May Options For Weiss Bass

Ed Gettys just won a BFL on Weiss; now he shares his May plan for catching largemouth and spots.

Don Baldwin | May 1, 2007

Fishing grass at Lake Weiss in May is one way that tournament pro Ed Gettys puts fish in the boat. Ed fishes the shoreline grass early in the day. A spinnerbait works, but he prefers swimming a jig near the surface.

Spring fishing on Lake Weiss generally brings to mind slow trolling for huge slab crappie. Anglers from all over the country have long come to this impoundment of the Coosa River to experience a haven for the “papermouth.” For all of its crappie fame, this shallow reservoir along the Georgia/Alabama border is often overlooked when it comes to other species. The lake has a fine population of largemouth and spotted bass and can produce excellent sacks of bass in the spring on both sides of the spawn.

I had the pleasure of fishing Weiss with tournament angler Ed Gettys of Stevenson, Ala. on April 13 and saw first hand how he approaches the lake from a tournament point of view. Ed has had a great deal of success over the years on several Alabama lakes including a BASS Invitational victory on Guntersville a few years back and a win in March 2007 in a BFL event on Weiss. Add to this several Federation and Everstart wins over the years, and his solid credentials speak for themselves.

Ed Gettys holds a good largemouth that slammed a spinnerbait in some shallow grass.

We launched Ed’s Stratos at the Weiss Mart Marina at 6:30 a.m., turned under the Hwy 9 bridge and headed downstream.

Like most good tournament anglers, Ed had a well thought-out plan for the day. He had won the BFL tournament just three weeks before, but the weather had changed radically since that time. He couldn’t be sure that the fish would still be in the same areas.

We pulled up on a flat near the confluence of the Little and Chattooga rivers, and Ed dropped the trolling motor over the side.

“I like to try flats like these early in the morning during April and May,” said Ed. “Usually the spotted bass will come up on these flats to feed before the sun gets too high, and you can have some great surface action.”

The flat was only about 4 to 5 feet deep and had a hard bottom with patches of gravel. Ed began working the surface with a Zara Spook and recommended that I burn a 1/2-oz. Rat-L-Trap over the bottom. Ed told me that most surface lures like the Spook, Sammy, or even chuggers and poppers like the Pop-R work well when the fish are feeding on these flats. The Rat-L-Trap will often produce when the fish are reluctant to come to the surface.

However, on our trip both the air and water surface temperature had dropped significantly since Ed’s last visit. The air temperature was in the low 30s, and the surface temperature was 57 degrees. As a result, the fish didn’t cooperate and we worked the flat for about a half hour without any action. Ed’s next location was in a cut off the main lake in the Yellow Creek area.

“The shoreline grass is a great area for early morning action in May,” said Ed. “The fish, particularly largemouths, get in the grass in the spring and can be in as little as 1 foot of water.”

When we were on the lake the grass was still thin, but Ed felt there was enough to hold a few fish. He said that during May, when the grass thickens, the action in these areas really heats up. While a spinnerbait in the grass is an obvious choice, Ed has another method that he uses on several lakes.

“I like to swim a jig right over the top of the grass,” said Ed.

The weedless jig moves easily through the grass and often draws savage strikes from aggressive largemouth. Ed fishes a 1/4- to 3/8-oz. jig with a Paca Craw trailer on 50-lb. test braided line. He likes the braided because it has no stretch, allowing him to keep the jig high in the water and make solid hooksets when a fish hits. He casts the jig deep into the grass, right next to the shoreline and immediately begins a retrieve, keeping the rod tip high so that the jig stays on or near the surface. He enhances the action with small jerks of the rod tip while cranking the jig back to the boat.

We worked several areas of grass before we got our first strike. Ed landed a small largemouth on the jig, and I followed him a few minutes later with a largemouth of my own that inhaled a 1/2-oz. spinnerbait with a willowleaf-Colorado-blade combination. We caught a few more keepers in the sparse grass but then moved on to the next pattern in Ed’s plan for the day. He felt that with the colder temperatures it was a little early for the hot grass action he expects to see in May.

