Fishing Doesn’t Get Much Better On the Lakes Than In April
April gives Alabama angler some wide choices when it comes to fishing. Bass are still on the beds in most of the big lakes. Crappie are just finishing their red-hot spawning and anglers can still fill an ice chest with big slabs. Bream are starting to really heat up as they get ready for the annual bedding time. Truly enough, it’s just a fine time to be on the lakes of Alabama.
Of course, April anglers will need to be aware of changing weather conditions. Spring storms can bring some extreme rain and wind. Anglers will need to think about heading back to the dock when the first rumble of thunder is heard. Even perfect days with clear skies and bright sun can present problems. After a winter of low light and indoor conditions, many anglers are in danger of being badly sunburned on that first April fishing trip. Be sure to bring aboard good rain gear and lots of adequate sun block for April trips.
Capt. Brian Barton tells us, “April will have the greatest range in water temperature of the three traditional spring months. Water temperatures will begin in the low to mid 50s and by the end of the month reach the 70-degree mark, which starts some cats moving toward their spring bedding grounds. Catfish will start migrating into the mouths of deeper sloughs early this month.”
Look for fish along break lines and sharp drop-offs in 25 to 40 feet of water. Catfish will stage along drops waiting to move shallower for spawning, while also being able to get deep-water access if a late season cold front pushes through the area. Mouths of major creeks like Shoal, McKernan, Six Mile and Big Nance will all hold staging fish this month. In the main lake, fish should concentrate along the base of bluff lines relating vertically to blowdowns and chunk rock where present. Some fish will always be on or near the bottom, but look for fish to start suspending in the water column as the water warms throughout the month.
“A good way to catch cats is to use a 2/0 or 3/0 Mister Twister weighted worm hook with medium-heavy action spinning tackle,” Barton says. “Bait it with shad, skipjack or chicken livers. Cast toward the bluff and allow the bait to slowly fall to the bottom. I like Vicious 14-pound-test fluorocarbon line so I can detect even the lightest strikes. If live crawfish can be found, they are deadly for big blue cats fished this way.”
A good tip for this month would be to talk to the local crappie fisherman. Many of them will be side trolling and long lining with live minnows. When they hit a school of hungry blues, every rod in the boat will bend. They can provide you with locations and specific depths where cats are holding.
Tops and just off the river ledges will be good spots to target. The mouths of Indian, Second and Bear Creeks will hold plenty of catfish this month. Look for these fish in anywhere from 15 to 35 feet of water. On the upper end of Pickwick near the dam, look for concentrations of cats behind wing walls and rock piles that run horizontally along the lake. The barge canal below the dam is an excellent place to fish late in the month.
“Last year during the last weekend of April, we took 47 cats on jugs in less than five hours,” Barton recalled. “For those who like to jug fish, set jugs eight to 12 feet deep and bait with shrimp, shad gut or cut bait. The gravel bar at Pond Creek will load up with spawning channel catfish this month. To target these fish, anchor upstream and along the edge of the gravel bar.”
Capt. Sam Williams says that if the water clears after spring high water, anglers should find fishing conditions to improve greatly. Bass will be found near brush piles on the river edges and anglers will need to look for grass growing rapidly. Soft plastics rigged Carolina style and lipless crankbaits will pull these bass in. Bass will be found in good groups near the mouths of creeks. “The hydrilla should be growing and creating thick mats of vegetation, which will hold better bass,” Captain Sam says. “Anglers should look for the fresh green color. If this new grass is near other structure, such as blowdowns or old lily pad stems, it deserves some time and attention.”
If new grass is near other structure, such as blowdowns or old lily pad stems, it deserves some time and attention. – Capt. Sam Williams, fishing guide
Another big draw for Eufaula anglers is the catfish bite. It will be getting very good in April when the whiskerfish will be going to the spawning beds. Live bait or big chunks of cut bait will work on either rod and reel rigs or juglines.
