Neely Henry Lake Recap Story

By Jason Duran

Neely Henry Lake was the fourth stop of the Alabama Bass Trail North Division, with a top prize of $15,000 at stake for the 225 teams. The lake conditions were constantly changing all week, with fluctuating water levels and rain affecting the water clarity. Neely Henry is typically a tough event for many teams, but those who figure out the pattern easily rise above the rest. McAvoy and Butts, experienced on the ABT stage, secured an exciting win on their home lake.

Stephen McAvoy and Josh Butts Caught 18.43-pounds for first place. They join an elite group of ABT teams that have won four ABT events. In previous years they said they had never done well here; they felt like they had the home lake curse every time they came here. Today’s win ended the curse. They had a good morning fishing and culled up quickly to around 16 pounds on their morning bite. They shared, “We are good at breaking down areas when we got bites in. When we start to get some bites, we spend the time fishing through the area. This morning, we weren’t sure if it was a major shad spawn or if it was just the tail end of the shad spawn. We had some very low light conditions this morning and that helped us. This morning, we used many different topwater baits and paired those with a few soft plastic worms. One of those worms was a Yum Dinger.  We fished in 6-8 feet of water, and we caught a lot of fish using that pattern. We never have a big bite late in the day and in the past, that’s what has hurt us. Today we caught a 4.62-pound fish right at 2 pm and we had to be back to check in at 2:30. That was the difference today and that sealed the deal for us.” This week has been a whirlwind of events for them. Josh got married just the weekend prior, spent the week on his honeymoon, and came back to fish this event with little or no practice. Stephen lost his grandfather last weekend and got the call just after Josh’s wedding. Stephen shared “It was good to know he was not suffering anymore. He and I caught many fish together and today we could feel him watching down over us.” They found a way to just go fishing today on their home lake and pull off a huge win. They collected a $15,000 ABT check for their win. 

Adam Brown and Greg Diggs caught 18.23 pounds and added another second place on Neely Henry. They placed 2nd here in 2022 and won in 2020. They provided the preview story this week for the website and shared they were really hoping the water would stabilize or come down just a little and that would really help their fishing style. They spent some time in practice and only “caught three little fish. Earlier in the week the dam was allowing 1,600 cubic feet coming, which is normally what happens when the water is flooding. Our guess is they were preparing for all the rain that was coming. Because of that, the banks were 3 feet high and muddy. Yesterday they dropped it to 1,000 cubic feet, and that helped us decide to make the long run upriver and in skinny water towards the Weiss Lake Dam.” The team utilized their Tunnel Hull boat to access that area. The team shared, “We both live on the lake, and we know it well. We feel we have a better chance to catch a good bag up there since the fish are a little less pressured. There is the option to catch a good bag all over the lake, but when 225 teams are fishing, the odds go down because of the fishing pressure. The fishing pattern in that area is shallow water with current, and it changes based on water level. We caught key fish on a Jig that we made that is a black and blue ball head. We also used Bobo Jigs and fished a spinner bait in the current.” With this second-place finish, they collected a $7,500 payday

Jamie Starnes and Ricky Fowler finished in third place, catching 18.06 pounds. They said, “We did things a little bit differently. We used a Zoom Magnum trick worm in the color magic in the grass. The big difference for us was finding some deeper grass that was holding bigger fish. We made a long run south to get away from the crowd in the mid-lake area. The grass we fished was in 3 feet of water, but it was close to 17 feet of water. We caught all our fish by around 8:30, fishing a shad spawn. We caught over 20 fish the whole day and had a very productive day.” They received a $6,000 check for their third-place finish.

Neely Henry has once again shaken up the AOY leader board, just as it always does. With only one event left, teams will be working hard to gain the necessary points to qualify for the ABT championship and the BASS team championship. Below is the current top 12 in the AOY standings:


1 Justin Bussey/Ben Webb 861

2 Craig Grubbs/Matt Ferguson 834

2 Damien Willis/Tyler Kiker 834

4 Bryan Dowdy/Kyle Lewellen 793

5 Stephen McAvoy /Josh Butts 782

6 John Kellet/Zeke Gossett 779

7 Fisher Anaya/Ryan Anaya 762

8 Alan Barrett/Tyler Caldwell 748

9 Mark Condron/Ted Paisley 747

10 Delano Green/Delano Green Jr. 744

11 Mark McCaig/Tim Hurst 725

12 Dillon Tucker/Greg Tucker 722

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

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

The 2024 Alabama Bass Trail Sponsors Include: Phoenix Boats, AMFirst, Landers – McLarty Chevrolet, McGraw – Webb Chevrolet, Rapala, VMC, Crush City, Buffalo Rock, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Jack’s, Garmin, Alabama State Parks, Halo Fishing, Snag proof, NetBait, Bait Fuel, TH Marine Supplies, Power-Pole, Pro Guide Batteries, American Trailer Rental, Yamaha, Anheuser-Busch, Big Bite Baits and