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Daytime Bite Returns For Smith Lake Spots
Rex Chambers marks 10 locations for Smith bass in September.
By Ronnie Garrison
Originally published in the September 2017 issue of AON
Tournament angler and guide Rex Chambers with a Smith Lake spotted bass. The bass bite at Smith changes from mostly nighttime to more of a daytime bite as September progresses.
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For big Smith Lake spotted bass, nighttime is the right time during the first part of September, but this is also the beginning of the end for the summer doldrums for daytime fishing. As the days get shorter and the water cools, bass start schooling more, and anglers begin to catch them on ledges and points in the daytime.

Smith is a 21,200-acre lake an hour north of Birmingham that has more than 500 miles of mostly steep, rocky shoreline. Smith has a good population of largemouth, but it is becoming famous for big spotted bass. Since the introduction of blueback herring, the spots have grown fast, and there are many quality fish in Smith Lake.

Rex Chambers has lived near Cullman all his life. After a 25-year career with the Cullman Police Department—the last three years as a water patrolman on Smith—Rex retired and started guiding full-time. He guided part-time for more than 35 years. Rex also has fished tournaments on Smith for years. He won his first as a teenager and has fished many charity and pot tournaments on the lake over the years. Now he fishes many of the Tuesday night three-hour tournaments, the Alabama Bass Trail events and some BASS Opens.

“In the three-hour, three-fish limit Tuesday night tournaments, often with 100 people entered, it usually takes at least 9 to 10 pounds to win,” Rex said.

In five-fish tournaments, if you have less than 17 pounds, it usually will not get you a check. The lake is full of 3-lb. plus fish.

“Smith is a horse of a different color—you have to be able to do it all to be consistent,” Rex said.

In early September, the big fish are still deep on their summer holes, and they feed mostly at night. As the month progresses, bass start responding to changing conditions by feeding more during the day, chasing schools of baitfish on top and setting up in more shallow water. But they are still close to very deep water and hold deeper than most fishermen like to fish, even later in September. Early and late in the day are best for catching daytime September bass on Smith.

Rex relies on a variety of baits in September. For schooling fish and to draw them to the top, he will use a walking bait like a Spook, Sammy, Sexy Dawg or Gunfish. The Whopper Flopper will also draw some vicious strikes. Bass might also be caught on crankbaits like a Black Label Balsa in shad colors.

The staple bait is always a shaky head for numbers of fish, and it will catch quality bass, too. Rex likes a 1/4-oz. head rigged with a green-pumpkin worm. A Carolina rig with anything from a 4-inch lizard to a Baby Brush Hog rigged 3 feet above a 1/2-oz. sinker is good. A V&M jig with a Wild Craw trailer in greens or browns will usually catch bigger bass than the other two bottom baits.

Rex showed me the following 10 places to catch September bass. Daytime fishing will get better and better throughout September.

No. 1: N 34º 04.760 – W 86º 57.758 — If you put in at Smith Lake Park, all these places are close by, and the first one is right at the park. Going downstream from the ramp, there is a small cove just past the open field at the park on the left. A point runs out in the middle of it and has a big tree near the water. The point splits and runs out on both the left and right when you are facing the tree. These points drop fast into very deep water and have brushpiles on them.

Keep your boat out in 30-plus feet of water, and cast a shaky head or jig up to 8 or 9 feet of water. Work both with short hops between sliding them along the bottom. You will catch more fish on the shaky head. You will get fewer bites and bigger fish on the jig. Work both points from the ends, casting up on top of them. Work your baits out to at least 25 feet of water. When you hit brush, work it carefully with both baits. Watch your electronics for brush under the boat, and fish it even if it is 30 feet deep. This point and others are good both night and day. In early September, night fishing is best, followed by low-light conditions early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

No. 2: N 34º 04.282 – W 86º 57.970
— Across the lake, the Ryan Creek channel hits Goat Island and then runs along the upper side of it. The channel turns at the end, creating a long channel ledge. There is a sycamore tree on the point and a shelter up in the trees on the point. The channel is 50 feet deep just off the point.

Keep your boat out in deep water, and cast a topwater bait over the point from a couple of feet deep out to 25 feet deep. A walking bait will pull bass up from brush on the point and draw strikes from suspended fish. Then work a crankbait over the same area for fish that don’t want to come all the way to the top.

Probe the bottom with your jig, working from shallow to deep. Watch your line and feel your bait carefully, and let if fall straight down when it comes off the ledge where it drops into the channel. Work the jig from a few feet deep out to at least 25 feet deep.

No. 3: N 34º 04.059 – W 86º 57.511
— Back across the lake and a little downstream, Devil’s Den is a deep cut going back from the outside bend of the Ryan Creek channel on the left. On the downstream side of it is a rip-rap point with no house on it. The rip-rap drops down and then flattens out to a ledge that runs out to about 22 feet deep before dropping into 70 feet of water in the channel.

