As I sit down at my desk to write this I take a glance outside my office window. I immediately notice a dogwood tree and one of my wife’s flowers beginning to bloom. This can mean only one thing, spring is here and bass fishing on Lake Jordan and the Alabama River are going to be hot! These two bodies of water are unique in that they have excellent largemouth and spotted bass populations. It can easily take five fish of either species from 20 to 24lbs to when one day tournaments this time of year. There are lots of different techniques you can use this time of year to catch fish on either lake or river but I’m going to give you a couple of tips on how to target the big ones.
For targeting big largemouth on Lake Jordan you’ll primarily want to focus on the water willow weed beds that line the shore of the lake. The big females will sit under these thick grass mats waiting for conditions to get right to spawn in a few weeks or so. I break out the 7’6″ Carrot Stix flipping stick with an AbuGarcia MGX reel and pitch to the thickest parts of the water willow mats that I can find. I’ll use 50-60lb Sunline FX2 braid, 3/4-1oz tungsten weight, a 5/0 Gamakatsu straight shank Heavy Cover hook and a Big Bite Yo’Daddy. You can pick up the Yo’Daddys at Academy Sports and my favorite colors are Hematoma and Okeechobee Craw. This time of year you’ll want to look for the weedbeds that are on the north sides of pockets and coves that are protected from those cool north winds. They will also receive a lot more sunshine from the west that really heats these weedbeds up and fires up the big largemouths. Try and make long but quiet pitches to the mats and usually they will hit the YoDaddy on the initial fall. A good day will be 10-12 bites averaging between 3-5lbs.
Lake Jordan also has some monster spotted bass too. I like to use a SPRO Fat Papa crankbait in the upper river to target the really big ones. Look for points that make current breaks and have gravel and rocks in 8-10ft. I will rig the Fat Papa on a 7ft medium Carrot Stix rod and an Abu Garcia Revo Winch reel spooled with 12lb Sunline Reaction FC. You’ll want to sit down current and try and grind the crankbait through the rocks and gravel while reeling it with the current. A 3-4lb spot hits this bait like a freight train! Don’t be surprised if when you get on the right point that you could easily catch a couple of spots over 5lbs. They really like bright colors this time of year and Tropical Shad seems to be the best.
Now the Alabama River is a little different for largemouths. Here the dominant shallow cover for largemouths are stumps and laydown logs. They really like a chartreuse 1/2oz Buckeye spinnerbait and I have caught some big ones flipping a Big Bite Baits Yo’Mamma too. For the Yo’Mamma I’ll use the same flipping rig setup accept for a 1/4-3/8oz weight. Wether throwing the spinnerbait or the Yo’Mamma the key is to make contact with the wood cover. This is a good way to get a reaction strike from many of the 3-5lbers this time of year. Look for shallow sloping flats just off the main river that are lined with the stumps and laydowns.
Spot fishing in the spring on the river is very similar to Lake Jordan. I like to go up river in the last 10-15 miles before you get to Walter Bouldin dam. There is a lot of pea gravel points up in that section and more importantly some really big spotted bass. I use the same SPRO Fat Papa setup and occasionally they will hit a 3/4oz Buckeye football jig with a Big Bite Yo’Daddy trailer. The green pumpkin jig and Orange Crawdad Yo’Daddy works the best for me. They may be a little shallower on the river due to the dingy water color so be sure to have another Fat Papa rigged on 14lb line so that you can fish it in the 6-9ft depths too. I have caught more than several spotted bass over the years up the river over 6lbs.
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