Alabama Rig mania likely at Douglas

A few months back I made a list of lures I wanted to pack for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open at Douglas Lake. I just tossed it into the recycle bin.

When I made the list, I was thinking of the Douglas Lake that I visited in early June 2011 for an Open. There was plenty of water in Douglas’ willow bushes then.      

Although that Douglas tournament was won fishing deep water on the main lake, good numbers of buck bass were still hanging in the bushes. With this year’s Douglas event to begin on April 4, I figured some big prespawn mamas would be in the willows.

My initial lure list was heavily weighted for that eventuality. That eventuality won’t happen until sometime after the Douglas Southern Open. As I write this, two days before the tournament begins, the willows are high and dry.

Another wrench in my game plan is that March came in like a lion and went out like King Kong. Douglas Lake is still in the low 50s, and the bass are nowhere near making their pilgrimage into the shallows.

Last week a major tournament happened at Douglas. The competitors hammered the bass on Alabama Rigs (A-Rigs). Sacks weighing 20 pounds or more were common.

All of the top finishers relied on A-Rigs. If you weren’t throwing an A-Rig, you didn’t have a prayer. The Douglas Southern Open is shaping up to be another A-Rig-fest.

I have mixed feelings about the A-Rig. I know it catches cold water bass better than it has any right to. Alabama’s Jimmy Mason demonstrated that to me when I fished with him at Pickwick Lake in the fall of 2011. The A-Rig outfished everything else we tried 5 to 1.

Mason will be fishing this year’s Douglas Open, and I can assure you he will have an ample supply of YUMbrella A-Rigs in his boat. He will be slinging them for all he’s worth.

What I don’t like about the A-Rig is that it is practically idiot proof. If you can wing it out there with a baitcasting outfit, you’ll catch toads, chubs, fatties, gorillas or whatever nickname you call big bass.

The A-Rig turns anglers that are perennial bottom feeders at bass tournaments into heroes. They lug bags to the scales that dwarf anything they’ve ever carried before.

There will many huge grins above heavy sacks at Douglas this week. Count on it. I hope to add my grin to the mix. I’m loaded to the gills with A-Rigs, and I intend to fish them hard and shamelessly.

Then again, I will have backup baits. High on my list will be assorted jigs, jerkbaits and crankbaits. No finesse stuff, however. It will take big bass to win on the pro and co-angler side of the Douglas equation.

However it plays out, I can’t wait to get there. I’ve yet to go fishing this year. I’ll pull my tackle together later today and leave Ohio early tomorrow morning so I can make the official tournament meeting.

I’ll be rusty but maybe an A-Rig is just the thing I need to get on track.