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Tips for May and June
Short tips for trips from around the state to some of Bama’s best fishing.
By Eileen Davis
Bluegills: Duck River Lake
“We opened Alabama’s newest reservoir to fishing in July 2018,” said Jay Haffner, District III fisheries supervisor. We stocked the lake with bluegill and redear, and there is a resident population of redbreast sunfish from the Duck River when it was impounded. May is a little late for shellcracker, but it’s just right for the many bluegill in the lake.”
Duck River is a 650-acre water supply reservoir located about 10 miles east of Cullman off U.S. 278. There are boat ramps on both sides of the lake, however, outboard motors are restricted to 25 hp or less. Anglers may harvest 20 bream per day. To fish, anglers need a valid Alabama fishing license and a free-of-charge annual fishing permit, which is available at the ramps.
The long narrow lake has plenty of bank access and all the property around the lake is open to fishing. Trails begin at the boat ramps.
Shellcracker: Lake Eufaula
Ken Weathers, District IV Fishers Supervisor, says fishing for redear sunfish on Lake Eufaula is excellent from late April through May. He said the heavy growth of aquatic weeds support an abundant mollusks population that produces good growth for shellcrackers. Once water temperatures reach 70 to 75 degrees, these hard fighting panfish begin bedding.
“In May,” Weathers said, “look for shellcrackers anywhere you find hydrilla, alligator or primrose in places where it creates an edge that is about 3-feet deep and has a sandy bottom. Then work along the edge of the weeds using a bream buster to pick up and lower your bait to the bottom.”
Weather recommends rigging your line with a slip cord without using a bobber stop so it slides on the line. This allows your bait to sink to the bottom where the fish feed while giving you a visual reference for perfect placement next to cover.
Spotted Bass: Lewis Smith Lake
“May is the best time to catch a lot of fish,” said Craig Daniel, winning tournament angler and guide (256 347-4096), as many as 100 a day. “Most of the fish weigh between 1¼ to 3 pounds.”
Daniel’s pattern for catching high numbers of spots is to fish stair-step rock banks. Look for shelves where fish have spawned, places where there is a shelf about 3 feet off the bank and is 5 to 10 feet wide. At the edge of the first step it will drop vertically to a second step and then to a third step. Anglers will find the spots in the shadows of the steps guarding their fry.
Daniel’s go-to bait for stair-step fish is a white Zoom Fluke fished at an angle to the shoreline.
Crappie: Gainesville Lake
“This stretch of the Tombigbee River produces as many crappie year in and year out as anywhere,” reported Jay Haffner, District III fisheries supervisor. “Crappie like high water conditions in winter and green stable water in the summer. For the most part, that — and the good habitat — is why the Tombigbee produces good crappie fishing.”
In May, anglers report catching limits of 10- to 12-inch crappie, with big fish weighing 1½ pounds.
The crappie are post-spawn and have moved from the banks to the cypress knees, cypress trees and to the stump rows along the creeks in water from 6 to 8 feet deep. The key is to fish slowly.
Spotted Bass: Lake Martin
In May, winning tournament angler and veteran guide Chad Miller targets Lake Martin’s spotted bass at night. Anyone can easily find where he catches fish. The lighted piers facing the main lake attract hungry bass, crappie and striped bass.
“On a good pier,” Miller said, “you may see 50 to 75 spots feeding around one light. The action is intense until the fish realize you are there, and then it’s time to move to the next dock.
“We catch good numbers of post-spawn fish weighing 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds. Occasionally, we catch a 3 or 4 pounder.” Miller works the outside edge of the circle of light with small crankbaits or shaky head worms.
To arrange a fishing trip with Chad Miller, telephone him at (334) 300-5337.
Bluegill: Demopolis Lake
With an abundance of brush, cypress trees, and grass beds in its creeks and sloughs, Demopolis has some of the best bluegill fishing in our state. The dam at Demopolis backs up the Black Warrior and the Tombigbee rivers. While both offer great fishing, the Warrior has more creeks and backwater areas for bedding bluegills.
The best time to catch spawning ‘gills is just before and after the full moon in May. Water temperatures have warmed into the 70s, and the shallows are teaming with aggressive, hard-fighting bream that provide nonstop action.
On the Warrior, biologists recommend fishing Backbone and French creeks and Power Line Slough for bluegill. Both worms and crickets catch bluegill, but worms also catch shellcracker. Thread either on a No. 8 hook tied to 4-pound-test monofilament.
Red Snapper: Orange Beach
With about 1,030 square miles of offshore waters, Alabama’s artificial reef program is the largest in the nation. This exceptional red snapper habitat is one factor in their increase in size and numbers.
Captain Randy Boggs (www.reelsurprisecharters.com) of Orange Beach said the average red snapper weight has increased to 6 ½ pounds, and it’s not unusual for anglers to land fish weighing 10 to 18 pounds when they take an 8-hour trip.
“To catch big snapper,” Boggs explained, “fish with half a cigar minnow on a 5/0 circle hook and only lower it halfway or less to the bottom. The big snapper suspend well above the artificial reefs.”
Bluegill: Monroe County Lake
Looking for a place to catch bluegill where an on-site manager and dedicated fisheries biologists intensively care for the fishery, and where anglers catch good numbers of bluegills weighing 3/4 pound? If so, look no further than Monroe County Lake.
Tommy Purcell is one of the biologists responsible for the fishery on this 94-acre lake. He says one reason for the excellent fishing is the strong population of bass. “The bass feed on the smaller bream,” Purcell explained, “and the ones that survive grow large.”
To catch bluegill from the bank, Purcell recommends anglers fish the submerged bush near the wooden and earthen piers.
In June, the lake is open Tuesday through Sunday. Before making the trip, call the lake manager at (251) 789-2104 to verify the schedule.
Largemouth Bass: Guntersville Lake
Bass fishing on Guntersville comes to life in late winter with pre-spawn behavior and accelerates through the spawn and into the post-spawn of early summer. Successful tournament anglers have made Guntersville legendary with their heavy bags of fish during this annual season of renewal.
In June, largemouth transition from post-spawn to an early summer pattern and are moving to deep water. On a good day, anglers catch as many as 40 bass a day, with a few weighing more than 3 pounds. It’s not unusual to land a 7 pounder.
The best time for big fish is first light. Work buzzbaits or Zara Spooks over grass that has yet to reach the surface and is adjacent to deepwater on North and South Sauty creeks.
Bluegill: Mobile Delta
Anglers across Alabama catch enormous numbers of bluegill and this is especially true in the Mobile Delta. The fishing is so good bream anglers consider the area a vacation destination to fill coolers.
Biologists contribute the Delta’s excellent fishing to a combination of its fertile watershed, the area’s nutrient-rich soil, available forage and its unique habitat. They recommend fishing the upper Delta above I-65 in Big Beaver, Bear, Little and Nap lakes.
Bluegill spawn in summer so fishing beds is productive. However, another method that’s just as effective is to fish the creek mouths where bluegill congregate as they move to and from spawning areas. Anchor and fish 2 to 14 feet deep.