Talk with a bass fisherman and mention big spotted bass, and likely one of the first fisheries that comes up in discussion will be the Coosa River that snakes through east-central Alabama.

Not just any spotted bass, either. No, the ones found in the Coosa are not like their more prolific cousins, the Kentucky spot. The Alabama spotted bass was formally recognized in 2010 as its own sub-species, a native of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers and tributaries. While having similar colorations and markings as the Kentucky spot, the Alabama spots are bigger in size and prized by tournament and recreational anglers for their aggressiveness.

Yes, they’re meaner. If an Alabama spotted bass was a canine it would be a slobbering bulldog baring its teeth. Put it in a juke joint on a Saturday night and it might not even offer to step outside to settle a dispute. Hook a 2-pounder and you’ll swear it weighs twice that much. Tie into a 4-pounder or bigger and you better be ready for non-stop fighting all the way to the boat.

“They’re flat-out mean, no doubt,” says longtime guide and tournament competitor Jimmy Mason. He guides on the Tennessee River in north Alabama but loves fishing the Coosa River throughout the year for big spotted bass.

Picking a prime week out of the year to target giant spotted bass on the Coosa can be difficult. Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Jordan and Mitchell lakes on the chain offer outstanding fishing. The river system has miles of rocky shoreline and ample forage, specifically shad and crayfish, along with consistent current flowing through a series of hydroelectric dams.

But Mason said autumn is when you should think about scheduling a trip.

“As much as I enjoy fishing on Neely Henry, I’d have to say below Logan Martin Dam on Lake Jordan the first week of October might be the best time to catch a giant spotted bass,” he said. “When the weather starts turning and we get a few cool nights, the spots start schooling below the dam to feed on shad. It’s a great time.”

Mason targets spots with three topwater baits, a big Heddon Super Spook, the Super Spook Jr. and a One Knocker Spook. All three have the same great Spook body design for walking the bait, with the Spook Jr. just a shade smaller. Having the trio available to mix up is a plus, obviously depending on whether the spots want a bigger presentation or something smaller.

The One Knocker usually gets the honors in Mason’s boat for the first casts. A single tungsten rattle ball in the internal chamber provides a distinctive, attention-getting “ponk ponk ponk” sound during the retrieve. He throws the Spooks on 17-lb line and the Spook Jr. on 12- to 17-lb test.

“They school a lot that time of year and that big single knock rattle drives them crazy,” Mason said. “I’m not sure why it does but they just kill it. I like the old Houston’s Bleeding Shad or Foxy Shad colors. I’ll also throw a 3/4-ounce Booyah spinnerbait in chartreuse/white and will downsize it to a single No. 5 blade. That makes it look a little more like a big shad swimming along, and you can fish it higher or a little deeper.”

With the current running below the dam, Mason studies the water discharge and locates the seam between the active flow and the slack water. This seam is where spots and other predators will be hanging around to eat shad flowing downstream. His retrieve with the spinnerbait is controlled through the seam’s edge so the bait doesn’t tumble.

“I want to be sitting outside the seam, throwing the spinnerbait up into the seam and bringing it along as the current washes it down,” Mason said. “With the topwaters, I’m not going to let those wash but will definitely fish them more on the seam and in the slack water. I’ll be paralleling it and fishing it in the slack (water) edge. The fish will push the shad outside the current and gorge on them there.”

One thing to remember and be wary of, Mason said, is that the area below the dam is rife with rocks. Special caution should be taken during navigation and drifting. Spots love those areas, but it’s not worth busting a hull or shearing off a lower unit. Be alert and safe.

Another great time on the Coosa is the first week of June on Logan Martin Lake. Post-spawn spotted bass will be grouping up on gravel bars and clay points. There also may be a shad spawn still going on, Mason said, which definitely plays right into the 1-2 punch of the Spook and spinnerbait presentations.

“They’re just feeding heavily and gorging after the spawn,” he said. “If you get a cloudy day the bite can last all day. It’s just vicious topwater bites. They’re competitive, so if you miss one you’ll have others coming after it blowing up on it. The Coosa spot is a different animal. They’re just flat-out mean.”

For more information about fishing in Alabama, contact Jimmy Mason at