Neely Henry: Alabama’s best-kept secret

Courtesy of Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division
Located in northeast Alabama on the Coosa River near the towns of Gadsden and Ohatchee, Neely Henry Lake envelops 11,235 acres and extends 77.6 miles from the dam upstream to Weiss Dam.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) claims that Neely Henry is one of the best-kept fishing secrets in Alabama. The fishing quality of the 11,235-acre Coosa River reservoir is no surprise to Alabama Elite Series Pro Jamie Horton.

Horton lives two hours from Neely Henry, which stretches 77.6 miles between Weiss and Logan Martin lakes near the towns of Gadsden and Ohatchee just off I-59.

“I fish Neely Henry several times a year,” Horton says. “I won a B.A.S.S. Nation State Championship there in 1999.”

Neely Henry’s largemouth and spotted bass have been packing on pounds like a candy addict in a chocolate factory. Horton credits this to stable winter lake levels over the past five years or so. Before that, Neely Henry was drawn down 5 feet in September and kept there until the following May.

The ADCNR states that the plumpness for the largemouth and spotted bass in Neely Henry is exceptional. In other words, the bass resemble footballs.

Most of the largemouths run 12 to 15 inches with good numbers of 15- to 18-inchers present. Neely Henry is also one of the better spotted bass fisheries in Alabama, with many of these fish in the 14- to 20-inch range.

And you’ll catch quantities of bass along with the quality. Neely Henry ranked third among Alabama lakes in the percentage of successful anglers per trip.

“You can win a tournament with spotted bass or largemouth bass at Neely Henry,” Horton says. “The big decision when I go there is whether to run upriver or down.”

When Horton is after spotted bass, he heads upriver toward the Weiss Dam where there’s usually a current that urges the bass to feed. Then again, Horton claims that largemouth bass are also plentiful in Neely Henry’s upriver reaches.

However, Horton usually runs to the southern end of the lake in April. The largemouth begin spawning in April and shallow Canoe Creek plays host to some of Neely Henry’s heaviest egg-laden females.