All I want for Christmas is… some good fishing, and I’m likely to get that in Alabama during the month of December.
Even though there’s no doubt about it, winter here in Alabama, is not nearly as cold and unpleasant as it is in a lot of places right now.
In fact, our experts tell us that the fishing in December in Alabama can be quite good. Fish tend to be schooled up, and when we get a little break in the weather and the sun comes out, the fish often respond with a really hot bite. We anglers just need to be there on the water when this happens.
Of course, having and wearing a good PFD is even more important when the air and water are cold than at other times of the year. It doesn’t take a person long being in the cold water of December to be in great danger, and having a good PFD on can make all the difference between just being cold, wet, and having to run back to the dock to get warm and becoming a sad headline on the evening news.
December is a good time to go through the fishing gear and see what needs to be replaced, replenished, and repacked. It’s also a good time to change the line on all the reels. Line is cheap, and old, brittle line is weak and the cause of lots of lost fish.
December is also a great time to drop some hints to family members that certain fishing items would be most welcome under the Christmas tree. Myself, I need a need bigger tackle bag to replace the old ratty one I’ve worn out. Are you listening, Santa?
Now let’s see what some of Alabama’s best freshwater anglers can tell us about fishing the wonder lakes of Alabama this month.
Captain Jake Davis says that fishing in December on Lake Guntersville will vary a lot according to the weather and what the weather does to the water conditions. If we have a warm, mild December, the fall fishing pattern will continue. If we get some blue-cold wind from cold fronts, the fishing will follow winter patterns.
“A good thing about bass fishing on Guntersville in December is that it doesn’t require very early starts.”
Captain Jake says,’ In most Decembers, we start to make the winter transition. Bass will bite on Rat’L’Traps, jigs, and jerk baits. Look in three to seven feet of water along old grass lines, creek channels, and the bass can be stacked up on bends in creeks. Look for any kind of pinch point where the water drops in depth and some current might be present.”
In general, for bass anglers on Guntersville, if you find the shad, you’ll find the bass.
A good thing about bass fishing on Guntersville in December is that it doesn’t require very early starts. Captain Jake advises us that this time of year, it’s not a break of day bite for largemouth bass. He advises anglers to sleep in, start the trip about 8:00, and fish into the afternoon.
Crappie anglers will have good results working around bridges with minnows and small jigs, and the crappie will be following schools of smaller shad around the shadow lines of the bridges.
White bass and stripers will be in open water, and they can be located by looking for schools of shad on electronic gear and dropping jigs, silver spoons, and other deep running lures to them.
Out buddy Captain Lee Pitts has some very good fishing results in December, especially when the weather is not too cruel. In fact, the big crappie that makes Weiss one of the premier destinations in the country for crappie anglers can really respond in December.
Captain Lee tells us to try fishing deep lake ledges using bottom bouncing rigs with a sinker on the end of the line and a hook with minnow a couple of feet above the sinker.
Crappie chasers will have move and look to find spots where the best concentrations of crappie will be holding. A good thing about this time of year, when the crappie are found, there will be a lot of them. Anglers can fill a live well with big, fat crappie when they are located.
In fact, some big crappie have been feeding heavily on shad are caught in December on Weiss.
Bass anglers on Weiss should look around river channels and deeper holes on the channels. Bass can still be found in shallow water if the shad are in shallow water.
Captain Lee says, “Spinnerbaits are good for shallow water bass now. Try spinners with gold blades in winter here.”
Bass anglers can look for humps and rises out in the main parts of the lake. In the low water winter draw-down conditions, these spots are easier to find than when the lake is at full pool in summer. Lots of spots will be held on these rises and humps, and crankbaits will work well, especially when there’s a current in the lake from dam releases of water.
Striper and white bass will be schooled up in the open water chasing shad, and silver spoons will work well on the stripers and whites.
