Lay Lake News Article

Winter Fishing on Lay Lake

Reed's Guide Service
Posted: 12/1/2005

Reed Montgomery

Lay Lake is the fourth of six lakes on the Coosa River System. It is not dropped for winter and will remain close to full pool year round. This creates a very weedy impoundment and Lay Lake has over 50 nautical miles of weed lined banks for anglers to explore. Impounded in 1914 this lake is now over 90 years old. Still, despite its age and constant fishing pressure, Lay Lake produces numbers of spotted bass and largemouth bass. Weekly bass tournaments show it is not unusual to see 5 bass weighing 20 pounds brought in. It is an excellent lake for winter bass fishing no matter what species of bass you target. There are numbers of places to explore this winter and many techniques for fooling these bass.

If you have ever visited the lakes headwaters its evident that the lake ends just below Logan Martin dam. Since Jay Yelas won the Bassmasters Classic on Lay Lake fishing just below the dam for 3 days, this upper lake region has become very popular for bass anglers. Even during winter it is a haven for spotted bass, largemouth bass and striped bass. There are many lures and techniques for fishing these lake headwaters when the temperature drops. Often, the current coming off the dam is swift and just drifting and casting various lures is all there is to catching bass. Even schooling fish are evident and topwater lures have fooled some of the biggest bass in these lake headwaters during winter. Drifting and bumping bottom with worms, lizards, tube baits, jig combos and even small finesse lures can be all there is to it.

Some anglers simply just bank fish these lake headwaters, slowly drifting in the boat with the current targeting slack water or eddy areas with spinnerbaits and shallow to deep diving crankbaits. Many other anglers use lures that can just be fan cast and cover the entire area fast, lures such as rattletraps, floating and suspending jerkbaits, inline spinners like rooster tails and tailspinners or jigging spoons are proven favorites. Although some anglers use small lures and lighter line, this is a matter of choice. Fishing heavy line on this lake is normal. Lightly stained water conditions show the bass will hit most lures fished on braided line or heavy monofilament line. Using line class of 14-20 pound test is a good choice, to rig on several rods

Heading downstream, from the lakes headwaters to the Wilsonville steam plant, located right next to Yellow Leaf Creek, is mostly a river type terrain. Fishing the main river anglers will discover many river bends, islands, flats, bridge pilings and creek mouths to explore. There are even some spring fed creeks that remain warmer during winter in this upper lake region. As you head downstream you will see several islands and notice the lake begins to widen and shows a more lake like appearance from here to Lake Lake dam.

From mid lake to the lower Lay Lake dam, anglers can choose to fish the main lake or explore the many feeder creeks that make up Lay Lake. During winter the key to finding bass is to find the baitfish. Feeder creeks are huge on the Lower Lake and an angler can explore creeks such as Spring Creek, Waxahatchee Creek or Paint Creek all day. Here, anglers have a choice of fishing standing timber, stumps, brush, lay down trees and plenty of piers and boat houses. Or like many Lay Lake regulars, just target the weeds.

Some of the aquatic weeds on Lay Lake can remain green and healthy throughout the winter months. Winter warming trends and days when these weeds are bathed in an all day sunshine keeps them green and rejuvenated. During the dead of winter some weeds die and turn brown, these weeds should be avoided, due to poor oxygen content and few bass and baitfish. The weeds that stay greenest the longest will harbor both prey and predator.

As with any lake containing loads of weeds, fishing with weedless lures is best to avoid frustration and hang-ups. This can include dozens of lure choices. Still, a few regulars must be mentioned. Anglers can flip or pitch lures right up in the thickest portions of the weeds, or employ a very popular tactic on Lay Lake, which is to swim a jig combo along the weed edges. These techniques work all winter in and around the many types of aquatic weeds found on Lay Lake. Another very weedless lure is the spinnerbait. Anglers can just stay on the trolling motor and cover water fast with these flashing vibrating lures. Experimenting with various weights and trailers on the jig combo and trying several types, colors and blade configurations on the spinnerbait, will show the days best lures for each situation. So keep in mind, a little experimenting is due on the anglers part on every outing to Lay Lake.

There are many other lures, some of which are normally thought of as spring, summer and fall lures, but they work in winter as well. Frog and rat imitations, buzzbaits, soft jerkbaits, weedless spoons, floating worms, floating lizards, crayfish imitations, shad imitations, creature lures and dozens of types of topwater lures, all take their share of big bass each winter on Lay Lake.

So be versatile, mix it up, try various lures, employ different techniques and styles of fishing on Lay Lake. Don't get stuck fishing the same old way, with the same old lure in the same old place, year after year...all the time. Although at times the bass do cooperate, you've got to be versatile to succeed in fooling these age old bass of Lay Lake. After over 90 years they have seen a lot of lures.

Need help on Lay Lake this winter? Always call on Reeds Guide Service (205) 787-5133...first! (Reed Montgomery owns Lay Lake's oldest professional guide service), with hundreds of satisfied and repeat customers. Reed also has dozens of major bass tournament wins and big bass victories to his credit, all throughout the past 25 plus years of professionally fishing major bass tournaments on Lay Lake.

Be safe this winter, always wear your life jacket and outboard motor kill switch. Bring a change of clothes (including spare gloves, hats, toboggan, coats, etc.) and always have fire starting material and a lighter on board, to start a fire in case of an emergency. There have been many anglers that fell in the water during past winter excursions...that wish they did!

Thanks and Good Fishing!

This report provided by:
Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
Producer / Host "Fishing Alabama" With Reed Montgomery Radio Show
"6 Years on the Radio  / Jan 2005"
Birmingham, Alabama
Call Reeds Guide Service...First! (205) 787-5133
"Over 40 Years Fishing Alabama for Bass and Stripers"

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