Alabama River Miller’s Ferry Preview with Nick Turner and Joe Lay

By Jason Duran

The Alabama Bass Trail south division has only two more regular-season events on the schedule this year. Due to some schedule changes, they will both be held on the Alabama River from two different locations.

The first event will take place this weekend at Miller’s Ferry, and the second will take place September 18 at Cooter’s Pond. Teams are not only fishing for a $10,000 top prize but also for AOY Points. This is the time in the season when the AOY points race really begins to heat up, and the race in the South division is close between the top 5 teams. Teams hope to qualify for the Bassmaster Team Championship by making the top 8 in AOY. The top 75 teams will qualify to fish the ABT Championship later this year.

The team of Nick Turner and Joe Lay are sitting just outside the top 75 and are looking to make up some ground this weekend and qualify to fish the ABT Championship. Last weekend they fished a two-day event on the Alabama River and had the second-biggest bag on day one. The winners won with a two-day total of 34 pounds.

Joe said, “this section of the Alabama River is a little bit different than when we take out of Cooter’s Pond because it’s got so many big natural creeks on it. Creeks like Bogue Chitto, Chilatchee, Pine Bear and Foster that fish kind off to their own. If the river is messed up these creeks can be the areas where teams can find fish. Teams can always find fish on the river unless rainfall causes the current to become too swift.” Conditions this weekend are predicted to be a good current flow and falling water which could push anglers off the river and into the creeks.

The team shared that anglers will probably catch fish in a number of different ways this weekend. “There will be teams that catch fish on the river, on the points and in the creeks.” Joe shared that “last weekend we caught them shallow, and they were shallower than we expected. The baitfish were still there and there was plenty of oxygen still in the water because it has been cooler.” As far as baits to use, they agree that “on the river, a jig is always going come in to play, and a crankbait is most definitely a player- either a shallow or deep crankbait can be effective this weekend. The third key bait would be a soft plastic- something to flip around the wood and the grass.”

The fish habitat is plentiful in this section of the river. The creeks towards the south end of the lake where the water doesn’t fluctuate much have some good grass-like Hessian that provides some great flipping opportunities for anglers, and there are also areas with wood and vegetation mixed that can also provide cover for largemouth bite. This lake is full of spotted bass, but teams will have to go north towards Selma to find the bigger spots where the lake is more current-driven. Nick and Joe feel like “if the water is up 1 foot on the Miller’s Ferry end,
then the lake could be up 8 feet as you move towards Selma.” Teams looking to make that run need to be prepared for stained to muddy water and lots of current.

This is the type of lake where teams may not have to move around much to find fish. However, Joe said with all the rain lately, “teams cannot expect to just show up without practice and be able to just fish history.” Teams that practice and find fish could possibly spend the day in one area, maybe one of the big natural creeks, and catch a winning stringer fish. There are lots of 3-4 pound fish in these creeks. Teams looking to fish the river may have to move around to develop and run a pattern. The teams that can have a good practice and crack the code this weekend could find themselves at the top of the leader board. The predicted winning weight for this weekend is around 20 pounds with possibly 15 pounds to get a check.

This tournament will continue to operate with social distancing guidelines. 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 past Monday night.

All friends and family are welcome to attend this event, bring lawn chairs and practice social distancing. Everyone can watch the live weigh-in and over 4 hours of on-the-water live coverage on the ABT Facebook page and the ABT website. The launch and weigh-in will be held on the Alabama River at Miller’s Ferry- 2871 JC Martin Blvd Camden, AL.

The sponsors of the 2021 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports, Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Berkley, Big Bite Baits, Bill Penny Automotive, Black Rife Coffee Company, Buck N’ Bass, Anheuser – Bush, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry, Garmin, Hydrowave, Jack’s, Lew’s, Mtn Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Power-Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, T-H Marine, WedoweeMarine, YETI Coolers.