Introduction: The team heads to Alabama to fish alongside East Coast
dealers as Shimano showcases their newly released Curado and Citica E reels. At
the same time we learn about the exceptional bass fishing at Dream Lake Lodge in
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We set out on our trip flying from the West Coast
to Birmingham Alabama, a flight which had one stop in Chicago. From
Birmingham we drove East to Livingston, which is about a one and a half hour
drive. Anglers can also fly into the smaller city of Jacksonville, but the drive
is just about identical.
Cal checks the TT forum in while
waiting for the plane at Chicago
When we arrived at the Dream Lake
Lodge it was well after dark and after a full day travelling and we were met by
the team at Shimano and Chad Bracknell, son of Paul and Connie Bracknell, the
owners of the property. There wasn't much we could see at night but we were able
to head down to the boat dock directly flanking the lodge to check out the boats
we would be fishing out of in just a few hours.
Minutes after we arrive at the
lodge we check out the lodge's boat setup
The lodge has fourteen 21 foot
Stratos bass boats, and we immediately noticed that the outboards on all the
boats were missing, and in their place a rudder. Power on all of these boats is
courtesy of Minn Kota Maxxum foot controlled trolling motors. Chad explained
that the lakes are small enough that trolling power is more than enough, and
there were also no electronics on the boat as the fish spook with electronics
on. He also explained that the boats were all specially weighted down because
like any other bass boat they are designed to be mounted with a heavy outboard,
so all of their boats were specially weighted down so they would be perfectly
stable without an outboard. We would have to wait until sunrise to get on the
water, but we maximized the time by swapping stories with the team at Shimano
and prepping our gear.
A few hours later we set out on
Dream Lake I
Just before sunrise Chad gave us
the background on Dream Lake. His family was once in the tackle business,
running a retail store in town. It was in this shop that Chad literally spent
his childhood growing up around tackle and fishermen. During this period his
father Paul decided it was time to do something new, and dreamt about creating a
premier sporting destination for both fishing and hunting. Putting it all on the
line he purchased some land and began creating Dream Lake.
Plenty of mist on the water as the
The original Dream Lake was
completed in 1990, and anglers could visit the lake for a day and pay to fish.
It started to gain fame as a destination for trophy bass and soon word spread as
TV shows starting showing up to film on the productive lake. Today there are two
lakes on the property, the original Dream Lake I which is 77 acres, and Dream
Lake II which was completed in 2000 is 50 acres. To accommodate out of town
anglers looking for a overnight or even weeklong getaway the family constructed
a lodge on the bank of Dream lake II.
The sunrise is breathtaking and
almost dream like
These lakes are not large by any
means, but they are managed beyond belief. Both lakes are continually fertilized
and stocked with Florida strain Bass, Blue Gill, Coppernose bream, Thread Fin
Shad, Tilapia, and Crawfish. Dream Lake I & II have 100's of rock piles, flooded
timber, ledges and ditches. Dream Lake I has 19 underwater aerators, Dream Lake
II has 12 underwater aerators. Both Lakes have depths up to 25 feet deep and
each lake has a dock with covered boat slips that have power and water.
Jeremy works a crankbait as
swallows swarm over the water
With the sun about to come up it
was finally time to go fishing. Zander fished the first day with Jeremy Sweet,
Shimano's Reel Product Manager, while Cal was paired with Justin Poe, Shimano's
Rod Product Manager. Both of the Shimano guys had come out early and fished with
other dealers during the week, and already knew the productive spots. The lures
that were working were Texas and Carolina rigged worms, poppers, shallow cranks,
buzzbaits, and spinnerbaits. Thus far nobody had really tried fishing swimbaits
and jerkbaits and spooks were seemingly ineffective.
Dan "Banatam1" (left) with a
dealer fish the shoreline
We started the first day on Dream
Lake I, and within minutes of launching it became clear why the name of the lake
was appropriate. Even before the fish were hitting we marveled at the incredible
scenery on the lake. A morning on Dream Lake looks just like you did a nosedive
into the pages of your favorite fishing magazine. With the combination of warm
water and cool air the mist off the surface of the lake was for lack of a better
word....dreamlike. The moisture in the air created a surreal sunrise and as
hundreds of Swallows descended on the lake at sunrise we knew this was going to
be a rare experience.
A look at the structure at Dream
We started out fishing the edges
opposite of the launch ramp and Jeremy motioned to cast towards the bank. "The
tighter you can drop your lure the better, these fish seem to be holding real
tight to shore, and on this lake there is structure everywhere."
Benny Landrum of Shimano fishes
near the feeder
Jeremy wasn't kidding either,
Dream Lake (both of them) have incredible amounts of fish holding structure in
the form of submerged trees, flooded timber, ledges, ditches, rock piles, and
aerators. We were catching fish on every fifth cast, and all of them were
between the two and three pound cast when we heard what sounded to us like a
bunch of pebbles being tossed into the water.
Justin rigs a shallow crankbait
"What the heck was that?" Zander
asked. "That's the feeder," Jeremy replied. "It goes off then the next one down
the line will go in eight minutes, there are a lot of fish that hang out
underneath the feeders, a lot of carp too." The carp were originally introduced
to the system top help balance out the ecosystem but many had been conditioned
to simply hover underneath the feeder, and would go into a frenzy as the food is
released. Bass compete for the food as well, and every time a feeder would go
off the area would come alive with fish breaking the surface. Fishing directly
beneath the feeder didn't seem that effective, but fishing in the surrounding
area yielded many strikes.
Justin turns to plastics to slow
it down so that Cal can work swimbaits
While all of us were catching fish
Shimano Customer Service and Forum Support Dan also known as Bantam1 on our
forum was schooling everyone. He was killing us on both numbers and quality and
had the lake patterned. He was fishing mainly plastics, but the key was he knew
where to find the fish. Working real tight on structure Dan pulled twice as many
fish as we did no more than 100 feet away.
Bantam1 works the submerged timber
Thinking it was time to mix it up
Cal turned to his strength...swimbaits. It didn't matter that they hadn't been
proven during the week, it was the way that he wanted to catch the fish. Justin
didn't seem to mind and positioned the boat alongside some submerged timber.
Zander and Jeremy were about 300 feet away when the screaming began.