Alabama rig will catch anything, and there’s plenty of fish to catch
I like to catch fish, lots of fish. I earn my living by catching bass, but anything that tugs on my line is fun to catch. The more tugs I get in a day, the more I enjoy myself.
That’s why Pickwick is my choice for Mississippi lakes in December. I can catch largemouths, smallmouths, spots, white bass, stripers, catfish and crappie using some of the same rigs.
During most of a December day at Pickwick, I’ll be fishing an Alabama rig. This umbrella-type, multi-bait rig will catch suspended fish, ledge fish and fish holding near the bottom. I can cover lots of water and catch numbers of fish.
I’ll tie two Alabama rigs on two rods. The first will have ¼-ounce jigheads with 4-inch, pearl-colored, soft-plastic swimbaits that imitate shad. I’ll tie this rig onto 50-pound bass braid and fish it with a 7.3:1 Bruin reel and a 7-foot-10, heavy plus-action FX Custom Rod.
The other rod will have tied on an Alabama Rig with 3/8-ounce jigheads featuring wide-gap hooks that can be rigged Texas-style. I’ll bring the hook out top of the swimbait so it lays on the back of the bait. I’ll skin-hook the point to make it weedless.
I’ll crawl the Alabama Rig on the bottom or through any type of cover. Remember, I’m basically a tournament bass angler, so I can cast and retrieve a vertical jig or use any type of fishing tactic except trolling. However, if you’re fun-fishing, and your arm gets tired from throwing the Alabama rig, slow-troll that rig, cover plenty of water and catch a lot of fish. The Alabama rig is probably the best trolling bait available.
Scope things out
I’ll start fishing at the dam and then fish around the lock, down the walls leading into the lock and the barge tie-ups. Another advantage I have that I didn’t have in the past is my Garmin LiveScope, which allows me to see how the fish are positioned, and at what depth they’re holding. If my boat’s in 30-foot deep water, and the fish are 20 feet deep, I can count the Alabama rig down and start reeling it to keep it in or just above the strike zone. If I’m attempting to catch bass in 15 to 20 feet of water, I’ll count the Alabama rig down to 10 as it falls, then I’ll start reeling it.
Other advantages my LiveScope gives me are that I can see my lure as it falls, and I can watch the fish take or follow the bait. That means I can keep my rig at the depth where the fish are holding. If the school of fish you’re targeting is made up of stripers, white bass or spotted bass, generally, those fish will attack the Alabama rig as soon as they see it.
My favorite jerkbait to fish in December will have a purple back with a little bit of chartreuse on its sides and an orange belly. I guess the reason I like this color so much is because it seems to appeal particularly to spotted bass and smallmouths. However, largemouths will bite it, too. I’ll fish this jerkbait on 10-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon with an 8:1 Bruin reel on a 7-foot, medium-action FX Custom Rod and concentrate on fishing on bluff banks, places where bluff banks fall into pockets and/or the mouths of creeks.
I’ll start fishing the jerkbait 75 yards above the point of a bluff bank, fish around the point a short ways and then fish the end of the point where that underwater bluff bank drops off into 25 or 30 feet of water. I’ll have two styles of jerkbaits tied on my rods — a regular jerkbait and a deep-diving jerkbait — and fish both of them. I’ll let the fish tell me which kind of jerkbait they prefer.
A Mann’s Little George is a lead tailspinner that I’ll fish on the same outfit I use for the jerkbait, except I’ll use 14-pound fluorocarbon. I’ll fish the Little George on bluff points, the ends of islands and main-lake points. When I cast the Little George, I’ll let it fall to the bottom. Generally, the bass will hit it on the fall. Once the bait hits the bottom, I’ll pull it slightly up off the bottom and slow-reel it close to the bottom. I won’t jerk it up high and let it fall back.
To enjoy a fun month of December fishing, try these tactics at Pickwick. You’ll have a bent rod and a screaming drag all day.
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