Editor’s note: this is part 1 of a 3-part series on fishing tips and advice from professional angler Jeff Holland. Parts 2 and 3 will be posted later this week.
Jeff Holland splits his days as both an aquatic biologist and tournament angler who fishes the Bassmaster Southern Opens. He spent a spring day fishing on Lay Lake after a spawn and a late season cold snap and offers the following advice to those hitting the water.
QUESTION: How do you develop a strategy for fishing a new lake?
ANSWER: The first thing you want to do is look at the seasonal pattern and the water temperature. If you’ve never fished a lake before, you must get an idea of what the fish are doing.
Get a good map of the lake, find the shallow areas that drop to the deep and start there. As the water warms, you are going to go back into the shallow pockets. As the water cools, you are going to pull out a little deeper. Your search baits are going to be topwater, spinner, maybe some jerkbait and vibrating jigs.
On the Coosa River, knowing the flow, generation schedule and how much current is moving is important. There’s a cool app out there, Alabama Power Company’s Smart Lakes. It shows you the generation schedule, how much the water is flowing even before you get on the water. Also, there’s a nice map of where the boat ramps are so you can get out there and catch some fish. There is also a feature that shows where fish habitat has been installed.
QUESTION: How does fishing pressure affect a lake and your strategy?
ANSWER: A lot of time you are only going to get a few bites when there is a lot of fishing pressure, when fish have seen a lot of lures. If you are finding you are not getting a lot of bites, the thing to do is maybe drop it down to a subtle bait. A lot of times that will get you those extra bites.
Also, watch what other anglers are doing and do the opposite. There may be less fish in other areas, but they haven’t seen all the lures. I find I can catch a lot of fish by just going down a different bank or some places all the other anglers are missing. You must slow down, change the way you think, use smaller baits and just finesse it.
For more information about fishing and aquatic plant management, visit apcshorelines.com or download Alabama Power’s Smart Lakes app on your smartphone. Alabama Power manages 11 reservoirs, 14 hydroelectric dams, 3,500 miles of shoreline and nearly 120,000 acres of land on the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Black Warrior rivers.