Alabama River Recap Story

John Pollard and Tim Watkins get a ABT win on the Home Pond 

By Jason Duran

The Alabama Bass Trail South Division completed the fourth stop of five. This event was held at the Alabama River at Cooter’s Pond. The Alabama River is historically a tough event. The river seems to always though teams a curve ball on the full count instead of the expected fast ball. Teams must make major adjustments to find the fish. The team of Jon Pollard and Tim Watkins made the right adjustment and came out on top to win on the “home pond.” 

It always seems the morning of every ABT event at Cooter’s Pond the water levels drastically change. The current flow or lack of current changes. Often a significant weather event moves into the area and changes everything. This week was no different. Teams found practice times to be lower water conditions to be much lower than tournament day. Many teams had found shallow areas that were holding fish in practice and on tournament day found those areas to be over run with new water. A good number of teams spent time practicing in the river only to find on tournament day the current was way to swift and all their areas were blown out. The top three teams made the right adjustment that was the difference in getting paid and not getting paid. 

The team of Jon Pollard and Tim Watkins, who won first place, caught 18.78 pounds of spotted bass. Jon is very familiar with Cooter’s Pond and calls it home. He has spent many years learning  it. He shared that they started their day fishing around the Cooter’s Pond area, looking for current breaks. They noticed that there was more current moving through the area, which he believed was because the spillway at Tallassee was open, causing a lot of places to be blown out. At around 9:30, they made a long run above the Tallapoosa River to get past the current flow. They went to just one spot and caught two good fish on a homemade Chatterbait. They then started slowing down and fishing the same rock repeatedly. They caught more fish on a Crusher Pro Model Shaky head with a Zoom Trick Worm. They kept throwing at the same rock and moved down a little bit deeper on it to catch more fish. Every time they thought about leaving, they caught another fish and culled one out. On the Chatterbait, they used a fluke-style trailer with a straight tail instead of a paddle tail, which helped the bait fall well in the current. Tim used a Toko rig, saying he prefers the VMC Toko rig in this area because it works well when throwing up in gravel and in the current, as it does not hang up as much and floats better. He usually uses a Z Man Fatty Z on that rig. Their big adjustment was to get upriver and past the heavier current flow to find an area where they could fish better. Jon said he had many other areas up there to fish, but the first spot paid off. They were able to capitalize on that adjustment and take home the win, collecting $23,000, including the contingency money. They also secured their spot at the ABT Championship in October on Lay Lake.

The team of Jason “Blake” Tomlin and Justin Foster came in second place, catching 17.56 pounds at the event. They were prepared to make adjustments as they had only fished a few events at this location before and knew they needed to be ready for anything the river had in store for them. During their practice, they scouted for areas that would be productive when the water rose. They searched for spots that already had fish and would become even more fruitful when the water levels increased. This led them to a backwater area with Hyacinth downriver. They remained in this area throughout the day, punching the Hyacinth matt repeatedly. All their fish were caught on a Big Bite Baits BFE Hematoma. Other teams fished in the same area but gave up early. Blake and Justin persisted and caught two key fish later in the day, helping them secure second place and a $7,000 prize. Their key adjustment was finding an area that would be affected by the rising water. Since Hyacinth floats on water, when the water rose, it floated higher and continued to hold the fish in the area.

The father-son team of Trey Wade and Leon Wade caught an impressive 17.51 pounds of fish, securing a solid third-place finish in the tournament. During their practice, they noticed that there were more fish in the backwater, away from the river. On the day of the tournament, they abandoned the river, which was messed up by the current, and moved to an area just off the river channel. They fished in an area downriver, which was clear because of the rising river. They had the whole place to themselves and caught all their fish within an hour and a half by fishing Hyacinth beds. They used a Homemade swim jig of 1/4-ounce weight that Leon made with the right size hook. They had a lot of confidence in this jig and mixed it up between a  white one and black and blue swim jig. They would swim it parallel to the Hyacinth, getting as close to it as possible. Their key adjustment them a $6,000 payday.

The top ten standings are below for a complete list of standings please 


There were some big changes in the AOY leader board with only one more event remaining. 


1 CJ Knight/Anthony Goggins 840

2 Rob Lee/Steve Winslett 835

3 John Pollard/Tim Watkins 797

4 Mark McCaig/Tim Hurst 795

5 Noah Godwin/Cole Godwin 793

6 Erick Sommers/Robbie Pelt 791

7 Jeff Jennings/Mitchell Jennings 790

8 Eric Farnum/Cameron Gibbons 783

9 Tyler Malone/Cade Law 782

10 Jason Tomlin/Justin Foster 781

Download and listen to the ABT Podcast on your favorite Podcast app by searching for “Alabama Bass Trail Podcast.”  The Podcast is released each week on Tuesday.

For Live coverage of this event and others visit