Alabama River Preview with John Frank and Mark Womack
By Jason Duran
The Alabama River at Cooters’ Pond will be the fifth and final stop of the Alabama Bass Trail South Division. Due to weather conditions and high water in early May, this event was rescheduled to Saturday to close out a very competitive season. There are lots of opportunities at stake in this event. The points race will be decided after this event where the top 75 teams will make the ABT Championship next month, the top 9 teams will qualify to fish the B.A.S.S. Team Championship on Lake Eufaula, a new Angler of the Year will be crowned, and $10,000 will be awarded to the first-place team. Teams have been working hard preparing for this event, and it may come down to ounces deciding the outcome for some of the best teams in the country.
The team of John Frank and Mark Womack have been practicing for this event for a few weeks now spending about five days preparing for the close to their very first ABT season. John said, “it has been a really fun year for us.” He and Mark talked about it a few years before signing up to fish. “We have a few friends who have fished this trail, and seeing it was a well-run trail, they asked us to come join them. We were fortunate enough to get in this year and have already signed up for next year.” The team currently sits in fifth place in AOY points, only 61 points behind the leader within the top 8 teams and hopes to hold on to those points to make the B.A.S.S. Team Championship.
During practice over the last few weeks, they said it’s been tough not catching much up until the end of this week when they were finally able to put together a couple things that seem to work. The team shared, “typically this time of year you can expect the fish to begin to move from the deep areas and head to the backs of creeks and pockets. They go there to chase bait. We have noticed that the bait seems be there, but the fish just haven’t made it back that far yet.”
The water tends to fluctuate a lot on the Alabama River System. Teams have said in the past, “you really don’t know what water conditions you’re going to get until you show up at the ramp on tournament day; it could be up high in the bushes or could drop the bottom out of it.” John and Mark hope “that the river either stabilizes or rises a little. With the rain coming, we expect the lake to probably rise a little.”
With the water fluctuations come current. This river system has lots of spotted and large mouth bass. Teams often make the run to the north to fish the swifter current near the dam. Predictable patterns with current breaks and eddy seams along the river are very popular places to target the spotted bass as well.
A Swim Jig, a topwater moving bait like a Spook, and a Shaky Head will be some key baits that could play a factor this weekend. The rain could play a factor as well as it creates more current in some of the areas they plan to fish. They hope to use the current to their advantage.
This weekend teams will be targeting largemouth and spotted bass with a minimum length of 12 inches. John said his weight prediction to win would be 16 pounds, and David’s prediction is 19.86 pounds.
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 at Lake Cooter’s Pond located 1844 Cooter’s Pond Road in Prattville, AL. Launch will be at safe daylight, and weigh-in begins at 2:30 pm.
The sponsors of the 2021 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports, Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Bill Penney Automotive, Jack’s, Garmin, Black Rifle Coffee Company, T-H Marine, Wedowee Marine, Buck N’ Bass, Anheuser – Bush, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, Lew’s, Mountain Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Berkley, Big Bite Baits, Power-Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, YETI Coolers.