Toyota Trucks Championship Week is slated for back-to-back events on Lake Jordan and the Alabama River beginning Sept. 12. Alexander City, Ala., native Greg Vinson learned most of what he knows about bass fishing from these two bodies of water when he moved to the Montgomery area years ago. He considers the pair his home lakes and has plenty of advice to offer anyone who will listen.
Vinson now resides in Wetumpka, Ala., which is 20 minutes away from Lake Jordan and 25 from the Alabama River. He believes the fishing on these waters will be warming up as summer comes to a close.
"They're very different bodies of water but at the same time have some similarities," Vinson said. "Jordan is part of the Coosa River system that feeds into the Tallapoosa and Alabama rivers right here in Wetumpka.
"There is lots of water willow and rocky structure, making it prime spotted bass country. It's also a very good largemouth fishery," he said.
Vinson thinks that late September could bring some cooler weather and ignite the postseason fishing.
"If we get a few cool nights, the thermocline will move up and a lot of the fish will move off the offshore structure to the banks and grass," he said. "It will split up the lake pretty good, so the guys will be able to pick and choose how they want to fish, shallow or deep.
"There are so many 4- and 5-pound spotted bass it's unreal. A lot of guys will have 20-pound bags, so it's going to come down to who has that one or two key bites that put him over the top," Vinson said. "Look for a good mix of largemouth and spots at the weigh-in."
The Alabama River fits more into the typical river mold than Lake Jordan.
"It's kind of a dirt color rather than stained because of the suspended sediment, like the Red or Arkansas rivers," he said. "There is some shallow grass along the shore, but there's a lot more wood that will come into play here — stumps, laydowns and trash on the ledges. There is also some deep structure like sandbars and points."
Vinson says the river is an overlooked spot fishery and expects to see some 5- and 6-pounders at the weigh-in. He thinks that the river lends itself well to crankbaits, and both Jordan and the Alabama River should have a quality topwater bite. While power fishing may account for the big bites, Vinson thinks every angler would be wise to have a spinning rod on the deck at launch.
"There's one technique that is always strong — the shaky head. It always produces even if there's no current," he said.
Current on the Alabama River means the fish will be more concentrated and easier to catch.
"If there's no current, guys are going to need to make a milk run trying different things all over. If the area gets rain, it will make some current and the weights will go up. Otherwise, it'll slow down and the fish won't be as aggressive."
Having fished the Elite Series for almost a complete season, Vinson has an idea who should do well, but is hesitant to say for sure given the two-day run-and-gun format.
"I know a lot of guys were here back when the Elite 50 came through, and I remember KVD was up there. Mark Menendez should do pretty well, but I hate to pick just one guy because they're all so good," he said.
The one thing missing for Vinson is a ticket to the dance. He currently sits out of reach of the top 12 in 46th place in the AOY standings.
"Being as familiar with the lakes as I am, I think if I was there I'd have a pretty good shot at this thing."