When a big bass strike comes on a top-water lure, few things are more exciting.
The weedmat at the surface of Lake Guntersville was thick and created a deep shadow which made the water darker and cooler below. Schools of small baitfish—shad and bream—swirled below the weedmat for cover and protection from some big, hungry predators that were constantly on the lookout for easy food.
One of the predators was a big (eight pounds or better) female largemouth bass that had completed her spawning duties last spring and spent the summer (now just ending) feeding heavily. This particular weedmat had been kind to the big bass when it came to providing easy pickings for food.
A small disturbance caught the attention of the big bass. Something very unlucky this day had started a slow trip across the top of the weedmat, and the bass was ready for yet another easy meal.
A dark silhouette moved across the weed tops, and when the dark victim reached a small open hole in the weeds, it made the fatal mistake of stopping and resting in the small patch of open water. The big bass attacked. The surface of Lake Guntersville exploded as the big bass gobbled the poor floating victim.
Sometimes the tables in life are turned, and this big bass soon discovered that the unlucky thing she had eaten had an angler on the other end of the line. A strong fight started and the big bass ran hard to reach the safety of the thick weeds in deeper water. But the angler kept pressure on the fish. When the pull of the line came from directly above her, she could not resist the steady pull upward.
When the fight was over, the big bass lay tired at boatside, and the angler had shaking hands that struggled to unhook and release the big bass to fight again.
This scene happens at Lake Guntersville a lot, and it’s the kind of thing that anglers dream about.
For most freshwater anglers, the best fishing memories involve top-water strikes and fights, and most of us freshwater anglers remember struggles with big bass hooked on top-water lures better than any other kind of fishing experiences we’ve had.
Now, aren’t we Alabama anglers lucky that we have one of the most famous bass fishing lakes in the world in our state? And aren’t we lucky that top-water fishing is one of the most reliable ways to encounter really big bass at Lake Guntersville?
It’s not enough to have the great Lake Guntersville close at hand. We need some help to achieve our best fishing results; and help we have.
We’ve invited a guest panel of Lake Guntersville experts to present their opinions and experiences about top-water fishing on Lake Guntersville. All are experienced guides and tournament anglers, and they have some good advice to offer anglers who want to fish Guntersville and experience the top-water explosion.
Our guests are Captain Doug Nichles, Captain Mike Gerry, Captain Lee Pitts, and Caption Tim chandler.
Lake Guntersville: When to go for Best Top-Water Fishing
We’ll start our panel discussion of top-water fishing on Lake Guntersville by looking at the best time of the year to find the top-water explosion.
Although the bass bite at Guntersville is year-round, for the best and fastest top-water action, there are some times that are better than others. Our expert panel tells us the following:
Captain Doug Nichles: The month of October is the best month for the top-water frog bite over the weeds. The brighter the day, the better the frog bite. For hard bait top-water lure fishing—June and July—the action can be incredible. It’s very possible to catch 50 bass a day, even in the middle of the day.
Captain Mike Gerry: From the middle of summer through fall, the top-water fishing is best. Once the grass in the lake gets to the top of the water, we get a lot more top-water strikes. The bass will be feeding on shad around the grass. The frog bite requires the bass to be in the weeds.
Captain Lee Pitts: The best time for top-water fishing on Guntersville is October, but it’s good from June on. In October, the fish are feeding up and really chasing bait. What grass is left from the summer is where the bass will be holding.
Captain Tim Chandler: During May and June is good over the top of submerged grass. Top-water fishing is still good through July, but the fall is really good. The bait has moved to the backs of creeks. he frog fishing over weeds is better in September and October.
Lake Guntersville: Where to go for Best Top-Water Fishing
Guntersville is a mighty big lake, and in order to avoid wasting time searching barren areas for good top-water spots, our panel of experts offer us the following advice:
Captain Doug Nichles: The exact location to fish on Guntersville varies day to day and by the time of each day. In the morning, shallow bays and pockets with water over the tops of weeds are good. During the day, river flats where weeds are matted on the surface are good, especially for the frog bite.