Stay out in 70 feet of water, and cast both a shaky head and a Carolina rig up to 10 feet deep. Work them back until they drop into the channel. There are rocks and brushpiles here to hold both daytime and nighttime fish. Probe the brush carefully when you hit it.

No. 4: N 34º 03.436 – W 86º 58.775
— Farther down this same bank, you will pass Nip-I-Diddy Slough, and then the bank turns into more of a bluff bank. Watch for a for-sale sign near the water on a tree, and start fishing there. A small point runs out to the channel that is not far from the bank.

Rex said there is all kinds of timber on the bottom here, and we could see the logs lying on the bottom on his Humminbird side-imaging unit. Along this bluff, the point forms a small ledge that holds a lot of bass. There are rocks and brush along it. Fish it both night and day with a shaky head and jig. Rex will also fish a big spinnerbait here and in other places at night, slow-rolling it close to the bottom just over the brush and other wood cover.

No. 5: N 34º 03.224 – W 86º 59.107
— A little farther down the bluff bank there is a small point where the bank turns a little and goes back into a small pocket. The channel runs along the outside of this point, forming a good ledge that is loaded with timber, rocks and some brushpiles.

Stay out on the end of the ledge, and throw up onto it shallow. Rex almost always fishes his baits from shallow to deep on these places. Work your shaky head, jig and Carolina rig along the bottom, bumping the cover out to at least 25 feet deep.

No. 6: N 34º 02.350 – W 86º 59.030 — Just downstream, Simpson Creek joins Ryan Creek, forming the “T” area. Going up Simpson Creek, a long narrow creek is on your right near the junction. The upstream point of this creek drops off fast and is good topwater spot all month long.

Keep your boat in 40 to 50 feet of water, and cast up to the bank, working your bait back to the boat. Rex caught a small spot here as we talked about this place. Although it was early for schooling fish, we did see a little activity on top during the morning. Fish all around the point from deep water with topwater.

No. 7: N 34º 02.176 – W 86º 59.137 — Going into the narrow creek, on your right is a small double cove. The bank on the point between the two coves has been cleared, and there are docks on either side of the point. The ditches coming out of the coves makes this point drop fast on both sides and the end drops off into very deep water.

There are rocks on this point that hold fish. It is a good place to find bass moving in and out of the small creek following bait as they hold here. Stay out on the end of the point, and fish your shaky head and jig from 10 feet deep out to 30 feet deep.

No. 8: N 34º 02.148 – W 86º 58.723
— Going up Simpson Creek a small cove has a house up on the hill on the upstream point. There is a wooden staircase going up to it, and a red-roofed dock is in the water on the point. The creek channel runs parallel to this point, and it comes up to a few feet deep out from the dock and then drops back into deep water on the cove side. The point drops almost straight off into 90 feet deep on the creek side.

Sit on the creek side, and cast to the top of the ledge. Move bottom-bumping baits very slowly to follow the rocks down the sharp drop. Keep them in contact with the bottom down to 30 feet deep.

Smith Lake has very little current, so it is usually not a factor, but wind blowing in makes these places better, especially for topwater. Rex says the more wind the better for topwater, so don’t let the wind keep you from fishing these places. 

No. 9: N 34º 01.599 – W 86º 58.130
— A little farther up Simpson Creek, the next big creek on the right is where Mallard Point Marina used to sit on the upstream side near the mouth. The old marina has been torn down, and houses are being built on the site. There is still an old no-wake buoy off the old marina boat ramp.

A big flat runs out near this buoy along the left bank. There are stumps and rocks on it, and it drops off into 35 feet of water on the edge at the creek channel. Go in near the old buoy, and idle over the flat to see how it runs out and then drops off. Fish your jig and Carolina rig, keeping your boat out in the creek channel and casting up onto the flat. Work your baits all over the flat to the edge, probing for the rocks. This is a big flat, so take time to fish all of it—bass feed here.

No. 10: N 34º 04.344 – W 86º 58.790
— Head up Ryan Creek to behind Goat Island. On the left side going up the creek, Church House Point is the upstream point of the second narrow cut on the left. There is an old wooden church almost completely hidden in the trees on this point.

The point has a steep rock ledge with brush on it. This is a good spinnerbait hole at night. During the day, fish your shaky head, Carolina rig and jig. Bass will hold in the rocks and brush here and feed both day and night. This is also a good place to fish a crankbait. Get it down as deep as possible, bumping the rocks and brush.

All of these location and holes are good both during the day and at night. Give them a try with the baits Rex likes or the ones you prefer. They will show you the kind of places you need to find to catch Smith lake bass this month.

To book a trip with Rex to see first-hand how he fishes Smith Lake, call him at (256) 736-3763, e-mail him at rex@smithlakebass.com, or visit his website at www.smithlakeguideservice.com.
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