Shortly after daybreak, Hoot Gibson maneuvered his boat near a ledge on the Tombigbee River, quickly eased the trolling motor over the side and effortlessly pitched a worm up onto the shallow ledge.

Seconds later, the veteran angler snapped his rod to the side and drove the hook deep into the jaw of a largemouth bass.

"Now that's what I'm talking about!" he exclaimed.

After a quick catch and release, Gibson made another pinpoint cast, and doubled up on another bass. By the looks of things, it was going to be a good day as the former Bassmasters Classic qualifier had put us on fish at the first stop.

In no time at all, the gifted angler showed that he still has what it takes to find and catch bass during any conditions.

As Gibson slammed the hook home on another Aliceville bass, shad exploded out of the water near a grass patch, and a hungry bass made quick work of an early morning meal. Though Gibson was busy catching fish, he also detected activity along the grass line. A combination of tea leaves, coontail moss and other emergent vegetation were holding shad, and several good bass were striking the surface.

"We're going to try to catch a good fish along the grass line," Gibson said. "I usually catch good bass on a frog or buzz bait in the fall."

Moving toward the point of the grass line, the talented angler set the hook on yet another bass, thanks to one of his new 10-inch monster worm creations. Gibson, owner of Strip-Teaser Lures in Philadelphia, is a believer in using large worms, and routinely feeds the bass worms 10 to 15 inches long.

As we fished the edge of the grass line, Gibson pulled out one of his favorite Scum Frogs, and worked it through a good-looking salad patch. Taking a bit of advice from the master, I quickly followed up with a black Scum Frog of my own.

On my first cast, I was working the frog back in a rhythmic retrieve when a large bass exploded on the toad and caught me unawares. As I set the hook, the bass burrowed deep in the vegetation, and quickly spit out my seductive offering.

"Now, that's what we're looking for," said Gibson. "If you want to catch a lunker early, then a frog is one of the best things to use, even though a lot of people don't like to fish them because of the catch ratio. But if you just catch half of what hits a frog, then you're ahead of the game."

As we continued to work the grass, I had a few more short strikes where the bass hit right behind the frog. Working back toward the open-water ledge, Gibson pulled out his long worm again, and I made one last cast over the tempting salad patch. As I worked the frog across the top of the greenery, another lunker bass exploded out of the grass, and ate it.

This time I was ready and drove the steel deep into the bass, before wearing him down and landing him.

"During a typical fall day, I'll start out early fishing pads, coontail moss or tea leaves with a white frog or buzz bait," said Gibson. "I'll also use a Zara Spook or ½-ounce Pop-R along the edges of the grass lines, and around any wood cover and even over the ledges. I'll stay on top until 8:30 or 9:00 until the sun pops out over the trees, and then it's plastic time."

From midmorning on up until afternoon, Gibson will stick with crankbaits and monster worms.

"I like to fish a 10- or 11-inch junebug or tequila sunrise worm about 70 percent of the time in the fall," he said. "I'll also fish an 8-inch lizard this time of year. Some people think lizards are only good in the spring, but they're really deadly in the fall also."

Try a few of Gibson's favorite fishing spots, and then find similar locations of your own. There are hundreds of ledges and cuts that hold bass on Aliceville Lake in the fall.

 

No. 1: N33 14.881 x W88 17.974 - Leave the landing, turn left, head north upriver and turn into the second cut on the right, which is the old channel. When you see the grain elevators just ahead on the left side of the river, you'll know you're in the right spot.

"We'll work the edge of this old river channel with crankbaits until we find them. Then I'll switch to a worm and work them over real good," Gibson said. "Right now, the wind is blowing shad and baitfish onto this shallow flat, and the bass should be feeding on them. We've just got to locate where they're holding."

A few minutes later, Gibson did just that, and set the hook on another hungry bass. After catching and releasing that fish, Gibson quickly hooked up with another one just as I cast right to the same spot. In mere seconds, we had our first double of the day. The bass were holding along a stretch of 2- to 5-foot water, following the shad along the surface and attacking them with a vengeance.

 

No. 2: N33 15.191 x W88 17.695 - Leaving No. 1, continue up the old river run in an easterly direction until you get just past the first cut on the left. Fish on the right side of the river, where there's a slight dip in the bank bowing out to the right.

"Fish the ledge that runs parallel to the bank, and work it back and forth with a Carolina- or Texas-rigged worm," said Gibson.

Before I could put my writing pad down, the ol' master had set the hook on his first cast. Seconds later, I made a pinpoint cast with a junebug-colored Zoom trick worm, and caught one right on the ledge on the edge of a grass line, right where he told me to throw.

The ledge is about 3 feet on top, and will hold a few bass almost anytime during the fall.

 

No. 3: N33 15.833 x W88 17.687 -Leaving No. 2, continue upriver in a northerly direction, and go just past the opening of the next lake on the right. Stop at the prominent point that juts out on the north side of the entrance to the lake.

"There's a submerged point that runs out into the lake a ways, and its 3 to 4 feet on top and falls off to 14 feet on the backside," Gibson said. "Start off fishing the edge of the point, and work your way deeper. There's also a submerged hump about 30 to 40 feet off the point that has old roots and structure that also holds bass at times."

Anglers should fish the ledges with crankbaits and worms thoroughly before moving on. There is also a lot of vegetation along the edge of the point, and bass sometimes hold along the grass line as well. In fact, I missed a bass right along the tip of the grass line.

