Deciphering Alabama’s Lake Jordan

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Scott Luster has been fishing Jordan Lake for most of his 44 years and has won many bass tournaments here. These waters are as much a part of him as the blood that courses through his veins. His grandfather fished this stretch of the Coosa River before it was dammed to form Jordan Lake.

Luster met his wife, Jennifer, during a bass tournament at Jordan. They were married at a house that overlooks the lake. He feels such a kinship with the lake and its bass that he named his 6-year-old son Jordan. Had his 12-year-old daughter, Hanna, been a boy, she probably would have been given the name Jordan first!

Twenty-five miles north of Montgomery, Ala., Jordan Lake churns out strong populations of largemouth and spotted bass year after year. If you like steady action with mean-spirited 3- to 5-pound Coosa River spots and largemouth up to 6 pounds, put this 6,800-acre reservoir on your must-fish list.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reports that Jordan Lake’s largemouth and spotted bass are equally abundant, and their growth rates exceed the statewide average.

About 70 percent of the bass tournaments at Jordan are won with spotted bass, claims Scott Luster, a local hot stick who has been fishing Jordan for nearly four decades.

Jordan Lake was impounded in 1928 by the Alabama Power Company. In 1967, the lake was expanded by the Bouldin Dam, which filled an adjacent basin with water. Locals call this area “New Lake.”

“About 40 percent of the tournaments at Lake Jordan are won in ‘New Lake,’” Luster says. “It has the most shoreline grass and underwater stumps.”

GRASS BASS

The shoreline grass Luster refers to is water willow, an emergent aquatic vegetation that grows from the bank out to depths of about 4 feet. Lush water willow beds are also present in Blackwell slough and in Weoka Mill and Softkahatchee (Swayback) creeks in the lower half of the lake.

Where the water willow stems have folded over, they form a dense canopy that bass can lounge under. Luster attacks these mats with a stout flippin’ rod and 50-pound braided line. A Missile Baits D Bomb creature bait Texas rigged with a 5/0 hook and a 1-ounce bullet weight penetrates the grass and tempts bites from the bass below.

Luster also swims a 3/8-ounce homemade jig dressed with NetBait’s Paca Chunk along the edges of the water willows and through any lanes and openings within the grass.

“I like white during the shad spawn and black at other times,” Luster says. “The bass go for black when they’re feeding on bream.”

SLIDER FISHING

The homemade jig that Luster dotes on is made by his father-in-law, Randy Atchison. Luster says he believes that Atchison and his fishing partner, Dave Lundquist, have won more money fishing tournaments at Jordan than anyone else. Lundquist died last year. “They won 90 percent of their money with a 4-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Worm on a 1/16-ounce Slider Head Jig,” Luster says. “They fished hundreds of [man-made structures] all over the lake that are 8 to 12 feet deep.”

Luster’s father-in-law taught him how to fish a Slider Worm, and they now team up to fish tournaments at Jordan. From March through May, you can catch 30 to 50 bass a day by retrieving a green pumpkin Slider Worm along sea walls in the upper, river-run portion of Lake Jordan, Luster says.

“Fish the current breaks around any steep rock wall,” Luster says.

In the summertime, Luster catches bass from brushpiles in 13 to 15 feet of water. He gets down to them with a 3/8-ounce Charlie Brewer Pro Head matched with a 6.5-inch NetBait T-Mac straight-tail worm in red bug or green pumpkin. A 3/4-ounce football jig with a twin-tail grub also works well.

“Slowly reel those baits across the bottom and work them over the [structure],” Luster says.

POWER FISHING

When Jordan’s bass pillage shad in autumn, Luster picks them off by power fishing with a Zara Spook stickbait and a spinnerbait. The oldest sea walls anywhere on the lake produce especially well with these lures.

Luster has won tens of thousands of dollars on a spinnerbait made by his father-in-law, called the Flash Bait. This 3/8-ounce lure has tandem gold willowleaf blades and sports a flashy skirt made from what looks like Christmas tree tinsel.

“That bait looks just like a shad swimming through the water,” Luster says. “I have 20 of them in my boat.”

CURRENT

Luster’s stickbaits and spinnerbaits coax hard strikes in autumn when he works them tight to sea walls. The spinnerbait is also deadly when retrieved around boulders and through current seams in the tailwaters of the Mitchell Dam and the Bouldin Dam in New Lake.

“Anytime they’re pulling current, the mouth of the canal running into ‘New Lake’ always has fish on it,” Luster says.

BOAT RAMPS

Bonner’s Point on the west side of Jordan Lake and Rotary Landing on the east side are two popular public boating access areas. Several private marinas also have ramps, including one upriver near Mitchell Dam.

FYI 

Before you visit Jordan Lake or any Alabama ­reservoir, go to www.alabamabasstrail.org. Here you’ll find detailed information about nine lakes and two major river systems, including fishing locations, productive fishing patterns, local guides, campgrounds and where to stay.

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