Fall in Northeast Alabama

What does it mean? It depends on who you ask.  The split is pretty even as you got your dedicated bass fishermen who are on the lake come rain/sleet/snow.  And then you have the other side of the spectrum.  When the calender says Oct. 15, they are in a tree or a blind looking for ‘ole mossy horns’.

The diversity of game in Northeast Alabama gives fall a different meaning.  A sportsman has a tough decision to make, should I fish or should I hunt.  Either way, the chances of taking a wall-hanger, whether it’s a big bass or a big buck are good.  Alot of the sportsmen in this area are also big college football fans, that is another kink in the armour of the sportsmen.  Personally, this year has been quite unique for myself.  Not one minute in the deer woods for me so far.  With a move to a new house a little over a month ago, my fall plans were put on hold.

All of the turmoil of college football aside, lets focus on the origin of this story…the fishing.   At the time of this article, the hydrilla mats are still intact in many areas that I fish.  Our climate has been on the warm side this entire fall season, so far.  The last trip to the Tennessee River showed that the water temps were in the upper 50’s to the lower 60’s.  The grass that is still submerged is as green as spring. 

With that being said, alot of the crappie spots are still covered in hydrilla.  Unless it is in the main part of the river or backwater with some current from a stream or creek.  With the lack of any measurable percipitation since the hurricanes, the water levels are down at least 2-3 ft from normal pool.  Creeks that usually bring in fresh, cool clean water to the Lake are drying up.  Some of my favorite crappie spots have been producing for other people so far this fall.

I heard a report of crappie starting to heat up on the Big G, although the author wouldn’t reveal his source, I have a pretty good idea of where the fish were caught.  Visit any causeway, rip-rap points on the upper end of the lake, the results will be good for the species.   I personally enjoy fall crappie fishing, if I’m not in the deer woods.  I have two spots that usually produce some good numbers of fish.  The size varies, but the bigger fish are were my father fishes, he isn’t telling either.   As far as the size of the crappie in the Guntersville lake area, it is not uncommon to see some 2+ pound fish.  Alot of the bigger crappie are caught by anglers while they are bass fishing.

Lure selection for the tasty fish vary from angler to angler.  Minnows seem to be the ticket with most, while others like myself prefer artificials.  Small tubes and grubs, to the everfamous Beetle spin are tied on to anglers light lines.  I have had a lot of success with a 1/16oz tiger series of Rooster Tails. White tiger and Fire Tiger with the half painted blades to match the colors of the body and hair have produced the best results for me.  The 1/16oz size is just perfect for the smaller presentation, but they also attract larger fish also, which will be explained later.

I know in my circle of friends, rod and reel selection can be as different as night and day.  For instance, I have a friend that swears by the long black "cane" poles, in the 9+ ft variety.  My uncle likes to use a Zebco Model 11 on a 6′ 6" casting rod.  Dad prefers a Mitchell reel that he has used for years and is still using it today.  As far as myself, I have two ultralight reels that I keep ready for the crappie.  The first one is a Shakespere UL spinning reel on a 6′ 6" spinning rod, the other is newer version of the older Shakespere UL and it is on a 5′ 6" ultralight rod.  I normally use 4lb test for my crappie/panfish reels. If you are fishing for crappie on the Big G, be warned…You can expect to catch a nice bass while fishing for crappie.  It happened to me last year. After a fight that seemed to last for an eternity (almost 10 min.) and 4 runs under the boat, that 4lb test had the lick.  I saw her swim from the edge of my boat back to her territory. 

Fall here in Northeast Bama give sportsmen too many choices, but for some of them the choice is clear.  A good mess of "slabs", the fellowship and excitement of catching them bring the anglers back each fall.

Eric Couch

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