 

No. 4: N33 15.784 x W88 18.404 - Leaving No. 3, head back south to the main river, and turn back north just past No. 1. Continue upriver past the grain elevator on the left, and stop at the second cut on the right side.

"Fish will school up along the edge or right up on top of this ledge when there's baitfish and current," said Gibson.

Suddenly a school of nice bass surfaced and slashed through a school of shad attacking with a fury. Gibson pulled out a Norman DD 22 crankbait, and quickly went to work combing the ledge.

"There's a pile of brush along the edge of the ledge near the middle portion that the bass hold on," he said.

And sure enough, he quickly caught a bass once he found the sweet spot.

"Cast right out there, and see what you can find," said Gibson.

I followed his lead, and quickly hooked up with a nice bass on my Norman Deep Little N also.

"That's all you need to do on these ledges - just work them back and forth until you find the sweet spot, and then work it over real good," he said.

 

No. 5: N33 15.877 x W88 18.505 - Leave No. 4, and head across the river to the mouth of Pumpkin Creek. Here you'll find a large house right on the point to the left. Fish the river mouth, and work north toward the green buoy until you find the submerged hump and ledge.

"The fish will hold along the ledge and feed on easy meals that get swept by," said Gibson. "The hump is about 8 feet deep on top and falls off to about 24 feet on the river side. When there's current flowing over the ledge, the bass will usually gang up and feed pretty heavy."

Work this ledge until you find the bass with crankbaits and Carolina rigs.

 

No. 6: N33 16.455 x W88 18.354 - Leaving No. 5, travel upriver to the next cut on the right.

"The key on any of these points or ledges is current and shad," Gibson said. "If you have current and shad, you'll usually catch bass during the fall. And if the fish are active, depending upon the weather, you may catch bass on almost every cut or creek mouth along the river."

The angler continued to work the ledge with a Carolina rig, and quickly hooked up with yet another bass. Finding the sweet spot on each ledge is always the key, and there is usually one area on each ledge that holds bass day in and day out.

 

No. 7: N33 20.027 x W88 21.755 - Leaving No. 6, continue upriver 5.3 miles on your right, and stop at another cut on the right. Fish the north point, and the ledge out a ways.

"There's 8 feet of water on top, and it drops off to about 22 feet off the deep side," said Gibson. "I'll fish Carolina-rigged junebug-colored worms, and big curl-tail worms along almost any ledge when I'm looking for a big bite.

"You'll still catch a few smaller bass all along, but if you have the large worms then you're more apt to catch a lunker."

I decided to try one of Gibson's large worms, and rigged it on a shaky head. Sure enough, I quickly caught another keeper-sized bass.

 

No. 8: N33 19.350 x W88 20.413 - Leaving No. 7, head south back downriver 1.5 miles until you get to the last cut on the left before you see the Nashville Ferry Landing. If you're coming from the south, this creek mouth is about 1/8 mile to the north of the landing on the east side.

"When the water is pouring through those ditches, I'll work them thoroughly and then concentrate on the creek mouth also," said Gibson.

Carolina-rigged worms and crankbaits are productive in this area as well, according to Gibson.

 

No. 9: N33 19.277 x W88 20.076 - Leaving No. 8, continue 1/8 mile on the right, and fish the mouth of James Creek directly across from the Nashville Ferry Landing.

"Fish the cut and mouth of the James just like we have the other areas this time of year," Gibson said. "It's no secret: Just fish the cuts, and you're bound to hit one that's got a school of bass on it."

I can attest to the accuracy of his statement as we caught bass off of almost every spot we fished, and we fished way more than 10 locations on this day.

 

No. 10: N33 18.692 x W88 18.968 - Continue downriver 1.2 miles until you get to the mouth of another river cut on the right.

"Work the ledge, and fish the mouth of the old river run until you find the fish," said Gibson.

It didn't take long before we were getting bit again, true to Gibson's word. After hitting this spot, we traveled south toward the landing, and made one last stop about 1/8 of a mile from No. 5 on the west side of the river just north of an island. In fact, No. 5 is within sight of this location.

Here you'll find a ledge that runs from the island way out to the channel marker buoy.

Several bass came up slamming shad and feeding heavily on this ledge as well. Though it was mid afternoon when we arrived at this stop, bass were feeding and striking shad.

Gibson pulled out his Carolina rig and crankbait once again, and worked the area thoroughly, enticing more strikes from hungry bass. In addition to a well-defined ledge, there is also structure on this spot that will hold quality bass on occasion.

On one of our last stops of the day, we saw our first barge passing by, and the current really started flowing out of the mouth of a river cut. The master angler quickly worked his way across the creek mouth, and caught a bass right off of the sandbar where the current was pulling shad over the shallow shelf. Two more casts drew two more fish.

"There's a slight drop right off of that sandbar, and the shad are being pulled right over it, making easy pickings for the bass," Gibson said. "I knew there would be bass somewhere along the ledge, and we finally found them."

After deferring to this gentleman angler, I pitched into his hotspot with my shaky head, and promptly got in on the fun with yet another bass. A couple casts later, I caught another one.

Though the fish were still biting, it was time to call it a day, and what a day it had been.

"On weekends, two anglers would do good to catch 15 or 20 a day on this lake, but we've caught probably 25, and we haven't even worked them hard today," Gibson said.

Yes, we had only stayed on each spot long enough to catch five or six bass, and we were on the move again. There's no telling how many we would have caught if we'd have stayed with a couple of the large schools of bass that Gibson had located.

 

For more information, contact Hoot Gibson at 601-575-0246.