Captain Mike Gerry: Focus on fishing around bait. The specific location varies, but generally the better bass are off points and ledges; that’s where the bait gathers. South Sauty Creek is always a good location. There’s always lots of bait in South Sauty.
Captain Lee Pitts: I look for the backs of creeks and the backwaters off the main river. I look for those places that still have good depth; say five to eight feet of water. I like the area up the river around the B.B. Coamer Bridge, and I like Mud Creek area. Year after year, these places hold fish in early spring and fall. You’ll find some big fish there.
Captain Tim chandler: Mostly, I like to fish pockets and bays. I go where new grass is growing in water six feet deep or less. The fish will be in the grass. You can put in anywhere on Lake Guntersville; just find and fish the grass, and fish will be there.
What Kind of Lure and How to Work it
Just about every bass angler has a favorite top-water plug, and to be honest they will all work at Guntersville at certain times. However, for biggest results, let’s see what our experts tell us about what they pull from their tackle boxes when they go top-water bass fishing on Guntersville.
Captain Doug Nichles: I like a Super Spook, and it needs to be in a shad or perch pattern. The fish will dictate what retrieve pattern is best on any particular day. In general, I like a slow walk-the-dog retrieve. You may have to try several types of retrieves before the fish tell you what they want. For frog fishing over the weeds, I like darker colored plastic frogs. The best colors are black and dark brown. All bullfrogs are black, so this matches them. I insist on Owner Hooks for my top-water frog fishing.
Captain Mike Gerry: I like the Spro-Frog over heavy weeds. For the hardbait top-water fishing, I like the regular size Zara Spooks in bright white or silver. For the hardbait retrieve, I walk the dog, but I like to pause. They will often hit it on the pauses.
Captain Lee Pitts: My best frog lure, especially in scattered grass, is the Gene Larew Three Legged Frog. This lure will float, so you can stop it on a hole of water and then pop it like a popping bait. This lure will even float with a 5.0 hook. For the hard bait choice, I like a Rapala Pop’R. I fish it slowly and let it sit. I love an orange throat and chartreuse spots on the Pop’R. It gives the bass something to see.
Captain Tim Chandler: I like a walking bait, like a Spook. The color doesn’t matter as much—as long as it looks like a shad. Chrome is a good finish. I like a Rapala Pop’R in the same finish pattern. For the frog lures, I like the Spro Frog, Snag Proof, and the Boo-Yah Frog. I typically use these in black, white, brown and dark green. The color of the frog doesn’t matter so much. All the bass can see is the shadow of the lure. These colors are all you’ll need.
Best Single Bit of Advice
It would be nice if we could get an expert to tell us exactly what to do and where to do it for guaranteed big bass top-water fishing success. That can’t happen, so we asked our experts to think hard about top-water fishing Lake Guntersville and boil it down to a single bit of advice that should help the most. Here’s what they told us:
Captain Doug Nichles: Remember, when you’re fishing Lake Guntersville, any cast could produce a nine- or 10-pound bass, so be sure and string your reels with 50 or 60 lb braid line. You’ll need it to get the big bass out of the weeds.
Captain Mike Gerry: It’s simple; find the bait—the shad. The bass will be there.
Captain Lee Pitts: Look for scattered grass. Fish right in the middle and on the edges. A mixture of milfoil and hydrilla is best. The weedpatch may not be bigger than the front deck of a boat, but it will hold good fish.
Captain Tim Chandler: Keep the bait moving for a walking bait. The Guntersville bass won’t hit when it’s still. For popping lures, they won’t hit it when it’s moving. Give lots of pauses.
So, There We Have it—And Another Bit of Good Advice
There’s nothing like having high-quality local information on a specific fishing location, and these four guides have given us a lot to think about when it comes to planning a trip to Lake Guntersville this fall or next spring.
We’d like to thank these guides and suggest that perhaps the one thing a visiting bass angler could do to best insure a good fishing trip to world-famous Lake Guntersville is to call one of these helpful guides and book a trip. It will be money well spent.
Important Contact Information:
Captain Doug Nichles
Captain Mike Gerry
Captain Lee Pitts
Captain Tim Chandler
Important Product Information:
All of these lures can be found at most tackle shops, but for more information:
Gene Larew Lures