It is now early May in north Alabama. This means that the “Spring Forward” version of Daylight Savings Time has just occurred, and our weather patterns are starting to stabilize and provide warmer, more stable temperatures. As they say, if you don’t like the weather, wait 24 hours. As I write this, it is 75 degrees and overcast. Tomorrow, the low is predicted to be 41 degrees with a high of 55 degrees. Just in time for my bass tournament on Saturday, when the temps are expected to again rise and be predictably stable until the next time I plan to go fishing, when the weather will inevitably take another turn for the worse.
While these climatic changes play havoc with your wardrobe, they also have a strong effect on the fish — especially this time of year, when you have fish in all three phases of the spawn. During this time, the fish are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and barometric pressure. Because most fish are situated in and around shallow water, they are more susceptible to these variances than if they were stationed on ledges with quick access to much deeper water, where temps and pressures don’t have as much effect.
Bass fishing this time of year, like the weather, is also starting to stabilize. Gone are the boom-or-bust days of the first spawning waves. With most fish in a post-spawn phase, the fishing becomes more predictable. While the fish are resting and recuperating from the laborious spawn, the bite can still be finicky, but the fish are at least predictable in where they should be located.
The bass are beginning to move toward their summer haunts of the river and creek channel ledges, main lake points, and deep, grassy flats. While most have not made it that far yet, there will be a few early arrivals. Most post-spawn females will still be located on mid-creek structure, the first cover or structure outside spawning bays, and the edges of large spawning flats. After a few days of rest, these big females will become more aggressive in their feeding habits, and more predictable in general. There are many ways to catch a bass this time of year on Lake Guntersville — as many as there are opinions on what color a boat should be.
Take your pick. Topwaters, specifically big walking baits and buzzbaits, catch their fair share of big ones right now and are a very fun way to fish if you can find some takers. Big worms fished Texas-rig either on bottom or swam through and around grass and other cover is a long-time producer just about anywhere, but particularly on Lake Guntersville. Carolina-rigged soft plastics will effectively cover those mid-depth humps and bars that so many fish are relating to right now. A big casting jig paired with a plastic trailer of your choice is never a bad idea. Big spinnerbaits, soft stick baits, vibrating jigs, swim jigs, swimbaits, squarebills and soft plastic jerkbaits are all productive baits right now. Some mimic shad or bluegill, others mimic crawfish or terrestrials. Whatever you choose to fish, you can probably find a fish willing to eat it right now.
That brings us to the holiest of holies for late spring and early summer fishing on Lake Guntersville – the deep-diving crankbait. A beloved and renowned tactic on Lake Guntersville that usually begins in the second week of May and culminates in the first week of June is fishing offshore and creek-mouth humps and structure with a big, deep-diving crankbait. Some of my fondest memories and most memorable catches were made using this technique. It’s one of my favorite techniques — and if you like to catch big bass, it should be one of yours, too. Sure, a big swimbait will probably catch the same fish, but there is nothing like the feel of a Big G giant loading up on a Fat Free Shad or 6XD and then shaking that enormous head on the way to the boat. That’s my kind of fun.
If I had to choose a lineup of baits for this time of year, I would definitely have the following items tied on: buzzbait/toad combination in black, Sammy or spook, shad-colored swimjig, 3/4-ounce spinnerbait, Senko or other soft plastic stick bait (rigged your favorite way — Texas, wacky, weightless, etc.), Carolina-rigged lizard or creature bait, 10- to 13-inch Texas-rigged worm, and a 1/2-ounce casting jig and trailer in your favorite color combo (black and blue jig with green pumpkin trailer is my favorite color combo). I would also have a big swimbait or crankbait tied on, just in case.
So, anglers, pick your poison, rig your rods — and get out there and have fun catching some fish! The crew at Frogg Toggs is going to be out there — so if you see us, stop and say hi. We love to meet new people on the water. We hope everyone has a great fishing season filled with loads of great memories of fun times with family and friends. Be courteous to other boaters and anglers, and please be respectful of the resource and the environment. Here’s wishing tight lines and good times to everyone on the water this summer.