Since it was still early in the day, Ed wanted to try another area that had worked well for him during the tournament. It was an extremely shallow, stump-laden flat about halfway up Little River, on the left side. While the fish may not still be in the area through May, this location had been holding a lot of largemouths, and Ed thought we might be able to pick up a couple of good fish. The flat was dangerously shallow, less than 2 feet deep in most places and literally covered with stumps hidden just below the surface. Ed’s plan was to sight fish the area, making casts to stumps, but the water was so dingy that the stumps were barely visible. We had to look hard to see any at all. We began casting the area with Texas-rigged lizards in a green-pumpkin color, rigged with a 1/4-oz. weight.

Ed also likes to fish Texas-rigged lizards in shallow stump fields. This stump-field largemouth bit while Ed fished with the author.

Within a few minutes we boated a nice largemouth, and over the next hour or so we landed several keepers, including a 4 1/2-lb. chunk.

With a good bag of fish already in hand, Ed suggested we try for some of the big spotted bass Weiss has to offer. While 1- to 2-lb. spots are most common, there are plenty of 4-pound-plus spots in the lake.

Ed headed to an area on the main lake just north of Hog Island. We were within site of JR’s Marina and near the mouth of Little River. Ed described the area as perfect for big spotted bass.

“This flat varies from about 5 to 10 feet in depth and has a hard bottom with spots of gravel,” said Ed. “I expect that we will find the fish over the gravel bed areas.”

Ed began working the area with a Fat Free Shad crankbait in a Gray Shad color scheme, and he set me up with a Carolina-rigged lizard. The rig had a 3/4-oz. weight, bead and barrel swivel and was terminated by a leader of about 3 feet with a 3/0 hook and a green-pumpkin Zoom lizard.

Ed worked the crankbait pretty fast causing it to dig and bounce along the bottom, and I worked the Carolina rig with a steady pull retrieve. It didn’t take long to connect. Ed struck first and led a fat spot back to the boat. When he got it alongside we could see several other fish darting around it, including one that looked to be five pounds or larger.

Moving along the shelf, we kept the boat in 8 to 10 feet of water and made casts up onto the shallower portion of the flat. The bass appeared to be concentrated over the areas of gravel because each time we felt the hard gravel bottom we were rewarded with action.

Ed says that bars like the one we fished will hold fish through the month of May and can be counted on to produce some pretty good spots.

Main-lake points and humps are also excellent locations to try for spots, according to Ed, particularly those that have hard bottoms and rapid drops to deeper water. We didn’t try any of those locations on our trip because we had plenty of action on the flat, but Ed says that through May and June the deep points and humps should really be productive.

Deep is a relative term, especially on Weiss. This lake is very shallow in general and dangerously so in many locations. There are large expanses of water that are less than 2 feet deep, and many of those areas are thick with stumps. There is so much structure lying just beneath the surface that it is impossible to mark it well, so you just have to be careful. Go flying across those flats on full plane and you are likely to get a big surprise accompanied by a hefty repair bill for your outboard.

And worse, you may hurt yourself or a fishing partner. Pay close attention to channel markers, get a good map, and proceed with caution. You’ll be glad you did.

Ed describes Weiss as a lake with plenty of options for bass anglers in the spring and early summer. While he loves swimming the jig in the grass and cranking the deep points, there are several other locations and methods that will also produce.

Flipping docks with a jig or other “critter baits” as Ed calls them is a favorite on Weiss as is Carolina rigging the river-channel edges with a worm or lizard. But whichever method you choose, Weiss is a great lake for spring bass action. It doesn’t get nearly as much bass-fishing pressure as some of its cousins, like Guntersville and Logan Martin, but it has a healthy population of bass and can produce some pretty good bags of fish.

Ed and I estimated our best five fish to weigh about 18 pounds, which we felt was pretty good considering the weather conditions were less than ideal. Eighteen pounds is a good bag of fish no matter where you are.

Take Ed’s advice, and hit the lake with a game plan. There is a great deal of fishable water on Weiss, so much so that it can be confusing at times. We did all of our fishing along a couple of miles of the lake, most of it within site of the mouth of Little River. And in that relatively confined space we fish several different methods producing fish on all of them.

While the action is hot, go out and try some of Ed’s techniques on Weiss. It is a great bass lake and, like Ed said, there are plenty of options for fishing it.

Ed swings in a fat spotted bass that hit a Carolina-rigged lizard over a gravel flat near Hog Island.

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