Mobile-Tensaw: A treasure trove for bassers

Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw Delta is an environmental showcase that also offers excellent fishing for largemouth and Coosa River spotted bass. It totals 48,234 acres, nearly half of which is water.

Our nation’s second largest river delta, Mobile Tensaw contains a vast marsh, cypress-tupelo swamp and bottomland hardwoods. More than 50 rare and endangered plant and animals inhabit this ecosystem.

Alabama Elite Series pro Matt Herren began fishing the Mobile Delta in 1997. He has since competed in several major bass tournaments here and pocketed substantial winnings while doing so.

If you fish the Mobile Delta in November, Herren recommends that you concentrate north of the I-65 bridge, especially where the Tensaw and Alabama Rivers join forces.

“That’s where the majority of the tournaments are won,” Herren says. “You can fish the oxbows in the fall, but the main river stretches are typically the deal then.”

Autumn fishing is not as good south of I-65 due to the saltwater intrusion that typically pushes farther up the delta during the dry summer months, Herren points out. Because this is a tidal fishery, the bass move about more than in a reservoir, Herren adds.

“The last 2 hours of an outgoing tide is prime time,” Herren emphasizes. “That’s when you want to be fishing anywhere a ditch, drain or tributary flows into the main channel.”

Once you find a spot like this that holds a school of bass, you can count on them being there day after day and feeding heavily and the end of the falling tide.

“They’re so predictable you can put a clock on them,” Herren says.

Also run your lures past stumps, boulders or any other cover in shallow water that the bass can duck behind to avoid the tidal flow. Go-to baits for Herren include Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper and a 3/8-ounce Santone Got 5 spinnerbait sporting tandem gold willowleaf blades and a gold skirt.

“One of the best baits on the Mobile Delta, and on any tidal water in the country, is the Bandit 200,” Herren opines. “I fish it on 15-pound line because the bass are extremely shallow.”

Herren claims that this shallow running crankbait is durable enough to hold up to the toothy saltwater species you invariably catch while bass fishing the Delta. A pearl or shad pattern does the job when the water is clear. Go with a chartreuse pattern in stained water.

Alabama Elite Series pro Matt Herren began fishing the Mobile Delta in 1997.You’ll tie into good numbers of pudgy, hard-fighting Coosa River spots and largemouth bass that have had a few years to put on some weight.

“Every three or four years, it seems that the Delta’s bass take a hit from a major tropical storm,” Herren says.

The storms devastate the bass by pushing saltwater far up the delta and damaging aquatic bass habitat.

“There hasn’t been a tropical storm here in several years,” Herren says. “These Delta bass have plenty to eat and grow fast.”

Sampling by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division in 2007 revealed that there was an adequate largemouth spawn in 2006. Also, the numbers of 8 to-12-inch bass was above average.

Those bass have grown considerably since then. You’d be wise to get after the Mobile Delta’s bass while the getting is good.

FYI

Before you visit the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, go to alabamabasstrail.org. Here you'll find detailed information about fishing locations, productive fishing patterns, local guides, campgrounds, where to stay and current river data. This web site also has priceless information about nine Alabama reservoirs and one other major river system.

SALTWATER BONUS SPECIES

Redfish, speckled trout, flounder and other saltwater fish swarm into the Mobile Delta in the fall. You can’t beat live shrimp for redfish, but they also go for large crankbaits and plastic grubs. Jigs, plastic grubs and live and dead shrimp dupe speckled trout. Bottom rigs with minnows or grubs take flounder. Key fishing spots for these saltwater species include points off the mouths of the lower Tensaw, Blakely, Apalachee, and Mobile Rivers.

CRAPPIE

You’ll find plenty of crappies throughout most of the Delta to provide for regular fish fries. In the spring and fall months, you can pluck these delectable panfish from shoreline cover along the banks of timbered creeks and lakes. Try Stiggins Lake, Douglas Lake, Little Lake and Bay Minette Creek. Fishing minnows or jigs near deep structure should keep you busy.

FISHING ACCESS

Save boat fuel by launching near your chosen fishing area. You can choose from more than 20 access sites throughout the Delta. If you don’t have a boat, new fishing piers have been constructed for bank anglers. They are located at Cliff’s Landing off Highway 225, Meaher State Park pier off the Highway 90-98 Causeway (fee), Choccalotta Access Area on Highway 90-98, and the U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Park Pier. Fishing is also popular along the Highway 90-98 Causeway, where many bridges and roads provide access for bank anglers.

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