Tips for July and August

Short tips for trips from around the state to some of Bama’s best fishing.

By Eileen Davis

Bass: Big Creek Lake

Big Creek Lake, located 12 miles west of Mobile, covers 3,600 acres and serves as the water source for the city. Its deep waters of 55 to 60 feet at the dam, with submerged creek channels reaching over 20 feet deep, make it a challenging fishing spot. However, Kevin Hawsey of Georgetown has mastered fishing in this clear water and is renowned among tournament anglers for his success.

In late summer, Hawsey focuses on main lake weed beds for his winning patterns. During early morning with low light, he targets weeds near the bank. As the day progresses, he moves to the main lake points, where the weeds’ depth depends on the light reaching the fish. The early morning bite is crucial for catching largemouth weighing up to 5 pounds.

Hawsey advises a systematic approach, looking for deep water nearby, preferably near creek mouths. Fish move from deep water to shallow areas to feed on bream and shad. He emphasizes casting deep into the thick grass, where bass ambush and corral their prey.

For this pattern, Hawsey uses a weightless fluke or trick worm. By 9 o’clock, he shifts to main-lake points, hoping to find actively feeding bass in 6 to 10 feet deep weeds. His go-to lure for weeds is a Zoom lizard rigged Texas style. With his expertise, Hawsey consistently lands impressive largemouths on Big Creek Lake, even in the difficult late summer conditions.

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Crappie: Weiss Lake

Weiss Lake spans 30,200 acres and offers a diverse fishing environment with drop-offs, deep channels, stump fields, grassy shorelines, and numerous boat docks. It is fed by nutrients from the Coosa, Chattooga, and Little rivers, enriching the fishery. According to crappie guide David Stancil, Weiss Lake is currently the best crappie lake on Coosa, boasting abundant numbers and large fish.

To catch crappie in late summer, Stancil suggests targeting flats 12 to 14 feet deep off the main channel in the lake’s lower half. Productive flats should have cover in the form of brush piles, stake beds, or rocky humps, creating current breaks and eddies where crappie can find shelter and food. Large current breaks near the riverbank, where the flat sits in eddy water, are ideal locations for finding crappie.

Stancil relies on Humminbird’s side imaging sonar to locate fish near cover and structure. He scans 50 feet on both sides of the boat while maneuvering down the channel just off the ledge, marking promising spots as waypoints for later fishing.

To catch crappie effectively, Stancil uses a two-pronged approach. He fishes with four 12-foot B’n’M spider rods on the bow to keep the bait above the cover and uses an 8-foot medium-action rod to fish deep within the cover.

Book your stay today with Walcox Point and experience the best of Weiss Lake!

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Spotted Bass: Smith Lake

Jordan Wiggins, a successful tournament angler from Cullman, excels in night fishing tournaments on Smith Lake during the summer. He follows a pattern he is confident in, targeting bass on long running points in 20 to 30 feet of water when the temperature reaches 85 degrees. Instead of suspending on the points, the bass position themselves near cover or structure, such as stumps, brush, and rock piles, making them ideal for catching 3 and 4-pounders.

Unlike other anglers who focus on fishing dock lights, Wiggins rotates through about 20 points during a night tournament to avoid direct competition. These tournaments typically start in the evening and end in the early morning, with anglers limited to weighing in three fish. The usual winning weights range between 10 and 11 pounds.

Wiggins emphasizes the importance of finding promising points, using contour maps, sonar, and spending time on the water to locate areas that produce larger bass. He relies on Lowrance ActiveTarget to scan points and identify fish-holding cover or structure. Most of the time, the bass are situated on the bottom and tucked into brush piles, and Wiggins knows exactly where to cast thanks to ActiveTarget.

He also notes that night fishing is particularly productive during full moons in August or September, as well as after bright sunny days when the fish are more active during the night to feed.

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Sunfish: Oak Mountain State Park

Fishing at Oak Mountain State Park, located near Birmingham in Pelham, offers families unforgettable memories. With its 11,551 acres of diverse landscapes, the park boasts three fishing lakes: Lunker Lake, Oak Mountain Lake, and Double Oak Lake. Each lake provides opportunities to catch various species, including bass, bluegill, catfish, and crappie.

Double Oak Lake is known for its abundant 9- to 12-inch black crappie and bass between 12 and 17 inches, making it an excellent spot for bass and crappie fishing. It’s also the go-to lake for catfish enthusiasts as it’s where catfish are released for kids’ fishing events.

Lunker Lake offers an abundance of hand-size bluegill, measuring 7 to 10 inches, and small bass. Anglers can find bluegill spawning throughout the summer, making it a popular spot for families to introduce children to fishing.

For those seeking big bass, Oak Mountain Lake is the best bet, with approximately 35 percent of the population measuring between 14 and 16 inches. Anglers can even catch 4- to 6-pound bass in this lake.