Out friend Captain Sam Williams tells anglers coming to Eufaula for the good winter bass fishing to look for any remaining cover left over from summer and fall. Blowdown trees in the water are good places to find winter bass, and the flats that hold left-over lily pad stems can be quite good. The stems won’t look like much, but they will hold good numbers of crawfish, and the bass will be up in the shallower water looking for the mudbugs.
When the weather is too cool for shallow water bites, anglers can try fishing the rip-rap on bridges and causeways for bass. Concentrate on the sunny side of the structure where the water will usually be just a little bit warmer than the shady side.
Captain Sam tells us the early morning topwater bite can still good on warmer days- try working frogs and other soft plastics over the lily pad stems.
If the weather turns cold, anglers can find good bass by working ledges and humps out in the main lake body. Work jigs and soft plastics over the humps.
On the deeper ledges of the main lake, crappie will be schooling up looking for shad. Anglers catch a lot of crappie on Eufaula using multi-rod spider rigs. Try jigs tipped with minnows and slow troll likely spots.
Our buddy Joe Dunn tells us that typically in December on Miller’s Ferry the cooler weather has dropped water temperatures enough that the fish have moved off shallow water spots of fall and gone into their winter areas.
“Joe Dunn says that from mid to late October and through December, the crappie will be on the deeper breaks where they’ll be chasing shad.”
He advises visiting anglers to look for ledges that fall into the deeper water out in the main body of the lake. Water 18 feet or so right on the edge of the break is a good place to find concentrations of crappie.
Try bottom bouncing minnows or 1/8 oz. jigs right on the break.
If the weather turns chilly, the crappie may move off even farther and hold in 25 feet of water.
If Miller’s Ferry should have high, muddy water from heavy upstream rains, the crappie will look for quiet holding water behind points and other structures that will break the stronger currents that move through the lake. When this happens, anglers can have some fast action as the crappie will be in big schools.
Joe Dunn says that from mid to late October and through December, the crappie will be on the deeper breaks where they’ll be chasing shad.
In December, Miller’s Ferry largemouth will be pre-spawn staging in ten to twelve feet of water just waiting for temperatures to warm enough to go into spawning mode. At this time, they’ll move into shallow water if it is warm enough to suit them.
If the weather in December stays cool, the bass will be deeper.
Bass anglers should look in the bigger, deeper sloughs, and look for shad. If shad are there, the bass will be there, too.
Chatterbaits and crankbaits that run to six to eight feet of water will work well over ledges in the sloughs.
Just about any kind of lure that looks like a shad will work at Miller’s Ferry at this time of year.
Captain /Brian Barton knows the waters of Wilson Lake and its neighboring lakes very well, and he tells us that December is just about the best time of the year for anglers to get into some hot big fish action on the Tennessee River lakes in Alabama.
He says,” It’s big catfish time. The big cats will move off into the deep ledges of the river channel in Wilson Lake. They’ll start to school in December, and that means anglers can get into multiple really big cats now.”
Cut skipjack herring, cut shad, live bream or shad are all good baits for the big old catfish.
Anglers should look from Shoal Creek downstream to the dam for big cats. This is prime trophy cat water in December. Jackson Island is also a good spot to find the biggest cats.
For eating size cats, anglers should fish the bottom of straight wall bluffs. Points and ledges are good holding areas for the eating size cats.
Now, for some hot fishing that will make anglers sweat even in cool weather, it’s hard to beat the big smallmouth bass and striped bass fishing below the dams, especially Wheeler Dam tailrace.
Captain Brian says,” Both smallmouth bass and stripers will be staging in the tailrace gorging on yearling shad. Anglers who drift current seams and outside edges of the current with live shad if you can get them will have some fast action.”
Some of the biggest smallmouth and stripers of the whole year come to anglers fishing below Wheeler Dam in December.
Important Contact Information
Captain Brian Barton
Captain Jake Davis
Mid-South Bass Guide Service
33356 Hwy. 43, Thomasville, AL
Captain Lee Pitts
Captain Sam Williams
Hawks Fishing Guide Service