Captain Sam says, “They’ll be up in creeks. Look for them in weeds and pads.” He tells us that a little caution is in order when pulling on juglines that seem to have big catfish on them.
Anglers looking for some fast white bass and hybrid action can use lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits in silver or white colors near creek and river channels. Most of the fish will be either heading upstream to spawn or downstream back to the main lake after they’ve completed spawning.
April will also see bream of all kinds starting their annual move to shallow water for bedding. Try live bait fished on the bottom around shoreline cover for April bream action. Don’t be surprised when a big catfish takes live bait intended for a bluegill. When this happens, life can get pretty interesting for a while.
Anglers are reminded that the Alabama Children’s Classic Bass Tournament will be held on June 3 at Lakepoint Marina Resort on Lake Eufaula. For more information, click the link or call 334-687-6266.
Capt. Lee Pitts says, “Bass are going to be super shallow and in or near the grass. Locating the new growth water vegetation is a high priority for anglers looking for the best bass fishing. If you can find some fresh green or a mix of old and new grass, find the grass with the yellow-tipped flowers. The bass like that better.”
Selecting lures for April is pretty simple. Spinnerbaits, jigs in 3/8-ounce weights or soft-plastic lizards will all work well in the springtime grass. For the spinnerbaits, go with white or white and chartreuse colors. Just slow roll it across the bottom. Another good April technique is to let the spinnerbait sink and then slowly hop it back. When the spinnerbait reaches the end of the grass, just let it “die” and sink. Often the bass will take it as it falls toward the bottom.
Jig colors that work well on Weiss bass are black and blue or green pumpkin colors. The Zoom Super Chunk is a very good addition to the jig. The Gene Larew Biffle-O series of soft plastic lures are also very good on Weiss in April.
Location is important in April. Captain Lee tells us, “The better fish will be way in the backs of pockets.”
Weiss is famous for its crappie fishing and April is a great month to get in on the crappie bite. Crappie will be shallow around brush piles, piers and stump rows. Crappie will be spawning the whole month, so the fishing and catching will be hot if the fish can be located and the angler puts the right bait before them. Lots of 2- to 2.5-pound crappie will be located and caught in April.
Captain Lee says, “We like to throw a cork with a jig under it. A Southern Pro jig in 1/32-ounce weight in dark colors such as black and chartreuse or gape and chartreuse are great on cloudy days. On brighter days we’ll go with black and red, blue and sour grape or white and chartreuse colors.”
Fishing the cork and jig combination for big slabs is pretty easy – if you don’t like to work too hard and too fast. Captain Lee advises crappie chasers. “Throw the jig with a 3-foot leader. Ease it eight to 10 inches and stop. Let it swing and try to shake it under the jig. Work this rig near cover.”
Captain Lee reminds anglers, “Most flats on Weiss have stumps, holes or something that’s holding the fish. Find the structure and you’ll find the fish. We’ll keep working these spots.”
Little River Marina is a great place for anglers to stay when fishing Weiss Lake. The fully equipped lodge puts anglers right in the middle of Weiss Lake fishing action.
LAKE NEELY HENRY
Captain Lee also fishes Lake Neely Henry. He tells us that Neely Henry and Weiss Lake operate on slightly different spring schedules, but they’re both very good for anglers in spring.
He says, “Neely Henry is a few weeks later than Weiss. All back bays and tributaries will be very good. Anglers should go as far back as possible in the feeder creeks and bays that open into the main lake. Try to fish boat docks and other structure that will be holding and sheltering spawning bass.”
Bass anglers can try fairly large crankbaits in shad patterns around shallow structure and over points. Don’t neglect the backs of coves where the bass will be bedding in April. Just as in the Weiss Lake report, anglers on Neely Henry can’t go wrong in April by fishing shallow.
Captain Lee says, “You can’t get too shallow. I’ve seen the backs of bass out of the water like feeding carp.”
