Update The BAIT
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Keith Henderson, Fisheries Development Supervisor with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division, is busy tweaking the annual BAIT report on bass fishing in the state. It takes bass tournament results from across the state and creates a comprehensive summary of the results.
“All the information we collect and what we analyze stays the same,” Henderson said. “I’m working on getting this information to the public quicker. We have updated our BAIT webpage and included an interactive map,” he said. “I upload some of the important data on the website before the final BAIT report is published.”
“We’ve had a drop in participation, and in 2020 we had a COVID year with a huge dropoff in tournaments,” he said. “We had to decide what we could present and what we couldn’t depending on the sample size of tournaments. This allows us to rank the reservoirs by percent success (anglers catching at least one fish), overall catch, largest average size bass, and time required to catch a bass 5 pounds or larger,” Henderson said. “We take all that into account to determine overall rankings.”
During COVID-19, the number of people fishing increased significantly, while the number of bass tournaments were down significantly.
“People fished a whole lot during that time, but tournaments were pretty much shut down,” Henderson said. “We didn’t get nearly as much data during that period, but we were still able to gather some important information.”
“The reason for the five-report requirement is to increase our sample size and not make it dependent on one tournament. The more tournament reports we have for each reservoir distributed throughout the year helps to better represent the reality in each reservoir.”
In 2020, Weiss Lake in northeast Alabama on the Coosa River gained the top overall ranking with 50 points, edging Logan Martin Lake, also on the Coosa, at 49 points. Harris Reservoir (Lake Wedowee) on the Tallapoosa River had 42 points to 41 points for Lake Eufaula on the Chattahoochee River in southeast Alabama. Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River rounded out the top five at 39 points.
“A side point to note is that most Tennessee River reservoirs, including Guntersville, have minimum length limits for bass,” Henderson said. “Sometimes that throws off the quality indicator rankings because you’re comparing Guntersville with a 15-inch minimum length limit to reservoirs where anglers can weigh in bass 12 inches. Every reservoir is a little different. Guntersville doesn’t always rank high in the overall quality indicators, but that is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of fishing.”
“The biggest takeaway here is we need people re-engaged in the BAIT Program,” Henderson said. “This data shows that if you just want to catch a lot of fish, Harris, Mitchell, and Logan Martin offer the best opportunities. If you want to catch larger and bigger fish, the traditional favorites are Eufaula, Guntersville, Pickwick, and Logan Martin. If you’re trying to catch bass over 5 pounds, Guntersville, Pickwick, Eufaula, and Harris rank highly.”
“Even with COVID, our 2020 numbers were still very close to 2019. I’m very pleased with the information we were able to obtain. Fishing in Alabama’s reservoirs is still great.”
Visit this website to view upcoming tournaments and post your tournament on the website, and view other important information regarding hosting tournaments in Alabama. Visit this website for more information on how to become a BAIT member and to submit tournament results and to view the BAIT interactive map for the most recent information.
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