A large variety of fish attract anglers to Georgia’s Rome
Cody Benton grew up in and around Rome, Georgia. With that kind of environment and a fishing family he was destined to be an angler.
The city of Rome is nestled in among seven prominent hills that create magnificent vistas in every direction. Running between those hills are three rivers that form what is described as North America's most biologically diverse river basin. The Coosa River Basin draws the attention of anglers and water lovers of all varieties.
Rome is located at the head of the Coosa River. The Oostanaula River comes flowing from the north and the Etowah River from the east to form the headwaters of the Coosa River Basin. It continues south through Weiss Lake in Alabama and finally to Mobile Bay. Those waters are prime territory for area anglers.
Benton developed his passion for fishing at an early age. “I have always fished growing up as a kid,” offered Benton. “It was farm ponds and stuff. When I was about 14 or 15 years old I went with my uncle in a little small johnboat. We went to Carter’s Lake and fished for a few hours. Ever since then I have been hooked. It was not long, a couple months later, that I got my first boat.”
“Getting that first boat really started me on the road to something I love to do. I have actually given up a lot of hunting for fishing. I used to be super passionate about deer hunting, now I deer hunt to put a little meat on the table, but my drive is to go fishing.”
Benton did some tournament fishing early on, but returned to fishing just for fun. “I don’t tournament fish like I used to,” explained Benton. “I use to fish them a lot. Now I fish closer to home. I have a lot of good fishing inside two hours of home.”
Weiss Lake is one of seven a power generating lakes on the Coosa. This means that the current in the river is always going to be tied to a generating schedule. “The water leaves here and goes to Neely Henry,” explained Benton. “It leaves Neely Henry and it goes to Logan Martin and then on to several other lakes. That is considered the Coosa chain of lakes.”
“When they draw the lake down in the fall it drops the river as well and it cuts out a lot of the cover on the riverbank,” instructed Benton. “The fish don’t have so many places to hide. It increases your chances tremendously to fish the lower water conditions. It takes away some of the ledge in the river, the first ledge they might hang on.”
Lowering the water in the winter is it a flood control thing. “They do that every winter,” said Benton. “They bring it back up in the spring. That is the way a lot of the lakes around here are. The river driven lakes drop in the winter and rise back up in the spring. Low water in the lake and river increases the fishing odds to me.”
Choosing the right fishing line is an important part of Benton’s fishing strategy. “It depends on what I am doing,” explained Benton. “If I am throwing a spinner bait I want 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon. That’s just me. If I am fishing a spinner bait, 20 feet deep on a ledge, I will drop down to 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon. It is pretty basic, pretty much the same day or night.”
“If I am fishing a jig I am throwing it on 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon depending on how deep I am fishing. A lot of times they get in the shade and stay hid trying to ambush prey. Weiss Lake has a lot of residential docks. I put the jig up under the docks.”
“I will throw chatter baits and, spinner baits the same way. I might go with a 12-pound test on a worm or 15-pound test if I am using a lighter sinker. That’s because I just want to skim the top of that grass. I don’t want it going down in the grass. With that lighter line I can feel it relax better then if the line is heavy, I can just pull it on through. If I use the lighter line I can use a lighter sinker. If I have 20-pound test line I gotta’ use a ¼ ounce sinker. The heavy line falls a little quicker.
Sometimes Benton wants braided line. “Braid has its place,” remarked Benton. “If I am punching through matted grass or throwing a frog I use braid. I throw a frog on braid all the time. If I am fishing in a farm pond I’m throwing a frog on braid because you have to have that immediate hook up. You gotta’ hit them right away with a frog. I have seen folks fish frogs on 15- or 20-pound fluorocarbon, but that is not what I am going to do.
“I will throw a buzz bait on braid sometimes,” continued Benton. “In that case I don’t want to set the hook I just want to turn into that fish, I want no give in my line. When they load the pole I want to set the hook by turning my rod away from them and continuing to reel. That is where I don’t want the stretch. I don’t want to jerk the hook out of the fish’s mouth.”
Sink rate is the key. “When I use crankbaits, spinner baits, chatter baits, worms, all of that, anything that is going to be submerged from the top of the water column I want to use fluorocarbon. The reason is simple, fluorocarbon sinks and monofilament floats.”
Benton has one basic application for mono. “The only time I throw monofilament is on a topwater lure like a Zara Spook or a walk-the-dog type lure.”
Savvy bass anglers learn to identify fish behavior. “It all happens in cycles,” indicated Benton. “Knowing what the bass are doing will increase your odds of catching them. The bass are on beds, they spawn, and then they are post spawn. For example, when the bass start post spawn the shad start spawning. The first topwater bite of the year is usually related to that shad spawn. You should concentrate your fishing around spawning shad right at dark or right at daylight.”
Benton’s knowledge of fishing is a function of growing up in a fishing family, learning from others, and spending a lot of time on the water. It certainly didn’t hurt that he grew up at the confluence of three tributaries that dumps into a lake near Rome, GA.
Not only is the Coosa River Basin one of the top bass fisheries in the Southeast, it has many other species to target. Big largemouths, big spotted bass, hybrid bass, striped bass, monster bluegill, crappie and catfish all attract anglers to Rome. It could be described as a fisherman’s paradise.
For more information on Georgia's Rome visit their website.