Neely Henry Feature Story with Tracy Robinson
By Jason Duran
The Alabama Bass Trail North Division is ready for stop number three at Lake Neely Henry in Gadsden, AL. All eyes are on the points race for this event. Teams are working hard to make the top 12 to qualify for the BASS Team Championship. Teams finishing in the top 75 will qualify to fish the ABT Championship at Weiss Lake in October. This is the middle of the season and many teams will use this event to push them to the top of the leaderboard.
Neely Henry is an 11,000 acre lake that is 77 miles long. The fishery is abundant with spotted and largemouth bass. The ABT launch site is at City Park, the midway point of the lake. The two bridges that are just above the launch site make for an amazing view at blast off.
This week we caught up with Tracy Robinson and his partner Dustin Robinson who have a good history fishing Neely Henry and have had recent success fishing in tournaments at Neely Henry. Tracy shared a few key details about the lake- “out of the launch site at City Park going upriver, it is mostly a river run with only 3 or 4 creeks. This section of the lake has the most current, and is predominately spotted bass fishing. Some largemouth can be caught in this area but only in small areas. Both spotted bass and largemouth are close to the spawn period. I would guess that about 50% of the fish have spawned already. Going downriver from City Park, it’s still a river run but has more creeks that are bigger. It’s a good mix of largemouth and spotted bass. There are more docks and points on the lower end, so more techniques can be used with varying structures and topography.”
The weather for this event is setting up to be nice. The rain moving through the area raised the lake levels. “Normal pool is 508, and the lake is currently at 506 . However, that may fluctuate a foot each day. The lake levels are managed by Alabama Power as a hydro-electric lake with Weiss Lake above it and Logan Martin below it. With recent heavy rains Alabama Power is releasing water from Weiss using all 3 turbines currently (25,000 ft3/ second). That rate is shown as the forecast the next 3 days. Lake level and generation schedules can be seen on the Smart Lake App.”
When asked about the key to winning this event, Tracy said “the lake will fish small with 225 boats, especially if Alabama Power generates a lot of power and makes the upper end unfishable due to high currents. Due to the spawn, there are enough fish up shallow that a lot of good bags will be caught with fish cruising the shorelines. I expect 21 pounds to win and feel like 40th place will be in the 15-pound range. Big fish for the event will probably be around 6.5 pounds.”
When teams come to Neely Henry, they often think bank grass and swimming a jig which is often the summertime pattern here. However, with this event landing in the pre-spawn to spawn time of year, the baits will probably be a little different. “Sight Fishing – some type of plastic creature bait prompting a bite from fish on bed. Whoever has a few big fish located they can run to and catch will have a big advantage. Texas-rigged worm/lizard – it’s supposed to be near 85 degrees and low wind. It’s going to require a lot of dragging a worm to prompt bites. Sunny & no wind will be a tough bite all day. Spinnerbait- the lake is really muddy today and won’t be a lot better by the weekend. Spinnerbait around any kind of structure will get the reaction bite. Also, don’t be surprised if there’s a little shad-spawn activity this weekend, making the Spinnerbait even more attractive.”
Teams making their first trip to the lake need to be aware that “several bridges are no-wake zones. There are hazardous underwater structures in the shallows, so run the main channels.” Pay close attention to the map will be important for Navigation.
The Launch & Weigh In will be held at Coosa Landing 1 Huff Drive Gadsden, AL 35903. Launch will be at safe day light. 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 – Bush, Inc., E3 Sports Apparel, Fish Neely Henry Lake.com, 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.