Friday, October 1, 2010

A Fall Day Fishing for Bass on Lake Wedowee

Hooked on Lake Wedowee
by Reed Montgomery

Here in Alabama, the months of October and November officially withhold the actual cooling down days of Fall. A time for anglers to be targeting Lake Wedowee’s Trophy-sized largemouth bass and a time for daring those fighting-breed of Tallapoosa River spotted bass, to attack your tempting offerings.

As a full time guide on Lake Wedowee -- since it was impounded in 1983 -- I have spent the last 27 plus years showing anglers how to catch bass on this man made impoundment, all throughout each and every season, each year that has unfolded.

Fall is my favorite time of year of these 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 the bass.

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 Alabama -- just to experience the often phenomenal days of Fall fishing to be had on Lake Wedowee.

Unknown to many, there are those anglers that come to this true, trophy-sized big bass lake, some traveling here from all over the globe, with a hopeful search of finding just one bass. A bass of a life time…one exceeding that seemingly almost magical weight of 10 pounds!

I know, because I’ve taken many of them fishing on Lake Wedowee in years past. And, some have succeeded in their quest for that bass of a life time. On the other hand, there are those anglers, such as the many regular readers of Lake Wedowee Life magazine and other publications I write for, that just have to wonder.

So here it is -- during what I would consider ideal conditions-- if had to choose a day fishing on Lake Wedowee during the months of October and November. Including my tedious preparation before every trip I take to Lake Wedowee.

To begin with, a trip to Lake Wedowee (or any lake) always means getting prepared.
As many readers of my monthly column, “Hooked on Lake Wedowee” featured in Lake Wedowee Life magazine know, getting your boat ready is first on this list! Then preparing your tackle and checking the weather and lake conditions beforehand is next.

All of which is necessary.

Loading the Truck and Boat - I always check the necessary items; like airing up the truck and boat trailer tires, making sure the spare tire for my boat and tow vehicle are aired up, all batteries are fully charged (hooking them up to a battery charger the night before my trip) and checking fluid levels, especially 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 the day before or the night before I head out for the lake, rather than sadly discovering it was left behind. If I’m ready beforehand all I have or do is launch the boat when I get to the lake. Which means more fishing time!
I always bring life jackets, rain suits, sunglasses and yes, even sun screen that will be needed. If cold weather is expected I always have toboggans, hats, gloves, goggles for running in the boat, and jump suits and heavy coats, two of each for both anglers (or a spare set of clothes too) already checked off and 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!

I always bring plenty of food and snacks. Just in case the fish do not cooperate and/or I get hungry. When the weather is cold (or in case of an emergency) bringing hot food like soup or chili can really warm a body fast.

I always have a thermos full of coffee or hot chocolate on these 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.
Tackle, Rods and Reels – Most anglers know, fishing with the right lures and having good dependable equipment contributes 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 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 may spend an entire day beforehand preparing my tackle and making sure my equipment 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 and jig heads is important.

Organization of each tackle box I have is of the utmost importance to. So I will know where each categorized lure is located, for when I will need it.

I will replace old fishing line with fresh, new line on all of my reels, if they need it. I use nothing less than 15 pound test monofilament 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.

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. When I get to the lake I will then spray all my reels with “Reel Magic” an oil that relaxes my line and helps prevent reel back lashes.

I’m also going to have at least ten pre-rigged rods ready for the 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, using the same rod.

Like for instance; I may have a small top water lure like a Heddon Baby Torpedo or an old Rebel Pop-r pre-rigged on a 6 1/2 foot medium action rod. A rod with a reel featuring 15 pound test Trilene Big Game monofilament line.

After the morning top water bite has slowed (or 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 another lure. I’m then ready for a new approach with a new offering.

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 lipless lure like a Bill Lewis Rattletrap, Cordell Rattling Spot or Rapala Rattlin’ Rap in just a matter of a couple of minutes. Which means more fishing time!

