In situation you remain in search of an out of doors work out to obtain you really feeling actually submersed right into the fall period, aim your good luck in moistening a line within the breathtaking, darkish waters of the often-overlooked Alapaha River of south Georgia. What do you desire to fish for? You title it. The fish selection is sort of amazing. Almost, if a south Georgia river has it, after that the Alapaha will certainly offer it to you. The private, classic greatness is a benefit.
The Alapaha River comes from Dooly Area the location its tea-colored, tannic water streams southern using Crisp, Wilcox, Turner, Ben Hillside, Irwin, Tift, Berrien, Atkinson, Lanier, Lowndes and also Echols areas earlier than clearing right into the Suwannee River in north Florida. As a matter of fact, the further southern it goes, the wider it develops into. Nonetheless, there’s remarkable angling on practically each fifty percent.
Couple of people understand this river more than my next-door neighbor, Danny Tucker. He matured on this fantastic river, in fact. It’s the location he understood to swim, ski and also fish. It’s the location he understood to hold limb-lines for huge catfish, to tightline on behind for fats redbreasts, to stand out corks with jigs for flecks (crappie) and also to drag massive bass from throughout the sufficient cypress knees.
“I didn’t actually have a selection,” Danny stated. “My mother and father introduced me down right here after I was nonetheless in diapers, and I realized the river. I realized all about it, similar to my granddaddy. I come from an extended line of river runners. Guess you possibly can say it’s simply in my blood.”
This river fluctuates in water degree possibly greater than any physique of freshwater I do know, however I take a look at this pure attribute as a bonus. As a result of it’s all the time altering, a fisherman ought to by no means get bored.
“You fish for what’s biting when the water is correct for it,” stated Danny.
Sounds easy, however there’s such an artwork to his assertion. I requested him not too long ago, “What do you fish for this time of 12 months?” His reply was matter of reality: “Is dependent upon the water degree.”
So, right here it’s… a cold, fall Saturday morning on the peaceable Alapaha River. My father-in-law and I drive down beneath the Freeway 82 bridge simply 1 mile east of the small city of Alapaha in Berrien County. The locals know this spot as Sheboggy Bridge.
One take a look at the financial institution with the tangled roots jutting out into the darkish water, the stout cypress timber above and the clear, white sandy slopes and an individual can neglect about civilization. Are you careworn with life proper now? Is the workload piling up on you? Have to unwind? Nicely, that is the place for you.
We met Danny, and he shortly put my father-in-law and me on a crash course on learn how to fish the river when it’s low within the fall of the 12 months.
“The water is fairly low proper now,” Danny stated. “However that’s okay. We will catch all of the fish we have to proper right here alongside the financial institution by the bridge. You don’t need to have a ship to catch fish.”
We start unloading my truck with fishing provides, and Danny lays out the preliminary plan.
“Let’s begin by throwing some jigs and Beetle Spins. I wish to see if we are able to catch some specks.”
I tie on a black Beetle Spin; my father-in-law has a white Beetle Spin, and Danny has a black jig with a chartreuse tail suspended 3 ft under a cork. Second forged, my father-in-law hooks a pleasant crappie. That fish units the tone. We catch a number of crappie, bream, bass and one huge mudfish utilizing these lures. Danny lands probably the most crappie along with his cork and black/chartreuse jig; his technique includes popping the cork with agency jerks of his rod to create commotion on the water’s floor whereas the jig dances erratically a number of ft under.
“It helps to have others fishing with me. We will strive various things. You don’t know ’til you throw,” stated Danny.
About half-hour after arriving, the solar begins to rise, and the chunk slows down, which prompts Danny to modify to his confirmed tactic on the river, particularly when the water degree is low.
“If the fish received’t come to the highest, you gotta go all the way down to the underside,” he stated. “You should discover a deep gap for this system.”
The rod he chooses has a medium motion with a spinning reel containing 12-lb. check line.
“Okay, I’m going to point out you slightly trick,” he stated. “That is the way you catch fish on the underside.”
He proceeds to point out me simply how it’s achieved. First, thread a 1/8-oz. bullet weight onto the road, adopted by a crimson bead. Then crimp a dimension 5 split-shot weight 4 or 5 inches up the road, which prevents the bullet weight and bead from sliding to the hook. Tie on a dimension 5 or 6 aberdeen hook, and now it’s time to seize the worms.
I take off the lid to the styrofoam bucket housing the plentiful earthworms that Danny raises himself. As I confidently select a plump one, I look over to see Danny shaking his head.
“No, no, no. Don’t be stingy with the worms. That’s why I began elevating my very own… so I’ve greater than sufficient. Go forward and put a blossom on there.”
“A blossom?” I ask, confused.
“Yeah, boy. A blossom. That’s what I name an enormous wad of worms. It must seem like Medusa’s head,” he stated.
