Neely Henry Lake feature with Lance Whitaker and Jeremy Briscoe
By Jason Duran
Gadsden, Ala- Alabama Bass Trail North Division begins the 2022 season on Neely Henry Lake. This event is stop number one of five for the North Division. In each event there is a $10,000 guaranteed first place payout and $37,400 to the top 40 places. The 2022 season is the 9th season for the ABT, and year after year the competition gets tougher. The team of Lance Whitaker and Jeremy Briscoe knows what it takes to compete at this level. They finished in 3rd place last year in the AOY points and hope to start this season right at this event.
Lance and Jeremy call Lake Guntersville and Wheeler Lake their home lakes and shared that “Neely Henry fishes the exact opposite” than their home lakes. They break down the lake into two different areas: north of the launch is more of a river style fishing while south is more of a lake style fishing. Teams tend to focus more on the mid-lake areas where there are more creeks and pockets.
Jeremy shared, “right now, the river looks real, good to me. I mean, it's not too high. It's got some current going through into the pockets. It's just there's no fish biting for us, and I don't know if we are doing the wrong thing or showing the fish the wrong thing. We just aren’t getting a lot of bites, but when we get a bite, it seems to be a good size fish.”
Lance shared, it “still seems a little early for the typical pattern for this time of year. The water temp is 50°, and they should be moving back in these pockets. I think they should be feeding in these creeks, so I don't know why they won’t bite for us. In about two weeks from now the fish will be headed to the grass, and it would play a major factor. If we get some warm days, it could play in this event as well.”
“We would like to see the water temps climb into the mid 50’s. If we had a nice, warm day the fishing could really turn on, and it wouldn’t take much to warm things up and make them bite. However, looking at the weather pattern, it seems like we are going to get some rain towards the end of the week along with cooler temps. That will probably make the river muddy up and make for tough conditions. Everyone knows cold, muddy water is no fun to fish down here. This river system changes so fast. Two weeks ago it was muddy and really high water, but this week it’s clear and probably going to be muddy again.”
Their keys to winning this weekend include those five bites and landing the fish. Because it is so tough right now there, may only be five bites in a day. The main river will probably play a factor and teams will be focusing on wood and rock in those areas. We have been seeing fish in the 15-foot range in the ditches around the cover. 15 pounds should be a good solid bag and a good chance at winning this event with probably 12 pounds to get a check. A few key baits playing into this weekend include a Shad Rap, a spinner bait, and a jig.
Lance and Jeremy really “enjoy the competition and the friends they have made. They camp out at each event and enjoy the company of other anglers usually making a whole weekend out of each event.”
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 Coosa Landing located at 1 Huff Drive in Gadsden, AL.
The sponsors of the 2021 Alabama Bass Trail include: Phoenix Boats, Academy Sports, Alabama Power, America’s First Federal Credit Union, American Trailer Rental Group, BAJIO, Berkley, Big Bite Baits, Bill Penny Automotive, Black Rife Coffee Company, Buck N’ Bass, 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, Wedowee Marine, Yamaha, Navionics and YETI Coolers.