An Alabama Rig will play a big role in loading the boat this month
The water is starting to cool off as December arrives, and the Alabama Rig seems to produce more bass in cooler water. Bass will be feeding heavily to prepare for the colder temperatures of January and February, and they may be suspended over deep water.
Where to fish it?
The Alabama Rig is made of five different wires coming off a jighead that looks like a baitfish, on a device resembling an umbrella without its covering. The angler can attach a lure to each wire. Most often, I’ll attach five swimbaits, but I’ll also have an Alabama Rig ready to fish with a grub on each wire. The swimbaits and the grubs resemble a school of bait fish.
I like either a ¼-or 3/8-ounce head on my gray back/pearl sided swimbaits, depending on how deep I’ll be fishing. The weight of the wires and the lures may be a total of 3 to 5 ounces. That’s why I use a heavy action-plus, 7-foot-10 FX custom rod, a 7:1 Bruin reel and 50-pound bass braid. Because the rod has a moderate-action tip, when you cast the Alabama Rig, the lure will go a long ways before it falls.
I’ll begin fishing on the lower end of Pickwick around the dam, the lock and the barge tie-ups, and especially the ends and the sides of the lock walls. I’ll use my Garmin Panoptix Livescope to spot bass that may be suspended. The lock wall goes all the way from the surface to the bottom. If bass are holding 30 feet deep, I’ll cast, count it down to 10 and slow retrieve the rig. When bass are concentrating at 15 feet deep, I’ll count to 5 and start slow reeling. My definition of a slow retrieve is somewhere between a very slow to a normal retrieve.
I like to fish the Alabama Rig in December because it produces some very exciting fishing, since you may catch five and perhaps six species: largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and white bass, stripers and an occasional catfish. You also may catch two to three fish on the same rig at one time around the lock and dam. I’ve never caught five at one time, but I’ve caught four at one time. I recommend you use a dip net to get the fish in the boat and be very careful when unhooking them.
Rig the riprap
Next, I’ll slow-roll the Alabama Rig and fish the dam’s riprap, starting where the riprap ends on the bottom and moving to where the mud or the clay bottom begins: perhaps 15 to 20 feet deep. The bass may school where the rocks make a small underwater point or a big rock stands out from the other rocks on the riprap on the bottom.
Fish bluff banks
I’ll fish several hours in the morning around the dam and the riprap with the Alabama Rig. Later on, I’ll fish about 50 to 75 yards above the ends of the bluffs, slow-rolling an Alabama Rig around the bluffs and their ends and about 50 yards up in the creeks where the bluffs end.
Once the bite slows down, I’ll fish a black back/chrome side jerkbait tied on a 6-foot-9, medium-fast tip FX custom rod with an 8:1 Bruin reel and 9-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon. I’ll jerk the bait down and let it sit still for a 3 to 4 count. When I get the bait past the end of a bluff or the mouth of the creek, I’ll reel the jerkbait in to where I’m fishing, but probably not all the way back to the boat.
I’ll also have a drop-shot tied on a 7-foot-4, medium-action FX custom spinning rod with a spinning reel and 15-pound bass braid and a 10- to 12-foot section of 9-pound fluorocarbon leader. I’ll use a 1/4-ounce drop-shot weight on the end of my line and hook a watermelon red Mann’s Jelly Bug 10 inches above that. I’ll fish the drop shot from 5 to 20 feet deep on the ends of the bluffs.
In a day of fishing at Pickwick in December, I expect to catch 20 to 30 bass, but if you prefer to just reel in fish, you may catch 50 to 60 white bass and stripers and throw them back.
December on Pickwick is exciting and fun fishing.