How I will fish Neely Henry

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JD Blackburn

This week is stop number six of the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series season, which is pretty crazy. Normally at this time of the year, we are just getting going, but we are rocking right through the schedule this year. This tournament marks three weeks in a row that I have fished. It will be an interesting event with changing conditions this week – no doubt.

I’ve never been on this part of the Coosa River before but have been on Logan Martin and other lakes on the chain. I always like going to new places, so I was looking forward to this event.

On Monday, the first day of practice, the water was stable, although we had some rain and a few thunderstorms. The fishing was halfway decent, and I had a relatively good day of fishing.

The second day of practice was fraught with severe thunderstorms all day long. We had torrential downpours; I bet at least half a foot of rain fell. The lake just started to rise and rise. The way this lake funnels, the upper end is very high, up near Gadsden. It has come up several feet, and the more upriver you go, the higher it is. But the lower end is actually low right now. They’re letting the water out quickly, so it’s creating a lot of current. There’s a three to four mile per hour current right now. The main river is complete mud. The conditions are what I would call “crazy.”

I don’t know much about this lake but understand that 8 to 9 pounds a day is a respectable day and 13 to 14 pounds is very strong. From what I have seen in three days of practice, those weights sound about right on pace.

The thing about it is, you get back in these dead-end creeks that don’t have water running into them, and the water is cleaner. So finding a working pattern back in that cleaner water is going to be key this week.

For the most part, the fish have spawned, but there is a shad spawn going on that is working. The water temperatures are in the low-70s, which is perfect for the shad spawn.

I don’t think it will take a lot of weight or many bites to win this tournament. It will take a mindset that fishing will be challenging, but it will be tough on everybody.

One good thing about this lake is that there is a fair amount of 3- to 5-pound largemouth, even some bigger than that. One good bite can make your whole day here.

I only had two bites on Wednesday, but conditions were changing by the hour, so making bait and location adjustments will be critical. Water will be falling, clearing in some places and getting dirtier in others. You just have to roll with it.

This event will be just like Pickwick Lake all over again with high water conditions and current. Fishing instincts kick in at a tournament like this, and you have to rely on them. I’ve got every shallow water lure you can think of — spinnerbaits, jigs, ChatterBaits — tied on as this tournament will be won in 5 feet or less.

I’m looking forward to getting started, and it will be an interesting one for you all to watch. Fishing events like this is why we do what we do for a living.

Y’all stay tuned.