SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. — If Alabama pro Clent Davis was in charge of scheduling, the Bassmaster Elite Series would host a tournament on Lay Lake at the end of June. Fortunately, the college anglers competing at the 2021 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card Tournament presented by Bass Pro Shops June 23-24 will take on Lay Lake at one of the best times of the year.
The Coosa River reservoir, located just south of Birmingham, has hosted several Bassmaster Classics and most recently was the site of the 2020 Carhartt Bassmaster College Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops won by McKendree University angler Trevor McKinney in November.
Lay Lake features both spotted bass and largemouth bass, and Davis says either species can win tournaments during the early summer months.
“Tournaments can be won off five spots or five largemouth,” Davis said. “There are a lot of good quality fish. You can do everything.”
Anglers will have a variety of ways to catch fish, whether it is fishing current behind the Logan Martin Dam, bank grass or ledges. Davis said anglers can catch quality fish any time of the year fishing the bank grass with swim jigs and frogs, while brushpiles have become a prominent feature in the lake.
“You can win a tournament on Lay Lake 365 days a year fishing bank grass,” Davis said. “Brush is huge on Lay nowadays, more than ever before. Everybody started planting brush everywhere. It has turned into a mini Lake Eufaula. It has great ledge fishing, especially around the Beeswax Creek area.”
Around the offshore structure, crankbaits and worms tend to be the most productive baits.
Single-day tournaments are often won with 20-plus-pound bags, but the quality of bags will be determined by how much water moves through the system during the event.
“There’s water running pretty much all year, generating electricity. If there is a lot of current, it could take 36 to 38 pounds to win,” Davis said. “That whole lake revolves around water generation, and if there isn’t water being generated, it can take 14 pounds a day. It is that big of a difference.”
Teams will take off from Beeswax Creek Park in Columbiana at 5:30 a.m. CT and return for weigh-in starting at 1:30 p.m. This will be the final chance for college anglers to qualify for the 2021 Bassmaster College Series National Championship that will be held August 12-14 on New York’s St. Lawrence River.
The tournament is being hosted by DiscoverShelby.com.