PART TWO / JULY Lay Lake on Alabama’s Lower Coosa River System for Deep, Summertime Bass
Written by Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504 Alabaster, Al. Internet Website www.fishingalabama.com Like us on face book too!
(See; PART ONE / JUNE “Lay Lake on Alabama’s Coosa River System for Deep Summertime Bass”), at my website www.fishingalabama.com or go to Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service on face book!
With the summer season now officially upon us, many would-be, shallow water anglers, are now extending their quarry search (for Lay Lake’s ever-elusive nomadic bass), while constantly probing the lake’s varied deeper, underwater fish habitat. Places such as man made brush piles, old stump rows, standing timber and other submerged wood cover. This includes, but is not limited to, the many various types of underwater aquatic weeds, underwater rock piles and other boulder-type predator and prey summer season habitats.
Especially targeted by these very adapt bass anglers (many of which are well armed with some of today’s most sophisticated, fish finding electronics), are the many various types of bottom irregularities this, “100 years plus” very old lake, has to offer.
Places featuring sudden depth changes such as old, river channel ledges, deeper creek channels often intersecting with deep, river channels and shallow flats, especially main lake flats that feature deep water drop offs nearby. Also targeted by these electronic driven anglers (but unseen by others), are submerged humps, underwater sand bars and submerged islands. Including loads of inundated man made cover of long ago such as old road beds, railroads and trestles, old bridges, culverts, old buildings and house foundations.
Plus, there is even some standing timber still visible, and some trees and stumps are dangerously hidden from boaters, now broken off right under the surface of Lay Lake’s full pool water level. (Call 1-800-lakes-11 for daily lake levels and water generation schedules. Its best to know both dam schedules, for both upper Logan Martin lake dam discharge hours and discharge times for lower Lay lake dam, when water will be pulled thus activating the deep fish bite. They even include info on how many units (water turbines or generators), will be on and running each day!)
All of these very avid bass anglers will brave the summer heat and often very brutal fishing conditions in their seemingly, never ending search for the lake’s so noted, big largemouth bass and the challenging, tackle-testing antics of some big, trophy-sized Coosa River breed of spotted bass. All by simply just probing Lay Lake’s deeper water with many types of fake offerings (fishing lures), all in a day’s time. Sounds easy, but it does take some search and includes many hours on the water, just to find these deep water spots.
For the most part, the majority of these very avid bass anglers are concentrating their efforts (on this fifty mile long, man made reservoir Impounded in 1914), fishing from the mid lake area, from the Highway 280 bridge crossing, all the way downstream to the lower Lay Lake Dam. They are basically fishing all the way to the lake’s lower end, searching the much deeper water and much clearer water clarity, located near Lay Lake dam, while fishing along the way on dozens of stop-offs.
Some of these savvy bass anglers are heading their boats upstream of the so noted (previous Bassmasters Classic location), Beeswax Creek State Park public boat launch, going all the way upriver past the islands found right below Wilsonville steam plant discharge. This is where the lake (obviously visible), begins to narrow down to a more river-type terrain, all the way upstream to the lake’s headwaters, situated below upper Coosa River reservoir, Logan Martin Lake dam.
A search lake wide for some of the lake’s very deepest water (that water few anglers probe, featuring a depth of fifty feet or more), can show some of the lake’s biggest bass often found grouping together in some huge schools. These bass numbering in the dozens, can be grouped up and usually mingling around deep water baitfish schools, feeding regularly and unmolested.
They are often seen mingling together (and feeding), on such prey such as threadfin shad and gizzard shad, also minnows, or schools of crappie or bream, feeding in shallower places when hungry. They can also be found feeding on the lake’s many types of bottom hugging prey such as crayfish, catfish, small drum, and small turtles as well. This diet of Lay Lake’s bottom dwelling prey may include these bass dining on an abundance of smaller or large size, summertime meals. Such as snakes, worms, lizards, waterdogs, frogs, fresh water eels and leeches! So your lures should look very similar to these real meals. Time to stock up!
Keep in mind what other anglers fail to think of; Such as plenty of shallow to deep water drop offs to explore, fish as many deep bends, deep ledges and deep water holes in one area as you can. Also fish along deep rock bluffs, look for bass in small cuts and pockets and thoroughly fish any broken off deep river banks, or places where huge boulders or rocks are evident. Also remember; most bass are often hidden and generally unmolested, right under the boat of the bank beating angler! But these bass can easily be seen by just looking down at the boats electronics, showing what’s down there and at what depth they are holding. A drop shot rig or jigging spoon will fool these bass!
