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Alabama's Lay lake in January and February

Capt. Reed Montgomery
December 4, 2016
Lay Lake - Freshwater Fishing Report

" Lures. Its been said, they are tools we choose to successfully get the job done."

By Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
(Alabaster) near Birmingham, Alabama
Website www.fishingalabama.com Phone (205) 663-1504


" Variables. Its also been said, there are many variables to consider, when it comes to fishing for bass."

In terms of bass fishing, correctly choosing the right lure, always increases your chance of having a more successful day! Which is, catching fish! Especially when an evident bite occurs! In most fishing scenarios the bass will tell you if you are using the correct lure, selecting the right size lure, utilizing the right lure action, the correct lure weight and the right color of lure.

If an angler then correctly presents this appealing lure to the fish in the right manner, at the right speed, at the right depth, utilizing the sharpest of hooks, then an en-raged bite may occur!

Choosing the right type of line, choosing the correct kind of line composition, perfect line strength for each situation and even the correct line color, are also other factors to consider. If you plan on having any degree of success.

With those combinations, adding the right rod and reel outfit, an angler may then hopefully have some degree of success in getting the job done. Which is catching fish!

On Alabama's Lay lake (impounded in 1914), this can mean an angler then having to choose what type of cover to fish and where to fish, for targeting both spotted bass and largemouth bass.

With Lay lakes various types of aquatic weeds for fish holding cover, wood cover of all kinds, rocks, boulders, rock bluffs and places displaying man made rip-rap rocks, there are a lot of choices to consider.

Included in this "bass cover line up" are loads of other types of man made cover to consider fishing during the winter season. Places like dams, bridges, piers, boat houses and marinas.

With over 50 miles of navigable waters -- from Logan Martin Lake dam to downstream Lay lake dam -- first time visitors to Lay lake can get very confused as to where to begin their fishing day.

Factor in mid-Alabama's late-January to late-February severe winter time cold fronts, then, or in addition, can be those cold, mid-to-late winter rainy periods (some that can last a week or more) and you can get some very undesirable conditions.

Or in the anglers favor, an unseasonable week-long, winter warming trend can take place. Again, you have many "variables" to consider.

Breaking down Lay Lake into an upper half and a lower half, here are some helpful tips and lure suggestions, for targeting both the Coosa River Spotted Bass and Lay lake's Largemouth Bass. Both bass species of which are found in abundance lake wide.


During the late January to late February period big spotted bass gather in these Lay lake headwaters to feed and fatten up all throughout these current laden waters. Swift water, often stained water and often, cold water temps in the mid 40's, can position these spotted bass tight to cover.

From Lay lake's headwaters to mid lake at Wilsonville steam plant, is similar to fishing winter time waters featured on any long, winding river system.

Heavy ounce to ounce jig combos work great during these types of conditions. These lures simulate the many types of crayfish that these spotted bass dine on.

These tasty crustaceans are found all among the rocky, boulder-stream tailrace waters of upstream Logan Martin lake dam. Choosing jig models with built in rattles is suggested.

Colors of black and blue combos, or colors such as all pumpkinseed, all watermelon / black flake, all brown on brown w/tiger striped strands, or triple colors combos like brown, black and pumpkinseed jig combinations, are all good color choices.

Oversized trailers on these jig combos such as a big piece of pork, a big plastic chunk, big plastic crayfish imitation, frog imitation or even a trailing, creature type bait, may be needed to aid an angler in attaining a slow lure fall and help create a bigger, more easy to find lure profile.

There are many laying trees, stumps, log jams and brush piles to consider probing your lures in and around. Some anglers slowly flip or pitch jig combos, tube baits, big worms, oversized lizards and other bottom fished lures in and around this upper lake wood cover.

Eddies, just out of the swift current are where bass lay in wait for an easy meal. These bass can be located right along the edge, hugging these eddies along the many different types of wood and rock cover found in these lake headwaters.

Some of Lay lake's anglers have discovered that a technique known as "swimming a jig" combo works great here for targeting bass holding along the edge of wood cover and rock cover. It is also a technique that is great for covering water fast with a swimming jig combo technique.

Heavy line of 17-20 pound test of either monofilament, or heavy 30-50 pound test braided line or 17-20 pound test fluorocarbon line is suggested. Strong rods with plenty of backbone and dependable reels are needed for getting these very strong bass out of cover and into the boat.

Although these Lay lake headwaters are considered great places to target spotted bass, bass anglers should always keep in mind there are some big largemouth bass living here too!

Big baitfish such as gizzard shad, threadfin shad and bream are in abundance in these lake headwaters. Like the spotted bass, these largemouth bass dine on baitfish and crayfish all throughout the winter months as well.

Jig combos are great lure choices for targeting both of these bass species in these Lay lakes headwaters. Both species feed on crayfish year round in Lay lake.

Swim baits, both soft bodied and hard bodied models, including oversized swim bait models with jointed bodies, are great lure choices for targeting these big largemouth bass.
Shad colors, bream colors and crappie colors on your swim baits selections are good choices. Strong hooks, strong rods and strong line are suggested.

Mid-to-deep diving crank baits in shad colors, crayfish colors or some red or chartreuse added, are also good lure and color choices. Both floating and suspending hard bodied jerkbaits and rattling lipless lures in shad colors simulate the baitfish found here. Try shad or crayfish imitation colors, chartreuse or white.

