Friday Fishing Report – al.com
Warmer weather this week and downpours could ignite the bite in area lakes once the storms have passed. Bass have been suspended from schools of shad in larger lakes, including those in the TVA system – find the bait by tracking seagulls, or measure them with large-screen sonar and fish for bait pods with 3 inch swimbaits, similar sized crankbaits or lipless cranks.
According to Guntersville guide Mike Gerry, by February will also be a good time to try lipless baits like Spro Aruku Shad on areas where hydrilla and milfoil have died. Gerry says fish especially like areas where new growth has just started to sprout from the bottom, usually 4 to 8 feet, during the warmer periods of late winter and early spring. Gerry enjoys both the yo-yo and the ‘rippin’ tactic, the latter releasing the decoy as he grabs strands of weed – he says the steep dart often triggers bites; www.fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com.
Crappie fishing may be the best bet by mid-March on the region’s lakes, with the delicious panfish activated in cold weather. Crappies also typically settle around bait beds in the winter, often on channels of submerged streams to heights of 12 to 15 feet. One of the best lakes in northern Alabama is Pickwick, with Bear and Yellow Creek both having noted winter poop spots. a few meters from the bottom.
The crappie bite is also present at the “Crappie Capitol”, Weiss Lake, explains guide Mark Collins, who specializes in catching “points”. Collins says trolling the river channel with 1/16 to 1/24 ounce jiffy jigs is a good way to locate schools, and fish can then be caught by dropping jigs or live minnows just above where they stand. Areas on channel drops, rock ledges, brush or woody cover typically hold fish, at depths of 14 to 16 feet, he says; www.markcollinsguideservice.com.
Winter weather has a positive impact on striped bass, which prefer cold water, so this is the perfect time to fish for striped bass on Lewis Smith Lake. Guide Mike Walker says his anglers are catching the biggest stripers of the year right now, and that action continues until February, with most trips bringing in multiple 15-20 pound fish as well as plenty of small fish. Slow troll walkers or drift shad or live suckers, up to 14 inches long, at depths of 40 to 60 feet along the edges of the canal to connect with the giant fish; www.fishing24-7guideservice.com. Additionally, the Sipsey River directly downstream of the dam continues to produce good trout fishing in the first mile or so due to regular stocking. The fish are small, 10 to 12 inches, but offer one of the few opportunities for brook trout fishing in Alabama. Drift live worms or Berkley trout bait under a bubble float to get them; www.riversideflyshop.com.
From the coast, wintry weather has pushed trout, reds and sheep to coastal streams and rivers, with Deer Creek, Fowl River, Dog River, Bayou La Batre and the Mobile Delta region all productive. The Theodore Industrial Canal is also a hot spot, especially after the passage of cold fronts, dragging fish down deep. Jigs with plastic shrimp tails work well in holes, and some anglers do particularly well with scented Powerbait and Gulp! Berkley tails. Live shrimp are also a good bet in these places. On hot afternoons, trout sometimes climb on bars along these rivers and can be caught in surface waters, notably the Rapala Skitter Vee; www.ateamfishing.com.