Talk about bass fishing in sweet home Alabama. That’s what comes to mind after watching Muscle Shoals, Ala. resident and Major League Fishing angling pro Tim Horton earlier this week as he fished a section on eastern Alabama’s Lake Eufaula during the 2017 MLF Challenge Cup championship.
All while tossing a bait known as – wait for it – the Alabama Rig.
For a good while in his Elimination Day round, the A-Rig bite was golden for Horton, almost to the point that you could hear the Lynyrd Skynyrd tune Sweet Home Alabama rolling across the autumn airwaves.
Or the cheer of a SEC football crazy crowd rooting on Horton’s beloved Auburn Tigers over their cross-state rivals, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The bottom line here is this – put an A-Rig in Horton’s skilled angling hands this week on big-bass rich Eufaula and who knows what might happen in his home state?
Horton agrees, noting that conditions were ideal for the rig during his first round of MLF action this week.
“The big thing was when we put in yesterday, I saw right away that the water was pretty clean,” said Horton, the 2000 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award winner in his rookie season.
“When you have that in the fall of the year and the fish are just roaming on these open points, you can almost get those fish to bite every time when you get around them,” he added. “We were doing that yesterday, catching a keeper early on (and then more after that).
“They were a lot of small fish, though, and they just weren’t the right size. And as the sun got up, that bite really started going down.”
But while it was good, it was pretty fun to watch as Horton could almost call his shots.
And while it remains to be seen if the A-Rig will be a prime-time player in how Horton does today, he says that the rig bite will only get better as fall deepens and prepares to turn into winter.
“It does get better and turns into the dominant lure (on lakes like this) as you get into the wintertime,” said Horton, who has one MLF Championship Day appearance in his eight previous MLF Cup level events.
“It’s not quite cold enough for it to be the main lure just yet, but it will be not too many weeks from now.”
What causes Horton to reach for the rig, something that he can’t throw in Bassmaster Elite Series events because of that circuit’s tournament rules?
Standard clues derived from a lake’s structural features and cover, things like channel swings and where grass happens to be, especially when it’s on a breakline like the one that Horton fished earlier in the week.
Another key factor is the location of baitfish in the water column.
“When you see bait that is high up in the water column, that’s a clue,” said Horton. “You get so many fish that roam in the fall of the year and in the wintertime (and baitfish can be a key). And that’s the big deal, especially on these grass lakes (like Eufaula).”
On the subject of grass lakes, Horton finds similarities between Eufaula on the Alabama/Georgia line where MLF is visiting this week and Pickwick Lake near his northern Alabama home.
“Where you find thick grass getting sparse (on lakes like Eufaula and Pickwick), the rig is just a great lure to throw,” he said.
Which is exactly why Horton pulled out his Profound Outdoors tackle company’s Depth Charge A-Rig out of the box yesterday.
“It’s got a really cool weight system and blades on it,” said Horton, a five-time winner in B.A.S.S. competition. “I throw the Bass Pro Shops four-inch grubs on the Depth Charge and I like to mix the colors on it instead of having them all be the same.
“I think it’s important to show something a little different (in the grubs on it), like right now I’ve got a couple of Root Beer and a couple of Smoke colored grubs on it.”
What does Horton like to fish his Depth Charge A-Rig on?
“It’s just a 7’6″ Duckett Fishing heavy action rod with a Team Lew’s Custom Pro 7.5:1 gear ratio reel,” he said.
In general, Horton admits that fishing a Depth Charge A-Rig setup is pretty simple, albeit with one very important consideration coming into play.
“You’ve still got to know where the fish are,” he said. “You’ve got to throw it where they are at, obviously. You’ve got to have a good hypothesis of where they are (when you start out). But then when you are (where the fish are at), it catches them as good as anything.”
How does Horton retrieve his Depth Charge?
“It’s pretty steady until you start hitting bottom or hitting grass,” he said. “Then you’ll want to speed it up a little bit.”
What does the A-Rig tend to produce, a quantity of bass or a quality that includes several chunks in the five, six, seven and even eight-pound range?
“It’s definitely both,” smiled Horton. “It will catch what’s there. My biggest on the rig is probably seven or eight-pounds. And you can double up, in fact, I had a double yesterday on it.”
If he can do that in today’s Sudden Death round here on Lake Eufaula, then life might really be like the song is for Tim Horton.
As in the good life being lived in sweet home Alabama, MLF Challenge Cup championship style of course.