Across the northern Gulf Coast and inland, freshwater fishing will be as good as it gets anywhere in April. Let’s see what some of the best anglers can tell us.
Our buddy Joe Dunn of Dunn’s Sports in Thomasville is excited when it comes to talking about the fishing during April at Miller’s Ferry.
Joe says, “It’s all going to be wide open. Everything will be in full-blown spring patterns.”
For bass anglers that means they’ll want to work the banks at Miller’s Ferry using spinner baits, buzzbaits, and chatterbaits. We can’t go wrong if we use white and chartreuse, white and blue, and Joe’s favorite color combination, white and gold in the spinner baits.
Bass anglers can also find good bass by flipping jigs in the growing grass mats.
Crappie anglers will also want to be looking at shallow water. Crappie will be on the spawning grounds in the shallows, and anglers can work the banks with live minnows under floats. Joe Dunn says that vertical jigging around the stumps will produce lots of slabs in April. Look in four to six feet of water.
Catfish will be hot too. All of the shallow flats will have catfish in April and jugs with one to two-foot-long lines will work well. For best catfish catching, fresh cut shad will be the best bait.
For best fishing regardless of the target, anglers will want to concentrate on the sloughs such as Gold Mine, Marina Slough, and Hog Pen Slough where the water will warm faster than the rest of the lake.
Captain Brian Barton tells us, “We’ll have a potentially wider range of water temperatures this month. Water temperatures will begin in the low to mid 50’s and by month’s end should reach the 70-degree mark. Catfish will start migrating into the mouth of the deeper sloughs early this month.”
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 blow-downs 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 these cats is to use a 2/0 or 3/0 Mister Twister weighted worm hook to medium-heavy action spinning tackle and bait with shad, skipjack, or chicken livers. Cast toward the bluff and allow the bait to slowly fall to the bottom. If live crayfish can be found they are deadly for big blue cats fished this way.
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 5 hours. For those who like to jug fish, set jugs 8 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.
Captain Sam Williams says 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, and the hydrilla should be growing and creating thick mats of vegetation which will hold better bass. Anglers should look for the fresh green color, and if this new grass is near other structure such as blowdowns or old lily pad stems, it deserves some time and attention.
The catfish bite will be getting very good in April when the whisker fish will be going to the spawning beds. Live bait or big chunks of cut bait will work either on rod and reel or jug fishing. Captain Sam says, “They’ll be up in creeks — look for them in weeds and pads.” Captain Sam tells us that a little caution is in order when pulling on jug lines which seem to have big catfish on them.
“The catfish bite will be getting very good in April when the whisker fish will be going to the spawning beds.”
For some fast white bass and hybrid action, anglers can use lipless crankbaits and spinner baits in silver or white colors near creek and river channels where the fish will either be heading upstream to spawn or downstream back to the main lake body 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.
Captain Lee Pitts says, “Locating the new growth water vegetation is a matter of high priority for anglers looking for the best bass fishing. If you can find some fresh green, a mix of old and new grass, (the grass with the yellow-tipped flowers) the bass like that better.”
Spinnerbaits, jigs in 3/8 oz. weights or soft plastic lizards will all work well in the springtime grass. For the spinner baits, go with white or white/chartreuse colors, and 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 which work well on Weiss bass are black/blue, and green pumpkin colors. The Zoom Super-Chunk is a very good addition to the jig.
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 two to two and a half 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 oz. weight in dark colors such as black/chartreuse and gape and chartreuse are great on cloudy days. On brighter days we’ll go with black and red, blue/sour grape, and white/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 three-foot leader. Ease it eight to ten inches and stop. Let it swing and try to shake it under the jig. Work this rig near cover.”
Captain Lee reminds anglers, “Most all flats on Weiss have stumps, holes, something that’s holding the fish. Find the structure and you’ll find the fish. We’ll keep working these spots.”
Captain Lee Pitts says, “All back bays and tributaries will be very good. Anglers should go as far back as possible in the feeder creeks and bays which open into the main lake. Try to fish boat docks and other structure which 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 caves where the bass will be bedding in April.
“You can’t get too shallow. I’ve seen the backs of bass out of the water like feeding carp,” he says. To catch these shallow water bass, anglers should throw large spinner baits in white and chartreuse colors for a good workout. Try to put the bait close to structure 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 spinner baits in orange and chartreuse patterns with gold spinners. They really like gold!”
Crappie fishing will be very good in April, and 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 along to tip a jig with.
Captain Jake Davis says, “Fish the sloughs off the main river and the shallow flats off the main rivers. The Goose Pond Marina area and the Mud Creek areas are both very good for April bass.”
Bass in Guntersville will often make a bed under the grass mats as protection and cover. This can help anglers locate bedding fish. Any green grass needs to be worked. Lizards, worms, chunks, and creature baits will work when they are dropped into or below the green grass. Try the soft plastics as trailers for jigs in 3/8 to ½ oz. weights. Black/blue and peanut butter and jelly (purple with brownish steaks) are good colors for the bedding bass. Rattle-L-Traps in red colors if murky water and Texas Shad patterns if clear will work well.