- Heading upstream of Lay lake dam is another, “50 foot plus”, deep water spot, right after you pass the mouth of a major feeder creek, Waxahatchee Creek. Including several more nearby deep water drop offs, with most located right along the mouths of the many smaller, weed lined rock bluff pockets found here. With some of these spots dropping into very deep water of over 70 feet deep.
- Even deeper water can be found at an obvious spot where the lake narrows down, aptly called, “the narrows.” Featuring deep, rock bluffs over 70 feet deep with deep aquatic weeds, stumps and standing timber on nearby boulder-filled banks.
Right above, “the narrows” (about one half mile), you will see a small, mid lake timbered and weedy island, located close to the public boat launch seen on your left. Weeds and stumps line this entire island and there is lots of standing timber found nearby is in this deep, river channel bend.
And there is a bonus found here, with some search. An old creek channel hidden within. Some paths (or boat lanes), run right through the standing timber, simply marked with a red cone. These are places that hold bass all summer long and drop right into an old deep river channel bend, of over fifty feet deep.
Even if you launched your boat at mid lake in Beeswax Creek State Park, there is water of fifty feet deep located in a deep river channel bend here. It’s just a half mile going upstream of the boat launch.
* Just before you get to Dry Branch (heading upstream of the mouth of Beeswax Creek), located about a half mile up on your left, right past Bully Creek (and a big water treatment brick building with pipes leading into the river), is this deep river channel bend, marked with a green river channel buoy. It is right below an Area 51 green river channel marker, in the mouth of Dry Branch.
Near this water of over 50 feet deep there is a bank lined with man made rip-rap rocks. It also features thick, aquatic weeds and there is a small weed lined pocket, out of the often swift current found here nearby and it’s loaded with weeds, stumps and rocks. Although this is the last really deep water refuge in this mid Lake Region, heading upstream, there are a few more with comparable depths to hold deep summer bass!
Other deep water spots at mid lake? Two deep water rock bluffs of 30 feet deep or more are located right above the old railroad trestle after you pass the Wilsonville Steam plant. There is one rock bluff right above the railroad trestle on your right. And another deep, rock bluff is located about two miles above the rail road trestle crossing. It is on your right, across from the next small, mid lake island (right before you get to the second island, located just below the Highway 280 bridge, lake crossing.)
So these are just a few deep water spots you can explore while expanding your search lake wide during the entire Summer and early Fall seasons.
Other ways to locate potentially good deep water spots that often hold huge schools of bass, is through the use of your boat’s electronics and it’s built in mapping system. Or you can simply bring along a pre marked map of your own!
Observing other anglers while they are fishing offshore, can reveal hidden, deep water places as well. If they don’t mind you fishing nearby. Some do, and very likely, it took them a while to find these kinds of spots. But it’s best to fish these places later. Having many places of your own to rotate to throughout your hot, summer day may reveal bass on any stop. It may even include finding places other anglers have found as well. So, the more places you have of your own (those you have discovered), to possibly rotate to many times within your day, the better.
Be patient, especially during these hot, Summer days with temperatures often in the upper nineties and even low 90’s on into early Fall fishing days in September and, with lots of nearby boat traffic and other anglers very evident, especially on week ends. Some spots will produce fish; while other spots may not produce a bite on the first pass. So unless you return later in your day, or several times throughout your day, you will never know the really good potential bite of any place!
Always show the fish a variety of lures. Showing these bass a variety of today’s tempting little (or big), fake lure offerings often ensures anglers of a much better chance of fooling these offshore bass into biting. They don’t always bite your favorite type of lure! So always have plenty of pre rigged rods, at least a dozen or more, with freshly spooled fishing line, sharp hooks and reliable knots.
Including using various types of lures, in different lure weights, different lure actions and various colors, including pay attention to the ways different lure trailers create action when added to jigs as well. Use heavier model weights on your sinking lures that will them reach attainable depths much faster and heavier weights provide a much better feel on the lake’s bottom.
When fishing in the mid depths around fish holding cover like brush piles, practice the use of deep cranked, crank baits. They require long casts, heaved far past the cover where suspected fish are holding and then they must be cranked down to a certain depth and slowly retrieved. Experiment with each lure. They are all different. Stop and go retrieves often trigger following bass into biting!
