The fifth stop of the Bassmaster Elite Series took place this past weekend at Lay Lake in Alabama, crossing the halfway point of the nine event season. Outside of the good fortune I had at the Bassmaster Classic back in March, my season has been kind of mediocre, with mid-range finishes in each of the first four events.
Despite some of the toughest fishing that we’ll probably see this season, I had a good finish in Alabama over the weekend, taking home 16th place. Heading into the tournament I knew that simply catching five fish each day would be a challenge and, as it turned out, it was.
The bite was pretty good for the first couple of hours in the morning, then the Alabama heat kicked in and it seemed to make the fishing a lot tougher. It was like that all week. That meant catching at least a few fish early was very important for this event. Luckily, I was able to put at least a few nice ones in the boat early each day and managed to catch a five fish limit each of the three days that I competed.
Lay Lake has populations of both largemouth and spotted bass. There are a lot of fish in the lake but they just seemed kind of extra hard to catch compared to most places that I’ve fished. This is likely due to a combination of fishing pressure – the lake is not that big but had a lot of anglers and it has an abundance of bait. There were schools of small shad everywhere so I felt like the fish just had too much of the real thing to eat. There were times when bass would school up on the surface, chasing bait and usually when that happens, they will make mistakes and become easy to catch, but these ones didn’t make mistakes very often.
On day one of the tournament I actually weighed in five spotted bass, then weighed five largemouth bass on day two. On day three I had four largemouth and one spotted bass. From one day to the next in all of the tournaments that I’ve fished, I have never weighed two different species on back to back days like that. It just seemed like a different lake every day.
Lay Lake is part of the Coosa River system and has a flow of current moving through it. On the first day I caught spotted bass along the main river channel but the current was not as strong on day two and my hot spot dried up. Fortunately, I caught some nice largemouths the second day and saved my tournament. Alabama Power controls the amount of current in the river system as well as the water levels and for whatever reason there just wasn’t as much flow on day two so I’m assuming that’s why the fish were gone. I moved around and tried to relocate them but never was able to find them again.
Over the three days of the tournament I caught seven or eight keepers each day, so I’m happy with the end result. I feel like I fished well and I didn’t lose any fish so it was a good weekend.
We are on our way home now for a couple of weeks, which I’m looking forward to. The bass fishing is really good early in the season and of course I’m looking forward to the walleye opener this coming weekend. If you’re headed out on the water this weekend, good luck.