Crappie anglers looking for good slab action will find crappie on the beds on flats, and they will often be in the same general area as the spawning bass. Captain Jake says, “I’ll find flats with crappie spawning, and the bass will be eating the crappie.” It’s totally possible for anglers to fish the crappie for a good mess of fine-eating slabs, and then fish big silver crankbaits or spinner baits on the edges of the crappie beds to catch some big bass which have been dining on the crappie, too. To catch the crappie, try live minnows or small plastic-body jigs work very slowly across the bedding areas.
Bream anglers should start to find bluegills and redears moving into shallower water, and 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 will work best.
Randy Jackson of Riverside Fly Shop on the Sipsey Fork tells us that April should begin some of the best fly fishing of the entire year.
He says, “April is in the best hatching months of the year, and in April we have a good caddis fly hatch usually, but it’s all dependent on the weather. Anglers need to watch the weather and look for days that are not too humid and are calm and cloudy. These are the best dry fly fishing days.”
Last year, the Sipsey Fork had some great fly hatches all summer from April to August.
When the bugs are not hatching off, anglers can use subsurface nymphs like the classic Hare’s Ear in sizes 14 to 16 for good results.
For those anglers who have not mastered a fly rod yet, lots of Sipsey Fork rainbows can be caught on ultra-light spinning gear. Randy Jackson says, “Use a tiny swivel with a light leader and a fly. Put a tiny lead above the swivel and a float above that. The fly moves through the water naturally.” Four-pound test line on the ultra-light rig is needed, and fluorocarbon line works best.
Skipjacks may very well be up the river near the dam in April, and they are a blast on light tackle. Any tiny, shiny lure or fly will work for the jumping skipjacks.
Anglers can expect to find nine-inch rainbows quite often, and there are some fine twenty-inch holdover rainbow trout downstream. Remember, there are fourteen miles of trout water on the Sipsey Fork — and the fish are not all up near the dam.
Captain Jimmy Maxwell tells us that the entire Apalachicola River system will be very good in April, and anglers can expect to find good fishing anywhere along the river and its backwaters.
The Dead Lakes area around Wewahitchka will be on fire with great bream fishing around the massive cypress stumps and other woody covers. Shellcrackers will be bedding on the first phase-change of the moon in April, and anglers can find some great bream fishing with worms fished on the bottom.
Bass anglers might find bass still on beds in April. Captain Jimmy says that last year was a late spawn for bass because of cooler weather in the spring. Any feeder creeks and backwaters along the main river should be holding bass, and anglers can have good luck throwing just about any kind of lure to shoreline cover. Big spinnerbaits which create a lot of action in the water will be best if the water is dingy.
Anglers who fish the river toward the town of Apalachicola can expect to run into a wide range of species, and it’s not uncommon to encounter redfish and other saltwater species in the river as it nears the bay.
April is a fine time to visit Lake Seminole to see what anglers talk about when they describe the fine bass fishing on the northwest Florida lake.
Captain Matt Baty tells us that bass anglers will both see and catch some good bass in April here.
He says, “Bass in April will be spawning on main lake sandbars. Use a good pair of polarized glasses to scan sandbars between the Flint River and Spring Creek. If the water is clear, you can usually see the sand.”
Once bedding bass are spotted, anglers can work the immediate area for good results. Captain Matt tells us, “When you see bass on the sand, throw a Jenk Rip Knocker 75 in shad pattern or a 6-inch Big Bite Baits Trick Stick in green pumpkin.”
The bass will either be spawning directly on the bars or they will be post-spawn on the edges of the bars where the hydrilla is growing.
If the water is cloudy and the grass and sandbars can’t be seen, use your electronics to locate these fish-holding areas.
In April on Lake Talquin, anglers can expect to find good fishing for just about every kind of fish that calls the lake home.
Jeff DuBree of Whippoorwill Lodge at Lake Talquin says, “The bass will still be spawning in places, and the post-spawn pattern will be good. There will be shad spawning by then in the shallows. Jerk baits matched to the small size of the shad fished around shallows will be very good in early mornings. Any of the lake’s shallows can hold great bass in April.
Bream will be very good in April here. Bluegill will be spawning heavily and anglers using crickets and worms can fill an ice chest. Also, Jeff DuBree recommends anglers try small Beetle Spins in black with gold spinners for great bream action.
Some big redears will be caught in April in deeper water — say 8-10 feet around sandy humps in the main lake.
Catfish will be quite good in April for anglers who use stink baits.
Important Contact Information
33356 Hwy 43, Thomasville, AL
Captain Sam Williams
Hawks Guide Service
Brandon Jackson/ Randy Jackson
Riverside Fly Shop
17027 Hwy 69N
Captain Lee Pitts
Captain Brian Barton
Captain Jake Davis
Mid-South Bass Guide Service
Whippoorwill Sportsman’s Lodge
Captain Matt Baty
Captain Jimmy Maxwell
Backwater Guide Service