Always try various selections of 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce chartreuse and white spinnerbaits with either gold or silver #5 to #7 Colorado and Willow leaf blade combinations on the blades. These are great lure choices in winter for big largemouth bass hiding among all the wood cover found in Lay lake's often stained, lake headwaters.

Main lake aquatic weeds will become more evident the further you fish downstream on Lay lake, all the way to Lay lake dam.

* Fishing from below Logan Martin lake dam (in Lay lake's headwaters), all the way down stream to the Highway 280 bridge crossing, is mostly for targeting bass around wood and rock cover. There are some aquatic weeds in these lake head waters but weeds are more evidently seen, from mid lake on down stream, to the lower Lay Lake dam.

Lay lake will begin to display a more lake-like appearance, as the lake widens, as you head further downstream of Wilsonville steam plant, located right beside incoming feeder, Yellow Leaf Creek at mid lake.

You will also evidently begin to see a variety of aquatic weeds both on the main lake and up in its dozens of major feeder creeks and small pockets. This calls for the use of weed less lures! Bass will be found on the main lake and in major feeder creeks as well.

Topwater lures, like buzz baits, work great. Try weed less spoons, spinnerbaits, floating worms, shad imitations, swim baits, frog and rat imitations, slow sinking Senkos and Zoom Trick worms. They will work exceptionally well, especially when fished around weeds during or when experiencing winter warming trends.

* Fish these types of lures in and around the weeds, as the day warms up and the water warms as well. Most bites are from midday to late evenings. Still, anglers should keep in mind. Even on a brisk, cold morning, never rule out an early morning big bass bite!

As you pass the islands (about one mile below Wilsonville steam plant), many major feeder creeks, main lake flats and small cuts and pockets all become more evident as the lake begins to widen.

Heading on down the lake you will see rock bluffs, standing timber and some deeper water (of over 70 feet deep) in the "narrows" area. Jigging spoons or fishing with tail spinner lures in deep water of 20-40 feet deep works good both during the winter and summer months. Finesse plastics, Alabama rigs and suspending jerkbaits all work well here in the clearest water on the lake.

Resident built piers and boat houses adorn this lower lake region. All kinds of lures like shallow to deep diving crank baits, worms, lizards, tube baits, jig combos, crayfish imitations, creature baits and finesse plastics work great during winter around these piers and boat houses, mostly found on the mid-to-lower lake. Drop shot rigs and small worms fished on light line outfits and a light jig head, often fool these winter time skittish bass, that may at times, refuse other offerings.

Most anglers target Lay lake's spotted bass on the main lake. Ledges, drop-offs, first and secondary points found along in small cuts, pockets and creek mouths, around islands and around rock bluffs and small cuts featuring aquatic weeds mixed in with standing timber, are all great places (that all hold quality sized spotted bass) to explore all throughout the winter season.

Rock bluffs are especially good places to fish with lures that mimic bream, minnows and shad with multi colored crankbaits, chrome lipless lures, shad or bream colored swim baits, white or chartreuse and white to ounce spinner baits (featuring either silver willow leaf blades or Colorado blades) and both floating model and suspending hard bodied jerk baits in shad colors. Including soft bodied plastics like shad imitations and Yamamoto's "Senkos" fished weightless or on a very light jig head.

Finesse worms rigged on jig heads "wacky rigged" are good too or try Texas rigged and Carolina rigged worms, lizards and crayfish plastics. Colors of water melon / black flake or black, red, blue or pumpkinseed are good worm colors. Experiment with colors!

* Try rocky points and the mouths of small cuts and pockets found along rock bluffs with these finesse jigs, often fishing in water up to 30 feet deep with 6-8 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Very, very slowly.

Living right next to the spotted bass, largemouth bass can occupy weeds, wood cover or rock cover. But during late winter the bigger largemouth bass really prefer the more thicker, matted-type weeds, found close to the security of deeper water nearby.

Look for big largemouth bass around various types of mixed in wood, weeds and rock cover. They can often be found in abundance around isolated wood cover (like one, lone laying tree, stump or log) especially possible in this mid-to-lower lake region.

Or big largemouth bass can be discovered mingling with spotted bass along rock bluffs, standing timber and weeds, leading into small cuts and pockets on the lower lake. Man made rip-rap rocks are good places to explore too! These rocks are found around the dam area, along bridges, causeways, culverts and on main lake wind-blown banks, where rocks are placed here to prevent erosion.

Lay lake's largemouth bass thrive around aquatic weeds year round on the mid-to-lower lake. Weeds provide plenty of oxygen and plenty of green cover for them to hide in. They can be very shallow or growing as deep as ten feet or more.

But in winter some weed types die off. So late winter anglers should look for the greener weeds (like those that receive a lot of sunshine throughout the day), for the most oxygen- rich environment for these largemouth bass and the prey they dine on, to relate to.

Try Lay Lake during this late winter period. Some of the year's biggest spotted bass and some huge largemouth bass are taken by anglers that outweigh the odds when searching for big winter bass on Alabama's Lay lake!

Thanks and Good Fishin'
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
Birmingham, Alabama
Website www.fishingalabama.com Phone (205) 663-1504

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

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Lay Lake Fishing Forecast:

rain this week highs mid 60's

Target Species:

Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass

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Alabama's oldest, professional guide service, guiding on all of Alabama's lakes for over 40 years. Guiding for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and striped bass. Several guides and boats available year round.

Contact Info:

Reeds Guide Service
141 Reese Drive
Alabaster, AL 35007
Phone: 205-663-1504
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