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Alabama River Cooter’s Pond Preview with Brian and Barry Jones

By Jason Duran

The Alabama Bass Trail South Division reaches its halfway point with the third stop of five this week at the Alabama River Cooter’s Pond. This event has always thrown anglers a curve ball.  In years past water levels have always played a factor. One year the water fell so much throughout the event that the bottom dropped out at the ramp. Another year the water rose overnight and flooded the creeks and backwaters. Just like in years past this event presents the possibility of changing conditions, so anglers must wait for blast-off to find out what the Alabama River will throw at them to claim the $10,000 payday.

The team of Brian and Barry Jones said it will come down to what the water looks like on Saturday before they can really put together a game plan. For that reason, they don’t plan to practice on Friday because of how much it could change. For this time of year teams look for largemouth bass on the edge of river channels and pockets in normal river conditions, but with high, muddy water, no one knows what to expect. The water level and clarity will narrow down the options team will have.

With the water rising, it's going to be tough to fish certain areas.  There's going to be more places for the fish to go on the bank, but teams can't get to the banks that were accessible earlier in the week. Teams would usually be burning a spinnerbait down the bank or using a shaky head. However, they are not going to reach the bank because the water's going to be up to the limbs.

Teams planning on fishing the river will possibly find their areas from earlier in practice blown out by the current on Saturday. Brian suggests “teams wanting to fish the river need to find some wood or lay downs to help break up the current along the river. The trash piles along the river are going to hold some fish close to the bank.”

Brain and Barry have different options they will explore based on river conditions. First, they will throw a buzzbait or some kind of topwater. “If the water is any kind of fishable near the banks and pockets, we plan on giving it a try. This will be the hope of a reaction bite. It will probably be a way we start out just to see if we can get a bite quickly. If it's dead, we will have to move to the second option.”

“Our second option is to head into the back of the creeks. If it's somewhat visible, I'm going to put on a topwater and look for active fish there. The only curveball with that plan is the near freeing 38° temperature expected Saturday morning? We can't win for losing, but that is a second option.

The third option would be “to find some points with rocks and trash on them and junk fish. In these areas we would use either a jig, shaky head or some type of plastic. Hopefully, we can use something to target fish a little deeper and find them grouped up.”

The last option “would be to burn the bank with something the fish could see especially if it's muddy. We will use something that's going to flash and also something to make some movement. The plan here will be to run the bank as fast as we can and cover as much water as we can with a spinnerbait and ChatterBait.”

They predicted the winning weight for this event to be in the “17-18-pound range with the possibility of a team touching the 20-pound mark. It could possibly only take 10 pounds to get a check.”  The team was 25th in the points and want to make the ABT Championship. Their goal Saturday is this finish the top 75. “If we can have a limit of seven to ten pounds, we will be happy considering the expected conditions.”

There are many first-time ABT teams this year so Brian and Bobby recommend for “teams to pay attention to the river navigation especially with the rising water. The river can be tough to catch a lot of fish. They need to take time and get used to fishing the river and spend time fishing the creeks and points. On a weekend like this teams need to have multiple spots located to fish because it could possibly be blown out by the current or someone could be there when they show up.”

All anglers should make sure they have checked text messages and emails for the latest information and changes made to keep everyone as safe as possible during this time. There was a virtual meeting posted on the ABT Facebook Page earlier this week.

All friends and family are welcome to attend this event, bring lawn chairs and see some of the best bass teams in the country cross the stage. Everyone can watch the live weigh-in and over 4 hours of on-the-water live coverage on the ABT Facebook page, YouTube and the ABT website. The Launch and Weigh-In will be held at Cooter’s Pond located at 1844 Cooter’s Pond Road in Prattville, AL.

The sponsors of the 2022 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports, Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, American Trailer Rental Group, BAJIO, Berkley, Big Bite Baits, Bill Penney Automotive, Black Rifle Coffee Company, Buck N’ Bass, Anheuser – Bush, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Garmin, Jack’s, Lew’s, Mtn Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Power-Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, T-H Marine, Wedowee Marine, Yamaha, YETI Coolers.

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