Informed anglers worldwide know of Alabama fisheries on lakes Eufaula, Guntersville, Pickwick, Weiss and our offshore manmade reefs. Other fisheries like Jordan Lake’s spotted bass and Lake Martin’s striped bass rate just as high yet are not as famous. Still, others offer exceptional fishing, but remain relatively unknown.
Excellent populations of a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater species abound across the state. And though 36 picks are a lot to choose from, in Alabama, that’s just the start of a very long list of great places to fish. Picking any destination is exciting; it’s a chance to discover new angling adventures.
Largemouth Bass – Lake Eufaula
With water temperatures normally holding from 50 to 54 degrees in January, Lake Eufaula is your best opportunity for catching a 6-pound bass in the southern part of the state. Skilled, deep-water anglers can catch 20 fish a day and about half of those will weigh between 5 and 7 pounds.
Fish congregate on Eufaula’s ledges along the flooded Chattahoochee River course in January just as they do in July and August, but deeper. Focus on ledges 20 to 28 feet deep on the lower section of the main lake below White Oak Creek.
It’s possible to find fish with sonar, but it’s often difficult. Instead, drag a 10-inch Texas-rigged worm with a ¾-ounce sinker on the bottom.
For current fishing information, call Young’s Big Mouth Shop at (334) 687-3200, or visit them on Eufaula Avenue in Eufaula.
Watching schools of spotted bass busting shad on the surface in the morning on Lake Martin is thrilling. Cast topwater lures to breaking fish for fast action.
On Pickwick Lake you can bundle up to troll jigs over creek channels for slab-size crappie.
Blue Catfish – Wheeler Lake
On a cold day last February, catfish guide Mike Mitchell of Albertville assisted three clients in catching eight blues weighing a total of 420 pounds. The biggest weighed 102.52 pounds. Mitchell reported that many of the blue catfish his clients catch weigh more than 40 pounds.
Catch rates are low, but your chances of catching a trophy are good in winter. Catfish are cold-blooded, which makes them less active and less likely to inhale baits in cold water. On a good day, Mitchell catches five to eight fish.
“In winter,” Mitchell advised, “big fish gorge on shad. It’s not so much about fish holding to structure as it is about finding the shad.”
To book a winter guided trip, call Mike Mitchell at (256) 673-2250 or visit www.tnriveroutfitters.net.
Crappie on Weiss Lake know no season. It may take time to determine their preferred depth, but it’s worth the effort. Find them by trolling jigs across main-lake points.
Down in the Mobile Delta pre-spawn largemouths concentrate in Briar, Dead and McReyonlds lakes.
Crappie – Aliceville Lake
Aliceville’s shallow, weedy waters are first to reach spawning temperatures for crappie on the Tombigbee River. In fact, it’s surprising how many crappie are on the banks in February. By March, the spawn is in full swing, and the fishing is exceptional.
Start by fishing little pockets in the grass along the bank in areas protected from the wind. Amazingly, gaps in the grass as small as 5 feet can produce a dozen fish. If unsuccessful, fish the edge of the weed line, and always work the stickups, stumps and cypress trees in the shallows.
Minnows are effective, but it’s simpler to probe weedy perimeters with 1/16-ounce tube jigs fished 1 ½ feet below a bobber. Aliceville’s biggest slabs prefer pink-and-black or orange-and-black color combinations.
With sheep-like teeth ideal for crushing barnacles and shellfish, the sheepshead in Mobile Bay fight like giant bream and taste even better.
Also in March, the tailrace below Wheeler Dam offers excellent smallmouth bass action.
Spotted Bass – Jordan Lake
“April is my favorite month to fish Jordan Lake for spots,” reported guide Chad Miller. “The fish have moved off the beds and are feeding heavily to regain their strength. It’s the best time to catch high numbers, and we often catch 30 spots a day.”
Miller finds fish on the main lake from Mitchell Dam downstream to Jordan’s twin dams. Specifically, he targets any structure near the river channel that forms a current break at depths of 12 to 20 feet.
“Spots are conditioned to feed when there’s a current,” he explained, “so call 1-800-LAKES to get the schedule before fishing. These fish are mean and will strike your favorite lures.”
For a guided day on the water with Chad Miller, telephone (334) 300-5337, or visit his web at www.bamaspots.com.
Below the Neely Henry Dam, it’s possible to wade and fish for hybrid bass if only one turbine is running. Anglers report catching 20 fish in a few hours of angling.
Just off our beaches at Gulf Shores cobia are migrating west. These fish can be sight cast for plenty of action.
Largemouth Bass – Guntersville Lake
To win a tournament during May on Guntersville requires an average largemouth to weigh 5 pounds. In the last two May tournaments, five BASS anglers weighed in 20 fish with a total weight exceeding 100 pounds. On a good day, local anglers catch 25 to 35 fish weighing 3 to 5 pounds, with a big fish tipping the scales at 6 to 7 pounds. Look for those quality post-spawn fish near bedding areas in 3 to 9 feet of water.
These aggressive bass attack a variety of lures. For pure excitement, work a white ½-ounce buzzbait over weeds. If the vegetation is below the surface, another big-fish tactic is to swim a paddle tail worm.
For a guided trip, call Tim Chandler at (256) 655-8292 or visit his site at www.mildrillafishing.com.
In early May on Gantt Lake, there are so many shellcracker beds that many never get fished. The best bait for spawning shellcracker is a lively red wiggler.
Another hot fishing spot this month is Lewis Smith Lake for striped bass.
Bluegill – Mobile Delta
Anglers across Alabama catch enormous numbers of bluegill and this is especially true in the Mobile Delta. The fishing is so good bream anglers consider the area a vacation destination to fill coolers.
Biologists attribute the Delta’s excellent fishing to a combination of its fertile watershed, the area’s nutrient-rich soil, available forage and unique habitat. They recommend fishing the upper Delta north of Interstate 65 in Big Beaver, Bear, Little and Nap lakes.
Bluegill spawn in summer so fishing beds is productive. However, another method that’s just as effective is to fish the creek mouths where bluegill congregate as they move to and from spawning areas. Anchor and fish 2 to 14 feet deep.
For current fishing conditions, call Upper Bryant Landing on the Tensaw River at (251) 937-1045.
During summer Cahaba River flathead catfish leave holes at dusk to feed in shallow water. Fish live bullheads on inside bends of the river to catch these delicious fish.
On Lay Lake fishing for spotted bass is exceptional on river ledges downstream of the Gaston steam power plant.
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