All strategies open for July 13 Choo Choo Division BFL on Neely Henry - Major League Fishing
All strategies open for July 13 Choo Choo Division BFL on Neely Henry
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All strategies open for July 13 Choo Choo Division BFL on Neely Henry

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Multiple patterns will be in play at the upcoming BFL tournament on Neely Henry.
June 24, 2024 • Sean Ostruszka • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

In a one-day derby, an angler tends to come in with a set strategy. That might be a bit tougher come the Neely Henry Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division tournament on July 13. Why? Because there will be so many options to catch the winning bag.

Tournament details

Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division

Neely Henry Lake

Gadsen, Ala.

July 13

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About the fishery

One look at a map of Neely Henry Lake and you’ll quickly realize the “lake” part of the name is a bit misleading.

While, yes, it is actually a lake, the Coosa River impoundment looks more like a slightly wider stretch of river between Weiss Lake and Logan Martin Lake. And even that is only on the lower end, as the upper two thirds of the lake are primarily the Coosa River channel.

At just over 11,000 acres, the windy fishery is shallower than most of the rest of the lakes in the chain, but it still home the famous Coosa spotted bass (aka Alabama spotted bass). This subspecies of spotted bass is well known for its bigger size and aggressive behavior, which always make them a player in every tournament.

That said, the last few years it’s been the largemouth that have been the winning species in tournaments, according to local Mark McCaig, who has four BFL wins on Neely Henry to his credit.

“Used to be we’d laugh at anyone not fishing for spotted bass,” McCaig said. “But the largemouth really started becoming necessary to compete the last few years.”

What to Expect

Remember that part earlier about strategies? This is where it will get tough on anglers, because catching fish won’t be a problem. It’s finding the right ones to get to 17 to 18 pounds to try for the win.

According to McCaig, there will be three prevailing strategies.

First, grind it out all day around shallow cover and hope for five largemouth bites. Second, focus offshore and go for the spotted bass, which tend to be a lot more consistent. Or have a two-pronged approach and get your limit of quality spots before going for the kicker largemouth.

McCaig says any one of them can win, but the biggest wildcard might be the upper river.

“Upriver was never a player to win for the last 10 years,” McCaig said. “You used to be able to get a check up there, but the quality wasn’t there compared to the lower end with the grass. The grass is a little bit less than it’s been, though, which makes those largemouth a little harder to catch. So, being able to catch five of those 3-pound spots up there, then you’ll just need one good bite to be in position to win.”