Anglers Praying For Warmer Weather Before Bassmaster Classic On Lay Lake

Everybody knows Randy Howell has a strong Christian faith and the Elite Series angler says he has been doing a lot of praying lately.

Not for a win in the Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’s Lay Lake next weekend, but for the rain to stop and the weather to warm up a little

North Carolina native who now calls Springville, Ala., home.

“We’ve had extremely cold weather here. We’ve had a lot of rally cold rain and that is what has been killing the lake more than anything.

“It rained three inches here the other day and the temperature was 43 degrees while it was raining. It flooded the lake out, made it dirty and muddy – and muddy, cold water is a lot harder to fish than muddy warm water,” said Howell who is busy this week preparing for the Classic.

“I’m down here on my boat, working, putting blue LED lights in the boat, getting my tackle ready and trying to get prepared. And I’m praying the weather will warm up and the rain will stop – a big, big prayer.”

Weather forecasters say Howell’s prayer may be answered – but probably not in time for the Classic.

The first official practice day for the Bassmaster Classic is this Friday, a day when the forecast on calls for “rain/snow showers” in the Birmingham area, including Lay Lake. The high is predicted to be 38, the low 29, and the chance of that slushy precipitation occurring is 40 percent.

By Feb. 17, the final practice day, highs should be 52 and skies partly sunny (although low temperatures Feb. 17 might be in the low 30s). But even one or two sunny days may be too little, too late, to heat up a Lay Lake largemouth bite.

“I think it definitely is going to depend on the week before the Classic, the week of the event” Howell said. “It’s going to have to warm up tremendously that week to make the lake rebound at all.”

The problem is that water temperature which has been hovering in the low to mid-40-degree range, he said.

“If it makes it up to 50-52 degrees or more it won’t be so bad, but if it says in that 40-degree range it can be really challenging.”

Strategy for Howell and the other fishermen will depend greatly on the weather over the next week and a half, he said

“The lake is full of fish, including big Florida strain bass which are the most affected by the cold. The spotted bass bite in the cold, so they will be the target fish if the water stays cold.”

Although there will be some shallow spotted bass, if they become the primary factor during the classic, he said, fishing will primarily be deep with Shakey Heads, football jigs and other deep water tactics.

“I’m hoping I don’t have to do that,” Howell said. “I’d rather fish fast and shallow, but who knows if we will be able to do that. It’s just up to the Good Lord above.”

If the weather changes dramatically and the water warms up, the largemouth bass will start to move to the shallow areas, he said.

“That’s when the bigger bite really comes on. The pre-spawn females will move up and get in 1 to 2 feet of water and you can flip them out of the grass,” he said. “That’s what everybody will be looking for, but it definitely will depend on the water temperature.”

Howell has qualified for eight previous Bassmaster Classics, two of them on Lay Lake. He finished 34th on Lay Lake in 2002, but his second highest finish in a Classic was in 2007 on Lay Lake when he was 13th.

“The 2007 Classic was about the same time of year, but the water temperature was 52-56 degrees then. Right now it is 10 degrees colder that that,” he said.

“But I am still excited about it and staying positive. I’m just hoping that stuff will start to work out during the time it needs to.”

Lay Lake

Birmingham, AL