MAGNUM COOSA RIVER SPOTS
Magnum spotted bass may be caught from one end of Neely Henry to the other, and they are already schooling by mid-May, Grape claims. However, they are easier to catch in the lower, wider end of the lake because it has more obvious bass structure. Grape targets long points, gravel bars, rocky banks, sea walls and boat houses.
In May, the spotted bass are hanging in the 6- to 12-foot range, Grape points out. He catches some of his bigger spots at this time with a Rebel Pop-R and Lucky Craft’s dog-walking Sammy stickbait. When the spots won’t come up for a topwater offering, Grape gets down to them with crankbaits, including the Rapala Shad Rap, Strike King 3XD and Bandit 200.
“My favorite bait is 3/8- or 1/2-ounce brown or black-and-blue jig with a Zoom Chunk or a NetBait Paca Craw,” Grape says.
The long, narrow, upriver reach of Neely Henry offers bass little in the way of diversity. You might think this would simplify things, but Grape claims that the fishing h
ere is unpredictable. Pitching jigs and soft plastic baits to bluff banks and fallen trees might be hot one day and cold the next.
Grape has his best luck upriver fishing “potholes” in the bottom that range from 6 to 20 feet deep.
“When they’re in the potholes, I make a milk run and hit every one I know about,” Grape says. “You might catch only a few spots on the way upstream, but on the way back you might catch a bass on every cast from a hole you fished earlier.”
Slow rolling a 3/4- or 1-ounce Strikezone Ledgebuster spinnerbait over the potholes pulls big spotted bass up for Grape. His other go-to baits are shad color Strike King 5XD and 6XD crankbaits.
“Once you catch a big spot anywhere on this lake, there are usually more with it,” Grape says. “When the bite stops, leave and come back later and you’ll catch more of them. I’ve done well in tournaments by fishing and refishing the same three holes all day long.”
MEET JASON GRAPE
From his home in Attalla, Ala., Jason Grape can be at Neely Henry Lake in minutes. He has been catching bass from this Coosa River reservoir for nearly 30 of his 41 years. “I’m usually fishing there two or three times a week for fun or in a tournament,” Grape says. Grape’s knowledge of Neely Henry is the reason he regularly earns a check when he fishes a tournament.
The Alabama Power Company has improved the fishing at Neely Henry Lake by planting fish habitat. You can get GPS coordinates to these sweet spots here: www.alabamapower.com/lakes/fishdata.asp.
GO HERE FIRST
Before you visit Neely Henry 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.