LAKE OCONEE — Over a year ago, a new fishing lure and technique hit the fishing tackle market and since that time the lure or should I say rig has received mixed reactions from anglers and state law enforcement agencies. I bought into the hype because I am a sucker for new lures and techniques.
The rig I am referring to is the Alabama rig or any of its imitations that have sprung up in the fishing lure market since the original Alabama rig hit the fishing scene. A similar rig called the umbrella rig has been around for many years and has been used in both saltwater and freshwater. The heavy umbrella rig was too heavy for casting. It contains several artificial baits arranged under a wire loop that looks much like an umbrella.
The rig was built mostly for trolling and is one of the primary lures used for trolling Lake Oconee for striped and hybrid bass. When trolled, the rig mimics a small school of fleeing shad and has been used very successfully by a number of fishing guides and anglers on Lake Oconee.
An angler over in Alabama fine tuned the heavy umbrella rig and downsized the rig so that it could be cast and then retrieved. That angler named his new innovation the Alabama rig and now some anglers are swearing by the lure’s effectiveness and using it to make huge catches of largemouth bass and other species like hybrid, striped and white bass.
There are some downsides to this type of rig that I will mention. When an angler gets the entire rig assembled he/she could be looking at around $25 just for the assembled rig. Furthermore, you do not throw this heavy lure on just any rod and reel and that may cost you some additional money for a long heavy action rod and a reel capable of handling some heavy line and wear and tear.
Most users will spool their reels with expensive braided line so that if a hang up occurs, you can hopefully retrieve your $25 investment and not leave it clinging to a stump in twenty foot of water. Once you’ve decided to invest a good deal of your money in the rig and the equipment necessary to handle the rig, you then have to determine if your body can withstand the rigors of casting the rig.
As I admitted earlier, I invested the money in everything necessary to utilize the rig but I have found the rig to cause a serious wear and tear on body parts like arms, elbows, wrists, back and neck. Angler visits to orthopedic clinics have risen since the rig was introduced. I can cast the rig for about one hour steady before pain sets in and I have to take a break.
But do not cast this rig for an hour and then pick up a wimpy rod and reel and attempt a cast. To do so without careful thought and planning will insure you get a very serious backlash. There is a big difference between casting a lightweight Texas rigged worm on light tackle and a one-pound grenade on heavy tackle.
Fortunately, you can buy smaller versions of the Alabama type rig now and they come with the ability to rig from two to five lures. Some of the downsizing is due to certain states now regulating how many lures can be cast on a rig at one time. Some states have restricted the casting of multiple lures (like the Alabama rig) altogether and other states have restricted the number of lures/hooks that can be used on a rig.
Many tournament organizations have rules against anglers using the rig. I see nothing in the new Georgia fishing regulations that would restrict using a rig like the Alabama rig or restricting the number of lures attached to the rig. Fortunately, the cost of the original Alabama rig has dropped and there are now many lower cost imitations/versions of that original Alabama rig available. At one time the original Alabama rig was selling for over $100 on EBAY.
The original Alabama rig was designed to handle five lures and those lures could be soft plastic baits, crankbaits or jigheads rigged with Zoom flukes. In fact, you can attach any lure that you would normally tie to your fishing line and you can do so in multiples up to five.
The rig definitely will catch fish but be prepared for the rig to completely wear you out if you attempt to use it an entire day. I am speaking as a mature (older) adult so maybe the younger generation can better handle the rigors associated with casting the rig. Locally anglers are reporting catches of over 100 bass a day. When cast and retrieved, the rig looks to a largemouth bass like a school of baitfish swimming by and often multiple bass can be caught on a single cast.
There are some tricks to using the rig and I will try to cover those tricks or bits of advice in a later column. If you are a rig user or maybe considering becoming a rig user, one trick involves using Super Glue so go ahead and stock up on a few tubes. Good fishing and see you next week.
Lake Conditions – Clear to lightly stained in the lower end of the main lake with some heavier stain and even muddy water up the rivers.
Lake Water Temperature – 50-53 degrees.
Largemouth Bass – FAIR/GOOD – The passing cold fronts have the fish holding tight to cover and then the passing warm fronts shift has the fish more active. Some fish can be found in relatively shallow water in some coves around docks and other fish can be found offshore in deeper water around ledges and humps. In the coves the fish are located around docks and woody structure and the best lures are small crankbaits (Shad Rap), jigs and plastic worms/ lizards. The fish located in deep water can be caught using Carolina rigs, drop shot rigs and jigging spoons. The passing weather fronts are playing havoc with anglers trying to pattern the fish bite from day to day.
Crappie – GOOD – Best bet is trolling jigs and minnows in the larger coves and creeks or using drop-shot rigged with minnows when crappie are deep and on the lake bottom. Some areas above the I-20 bridge have been good lately.
Striped/Hybrid Bass/White – FAIR/GOOD – Hybrids are located on points, humps and ledges from the big bend area to the south end of the lake and especially in the area from the river bend to the mouth of Richland Creek and those fish are being caught on spoons, umbrella rigs and live bait.
Catfish – NO REPORT.
Bobby Peoples can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.