In the great state of Alabama we are blessed to have the opportunity to fish for all three of the major species of bass. In north Alabama on the Tennessee River System all three species can actually be caught on the same day. Lakes such as Pickwick, Wheeler, and Wilson while having strong populations of largemouth are also home to some giant smallmouth bass that would rival any lake in the country! Further south the Coosa River System is loaded with both largemouth and some world class spotted bass. The spotted bass found throughout the Coosa River System actually is considered by many as its own sub species. Unlike spotted bass found in other bodies of water across the country the Coosa River spot is a longer, stronger, and meaner species that will put even the best equipment to the test! They are an absolute blast to catch and the months of April and May are possibly the easiest months of the year to catch large numbers of spotted bass.
Generally in the month of April the spotted bass are in a full spawning mode. Unlike largemouth which generally spawn in protected pockets or on key pieces of shallow structure the spotted bass more like a smallmouth is comfortable spewing in more open areas closer to deep water such as long flat points and road beds near the main creek channel. On the Coosa River the water clarity 99% of the time will not allow you to see these spawning spotted bass but with a few simple techniques you can learn how to load the boat without even looking at them.
When searching for key points, gravel flats, or road beds holding spawning spotted bass I generally start my search with the Carolina Rig. I rig my set up my Carolina Rig with a 3/4 oz brass Bass Pro Shops Carolina Rig Weight followed by a bead and a small Spro Power Swivel. To the other end of the swivel I connect a leader approximately 18 to 24 inches long with a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook on the end of it. I like to use 17lb test Bass Pro Shops XPS KVD Signature Series 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line for my main line as well as my leader. The new KVD Signature Series Flouro is one of the strongest lowest memory fluorocarbon fishing lines on the market, and the low stretch quality will allow you to feel subtle bites as well as allowing you to drive the hook home on a long cast. As far as the bait goes just about any soft plastic that you have confidence in will work! Baits such as lizards, brush hogs and stick baits will all put plenty of fish in the boat! I like to use a TFO Gary Loomis tactical Series 7'3" Heavy Casting Rod accompanied by a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier high speed reel. The 7'3" heavy rod will allow you to drive the hook home no matter how the bass bites the bait. Always be aware that spawning bass will often pick up your bait and quickly move off with it directly towards you. Always be ready to quickly reel up your slack and set the hook because if you wait too long there is a high probability that the fish will move off quickly and then spit your bait out before you even know it.
Another great technique for catching spawning bass you have already located is with a shaky head. The way a shaky head makes your bait sit directly nose down really provokes a protective aggressive spotted bass into striking. This time of year I like to use a shorter worm than normal in order to eliminate the problem of the spawning bass just picking up the tail and not eating the entire bait. I generally use a 1/8oz to a 1/4oz Gamakatsu Skip Gap Shaky Head Hook on 8 to 12lb KVD Signature Series Fluorocarbon with a TFO spinning rod. The reason I don't use the Shaky head when searching for the spawning fish is because of the weight of the bait. The nature of the Carolina Rig is what makes it a perfect option for making long casts and dragging the bottom to get a good feel of what is going on!
The final technique and one that is often overlooked is using a topwater bait to locate aggressive fish whether they are spawning or post spawn. My very favorite bait to use while searching with a topwater is a walk the dog style bait such as a Spro Dawg 100, or a Zera Super Spook. I like to focus my search on shallow gravel points and don't be afraid to utilize the topwater all day long. Some of your biggest spotted bass of the year can fall victim to a well worked topwater bait. Not only is it effective it is extremely exciting. Unlike when I'm using the subsurface slower moving baits with fluorocarbon, on my topwaters I always use monofilament, for the reason that it floats and will allow you to efficiently walk your bait back and forth to the boat.
Not only is the fishing good in April and May in Alabama but the weather is beautiful as well. So get the family rounded up and head on out for an action packed day of fishing that will make memories that will last a lifetime! For information a guided trip visit my website at www.joeyfishing.com! I'll see you on the water!!!