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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hooked on Lake Wedowee
by Reed Montgomery



Late-winter warming trends, a full moon phase, the lake’s rising waters and early spring’s sun-drenched, shallow water. These are all triggering aspects that greatly influence the movement of pre-spawn bass. All of which already “instinctively know” its time to make their move towards the lake’s shallow water to produce another year’s offspring.

Throughout Alabama’s Lake Wedowee (Impounded in 1983), this pre-spawn migration of both the Tallapoosa River breed of spotted bass and some of the lake’s big, native largemouth bass is always a somewhat slow movement.

These “bass of winter” are actually making their first major move in groups of both pre-spawn male bass and pre-spawn female bass, all that eventually congregate together in choice, holding spots near the lake’s shoreline.

As these bass come out of a “somewhat state of hibernation” they begin to make their slow, purposeful travels seeking the best spawning grounds. Usually consisting more towards a select composition of some type of sandy or small-pebbled bottom found in the lake’s shallow water, spawning grounds.
But before any of these -- both male and female -- bass make their move towards the lake’s very shallow, spawning grounds, they have all got to make a stop-off first and feed heavily along some type of “ Point.”

WHAT ARE POINTS?
Points are actual, “stop-off places” near deep water these pre spawn Lake Wedowee bass congregate around before they begin their trek towards the lake’s shallow, spawning grounds to lay their eggs and produce another year’s offspring, each spring season. Every lake in Alabama has points.

Points are found along shallow-to-deep water drop-offs and a “point” is one of the very first places both spotted bass and largemouth bass congregate along and feed around, before phase two of the spawning season process takes place. The actual spawn itself.

SPRING – THREE PHASES AND THEY ALL INVOLVE FISHING POINTS
Phase One -- of this annual, spawning ritual consisting of three cycles -- is dubbed,” the pre-spawn period”, a time when bass gather in huge numbers and feed for weeks at a time in select locations, before the female bass actually go on the bed to lay their eggs. They especially gather along points.

Phase Two is during the actual spawn, when most bass are bedding. Still, their beds may be near some type of point they may occupy or hang around while bedding.

Phase Three is that “seemingly short” period of time when the spawning season has ended, often to the dismay of most reluctant, springtime bass anglers. A time when bass relate to points as well.
Phase Three is called, “the post-spawn period,” taking place during the latter part of the spring season. This is when these Lake Wedowee bass are recuperating from the spring spawn. A time when they are rather easy to catch as they feed in reckless abandon Then they begin to fatten up once again, prior to the approaching summer season.

Again, getting back to the subject of “points”. Bass anglers should always keep in mind, “not only do these bass gather around these deeper, main lake points and major feeder creek points during these pre-spawn times, but they gather along some very shallow water points as well. When the actual spawn is taking place.”
Generally, from late-February all throughout the month of March (on Lake Wedowee and most of Alabama’s lakes), is a short, and very timely six week period often dubbed, ” the official pre-spawn period.” But this is the norm. Pre-spawn bass can be seen cruising the shallows as early as the first week or two of February or as late as the first week of April. Its is all according to the weather.

If there has been a very harsh winter in Alabama -- like during the past few winter seasons, when it was hard to tell the difference in these two months -- the pre-spawn movement of these, ”slightly lethargic bass” will be stalled. That is, until better weather conditions arrive. Like a week or two of un-seasonal, very warm weather and rapidly warming waters.

Then suddenly, the lake’s water temperature can rise into the upper 50’s to low 60’s, triggering these bass to quickly make their move towards the lake’s shallow, spawning grounds. As the first, week-long warming trend of the early spring season arrives, there can suddenly be many huge schools of bass found congregating along some type of stop-off, feeding spot, like a point.

Rapidly warming shallows, the full moon nearby, and a good bottom composition, all play huge rolls in when and where these bass will move up and this is where they end up spawning each year in the spring.
So, when going only by the weather, just like the bass, the angler that pursues these little green fish may decide to await the best (and most stable) weather conditions, when actually targeting these pre-spawn bass.

So, what are points? How do you fish these points? And with what? That’s a three-part set of questions that deserves three good answers!

First of all, points can be found both when the lake is at full pool and when it is down for winter pool.

POINTS…SOME ARE
HIDDEN SOME ARE VISIBLE

So what is a point? A point is a mass of land that protrudes out into the lake. No, this not a quote from Webster’s dictionary. Just a fact. All you have to do is look around Alabama’s rocky, timber-infested Lake Wedowee and you will see some type of point. There are thousands of em’!

Points can easily be seen around most islands, especially when the lake is at low pool. The mouths of small cuts, pockets and major feeder creeks, can be seen just off of the main lake and all have some type of point on both sides of these lake backwaters as you enter the mouths. Even rock bluffs have points and main lake
flats can have hidden, underwater points. But they are exposed during the winter months.

During a period, from-late fall all throughout the entire winter season and on into the early spring season, most of Alabama’s lakes are drawn down several feet for winter pool. In winter’s past Lake Wedowee has been drawn down anywhere from 10-15 feet below a normal, full pool lake level.

During lake draw down is the best time, during this early spring, pre-spawn period, to look for points that will soon be hidden underwater when the lake is returned to a normal, full pool lake level.