To catch these shallow water bass, anglers should throw fairly large spinnerbaits in white and chartreuse colors. Try to put the bait as close to structure as possible and let the spinnerbait drop to the bottom from time to time.
Neely Henry has a good mix of largemouth and spotted bass. Captain Lee tells us, “The spots will be on river structure and the first points of shorelines. They like some current. Spots love spinnerbaits in orange and chartreuse patterns with gold spinners. They really like gold!”
Crappie fishing will be very good in April. Most crappie will be down river in the bigger sloughs. Anglers should try jigs under floats, just as mentioned in the Weiss Lake report. Live minnows work very well at times and it never hurts to have a bucket of lively minnows handy to tip on a jig.
Capt. Jake Davis says the fish will all be on the spawn and anglers can find fish in shallower water than usual. Captain Jake says, “Fish the sloughs and shallow flats off the main rivers. The Goose Pond Marina area and the Mud Creek areas are both very good for bass in April.”
Bass in Guntersville will often nest on grass flats. They will make beds under the grass mats as protection and cover. This can help anglers locate bedding fish. Any green grass needs to be worked with lizards, worms, chunks or creature baits. All will work when dropped into or below the green grass. Try the soft plastics as trailers for jigs in 3/8- to 1/2-ounce weights. Black and blue or peanut butter and jelly (purple with brownish steaks) are good colors for bedding bass. Use Rat-L-Traps in red colors when fishing murky water and Texas shad patterns in clear water.
It’s possible to fish for a good mess of crappie and then throw big silver crankbaits or spinnerbaits at the edges of the crappie beds to catch big bass that have been dining on the crappie. – Capt. Jake Davis, fishing guide
About 12- to 14-pound-test line, either monofilament or fluorocarbon will work. The grass won’t be so thick that anglers need heavier line.
Crappie anglers looking for good slab action will find crappie on the beds on flats. They will often be in the same general area as spawning bass. Captain Jake says, “I’ll find flats with crappie spawning and the bass will be eating the crappie. It’s possible for anglers to fish for a good mess of fine eating crappie and then throw big silver crankbaits or spinnerbaits at the edges of the crappie beds to catch some big bass that have been dining on the crappie, too.”
To catch the crappie, try live minnows or small plastic jigs worked very slowly across the bedding areas.
Bream anglers should start to find bluegills and redears moving into shallower water. Don’t be surprised if bream start to show up while anglers are working crappie beds. Bream will take small crappie jigs, but crickets and red worms fished on light tackle, say 6-pound-test line, work best.
For anglers on the eastern side of the state, Lake Wedowee is always worth a trip to catch some fish. This is especially true in the spring. Capt. Brian Morris, who has guided on Lake Wedowee for a long time, says, “April is spawning month. From April 5 to mid-April, the best fish will be caught.”
Captain Brian advises bass anglers to target sunny pockets with jerkbaits. These minnow-like baits worked very slowly can be quite effective on bedding bass. Try green pumpkin colors. Slow rolling a big 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with willow-leaf blades can also be very good on spawning bass. Chartreuse and white or shad colors if the water is clear are good bets to attract big bass. April is a very good month to find bigger bass at Wedowee.
Captain Brian says, “April and May are when quality fish are caught. Bass in the 3- to 5-pound range are common. For anglers not familiar with fishing Wedowee, they should go south of the Highway 48 Bridge to target points and pockets. Fish the points first and then work deeper into the pockets.”
For the big spotted bass in Wedowee, Captain Brian advises the use of shaky head or Carolina rigged plastic worms worked on points with deeper water close by. Try to keep a tight line as spots sometimes take a plastic bait gently.
For crappie, Captain Brian says, “They’ll be about spawned out. I look for brush piles and blowdowns around creek mouths. Throw a 1/16-ounce jig and work the brush.” Tipping the jig with a live minnow can up the chances of getting crappie to bite.
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Capt. Jake Davis
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