outdoors Bass Fishing Tournaments, held the first two weeks of June this year, on a lake in lower Alabama on the Tallapoosa River System. A very weedy impoundment, very much like Lay Lake, known for its big, shallow water largemouth bass. Lake Eufaula! ]
Bassmaster Elite series had just fished this lake for four days. With many big bass that were caught on topwater lures such as poppers, buzz baits, zara spooks, fake frogs and other shallow water lures. Many deep water bass too! With many anglers brining in some big largemouth bass that were fooled in weedy depths of less than five feet deep down to 30 feet deep! Then another tournament was held there by FLW Outdoors. This time so shallow water bass anglers, take heed! Fish deep water this summer!
Lake Eufaula, Al. FLW Southeastern Division Open bass tournament. This was a bass tournament held in the early summer season on the lower Chattahoochee River System Lake Eufaula, situated on the Alabama / Georgia state line. Where the top ten anglers on the last day of three days of competition (all but one angler from Florida), came from all over Alabama and throughout the U.S.
Like most multi-day bass tournaments, this near 100 plus field of anglers was narrowed down to the top 22 anglers in the field on the last of two days then a top ten competed on day three. They all practiced for a few days and some anglers fished shallow and some fished deep water. With many anglers visiting Lake Eufaula many weeks prior to this early summer season, major league bass tournament. But you have got to have a little of both shallow water and deep water, dependable fish holding spots, to hold up to three days of intense competition! Places, dozens of other competitors fail to find in deep water that hold big schools of big bass!
FLW Outdoors Lake Eufaula – It took an average weight of almost 20 pounds a day to make the top ten…and it was won with a three day total of 64 pounds and 15 ounces by Josh Stracner from Vandiver, Al. He won, with his own 3 day prediction of an average of 22 pounds a day! Bringing in 5 bass a day over a three day period, with all 15 bass weighing one ounce short of 65 pounds! All taking place in early summer on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula, known as Walter F. George Reservoir. Located on the lower Tallapoosa River System, near the town of Eufaula, Al.
(* Read this; to relate to Lay Lake’s very similar early summertime, deep water fishing conditions and mid to lower lake fishing suggestions.) Then, we will get back to more, deep water bassin’ on Lay Lake in; PART TWO JULY “Lay Lake on Alabama’s Coosa River System for Deep Summertime Bass”! That is, after this very important comparison, for these two Alabama lakes, for fishing the summer season in deep water!)
Lake Eufaula Al. had shown Bassmasters and FLW Outdoors visit this weedy lake in a post spawn / early summer condition with over 50 miles of mid-to-lower Lake places to fish! The Bassmasters showed plenty of big, hungry recuperating largemouth bass, with most bass still hanging around aquatic weeds, rocks and wood cover from the spring spawning season, in deep water brush and some very shallow water conditions. With a tremendous frog bite for all. Including Alabama’s Scott Canterbury from Moody, Alabama (Bassmasters 2019 Angler of the year!) that lead the four day Bassmasters tournament with 15 bass weighing 60 pounds on day three!
On the final and fourth day, on a Saturday (with one local bass tournament with over 50 boats), including many spectators and other weekend anglers, it was a morning bonanza for many of the top 5 Bassmaster anglers, boating many 5 pound plus big bass in the first hour. Scott Canterbury and Buddy Gross from Ga. were battling it out for first and second place, with about 20 pounds each (for one/half day) by 12 p.m. running neck and neck at about 80 pounds each, by almost weigh in time! (It was Buddy’s first time to fish Lake Eufaula! Many of the last day’s top ten were fishing from mid lake below the main lake bridge crossing, to the lower lake dam.)
Bassmasters First Place Lake Eufaula June / Buddy Gross came from behind in tenth place with 15 bass 56 pounds on day three. He made a move to first place with 5 big bass weighing 27.11 pounds and he had big bass of the day weighing 6.13 pounds on day four! Scott Canterbury ended up in second place with 83 pounds and 9 ounces. Less than a pound that separated first place and second place and meaning a payout difference of $100,000 verses $40,000. Drew Benton took third place with 82.4 pounds and came close weighing in 24.8 pounds on day four! Brandon Cobb had 79.8 for fourth place.
But in addition, many Bassmaster big bass were caught out of deeper water as bright, sunny conditions forced many anglers to fish deeper and fish much slower around brush piles, drop-offs and ledges. And it was a tremendous bass tournament with many deeper bass caught on a variety of lures such as; 10 inch worms, jig combos, finesse worms, swim baits, bladed jigs and jigging spoons, just to name a few, besides many bass caught on a variety of deep diving crankbaits.
But when FLW Outdoors was on Lake Eufaula the shallow water late springtime bite had fizzled into about nothing. In fact it was so bad; only one angler from Florida made the final day top ten while fishing a frog in shallow water. A respectable bag of 15 bass over 50 pounds in three days, that got that angler eighth place. The rest of the Alabama top ten did very well, targeting mostly deep water bass.
During that FLW Outdoors bass tournament on Lake Eufaula the local boys really racked up! Nine of the top ten anglers were from Alabama! As mentioned first place had about 65 pounds. That is almost 22 pounds a day for three days! One angler, Michael Smith from Alabama had 25 pounds each day for the first two days and led the tournament. But his bass played out and he lost some good bass on day three, bringing in only 11 pounds and fell to fourth place.
Another angler came very close to winning that FLW Outdoors 3 day tournament on Lake Eufaula Al. That was Ryan Ingram from nearby Phoenix City, Al. with 62 pounds and 13 ounces. Only one good three to four pounder that separated his winnings from a first place finish, tremendously. Even tenth place Kacy Mims from Randolph, Al. had three good days of fishing with 15 bass weighing 53 pounds.
So when you see either of these bass tournaments on T V apply their lures and deep water fishing techniques this summer season, you can too! When fishing, “Alabama’s Lay Lake For Deep Summertime Bass!” Coming real soon… PART TWO – JULY!