Families can enjoy more than just fishing at Oak Mountain State Park, as it offers various activities, including mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, golf, and a watersports wakeboard park.

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Bass: Jones Bluff

On Jones Bluff, summer provides a stable and predictable fishing environment, offering anglers ample time to perfect their patterns. Bass are active feeders during this season, but their energy levels decrease as water temperatures rise above the mid-70s. An abundance of forage in the form of shad and bream can make bass more selective in their feeding habits.

Two significant environmental factors affecting bass patterns during summer are current and aquatic vegetation. Current delivers forage to waiting bass, while vegetation offers concealment for ambush. Successful late summer patterns include the backs of creeks, blowdowns, river ledges, and weedbeds, with different patterns specific to catching largemouth or spotted bass.

Jones Bluff is considered one of the best lakes to fish within an hour’s drive of Montgomery during late June to early October. Anglers can experience good days, with the possibility of catching as many as 15 spots in 30 minutes. River ledges are particularly productive, and a favorite pattern is to work a jig across fish-holding structures on the edge of submerged river channels when there’s current.

During tournaments, anglers target spotted bass, as they are strongly related to current. Fishing with a ¾-ounce football-head jig on 15-pound-test fluorocarbon is recommended to maintain contact with the bottom and maximize sensitivity.

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Crappie: Alabama River

The Alabama River, formed by the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, stretches 304 miles before joining the lower Tombigbee to become the Mobile River. It contains three reservoirs and offers excellent crappie fishing opportunities. Tournament angler and guide Brandon Threadgill has mastered the art of catching crappie in different river conditions.

During early summer, Threadgill targets post-spawn crappie in the first 200 yards of creeks, using side scan sonar to locate stake beds that he has sunk to attract fish. He recommends finding stumps, snags, and fallen trees on the flats as natural fish-holding spots. Threadgill’s preferred lures include a hand-tied hair jig and a Puddle Jumper Gator Shad in milky blue ice and pink glitter colors.

As the water temperature rises above 80 degrees, Threadgill shifts to fishing creek mouths and inside bends of the river. Crappie here are less concerned with cover and more likely to be in open water, waiting for the current to bring them food. Threadgill suggests using the long rod technique to fish laydowns in 10 to 15 feet of water. He also emphasizes that lure presentation is crucial, with lure profile and speed being key factors in attracting bites.

To hold his boat in the current, Threadgill uses a spot lock on his trolling motor, and he recommends anglers with forward-facing live sonar to mount their transducers on a separate pole.

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Spotted Bass: Weiss Lake

Weiss Lake in northeast Alabama, known primarily for its crappie population, boasts an exceptional spotted bass fishery, according to Mike Holley, District II fisheries supervisor. Despite its reputation as a crappie lake, Weiss actually contains larger spotted bass, with many measuring between 17 and 20 inches. Spotted bass are abundant in the reservoir, even more so than in other Coosa River reservoirs.

The lake features diverse aquatic environments, including drop-offs, deep channels, stump fields, shallow flats, and coves with grassy shorelines and boat docks. The average depth is shallow, only 10 feet, and nutrients from nearby rivers contribute to the lake’s rich fishery.

Mike Carter, an experienced angler and guide, has found great success fishing for spotted bass at night on Weiss Lake. His summer pattern involves using slow-rolling spinnerbaits on long tapering points with rocks and stumps, typically at depths of 5 to 8 feet. However, the depth can vary depending on conditions, such as the lake’s power generation and the presence of a full moon.

Some of the top spots to fish for spotted bass using Carter’s night pattern include Little River, Cedar, Big Nose, and Yellow creeks. Carter offers fishing trips for those interested in experiencing the excitement of night fishing on Weiss Lake.

Book your stay today with Walcox Point and experience the best of Weiss Lake!

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Crappie: Lake Eufaula

Blake Phillips, a tournament angler and inventor of Eye Hole Jigs, shares his tips for successful crappie fishing in Lake Eufaula. The lake, covering 45,181 acres, is rich in crappie habitat, featuring creeks, flats, stumps, timber, and 640 miles of shoreline.

Phillips suggests targeting submerged trees with broken tops, particularly those lying at an angle to the bottom. These trees create shade, form a current break, and offer protection, making them ideal spots for crappie to gather, especially near the main river channel. To locate these hotspots, he uses side scan technology and GPS with his i-Pilot Link Integrated GPS Trolling System.

When Phillips finds a promising tree, he relies on LiveScope, a fish finder, to determine the position of the fish. The key to success lies in precise boat positioning, about 30 feet away from the tree, to give ample room for working the fish. Phillips recommends using a 1/24th-ounce Eye Hole Jig with a No. 4 sickle hook and small baits, as Lake Eufaula has many black crappie that prefer smaller offerings. He fills the Eye Hole Jig with scents like Gulp, Powerbait, or Slab Bites by Crappie Magnet.

