Now Is the Time to Fish Those Alabama Lakes
Although late cold fronts can put a temporary halt to the hot fishing in March on Alabama lakes, the cold never lasts long at this time of year.
Bass anglers on Alabama lakes can usually find some of those big old girls moving onto the beds for spawning. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass along with those pesky spotted bass will all be working up into shallower water.
Of course, March is just about the best month of year for crappie anglers in Alabama. Those delicious tasting slabs are making their way onto the traditional spawning grounds in the lakes. Anglers who spend a little time and effort looking for the crappie will usually come home with a big mess of fillets for a fish fry. There can be quite bit of variation in the temperature of the water across the state from south to north, but anglers who can move their fishing attention will usually find that somewhere in Alabama just about every day in March the fish will be biting.
Anglers will need to make sure that they have a properly fitted and adequate personal floatation device for every angler aboard the boat. Those PFDs should be worn anytime the boat is moving, even just for quick relocations. That lifejacket can truly save a life if used properly/
Let’s see what some of the best anglers in the state can tell us about the fishing in March.
Eufaula anglers should find some fine fishing this month on this favorite eastern Alabama lake. This older lake has had some tough years in the past, but recently, fishing of all kinds has been quite good on Lake Eufaula.
Our buddy Capt. Sam Williams says that bass will be in prespawn activities as the water starts warming up with the longer days and more sunshine. Bass will be chasing shad.
Captain Sam says, “They’re feeding up. The water needs to get up near 56 degrees. Cold spring weather can cool the water and stop the spawning activities. Target your lures to the size of the shad. Threadfins are smaller fish. Lipless crankbaits worked in five to seven feet of water as well as crankbaits that run in that depth will find some nice bass this month.”
Captain Sam tells us that the Eufaula water vegetation will be growing well by March. He says, “We hope to see hydrilla growing soon. Some of the flats in 2.5 to five feet of water are already growing.” Fishing the hydrilla patches is always a very good idea.
Anglers will need to troll quite a bit faster for hybrids than for crappie, which want their jigs just barely creeping along. Hybrids will also take cut bait and silver spoons. Anglers should fan cast from the boat to locate the feeding hybrids. When the second fish is caught in a particular area, relocate the boat over the school and jig up and down. Fast action can occur at this point.
Not many Alabama lakes offer anglers such good results for both bass and crappie in the spring as does Millers Ferry.
Joe Dunn says, “It’s time to beat the banks for bass. I like a white spinnerbait with a gold blade. Hildebrandt, War Eagle and a locally made spinner – the Mean Gene Spinnerbait – are all very effective on largemouth and spots in March. A pork rind trailer on the white spinnerbait never hurts.”
Anglers looking for spotted bass will want to concentrate their efforts in the mouths of creeks. The spots don’t go as far up the creeks and sloughs as largemouth bass when they go on the spawn. In fact, Dunn says that largemouth will go as shallow as they can get when they spawn.
When it comes to crappie, Joe Dunn says that in March anglers on Millers Ferry are in luck. The crappie can be caught in a great many ways.
He tells us, “We throw a Southern Pro jig with a triple tail or tube body to shoreline bedding crappie. We also put a jig under a cork and work it slowly. This is very good for crappie that are just about to go on the beds. We also use spider rigs to troll for suspended crappie that are still in open water. Not all crappie go on the beds at the same time. Some will still be out off the shorelines.”
Catfish anglers should be very excited about the Millers Ferry bite in March. Anglers should look to the broad shallow flats where the catfish will be spawning. Some really big cats are caught in March on Millers Ferry.
Joe Dunn says, “We use coke bottles for jugs with a foot of heavy line with another foot of 40-pound-test leader and a 3/0 circle hook. Fresh shad or fresh skipjack for bait is the very best.”
Capt. Jake Davis says that March is usually a time of change. The fish are working toward their spawning for the spring. Anglers will need to work hard to find the fish and see what they want. Jake says, “Cover a lot of water. When you find one fish, they’ll be grouped together.”
Good places to look on Guntersville in March are from about a fourth to half the way up creeks where many bass will be going to spawn. In early March, the bass will still be out deeper, but when the days get longer, they’ll move back in the creeks. Anglers will want to look for wood and rock structure in March since there won’t be much green grass yet.
Davis says, “The bass can be everywhere at this time. They can’t all move shallow at the same time. You’ll need to experiment to find the cadence the fish want. Sometimes they’ll want it slow and sometimes they’ll want the lure ripped through the water. Keep after it and the fish will tell you what they want.”
