Those who want to get their angling fix this week might do well to get it done this weekend, before the forecast “arctic express” arrives to turn off the fishing in most lakes and rivers across the state.
With overnight temperatures predicted to be in the low 20s Tuesday night and get no higher than the 40s Wednesday through Friday, it’s likely that bass and bluegills will shut down at least until the following weekend when some warming is forecast.
The cold won’t necessarily affect deep water species like catfish, and the landlocked stripers at Lewis Smith and Logan Martin actually are much more active when the water is cooler, so these species will remain good targets. Crappie fishing likely will get better because crappies bite a lot better during the cooler months. Coastal fishing is also likely to remain steady, considering it won’t be nearly as cold in the southern counties, and saltwater fish tend to crowd into inshore holes and rivers when cold fronts arrive, making easy targets.
From Weiss Lake, guide Mark Collins reports prime time (until it gets cold) for schooling bass chasing shad at the surface. Collins says water temp is in the lower 60’s so far and that’s just right for topwater action as well as for throwing Rat-L-Traps at breaking fish. He said crappie fishing is rapidly improving with the cooler water as well, with best action at 12 to 16 feet on the channels around woody cover fishing live minnows just off bottom; www.markcollinsguideservice.com.
From Guntersville, Captain Mike Gerry says most fish are hanging at 4 to 7 feet and there is continuing surface feeding activity where topwaters and rattle-baits will score. He has also been finding some fish for his clients on Picasso Buzzbaits, the 48 Stick soft plastic and jigs with soft plastics fished on the outside edge of the grass; www.fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com.
At Lewis Smith, stripers will be on the move with the colder weather at midweek, moving up into the mouth of the Sipsey River and Brushy and Ryan Creeks as the water temperature drops. Live shad is always the top bait for these fish, but they can also be caught on realistic swimbaits like the Tsunami Swim Shad—fish it were you spot the stripers on sonar, usually at depths of 30 to 50 feet on the channel edges and humps. Spotted bass will also start to move shallower with the continuing cooldown—fish bays with lots of gravel and rock outcrops with deep diving crankbaits or with shaky head jigs in 1/8 ounce size. Below the dam, the cold weather won’t bother the trout, which prefer chilly water—drift Berkley Gulp trout bait or live worms under a bubble float to get them; www.riversideflyshop.com.
At Pickwick, catfish remains the best target, with lots of fish being caught by anglers drifting channel edges and around brushy cover with live worms, cut shad or cut skipjack. Crappie fishing is fair, with most fish at 8 to 12 feet in Yellow Creek and Bear Creek—slow trolling with jigs or live minnows will find the schools. Bass fishing has been slow but the smallmouth bite may pick up with the cooler weather—smallmouths are more active in cold water, with the annual peak usually January to March below Wilson Dam; www.brianbartonoutdoors.com.
From the coast, the cool down won’t be as severe but they are expecting 39 degrees Tuesday night, and that’s likely to be enough to push the Spanish mackerel and kings east and south as they follow the bait. The cooler weather will also push trout and reds up the bay towards the west shore rivers as well as the Mobile Delta. In the Dog and the Fowl rivers, topwaters or Slick soft plastics will catch plenty of trout, while in the murky water of the Delta, the best bet is a jig with soft plastic trailer, or a shrimp tail on a jig, slow-hopped on bottom in the holes and channels; www.ateamfishing.com.
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