* Here are a few lure suggestions for fishing on or near the lakes bottom or when targeting those often, “hard to fool” suspended bass in the upper or mid water column, especially during these hot, summertime deep water situations.
TEXAS RIG – The standard summertime lure to probe deep water with is the old, Texas rig worm and other soft plastics, that of which consists of a bullet weight, a hook and a worm of various lengths. Selecting different lure lengths, colors and choosing various types of built in tail actions can help an angler discover what the bass may prefer on any daily outing. Having several rods pre rigged may include considering the selection of different worm weights for fishing at different depths and include various other plastics.
Keep in mind; the deeper the water, the heavier the worm bullet weight or heavier the jig head should be. The bigger the worm, the bigger the hook should be. Also include worm rattles, many selections of lure colors and various types of tail actions. Other soft plastics can be rigged Texas style as well. Or Carolina rigged. Or drop shot rigged. Or shaky head rigged! Dipped or sprayed on fish attractants may help.
Creature type plastics, plastic crayfish imitations, beavers, plastic chunks, single or twin tail grubs, tube baits, plastic lizards, hula grubs and even shad or baitfish imitations can all be used with a bullet weight and hook. Or you can rig these plastics and other soft plastics on a jig head, preferably one featuring a weed guard to avoid hang ups.
* Note – Always bring along a plug knocker to help you retrieve hung up lures. It will pay for itself in the long run! Long rods of at least 6 1//2 feet up to 7 3/4 feet in length are suggested for most lures. Also experiment with all types of hooks and especially try fishing line in various pound tests including monofilament line, braided line and fluorocarbon line, that all have their place for each lure you fish.
JIG COMBOS – Although not as cheap to replace, like when breaking off cheaper soft plastics, that are Texas rigged (and they do usually get hung underwater), jig combos can be very costly. But selecting jig combos over Texas rigged plastics can often be very rewarding when it comes to fooling those big bass feeding on bottom hugging crayfish. You can add jig trailers for that extra enticement, using soft plastic chunks, crayfish imitations and even multi-legged creature baits. Or you can remove the skirt on the jig and just fish the jig head, on or near bottom or like when imitating a bait fish with a big, plastic swim bait.
SPINNERBAITS AND BLADED JIGS - It’s no secret that savvy bass anglers have all used spinnerbaits in deeper water applications for years. Some anglers may drop or slow roll heavy ¾ to one ounce spinnerbaits with oversized blades and often they may add a big grub trailer for extra enticement, or to help slow the lures fall.
Some anglers are now using heavy ½ ounce to one ounce model bladed jigs or the name sake, ”Chatter bait” lure. Either utilizing a slow, lifting up and down motion or fishing on or near the lakes bottom. Or they may try a slow, steady swimming method or simply practice a slow, erratic jerking and reeling retrieve, with these very vibrating lures, in mid water depths or around cover.
DEEP DIVING CRANKBAITS AND LIPLESS LURES – These are two very different kinds of lures. Deep diving crank baits either float at rest, or they rise slowly when stopped and some crankbaits are created to suspend with internal weights. Most of today’s crankbaits come equipped with either built in internal weights and/or rattles and they are generally molded from some form of plastic. But some crankbaits (like those made of balsa wood, like our old wooden airplanes were made of) and even hand carved wooden model crankbaits, are still made of other types of wood like cedar. Or a very high floating type of wood, balsa wood that was made popular many years ago.
Balsa Wood Crankbaits like Bagley’s DB–3 and Killer B series are fast floaters / risers especially when suddenly stopped. And they are great lures for intentionally reflecting them off of cover and showing a fast, almost backward floating rise that often triggers strikes from otherwise very weary bass.
These and many, many other long billed crankbaits can dive to depths of 10 feet deep or more. Anglers can attain deeper depths with any crankbait with very long casts and the use of lighter line. You can even add an inline worm bullet weight, located right above the knot (before you tied the crankbait on), then it is situated on the lures lip. For getting some deep diving crankbaits down just a little deeper.
