• Winter Fishing on Harris Lake, New State Record?

    Its lower, but it can be much lower. The water level on Lake Harris is currently down 8 feet, but it has been dropped in the past for winter pool as much as 15 feet. Regardless, the trophy-sized "Big bass" of this upper Tallapoosa River System Impoundment (the youngest lake in Alabama), show Winter as the best time for fishing this small lake.

    Lake Harris, near the town of Wedowee, Alabama still has an excellent chance of producing a state record bass this winter season. Since its impoundment in 1983, records show dozens of bass exceeding 10 pounds have been taken here, throughout the winter months exclusively. December, shows many huge bass caught, some are taken in January and records show some of these largemouth bass fooled in the prespawn months of February and March.

    Few anglers know or actually realize that going out of state (or out of the country) to catch a trophy bass is meaningless, when you have a trophy bass lake, right here at your front door. What's even more remarkable is during winter, this small lake has very few anglers willing to brave the cold, for a one time shot at a true, trophy sized bass. A bass that could exceed the present state record bass of 16 pounds 7 ounces.

    It can happen here, but only by the adept angler prepared to land such a bass of huge proportions and rod bending strength. Also an angler willing to brave the elements of winter here in Alabama, often with very few bites to show for it. And most importantly. Being in the right place, at the right time, throwing the right lure, with the right presentation.

    Of course using the right equipment, to aid you in landing this once in a lifetime trophy bass, is part of the recipe for "Big Bass" success as well. Since the impoundment (1983) of this 27 mile long lake, featuring 10,660 surface acres of water, many "big bass" have been taken. Bass, unlike bass in other Alabama Lakes, exceeding 10 pounds, were just unheard of among Alabama's anglers, with some lakes nearing 80 years old.

    In the late 1980's, about 5 years after impoundment, the lake peaked in "big bass" performance. Several 10, 12 and 13 pounders were taken on Lake Harris in those early years of impoundment. When first Impounded the river changed. The new "lake" backed up the old Tallapoosa River and the Little Tallapoosa River, flooding dozens of small creeks, lakes and ponds, all previously containing huge largemouth bass. In addition, hundreds of thousands of bass were stocked during impoundment.

    Even one 15 pounder was caught during the first five years of this lakes prime. By the early 1990's the "big bass bonanza" slacked off. Again in the mid 1990's bass of huge proportions were being taken after a 5 year slump. Several 15 pounders and a few bass over 16 pounds, came close to breaking the Alabama State record bass of 16 pounds 7 ounces.

    Well, its time again. Another 5 years of slow fishing has passed. The year 2003 will show the lake entering its 20th year. To old? Not yet.

    Another lake similar to Lake Harris, Lake Eufaula, situated on the Chattahoochee River bordering the Alabama Georgia State line, has a very similar history. Impounded in 1964, Eufaula a 77 mile long lake, peaked in the late 60's, seemingly from reports of that time, with 5 pounders on every cast. By the mid 70's big bass were still there, but things had slowed down quite a bit.

    In the early 80's, about 20 years after impoundment, Lake Eufaula made another comeback, similar to the first year of its impoundment. So the chances do exist this winter for catching a real trophy bass, close to, or by chance, exceeding the current state record bass, on Lake Harris. Its now 20 years old, but still in its prime. Seventeen pounders do exist, for one was found floating dead a few years back.

    You can begin your search for that elusive largemouth bass this December as water temperatures dip in to the low 50's and send early winter bass on the prowl. Although cold, January shows more stable weather with cold fronts regularly and bass in predictable locations. February shows few anglers even on the lake, due to cold weather, ice storms or boat ramps and roads covered with winter time ice and snow. Records show January and February best.

    Regardless, any of these months will show a good chance for success in even getting on one of those rare age old bass of Lake Harris. But come prepared, don't let the fish of a lifetime, make you feel like the fool of your lifetime, by getting away.

    Stought rods, (see www.hookhider.com) strong dependable, wide spooled reels, such as ABU Garcia's 6500 series open-faced reels, capable of holding thick diameter monofilament line, coupled with Berkley Trilene's Big Game line in the 20-25 pound class. A big hooped, long handled net and a good net man is a plus. Don't wait until one of these huge bass are along boatside to discover, your net is to small or you left it at home.

    Lures can be many. Everything fools these bass. Oversized worms, lizards, tube baits, jig combos and other bottom lures. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, rattletraps, suspending and floating jerkbaits, various topwaters and many other lures, have all fooled these bass during winter.

    More importantly are the hooks these lures are adorned with. Either change or sharpen all hooks. Even going to a much bigger hook may be needed for these bass. A huge Lake Harris bass can straighten out a 1/0 worm hook or even bend a few hooks on a #4 treble hook, come prepared with bigger 4/0 and 5/0 worm hooks and change lure hooks to #2 Gamakatsu treble hooks.

    On these cold winter mornings be sure to check each reels drag system, by pulling off a little line and checking each reel in gear. A frozen drag will not do the job its supposed to do and even line in the 20-25 pound test category can be broken. Knowing where to fish is just as important as being prepared.

    Records show many of these trophy bass of the past were taken near very deep water, usually along some deep creek, tributaries or main lake bank. Another reason for stought tackle is all the cover these big bass have to break your line on. Standing timber, stumps and brush were left in Lake Harris during impoundment and can be seen during winter pool.

    Visit Lake Harris this winter, that is if you looking for that trophy bass over 10 pounds, maybe even a new state record bass. You can't catch it if your not there. You have 4 months to decide. Or call Reeds Guide Service. I have fished this lake since impoundment and know its waters well. I have a bass close to 10 pounds to my credit, with three clients catching bass over 11 pounds in years past during the winter season.