SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. —For the third year in a row, the Strike King Bassmaster College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops will return to the Coosa River. This time anglers will take on Lay Lake, and Bassmaster Elite Series rookie David Gaston believes consistency will be the key to success.
“There will be a lot of mixing up of the standings from Day 1 to Day 2,” Gaston said. “If you have 15 a day, you will do really well. I’m sure there will be one or two 20-pound bags, but they can’t back that up two days in a row.”
Competition days will be June 9-10 with teams taking off from Beeswax Creek Park each day at 5:30 a.m. CT and returning to the park at 1:30 p.m. for weigh-in. Full coverage will be available on Bassmaster.com.
With the four regular-season events complete, this will be the last chance for anglers to punch their tickets to the 2023 Strike King Bassmaster College Series National Championship at Pickwick Lake presented by Bass Pro Shops August 10-12.
Lay Lake has played host to several historic moments in Bassmaster history, and earlier this year, the Elite Series made its return to the fishery that features spotted and largemouth bass. Most of these bass will be keying on shad, although the bass on the upper end of the lake will target crawfish.
When the college teams hit the water, Gaston anticipates the bass will be at the beginning of their summer patterns.
“This time of year, it is either won with all largemouth or with a good mixed bag,” Gaston said. “Unless someone figures it out around the dam and they are able to catch 15 or 16 pounds a day doing it.”
Offshore, Gaston said you will find largemouth and spotted bass in the same areas. Shallow ledges and gravel bars will be key areas, and further down south, there is standing timber and stump fields the bass will relate to.
Traditional ledge baits like football head jigs, shaky heads, big worms and crankbaits have been historically productive at the beginning of June, while LiveScope will be key to dialing in the deep timber bite.
“It isn’t real deep stuff either,” he said. “The ledges are between 3 and 6 feet on the top, so you aren’t fishing very deep.”
Depending on rainfall and water levels, the tailrace of the Logan Martin Dam could also come into play. But if low-water conditions are present, Gaston said it will be too shallow to safely navigate.
“Whether you are on the upper end of the lake or the lower end of the lake, current will play an important role,” Gaston said.
The largemouth will also gravitate to healthy willow grass, although Gaston said this can be hard to come by depending on how much lake management has sprayed. Flipping and pitching will come into play in the grass, and a frog and swim jig could also play early in the morning.
The tournament will be hosted by Discover Shelby.