Posted by jd on September 16, 2002 at 14:38:27:
In Reply to: Winter Fishing posted by wyomingjoe on September 15, 2002 at 19:20:15:
It all depends on the weather, but it might pay off to make the drive a little more north to the Tennessee River. As you may or may not know, winter weather and water temps are very upredictable in north Alabama. Also, the TN river can get flooded and muddy quickly depending on winter precipitation.
I can't remember if it was 1998 or 1999, but I recall wearing a t-shirt while fishing for striped bass on February 2 so the air temperature must have been close to 70 and I bet the water temp was mid to upper 50's (just a guess). It was one of the best days ever. We caught several hybrids 5-8 pounds from the bank, and guys in the boats were killing them. However, on many years, it seems to be early March when stripe fishing is best.
It all depends on how die-hard you are, but my best-bet guesses for January-February time frame:
1. Fish for sauger (locally called "jack salmon" or "jack") which are cousins with walleye and like cold water. They tend to school in some of the deeper parts of the lakes and are exclusive to the TN river when fishing for them in AL. If water is starting to warm (50's??), they swim upriver to spawn where they literally run into a wall below the dams. Some of the best times are when the water is freezing on your rod's line guides, and it is cloudy and rainy. You have to REALLY like fishing to fish for jacks. It is not a pleasant feeling to back a trailer into the water and find out that the boat ramp has ice on it - especially a steep ramp like below G-dam! Lot of hazards, mostly hypothermia, if something goes wrong fishing in the winter.
2. Fish for stripers below Guntersville or Wheeler dam. Lots of people complain about all the DNR stocked striped bass eating the black bass on Smith lake, so maybe you can catch them there?? I have never fished Smith for stripers.
3. The crappie often start to school up around the bridges in January-February, but again, weather is the driving force.
4. Late winter is historically a good time to catch a BIG black bass. Perhaps Guntersville is best for largemouth, and Pickwick for smallmouth.
Keep an eye on this website as people get cabin fever and begin to venture out in late winter. Also, do a search on this website for articles to get more tips on crappie and sauger techniques, especially the articles written by Alex as they give even experienced fishermen a new perspective and ideas. As for a guide, it depends on what you want to catch and where you want to go. As for black bass, Troy Jens is one of the most well known guides partly due to his participation with fishing reports and helping people on this and other web sites. Troy is a well known and respected bass fishing guide and is the only one that I have fished with. However, there are other well known guides in the area so check around. Doug Campbell and Tee Kitchens also bass fish Guntersville. If you decide when and where, post again here with at least a week's notice, and someone will put you in touch with the right person.
More than anything, I wish you and all of us good luck with the winter weather! I have seen many late winter fishing seasons plagued with wind, cold, and muddy water.
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