Yes, It’s Hot, But the Fishing on Alabama Lakes Is Hot, Too
It’s July in Alabama now and we anglers could be forgiven for wishing for some of those brutally cold breezes we suffered with back in January. Keeping cool on the water may require anglers to fish very early and very late or at night.
Even when the weather is hot, fish in all of the Alabama lakes must still eat. Anglers who take the time to look for the best concentrations of fish of all species can have some great fishing.
Anglers are reminded to have the sunblock along and use it. Sunburn can occur in just a few minutes at this time of year and can ruin fishing trips.
A good properly fitted personal floatation device for each angler aboard the boat is necessary. It’s also the law, so get the floatation devices on when the boat is moving.
Of course, it wouldn’t be summer in Alabama without afternoon thunderstorms. Anglers need to be ready to head for shelter when the thunder starts and then hit the water after the storm blows over. It will usually be a lot cooler after the storm anyway.
Let’s see what some of the best anglers in Alabama can tell us about the summer fishing in the Cotton State.
Our buddy Capt. Brian Barton advises us that fishing at Wilson will be quite good this July. A wide range of fish can be targeted and caught in the fine north Alabama lakes.
Captain Brian tells us to fish the upper portion of the lake for catfish. Big fish will be on the beds, so look for flats and gravel bars in 10 to 25 feet of water. Lime Kiln Hollow and Hog Island are good locations to start a search for the big catfish in July.
For smaller eating-size cats, the Wheeler Dam tailrace and flats in the mouth of Big Nance Creek are good drift-fishing locations. Use cut shad, chicken livers, shrimp or nightcrawlers for bait.
For bream, target weed beds along pea gravel shorelines. Bream will be bedding when the full moon comes, so try to fish during this time. Use crickets, worms or small artificial lures near the edges of the weeds for best results.
Another hot fishing venue in July is for stripers, hybrids and white bass near the dam when water is being actively pulled through the dam. Use silver or other shad-pattern lures to target the big striped hard-pulling predators.
July means bass anglers on famous Lake Guntersville will be working the grass later in the month. The central section of the lake is a very good area to focus the search for bass.
Capt. Jake Davis tells us that in early July, lots of bass will be on the ledges after a morning topwater bite. As the sun gets higher and hotter, anglers can work deeper ledges where the bass will be found looking for cooler, moving water.
Anglers can have good luck with soft plastics and crankbaits on the ledges. Jigs are not a bad idea, either. Lures with a touch of red are good for Guntersville bass.
Captain Jake advises anglers, “A 1/2-ounce Mussel Crawler jig from Tight Line Jigs (2tightlinejigs.com) in either Guntersville Special or Green Tequila colors are very good.”
As July moves on, the world famous Guntersville frog bite will commence. Anglers have a lot of excitement fishing frogs over the heavy grass. Captain Jake recommends a Pro-Z Bait frog (pro-zbaits.com) in dark colors.
Panfishing can be tough in July. Both bream and crappie will be deeper and slower to bite this month, but anglers can still find good fishing especially below floating docks in deep water.
Capt. Lee Pitts advises anglers that bass fishing is good at Weiss Lake in July. Anglers can use topwaters both early and late and then fish deeper structure in the middle part of the day.
Anglers can have good success at Weiss fishing very early near floating cover. Spinnerbaits can be very good. Many bass anglers fish the shallows all day long at Weiss with good success, but fishing near heavy cover is best. When the sun gets up, the topwater bite will usually be over until almost dark, but anglers can find lots of good largemouth and spotted bass on ledges and breaks on creek channels.
“For catfish anglers, this is your time of the year. Jugs, rods and reels, heck you can jump in and grab them by hand!” – Capt. Lee Pitts, fishing guide
Crappie will have dispersed. Their conditions are not the best during hot weather. However, for those hardcore crappie anglers who just want to catch slabs, fishing around bridge structure and under lights can be productive. Crappie will be very deep. The best crappie fishing will be at night under lanterns and dock lights.
Catfish anglers might want to take a trip to visit Weiss Lake this month. Captain Lee says, “For catfish anglers, this is your time of the year. Jugs, rods and reels, heck you can jump in and grab them by hand!”
Like at most of the lakes in Alabama in July, anglers on Millers Ferry will want to fish very early before the sun gets high and hot. Black buzzbaits can be very effective before sunrise. Main river ledges will hold bass after the sun gets up.
Joe Dunn of Dunn’s Sports in Thomasville, Ala. says that crappie will be spawned out now and will be suspended around stumps and snags along channels. These fish will respond to vertical jigging. Joe likes Road Runners with Southern Pro grub bodies in Popsicle and Weiss Lake Killer colors at this time. Sometimes, larger size jigs and grubs work well this month.
Bass anglers will want to work channels and grass beds early. Working the shallows sometimes work if the shallows are close to deeper, cooler water.
Joe Dunn reminds us that for all fishing at Millers Ferry, the best action will occur when the dam is pulling water and there’s a current present in the lake. Another bit of advice for bass anglers, look for green fallen trees in the water. Bass seem to really orient themselves to the living trees at this time of year.
For some great fishing and eating, catfishing at night can be great on whole shad. This bait will attract some big catfish. Long lining jugs in the main river channel with 15- to 30-foot-long jug lines can really produce in July.
Capt. Sam Williams tells us that it’s a good chance that the weather will be hot in July. He also gives us some good advice for fishing at good ol’ Lake Eufaula.
He says that both bass and crappie will be on deeper trash piles and ledges in 12 to 25 feet of water. Carolina rigs, big-lipped crankbaits and jigs will all be good. Black is a very good color at this time. A 3/4-ounce Texas rig with a big black Mann’s Jelly Worm (mannsbait.com) is good for big bass in July.
Bass anglers will find fish eager to bite at Eufaula early and late. Bass will be holding where anything casts a shadow on the water. Lily pads in particular can be very good cover in July. Threadfin shad pattern crankbaits work well.
Crappie will be best at night both under lanterns and around bridge structures. Try to find the level where shad schools hold and then fish a jig at that depth.
For some real fun in a different way, jug fishing for catfish is a very effective way to gather a big mess of good-eating catfish in July.
IMPORTANT GUIDE CONTACT INFORMATION
Capt. Brian Barton
Capt. Jake Davis
Mid-South Bass Guide Service
33356 Highway 43
Capt. Lee Pitts
Little River Marina and Lodge Pitt Stop
Capt. Sam Williams
Hawks Fishing Guide Service