As soon as his hook is loaded to most capability with who is aware of what number of worms, he casts his line out in the midst of the river and lets his bait sink to the underside. He reels a number of instances to soak up the slack. In lower than a minute, Danny forcefully units the hook and works a chunky butter catfish to the floor.
“This can be a mighty good-eatin’ fish proper right here,” he stated.
On the stringer it goes.
My first forged out, I get held on a log nearly immediately, whereas Danny cranks in one other catfish, this time a speckled cat.
“How are you not getting hung up?” I requested.
See, I’m sometimes a cork man. Though I grew up with a rod and reel in my fingers, I’m unfamiliar with backside fishing in a river.
“To begin with, I take advantage of 12-lb. check line and these comfortable aberdeen hooks that can bend,” stated Danny. “Once I do get hung up, I tighten the drag and pull slowly. The hooks normally bend and switch unfastened earlier than the road breaks. Then I simply bend the hook again with a pair of pliers. And don’t ever reel it or bump it alongside the underside. Simply let it sit there. In any other case, you’ll snag each stump on the market. If it’s a must to reel in, do it shortly to get the hook off the underside. One other factor, hold the road fairly tight. That means you’ll be able to really feel the fish strike, and you may be prepared to grab. You gotta be fast! That’s the artwork of tightline fishing.”
After tying on one other rig, I forged out proper by Danny’s line.
“I hope you don’t thoughts if I steal your spot,” I stated.
We each really feel arduous hits, and he units the hook quick to battle a strong warmouth to the financial institution. I miss mine.
“It’s a must to be faster than that, boy!”
Progressively, I start to get the hold of it and catch a number of good bream and two good channel catfish.
“Why do you want that crimson bead on the road if it simply sits on the underside?” I ask, staring on the bead whereas I bait one other “blossom” of worms on my hook.
“For the flash because it falls,” Danny stated. “Discover that a whole lot of fish chunk as quickly because the bait will get to the underside. I feel the fish see the flicker of crimson because it goes down. Additionally, the bead and weight can hit collectively and make a clicking sound, which attracts some fish.”
“By the tip of the morning, we had caught fairly a variety of good-eating fish. On our stringer included largemouth bass, specks, bluegill, redbreast, shellcracker, stumpknocker, warmouth, butter catfish, speckled catfish and channel catfish. Though it was the most important, the mudfish really did not make the minimize for a future barbeque.
So, as you’ll be able to see, even when the water degree is low, you’ll be able to nonetheless catch all of the fish you wish to. The truth is, for number of species, the decrease ranges may make fishing simpler in a way as a result of all of the fish go to the deep holes. Danny was proper when he specified we didn’t even want a ship.
“I’ve sat proper right here by the bridge extra instances than I can rely, watching all of the boats go by me,” Danny says. “Individuals in these boats inform me I should cowl extra water to catch extra fish,” he laughs and also continues, “however I normally have extra fish within the cooler I’m sitting on than all of the boats have mixed. Most individuals are simply in an excessive amount of of a rush today. They need to be extra affected person, particularly on the subject of fishing. A number of of us will experience proper previous the perfect spots regardless that a honey gap might be proper beneath their noses.”
Now, don’t get me unsuitable. Danny admits that he likes to fish from a ship, too, however prefers to fish at a a lot slower tempo to really discover probably the most fish.
“Don’t be afraid to anchor or tie as much as a limb if you end up fishing from a ship. These fish love to stay to explicit holes,” Danny stated. “However you higher look good within the tree branches earlier than you tie as much as one. You may simply get some undesirable firm. These huge river wasps will gentle you up!”
If you happen to select to fish from a ship, a kayak can be a clever choice this time of 12 months to permit navigation by way of the shallow areas and also round fallen timber. Please don’t fish from any financial institution with out permission from the landowner. If doubtful, don’t get out of the boat to keep away from trespassing points.
Although there are many methods to catch fall fish on the Alapaha River, these strategies talked about listed below are absolutely confirmed and time examined by a person whose life is completely influenced by this physique of water. And it’s not merely within the Alapaha River that these tips work. Like Danny says, “Son, you’ll be able to fish in any type of river in south Georgia like this. I name it the fundamentals of south Georgia backside fishing.”
Identical to that, in a single good early morning of fishing on the Alapaha River, I’m a transformed backside fisherman. It’s a method that anybody can be taught. My principal piece of recommendation is to be fast on the hookset. If you are able to do this and also comply with Danny’s different ideas, you’ll possible go away the river with a stringer filled with good-eating fish
I encourage individuals to enter any huge fish for a possible Alapaha River document. The one two fish recorded for this river on GON’s Lake & River Data are a largemouth bass and a bowfin (mudfish). This leaves the door huge open for entries. Good luck with the bowfin document. Considered one of my out of doors heroes holds that area with an effective 9-lb., 0.32-oz. fish. Reality be advised although, I may such as to see that a person stand!