The Alabama Bass Trail held the second tournament of the South Division on Lay Lake March 11, 2023. The teams were greeted with a cold front to create a little colder morning than what they had experienced earlier in the week practicing for the event. It is early spring in central Alabama and the patterns developed to catch the winning fish usually revolve around the spawning ritual of the bass. This can create a lot of uncertainty with fish movements and feeding activity. As we witnessed during the Live on-the-water coverage, there were a lot of teams catching fish early and some struggling to figure things out. There was hope by some that a late bite would materialize and help those that struggled during the early part of the day. Lay Lake is a part of the Coosa River which provides an opportunity to target the Alabama spotted bass or largemouth bass. Lay Lake has a healthy population of both and it is not uncommon to see mixed bags coming across the stage during Alabama Bass Trail tournaments.
By the time the weigh-in process was over, the team of Lanier Burton and Kelley Jaye came out on top with 19.38 lbs. Their initial plan was to throw a jerkbait and attempt to catch a limit of spotted bass early. Before the team took off from Beeswax Landing to start their day, Lanier said “we were worried about the color of the water, worried about it being too dirty”. They decided to change the gameplan once the jerkbait pattern did not materialize. Kelley stated “We wanted to start with a limit of spots early and then cull up by ounces during the day targeting shallower water. When that did not work out, we went to topwater, frogs, and swim jigs. We went through an arsenal before finally narrowing it down to the green pumpkin ½ oz. Strike King Denny Brauer Casting Structure jig tipped with a green pumpkin Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Power Chunk”. They targeted vegetation near deeper water and started getting quality bites on the jig and decided to stick with it the rest of the day. As it turned out, they did not need the limit of spotted bass to start the day and were able to catch enough of the right fish on the jig to capture the win.
The team of Marty Giddens and Kim Giddens finished second with 19.05 lbs. The husband and wife team practiced a few days earlier in the week and developed a pattern on Thursday that they felt would get better by the time they blasted off on tournament morning. According to Marty, “we pulled up in the morning and I caught a four pounder in the first five minutes. By 8:30 am we had close to 15 lbs.” Kim stated, “the most amazing thing was culling three pounders”. Their limit at the end of the day was all spotted bass. Their pattern consisted of fishing anywhere from the bank to about ten feet of water. They figured these fish were pulling up to start the spawning process. The majority of their fish were caught on 1/8 oz. Davis Baits Shakey Head Jigs tipped with Alabama Craw and Chartreuse Finesse Worms. A few fish were caught later in the day on a Gizzard Shad colored 5” Big Bite Baits swimbait.
In third place was the team of CJ Knight and Anthony Goggins with 18.52 lbs. These anglers have a lot of experience on Lay Lake. They decided to practice the Friday before the event and fished separately. This gave them the opportunity to cover more of the lake to develop the gameplan for tournament morning. Anthony said, “I got on a pretty good pattern of spotted bass up the river and felt we had about an hour and a half to run that pattern first thing in the morning. It just so happened that we caught what we weighed in the first ten casts.” Their pattern consisted of running deep gravel bars where the fish would typically spawn. Anthony added, “They weren’t spawning yet, the big females were just not there yet.” CJ said, “I typically fish the lower end of the lake and Anthony has a lot of experience up the river. I knew there was too much pressure on areas down the lake and it made it an easy decision to target the fish Anthony found upriver”. The team caught the majority of their fish dragging a crawfish colored custom jig made by ADL Jigs and few key fish were also caught on a shad colored Berkley Stunna Jerkbait.
The top ten standings are listed below.
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 from this event and others, visit https://www.youtube.com/@alabamabasstrailtv
The sponsors of the 2023 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports & Outdoors, 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, FishNeelyHenry.com, Garmin, Jack’s, Lew’s, Mountain Dew, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Power-Pole, Strike King, Sweet Home Alabama, T-H Marine, Yamaha, and Yeti Coolers.