Take pictures, record these points on your GPS and log them in your memory banks. For each and every point will soon be underwater. If you intend to fish these points all throughout the rest of the year, its good to know what’s down there!

This goes for thoroughly scrutinizing main lake points, major feeder creek points and secondary creek points as the spawning season grows nearer. Each point has a bass holding feature all its own, one or more features that will soon be hidden underwater (if the lake is currently low), when the lake is returned to a normal, full pool lake level during the mid-portion of the spring season.

Even small, in-obscure points can be seen along the lake’s original, full pool shoreline in the shallows. These shallow water points will hold bass all throughout the months of April, May and June. All bass relate to points during the spring season.

Not only will you catch bass right now during the lake’s pre-spawn spring season, while fishing all around these points, but these exact same points are travel routes that will hold returning schools of bass as they “back track” to the lake’s deep water haunts they inhibit during the summer months.

Points are stop-off places you can return to as well! With hopes of fooling these bass during the post-spawn period later on in the months of May and June. As you again interrupt their travels when huge schools of bass congregate along these “natural homes” consisting of either rocks, standing timber or some type of bottom composition.

FISHING POINTS FOR
SPOTTED AND
LARGEMOUTH BASS
Although points can be fished about any time with just one lure, to thoroughly cover the top, both sides and along the deeper drop-offs found on most points, you really need a good set of lures and the correct rods and reels to fish them with. Just like a golfer needs a good set of golf clubs to help him get the job done!
Thinking like a bass, along with the aid of a good depth finder, fish locator, or some kind of imaging-type depth sounder, helps tremendously. But your eyes play a huge role when fishing points as well.

Ask yourself a number of questions, mostly pertaining as to where these bass will be under a certain set of conditions and what lures to use to entice them to bite when targeting points.

* Questions such as;
What depth should these pre spawn bass be holding, along on each and every point you fish on any given outing to Lake Wedowee? Is there evident current? Is the water clear, stained or muddy? Is the wind blowing or calm? Is it cloudy or is the sun out? What was the weather like yesterday, and a week ago, prior to your planned trip? Is the water still very cold in the 40’s and 50’s, or has it suddenly soared into the upper 60’s?

CONDITIONS PLAY A HUGE ROLE
Conditions pay a huge role as to where these bass will actually be located on every trip you make to Lake Wedowee this spring season. Putting together a certain set of conditions helps you complete this pre spawn puzzle, before you ever make your first cast along any targeted point.

Cold weather, warming trends, along with cloudy days, rainy days, evident current or sunny, high pressure conditions, will all have some affect on the way these bass will approach and hold along these pre spawn points. Often taking place for several weeks at a time, with very little fishing pressure from most anglers that are awaiting the warmer weather and spring’s very catch-able spawning bass.

These conditions also affect the way the baitfish and the crayfish (that these bass will constantly feed on), will act as well. So just imagine what’s down there and how the bass is relating to each and every point and what potential meal that may come its way. Use each lure you choose accordingly, influenced by both what you see and what you can feel that is down there. For not all points are the same.

EQUIPMENT AND LURE
SELECTION FOR FISHING POINTS
Fishing these points involves using your standard, conventional-type fishing rods and reels loaded with various kinds of fishing line, and selecting among hundreds of types of lures. The latter of which can become an actual task, with today’s mind-boggling choice of modern day fishing tackle.

This decision may involve the use of several lure choices that will range from fishing from top to bottom in the water column. So rigging up several rods prior to your fishing trip is suggested. For more time spent on the water fishing, not rigging rods while others are catching bass!

Select several rods you may need. Such as light-tackle outfits, medium-length rods and some very long rods. Even rig up a few rods with several different types of lures and various pound test line you think these bass can be fooled with. That is, if you already know the lake’s conditions.

If, as they say, “your are going blind” first, take a good look at each point you decide to fish. Long before you make your first cast. Consider the conditions. Then make your lure selection. Then decide how your going to approach that particular point and use each one of those select lures, to thoroughly cover every spot, while continuously casting from every angle you can on these points.
* Always quiz yourself first;
Is it a long, shallow point? One that bass may scatter on and they may hit top water lures, spinner baits, shallow running crank baits and lipless lures? Is it a rock bluff point that suddenly drops right into very deep water, calling for a number of lure selections such as using a deep diving crank bait, jigging spoon oversized lipless, ¾ ounce lure, or bottom fished lures, like worms and jig combos?

On Lake Wedowee there are a lot of rocky points that have standing timber. Consider fishing this natural, wood cover for pre spawn bass that may suspend within this timber. Then contemplate what depth, what approach, and just as important, what direction your offering should be coming from.

Lastly, you have to decide what lure choice you must make, to successfully fool these big, pre spawn bass into biting, during these early, spring season, pre-spawn times. Choose your lures wisely. Your next cast could land you the bass of a life time!

A Time When A Point…should be your target, for some Big, Lake Wedowee Pre-spawn Bass!

Thanks and Good Fishin’
Reed Montgomery / Owner of Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504
E-mail: alabassgyd@aol.com
Website: www.fishingalabama.com
Always call on Reeds Guide Service…first!
“ Lake Wedowee’s Oldest, Professional Guide Service For Almost 30 Years ”

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