Whether planning to attempt the Alabama redeye bass slam, or just to catch a few redeye bass in local waters, I’ve put together a few thoughts on the subject that might be useful. Chasing the Alabama redeye bass has been a passion of mine for several decades. I’ve been less concerned about a “slam” per se, and more involved with putting folks on their first redeye. In the last several years the popularity of the species has skyrocketed within Alabama, but also from out-of-staters looking to complete larger scope black bass slams.
The fly fishing community has driven a surge in appetite for redeye bass fishing. Matthew Robert Lewis wrote a book on the subject and it’s a good read. There’s also a popular Instagram account for the Alabama redeye bass slam. And who can blame these fly fishers? Why fish for stocker trout when there’s a native species to scratch the itch?
The concept is to catch, photo, and release Alabama redeye bass of all 4 sub-species, within a year:
- m. Warriorensis from the Black Warrior watershed
- m. Cahabae from the Cahaba River watershed
- m. Coosae from the Coosa River watershed
- m. Tallapoosae from the Tallapoosa watershed
Chasing the Alabama Redeye Bass
Redeye are often found in particularly idyllic creeks and streams. The more inaccessible, the better. I cut and crawled my way through privet thicket and blackberry brambles, only to be forced from the bank and shoulder deep into Saugahatchee Creek seeking out my Tallapoosa redeye. My right ring finger has been broken three times slipping and careening across Cahaba River bedrock in search of m. Cahabae. I’ve rolled through Coosa kudzu and donated shin meat to the Black Warrior tributaries.
These creatures are readily found in urban streams that are close to home. I tricked one hiding in an sunken grocery cart next to the Zaxby’s in Leeds. I’ve landed them beneath the highway 79 bridge in Pinson. I’ve found them in Pinchgut Creek at a busy intersection in Trussville.
Alabama redeye bass aren’t hard to find. They’re not difficult to trick. But what do you want to get out of the experience? Natural beauty? Convenience? Adventure? That should inform the types of water in scope for the adventure.
Get High (in the Watershed)
Redeye bass regularly share water with the Alabama (spotted) bass, largemouth bass, and a variety of sunfish and roughfish species. One of the keys to finding targetable populations of redeye is to eliminate the other species that share the same water. Getting higher on the creeks will usually limit the population of largemouth and Alabama bass. It makes sense, right? You’ll be more successful where there are higher density of redeye bass.
Bluelining for redeye is a blast, whether remote or urban. Additionally, you’ll find more wadeable water that doesn’t require a kayak or a canoe.
I will admit: I’ve never caught m. Coosae in the actual Coosa River – not even once during hundreds of hours of black bass fishing on that flow. The same goes for m. Warriorensis. I’ve only found them in tributaries. The Cahaba is smaller in places and they can be found in the main river, but they’re still more difficult to locate than in the feeders. I won’t speak for the Tallapoosa, as that isn’t my home water, and I’ve only managed to punch my ticket on m. Tallapoosae once.
Gearing Up to Chase Alabama Redeye Bass
I target redeye on both spinning gear and on the fly. I published an article about my favorite spinning gear setup, but haven’t yet for my fly gear. My fly setup is a CGR 2 weight paired with 3 weight floating line. (It’s a blast to cast.)
I have a minimalist approach to fishing. Therefore, I travel light and don’t carry a lot of gear. I tend to only pack 3 lures for any given trip to cut down on the noise. Below are links to my Pick 3 for redeye bass fishing.
For the Knuckle-Dragging Gear Chucks (like myself) – Alabama Redeye Bass Fishing: 3 Best Lures for Targeting Redeye Bass
For the Fly or Die Crowd (or Fly or Meh, like myself) – Fly Selection for Alabama Redeye Bass
Public Spots for Targeting Alabama Redeye Bass
As always, that’s just my $0.02 and your mileage may vary.