For panfish anglers, March should be good on Guntersville. The crappie will be up in the creeks around stumps and any grass that is growing. Old timers will usually fish live minnows for the bedding crappie, but small jigs work well in March, too.
March should be the month that freshwater trophy hunters mark on their calendars. Some really big whiskerfish are caught on a regular basis in the big Tennessee River chain of lakes in March.
Capt. Brian Barton says that March is the best spring month for catching a trophy catfish on Wilson Lake. Fish will begin to migrate from their deep winter haunts to shallower water and begin feeding to build body fat reserves for the upcoming spawn. When water temperatures reach the upper 50s, catfish will begin to migrate upstream toward Wheeler Dam in great numbers. Ledges and steep contour breaks along the numerous islands in the middle portion of the lake will be good locations to start your search. Troll large pieces of cut bait or whole live gizzard shad very slowly along the drop-offs.
“Most fish will be on or near the bottom so I typically drag a few baits with a float rig and suspend a few baits one to three feet off the bottom,” Barton says. “On warm sunny days, try fishing rock bluff walls on the north side of the lake. The sun concentrates shad schools along the bluff and the catfish are not far behind.”
March is the month for a mixed bag on Pickwick. The catfish bite should be good from one end of the lake to the other. Fish will begin to transition from deep holes and ledges in the river channel to open flats and rock piles.
“I prefer to anchor upstream of the fish and ‘walk’ the bait back to the fish from a stationary position,” Barton explains. “Live shad, shad guts and crawfish work best this time of the year. Fish will still be grouped in numbers so if a fish is caught, stay put and fish the area thoroughly before changing locations.”
March is also the month for smallmouth bass on Pickwick. Without a doubt, more trophy fish are caught this month than anytime of the year. Depending upon water temperatures, smallmouth will spawn during the latter part of March or early April. Fish have been gorging on shad and their body weights are at peak.
“I like the mid lake area from Natchez Trace to Pride Landing,” Barton says. “Concentrate on pea gravel banks, sandy flats and small chunk rock bottoms in six to 15 feet of water. There will be plenty of fish in the Horseshoe below Wilson Dam, but there will also be plenty of anglers there also. Your chances for trophy fish are much greater downstream where fishing pressure is much less.”
Five fish strings of 22 to 25 pounds are very common if you can locate fish that haven’t been pressured. Best tactic, locate fish or fish holding structure and then anchor and float a live shad minnow back to the fish.
If there is ever a time to book a crappie fishing trip to Weiss Lake, this is the time to do it. Weiss Lake is world famous for super crappie fishing and March is just about the finest month for bedding crappie of the entire year.
Capt. Lee Pitts says, “It’s the time everything comes to life. The water is coming up from winter drawdown levels. It’s the time everyone wants to be on Weiss. I wish March was 90 days long! Largemouths are heading for the backs of coves and little sloughs, any place with wood cover.”
It’s a great time to cover the banks with spinnerbaits. White and white with chartreuse are good colors because the water in March at Weiss is usually stained a little bit. Gold double-Indiana blades on the spinnerbaits help the lure slow down and put out lots of vibration.
Captain Lee advises us, “I like to use a Gene Larew Sweet Swimmer as trailer on my spinnerbaits. I like white or blue-ice colors with the tip dipped in chartreuse color dip.”
Spotted bass will still be in the main lake at Weiss, but they will be a lot more active than they were just a month or so earlier.
Captain Lee says, “I look for hard clay and rock bottoms. I use brown and orange Talon ball-head jigs with Salt Craw trailers. It’s also a great time to use Rat-L-Traps for spots. Go to shad colors with some chartreuse.”
When it comes to crappie fishing in March on Lake Weiss, Captain Lee gets extra excited. He says, “You’ll find a boatload! I do long-line trolling with Bobby Garland Slab Slay’Rs on 1/24-ounce jigheads. We put the jigs behind the boat about 30 yards. We work the ditches and flats.”
Very often, crappie chasers will troll to cover lots of water in the morning. When the best concentration of crappie is found, they’ll come back in the afternoon with Bobby Garland jigs three feet below a float. The idea is to work the jigs just above the stumps on the flats, which are mostly four or five feet deep. Work the jigs right over the stumps and hold on tight.
IMPORTANT GUIDE CONTACT INFORMATION
Mid-South Bass Guide Service
33356 Highway 43
Little River Marina and Lodge Pitt Stop
Hawks Fishing Guide Service
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