Bass are by far the most fished for species in the United States with many more anglers’ bass fishing than fishing for any other fish. Throughout the Upper Midwest states ( Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and the Dakota’s) fishermen target their time on the water fishing for walleyes, muskies, and northern pike. There also are many anglers who fish for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, but next to the southern states where bass fishing is king and the target of most anglers, the numbers are small in the north. Bass also inhabit and are found in most states in the country because they are very adaptable and can withstand warmer temperatures than the walleye or muskie.
Largemouth bass can be found in lakes, rivers, and farm ponds in the southern states where anglers can fish for them even if they don’t have a boat and most of the year. During much of the year, bass can be found in water less than 10 deep and near and in many kinds of weeds, wood, and structure. Their forage or food is about anything live that inhabits the shallows and weeds like small bluegills, crayfish, frogs, snakes, and about anything that will fit into their large mouths.
This winter, most of us in the northern states have been talking about the unusually warm weather and lack of ice for ice fishing. But, there has been a “buzz” throughout bass circles and among its anglers in the use of the “Alabama, Umbrella, or Parachute Rig” for bass fishing and its legality in our states. New rules are being passed and old rules examined on the fishing rig that has been around for a decade or more and a stable in saltwater angling when trolling for striped bass. The “rig” has a central head and then any number of wire lines (usually 5) that spread out from the jig head and are tipped with added lures or plastics. As the rig is pulled or trolled through the water it resembles a school of baitfish to bass and other fish species. Inventor, Andy Poss, came up with the rig that could be casted and not just trolled. Poss introduced the Alabama Rig (named after his home state) to professional angler, Paul Elias, who used the rig last fall on Lake Guntersville to win the FLW Tour Open and a prize of $100,000.00 by beating his closest finisher by 17 pounds with 20 bass weighing over 100 pounds.
Poss met pro angler, Paul Elias, at a charity tournament last fall on Lake Pickwick, where Elias was given a few of the rigs to try on his own. Paul went home and tried the new rig that could now be casted instead of trolled and decided that it was worth trying at the Lake Guntersville’s FLW tourney. Elias used Mann’s swim baits on his winning rig and plastics seemed to work wonders for Elias. The rest is history after his big win and another tournament win by Dan Morehead in the FLW Everstart Tournament on Kentucky Lake catching suspended bass off the lake’s many ledges on his “rig.” The Alabama Rig is especially deadly and shines on suspended bass. This isn’t a rig that works everywhere and at all times of the year, but there are times when it is a fishing magnet. At the FLW Lake Guntersville event, Elias had no fish till he tried the Alabama Rig and after putting it on his rod, he caught his limit in just 16 minutes!
There are always magic lures and baits in the fishing world and it seems that these products come and go. But, the “Alabama Rig” has been around for years and mainly used in saltwater for stripers. But, here is a case where after a few adaptations it proved its worth in bass fishing.
But, there has also been a steady stream of controversy too with many anglers and states condemning and outlawing the rig in some states. Many states have rules against using multiple lures and some states have regulations saying that the hooks must be the same size. BASS recently announced that the Alabama Rig was ruled illegal in its Bassmaster Classic and Elite Series where they felt that their anglers should be held to a higher standard and use a single lure in practice and competition. Many anglers believe that an angler should use one rod and one lure and this only sportsmanlike way to fish, while others believe that if it’s legal and gets fish in the boat, then it ought to be allowed use. If you go on the Internet, you’ll see that this topic is creating quite a storm in bass circles around the country. Some states like Texas and Michigan allow its use while the states of Tennessee and New Hampshire don’t allow it, so you’ll have to check the fishing regulations in the state that you’re fishing for legality. Randall Stark, the Wisconsin Chief Warden, told me this, “In Wisconsin, a fishing rig such as the Alabama Rig would only be legal to use if it had not more than 3 hooks, baits, or lures attached. The Alabama Rig as sold would not be legal to use with its 5 separate lures or hooks attached. If at least 2 of the hooks or baits are removed, so that the angler is not using more than 3 hooks, baits, or lures, it would be legal to use.” This is a personal decision to make when fishing and I recommend that anglers do some research / reading and then decide if this “rig’ is good for fishing and future fish populations. I’m a believer in catch and release for most fish species, but that’s my choice. This is not a technique and rig that works all the time, but when it does it can be deadly!