Some deep cranking enthusiasts (like Paul Elias!), even perform a method called,” kneel and reel ” meaning the angler getting down on his knees and then sticking the rod and tip 1-4 feet deep on retrieve, just to get the lure even deeper when fast retrieved! In fact, Paul Elias of Missippissi won a Bassmasters Classic many years back when he perfected his then own signature method of “kneel and reel”
* I strongly suggest the use of long, cranking rods from seven feet in length up to almost eight feet in length. These rods are especially good when fished with very long casts and coupled with wide spooled reels and then quickly cranked lures like crankbaits reeled down deep. Then intentionally bouncing your lures off of various types of cover like stumps, brush piles, rocks, underwater trees and other deep water haunts of big bass schools, can often trigger bites.
LIPLESS LURES – Lipless lures such as the name sake, “Bill Lewis Rattletrap” or Strike King’s “Red Eye Shad” will sink. But they can be fished at any depth! Again, choosing lipless lures in heavier model weights like the standard half ounce to heavier (and bigger) three quarter to one ounce models, which will show lipless lures that sink faster, for attaining different depths, much quicker. You can fish lipless lures in many ways. Drag them near the lakes bottom, lift them in an up and down fashion, or make as long a cast as possible, counting it down “a foot a second” and then start steady retrieving for those often suspended fish.
JIGGING SPOONS, BLADE BAITS, AND TAIL SPINNERS – These are generally metal bodied or lead weighted lures (with a chrome or shiny finish), that sink very fast. Some anglers use smaller 1/4 ounce to ½ to ¾ ounce jigging spoons. It’s cheaper, if you loose any! Other big bass anglers (with more money), use heavier, 2 ounce to 3 ounce jigging spoons, in lengths of 6 to 8 inches or some spoons are even bigger! These spoons may be $20 a piece! Very heavy line, a plug knocker and stout rods may be needed!
BLADED BAITS (like the old model Gay Blade) are basically a flat metal bodied lure with two hooks and a line tie. Tail spinners (like the old Tom Mann’s Little George) are the same, but they feature a flat body with a small round spinner blade on the back. All three types of these “metal sinkers with treble hooks” can hang up. So bring along plenty of each lure type and a plug knocker, or get right over the lure and bump it up and down to retrieve hung lures.
MULTI HOOK LURES OR ALABAMA RIGS (See Yellow Hammer Lures) – These are excellent deep water lure choices for big bass and for stirring up schools of bass. That is, if you have the energy to make very long casts and retrieve these often, very heavy multi-lure outfits all day long! The Alabama Rig or Yellow Hammer Lure can have 5 to 6 jig heads adorned with soft plastic shad imitations and some with attached blades!
That can be 5 to 6 jig heads, weighing ¼ to ½ ounce a piece! And often with a total weight of over 2 ounces per outfit! Very tiresome to cast some of these multi-hook lures all day, but often it can be very rewarding for those tournament anglers that do!
There are so many of today’s lures to choose from. Including very many of them are various types of deep water lures to select as well. As you can see by the attached pictures! Too many lures to suggest.
Generally, you have a bottom lure category. And then you have lures that are designed to be fished in the mid water column. Or if you’re lucky and happen to come up on some deep water bass that are found foolishly feeding and schooling on top, those upper water lures, like topwaters will work too! So have one rod rigged with a topwater lure, always rigged and ready too!
Keep in mind; some lures do sink to the lakes bottom while other lures like crankbaits must be hand cranked to certain depths. Either way you may loose some lures in a days time, so bring along plenty of spares. Lures are Tools. Just like the ones you use every day or at home. Tools that get the job done with a great payday for those bass fishing competitors that use them. Those persistent anglers that deep crank lures or those that persistently fish slow on or near Lay Lake’s bottom…this Summer and Fall seasons while fishing for big bass in the lake’s deeper water!
Be safe on our very crowded lakes this summer and be courteous to other boaters and other anglers. It’s all, “our” water, that we must we share each and every day! Let’s keep it that way! Always wear your life jacket and have your outboard motor kill switch attached when running the boat. It may just save your life! Bring plenty of food, water, ice, towels, and sunscreen! Maybe even take dip in the lake to cool off!
Thanks, be safe and courteous to other boaters on our very crowded lakes during this Summer and early Fall season and Good Fishin’ Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service Internet Website www.fishingalabama.com or call (205) 663-1504 Alabaster, Alabama. Like us on face book too! “ Reeds Guide Service – Alabama’s Oldest, Professional — Bass Fishing Only — Guide Service Guiding on all of Alabama’s Lakes for Over 50 Years! ”