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Classic Competitors: Leave your Sissy Sticks at Home

Mark Zona says the Coosa Spot is the small kid that can beat bigger kids up.

In Part 1 of this series, we covered how the “Alabama Spot” is not really a Spotted Bass at all.  In Part 2 we are covering the challenges of targeting this species on Lay Lake in February.

The final countdown is on for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake and the pre-tournament hype has kicked in to high gear.  Amateur and professional pundits alike are laying out their analysis and predictions about what techniques we can expect to see from the Classic Competitors.  I am reading many reports about how Spotted Bass ( a species we now know to be a unique species called the Alabama Bass ) will factor into the tournament.  Many are saying that some fish will be caught on traditional Spotted Bass techniques such as the shakey head and drop shot.

Those pundits could not be more wrong.

I will make a bold prediction here.  On the last day of the Classic, those in the “Super 6” will have caught every single fish using power techniques.  Not a single fish from these six will have been caught on a spinning rod.   For this tournament, anyone using a spinning reel sissy stick is fishing not to lose, which is the wrong way to approach The Bassmaster Classic.

The experts who are predicting finesse tactics will factor into this year’s Classic are dealing with their preconceptions of Spotted Bass fishing.  But fishing for pre-spawn Alabama Spots on the Coosa River while they are running current is an entirely different proposition than traditional Spotted Bass fishing.   It is a power fishing situation all the way.

For years fishermen have understood that the Coosa Spot was different.  Now genetic science has proved what fishermen have long suspected:  The Alabama Spot is a different animal.  Literally.  A four pound Coosa Spot is not uncommon, and I suspect five plus pounders will be weighed-in in this tournament.

What makes this fish so different is that they act so angry.  Allow me to present to you an analogy that might give you some insight into the magnum Coosa Spot’s psyche.

The Coosa Spot has pent up anger on the verge of lashing out.

Remember that the pre-spawn Coosa Spot is now full of eggs and her biological clock is telling her it is time to settle down.  She feels bloated, uncomfortable, and hormonal.  This year Mother Nature is messing with the thermostat and keeping her uncomfortably cold.  All this is making her very angry.  She is on the verge of lashing out.  The final straw will be when the Classic anglers drift their jigs down the current break and in front of her nose.  She will lash out in anger like Serena Williams after a questionable call, “you put that thing in my face again and I will rip its f*@#ing throat out”.

Mark Zona has a different analogy.  He says, “The Coosa Spot is the smaller badass on the block that can beat all the bigger kids up”.

The Coosa Spot bite is commonly described as a reaction strike, but to me it more closely resembles an anger strike.  It is not enough to eat the jig…they want to obliterate it from existence.  Ironically, this type of aggressive bite makes successfully hooking these fish extremely difficult.  I anticipate there will be some frustrated Classic anglers due to lost fish, regardless of skill level.

Mark Zona says, “The largemouth bite has a traditional ‘dunk’ and then he moves off with it and you can us the classic bass hookset.  With a Coosa Spot, by the time your brain generates ‘hey, that was a bite’—he has already straight lined you”.

Harold Allen experienced the angry jig bite while fishing 2003 Bassmaster Alabama Showdown on Lake Jordon, another Coosa impoundment.  He said the Coosa Spots were, “Bigger than any other spots I’ve ever seen.”  Mr. Allen started fishing a jig with a heavy 7’ rod.  After missing fish on the first day, he upgraded his tackle to even heavier line and rod, but continued to miss fish the next day.  He explains, “you never know why lose them, you can just speculate”.

Despite using correct technique, Harold Allen lost monster Coosa Spots.

Mr. Allen says, “Their jaws are so strong that they can hold a bait so that you can never get the hook started into them.”  To counter this many anglers like Gerald Swindle and Matt Herron have wicked powerful shake-the-boat hooksets.  But this style has disadvantages too.  The exaggerated powerful hookset can bust their mouths open and pull the lure right out.

When you do get the hook in them, if you are fortunate enough to get them out of cover, the Coosa Spot can still break your line.  Sometimes they take the jig so deep that their teeth rub against your line and fray it like a knife.  They are notorious for breaking any line lighter than rope.

Line will be frayed.  Nerves will be frayed.  “When you hook a Coosa Spot that you do not visually see, your brain transmits that that is a five pounder due to his initial surge of beating your ass”, says Mark Zona.  Experienced spot fishermen know in their heads that you cannot tell for sure what you have hooked until the fish is in the boat.  In their hearts they know that every one that gets away felt like a five pounder.

Every angler in this tournament will have a moment of exhilaration when they think they have hooked into a difference maker fish.  When that fish gets off, every angler will feel like Serena Williams punched them in the gut with her tennis racket.  The angler who wins this tournament will be the one mentally tough enough to stay focused and fish through the gut wrenching pain.

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  1. May 14, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I like this post. Thank you very much. I will follow your Blog.

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