Casting on the Coosa – Bruised feelings, an empty head and resource protection


By Marty Dixon/Staff Correspondent

My fishing was limited over the past week. I did manage to sneak in a few hours out on the water here and there, but my catches were small and infrequent. What few fish I have caught have been hanging around the wood and some schoolers. Earlier this week while I was pressure washing, my friend Tim Heard sent me a photo of two fish he caught on a lipless crankbait. Tim caught two fish on one cast, while I can’t catch one in an aquarium with a net in my hand. Thanks, Tim, for the sending over picture and hurting my feelings at the same time.
Brother Butch sent me a photo of a few big spots that Trey Swindle caught prepping for an upcoming tournament. So, a few fish are biting. It appears that the key may be finding the bait fish and covering water to find the schools of bass fee-ding on them.
I hope to get out on the water over the next three days. With the rain coming in and the possibility of watching my oldest granddaugter Zailyn and cheer for her pee wee football team, Saturday will be questionable. Perhaps Zailyn’s handsprings and flips will provide some good luck for me.
If I don’t get waylaid by Honey-Do lists, I’m planning to get in some more fishing next week, so I hope to have a better report next time.
I would like to take time out to address something that needs to be considered in the near future. With the amount of tourism that the fishing tournaments have begun to generate over the last few years, we need to take a look at how it is affecting our fishery.
The sheer number of tournaments on Neely Hen-ry Lake has gone up exponentially over the past 15 years. That’s a positive for our area and community but it is having some negative effects on the fishery. We are hosting more and more tournaments, everything from multiple high school tournaments to the pros coming in, not to mention all of the local and club tournaments.
As a concerned citizen and avid fisherman, we need to take a hard look at doing what we can to help our fishery grow while keeping up with the enormous demands of tournament fishing and at the same time seeing to the welfare of the casual fisherman. Toward that end, perhaps it’s time for the City of Gadsden and Etowah County to help out with some sort of stocking program. There are several areas that have experienced success with such projects in the past.
It is not a short-term fix and would probably need to be repeated for a few years. Any results would not be seen for a couple of years but is a viable option. One idea I’ve heard is to have the county and city partner with the tournaments by providing each angler with a number of bass fry to be released at the first stop. This could be done during two or three of the larger annual tournaments for three or four years and then be reevaluated.
Another option would be to put a 13-inch size limit on bass or require all tour-naments out of Etowah County and the City of Gadsden to be three-fish tournaments. These are just a few ideas bouncing around an empty mind.
With the increased fishing pressure over the last few years and the size of our lake, we need to take some precautions, or eventually you will see less and less tournaments being held here and that tournament money going elsewhere.
I personally would like to ban wake boats above the Southside bridge, but that’s a whole different topic.
In short, we must be proactive in order to maintain our fishery so that tourism and local fishermen can continue to enjoy it. I‘m writing this not because I had a bad year fishing but because the weight limits to win tournaments has dropped off dramatically over the past few years. With many local high schools sponsoring fishing teams, as well as colleges, we need to protect our resource. Maybe this is just and old man’s ramb-lings, but I think it is something everyone in the fishing community needs to be aware of and consider.
Well, that is off my chest. If nothing else, I feel better. Maybe someone out there has similar thoughts and much better ideas.
Until next time here’s hoping you catch a big sack and keep a tight line.
Marty Dixon is a 1982 Sardis High School graduate and retired high school educator and coach. He was head coach of the Gadsden State women’s basketball team from 2015 to 2019. He and his wife Texann live in Gadsden. He may be contacted at and the Neely Henry Bass Fishing page on Facebook.

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