Why Fish the Alabama Rig with Swimbaits in the Warrior River Tailraces with Russell Jones
Editor’s Note: Russell Jones of Coker, Alabama, is a USCG Certified Guide on the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County, as part of the Alabama Guide Service. When fishing on the Black Warrior River, Tailrace fishing below Bankhead and Holt dams can be outstanding during certain times of the year because you can catch a wide variety of fish at night, as well as during the day. The success of tailrace fishing is dependent on how much current is being generated by the hydroelectric plants, the spillways and/or both. The amount of current and the color of the water in the tailraces will dictate how you should fish, and what lures you should use. You can contact Russell Jones at 205-454-7313; www.alabamaguideservices.com; and Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/AlabamaGuideService/.
The Alabama Rig holds five jig heads with a soft, plastic swimbait attached to each jig head. In Alabama, you can use all five jig heads on your Alabama Rig. However, in other states, you only may be able to use two or three jig heads. I’ll place 1/4-ounce shaky head jigs on each one of the five wires of the Alabama Rig. Some anglers prefer a lighter jig head, but I like the 1/4-ounce to get the rig down quicker to where I think the fish are holding, as well as keeping it off the bottom, by reeling fairly fast. I use either 3.5 NetBait Little Spanky swimbaits on the jig heads or True Bass Hollow Body swimbaits. The True Bass swimbaits are tougher than the Little Spanky ones and somewhat more expensive. When I’m fishing with the Little Spanky ones, I like the bright, pearl-colored bodies. When the river’s water is clear, I like the True Bass colors that resemble a shad better than the Little Spanky ones.
I fish the Alabama Rig on a flipping stick big frog rod that’s either 7’6” or a 7’11” long. I use 50-pound-test braided line. Some people prefer to use a monofilament line, but I’m more comfortable using braided line, like Berkley’s Power Pro braid. The secret to catching fish on the Alabama Rig in the tailrace is to reel it fast enough to keep it from getting hung in the bottom, yet slowly enough to get it down close to the bottom. The first time I start throwing it, I may get hung-up a couple of times, but I usually can pop my line and get the rig off of whatever it’s hung.
For instance, if I’m fishing a 20-foot bottom, I want the Alabama Rig to be between 15 – 20 feet deep, possibly 18 feet. If I’m fishing in 8-10 feet of water, I try to keep the Alabama Rig in 6-7 feet of water. The Alabama Rig also has blades on it that give the bait a lot of flash. Using this bait, I catch a wide variety of fish. I’ve caught 20-pound catfish, 15–20 pound stripers, hybrid striped bass – often two or three at a time – largemouth bass, spotted bass, drum and skipjacks (hickory shad). However, I’m really targeting spotted bass and have caught three spotted bass on one Alabama Rig before at the same time. The biggest was a 3-pounder, and the other two were 12-14 inches long. I’ve also caught two, 4-pound spotted bass on the same Alabama Rig at the same time.