Alabama River Feature Story

Jacob George and Ryan Sweeney preview Cooters Pond

By Jason Duran

The fifth and final stop of the Alabama Bass Trail South Division will be held at The Alabama River Cooter’s Pond. There are many factors at stake in this event:

  • Winning this event pays $10,000 and an automatic bid to the ABT Championship
  • Teams are fishing for Angler of the Year points
  • AOY will be crowned at the conclusion of this tournament
  • Top 9 teams in AOY points will secure a spot in the BASS Team Championship
  • Top 75 teams in AOY points will fish the ABT Championship on Weiss Lake in October. 

Jacob George and Ryan Sweeney currently sit in 2nd place in AOY standings with 807 total points, just 27 points behind the leaders, Chris Rutland and Coby Carden. Jacob and Ryan don’t have a lot of experience on the Alabama River but feel like “it sets up like our home lakes of Logan Martin and Neely Henry. We have been down there practicing the last couple of weeks and really like the fishing down there. It’s a lot of straight river fishing, and that is the kind of fishing we know well.” 

When asked how the lake is currently setting up, they shared, “some of the patterns we’ve been on have been dictated by the current. If the current is flowing good, the fish will get on the riverbanks behind any kind of structure or any kind of current break or eddy. We throw our bait past where the fish are sitting and roll it by the area slowly or pitch a worm over to the area, and they will bite it on the fall.”  

The structures in the river for the fish to school around vary from grass to wood with shallow and deep points. “The water being down a little bit has taken some of the grass out of play. If it does not come back up this week, that will be a factor in this event.” The water fluctuations played a factor in the ABT 100 event last weekend on the south end of the river out of Millers Ferry. “Whoever plays the current and the water level right, will win the event. The team that makes the adjustment based on the current at the right time will do what it takes to win. That’s just what it’s going to take down there.” Like in years past, teams won’t know what they have until they show up on tournament morning and see where the water level is. Teams will just have to wait and see what the river gives them and fish those conditions.

What key baits will pay into this weekend?  “In the morning, before 10:00, the best baits would be anything topwater, including spooks, buzzbaits, and pop-r because at this time of morning you want to throw baits while the fish are looking up to feed. Later in the day, teams need to switch it up and use baits that are sub-surface like crankbaits or creature baits on Texas rig. At this time of day, teams should drag them around on the bottom while the fish are focusing on feeding a little deeper.”

When asked about their goals for this event, they said “we want to make the BASS Team Championship. We have spent this year fishing our style, and it has really worked for us. God has really blessed us this year with some good finishes, and we want to give Him the glory for that. The plan for this week is to continue to fish our style and hope it works out for us. We feel like we need to catch 15 pounds to be in the hunt.”

Pre-Tournament Briefing was held Facebook Live and YouTube on Monday, June 5, 2023, at 6:30 P.M. Launch & Weigh-In June 10, 2023, at Cooter’s Pond 1844 Cooter’s Pond Road Prattville, AL. Launch will be at safe daylight. 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 sponsors of the 2023 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports, Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, American Trailer Rental Group, BAJIO, Big Bite Baits, Bill Penney Automotive, Black Rifle Coffee Company, Anheuser – Busch, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry, Garmin, Jack’s, Lew’s, Mountain Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Power-Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, T-H Marine,  Yamaha, YETI Coolers.