I always call 1-800-lakes-11 the day before my trip or even a week or so beforehand, like if I’m planning my trip several days in advance and want to know the previous lake level and lake conditions.
When you call you will hear a recording giving you the current daily lake level and the water generation schedule. You can also check out these conditions for a day ahead.

A good weatherman will always give a week’s weather prediction. Checking it the night before your trip is always advisable. Even the during the early morning hours (before I leave my house), I will often call an re-check the lake level to see if its risen or dropped overnight, while also listening to the morning weather prediction on the television.

So as you can see there is a lot of preparation, long before I actually make my trip. I don’t want to leave anything out and I for sure want to help prevent any unforeseen problems that could arise otherwise. Don’t ever leave anything to chance. For if it can happen it will.

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 the 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 Spook rod, pre-rigged with 20 pound test monofilament line on a wide spooled ABU Garcia Ambassador reel and a Zara Super Spook top water lure…first!

A long awaited cast sets sail for its destination, the wood cover of Lake Wedowee!
For over an hour I will thrash the water in every direction, often with this one top water lure alone. Why? You may ask.

To me, when bass fishing year round there is no better lure I would rather catch a big bass on than that Zara Super Spook top water lure. On Lake Wedowee I have caught dozens of big bass on this lure alone, that’s enough to convince me. But its not all I fish.

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! I may not fish with each lure a whole lot, but I’m going to fish each and every one of those pre-selected lures at some time or another during that day!

So, what did I rig all those rods with the night before?

TOPWATER LURES - First, 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. This time I had rigged four top water lures. A zara super spook, a noisy clacker-type buzz bait, a baby torpedo top water prop bait and a Snagproof 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 tied on a long rod, rigged with 20 pound test monofilament line. White, because it works very well most of the time in fairly clear water situations on this lake.

If I’m confronted with stained to muddy water conditions, I will go to a chartreuse and white spinnerbait or an all chartreuse color on the skirt and the spinnerbaits added plastic grub or twin tail trailer will be chartreuse.

I will also increase the weight size of my spinnerbait from a ½ ounce to a ¾ ounce 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 to.

JERK BAITS – Both a floating model jerk bait and a suspending model jerk bait will be pre-rigged on two medium action 6 – 6 1/2 foot long rods, with 15 pound test monofilament 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, 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 branches. They are good for targeting suspended bass holding along rocky or boulder-strewn banks with mixed in standing timber, easily found on Lake Wedowee.

CRANKBAITS – I’ll have two rods pre-rigged with 15 pound test line. One 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 water clarity.

Or a No. 5 Shad Rap in a natural color for clear water, or crayfish color for off-colored or dingy water clarity.

Another longer, medium-heavy action rod of 7 feet in length will have a big bodied deep diving crankbait, rigged on 15-17 pound test monofilament line on a wide-spooled ABU Garcia Ambassador reel.

JIG COMBOS – Lastly I’m going to have a ½ ounce jig combo tied on a long, 7 – 7 1/2 foot heavy action rod, (flipping rods are great) rigged on 20 pound test Trilene Big Game (dark green) monofilament line.
The colors are simple. Black and blue / if stained water or if fishing very muddy water conditions / Or pumpkinseed with green flake. Trailers are many. I may have a pork trailer, a sweet beaver, a crayfish imitation, a twin tailed grub, a creature bait or even a paddle tail worm or half a lizard for a jig trailer.
There are other lures like jigging spoons, tail spinners or blade baits I will try to.

During the day I may rig up a 10 inch worm, an oversized lizard or big creature bait, tube bait or crayfish imitation, all fished Texas-rigged on a half ounce weight dragged along the bottom and fished very slowly.
Spend a day fishing for spotted bass and largemouth bass on Lake Wedowee during the Fall season months of October and November and be prepared for that big bass bite of a life time. You don’t get many opportunities, so take advantage of the ones you do get and get that big bass in the boat! Oh, always have a good net handy too!

Take pictures and let these bass go to live and fight another day and to give another angler a thrill in the near future!

Always call on Reeds Guide Service…first!

Thanks and Good Fishin’
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504


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