Phillips fishes with high-visibility 4- or 6-pound-test-monofilament line. By following his advice and targeting the right cover in Lake Eufaula, anglers can increase their chances of landing impressive crappie catches.

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Catfish: Chattahoochee River

The Chattahoochee River, particularly the stretch below the Walter F. George Lock and Dam, has become a hotspot for catfishermen, attracting veteran angler Robert Garrett and others. The river is now home to blue and flathead catfish, with some reaching impressive sizes, like a 66-pound blue catfish caught by a commercial fisherman. The fertile river became a habitat for blue catfish in 1990 when heavy rains caused farm pond dams to burst. In the following years, large numbers of blue catfish and flatheads made their way into the lower river.

Fishing in this area requires understanding the water flow, as daily fluctuations due to dam operations significantly affect the feeding patterns of catfish. The best fishing times are during water rises and receding periods. The strong current draws fish into current breaks, resulting in feeding frenzies.

For bait, anglers prefer using fresh shad, especially gizzard shad, which are abundant in the area. Live bait, such as bream or crawfish, works well for targeting flathead catfish. The preferred fishing gear includes set poles, limb lines, and casting rods for precise bait placement in current breaks. Finding fish is relatively easy due to the large numbers of catfish concentrated in these areas.

Overall, the lower Chattahoochee River offers excellent fishing opportunities for blue and flathead catfish, as well as channel and white catfish, making it a prime destination for catfishermen seeking a mixed bag of whiskered fish.

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Bass: Tombigbee River

During July on the Tombigbee River, bass are abundant due to the presence of large numbers of baitfish in the lakes. Quality bass prefer to wait for prey to pass by in their target zone, conserving energy. Some smaller bass form schools to follow the baitfish in open water. The challenge for anglers lies in being in the right place at the right time to catch discriminating bass in the midst of abundant forage.

Noteworthy is the success of tournament angler Shan Schoenrock on Gainesville Lake, where he caught over 100 bass in one morning. The summer pattern he used, which can also be applied to other river-run lakes with an inundated river channel, involves targeting humps and stumps in 6 to 8 feet of water, close to deep water, and away from visible cover.

His lure choices for fishing these humps include DT-6 and DT-10 crankbaits by Rapala and 10-inch worms rigged Carolina- or Texas-style. For Aliceville Lake, upstream from Gainesville, Schoenrock employs a similar pattern with topwater lures and crankbaits. He suggests focusing on creek mouths in the early morning, where bass are chasing shad.

Downstream from Gainesville, Demopolis Lake offers opportunities for flipping thick grass mats along the shoreline using a Zoom Brush Hog creature bait. Although catching limits may be challenging, this method is effective for landing bigger bass.

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Bream: Mobile Delta

During the summer, fishing for panfish in the Mobile Delta of Alabama offers excellent opportunities for anglers. The Delta, spanning over 20,000 acres, provides ideal shallow-water habitats for bream, including bluegills, warmouth, redspotted sunfish, and redears. The region’s rich water and nutrient-rich soil contribute to the bream’s abundance, and the diverse habitats support a variety of forage.

Anglers often target creek mouths where the water joins the river to create eddies, which act as staging areas for pre-spawn and post-spawn fish. The best places to fish are larger creeks that deliver more food and create larger swirling eddies, attracting a higher number of bream.

In the summer months, anglers can experience prolific bream fishing. The warmer waters make bream more active and receptive to various baits, including worms and crickets. Popping noises on the surface indicate bedding fish, providing further opportunities for successful catches.

As the season progresses, bream move deeper into the river during September and early October, then return to the outside edges of eddies. In late fall, focusing on shellcrackers can be fruitful, with patterns involving scouting for clamshell spots on the banks, targeting lily pads with shells, and fishing near warmwater plumes from power plants.

The Mobile Delta is a favored destination for bream fishing during the summer, offering anglers a thrilling and rewarding experience with plenty of panfish to catch.

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Redfish: Fort Morgan

Successful surf fishing guide Matt Boyington specializes in guiding anglers at night for bull redfish measuring at least 40 inches. Many of his customers have caught their biggest fish ever during his trips. Boyington’s business, Dixey Flats Surf Fishing Excursions, is named after the legendary Dixey Bar, known for world-class red fishing, located at the mouth of Mobile Bay.

The key to Boyington’s success is using the right bait. He prefers using blue and ghost crabs, which redfish find irresistible, especially when they have lockjaw. To avoid tangling, he rigs his 10-foot rods with 5000 size reels spooled with 30-pound braid, using a modified fish finder rig with two swivels, a 3-ounce egg sinker, and a 6/0 or 7/0 offset circle hook.

Boyington advises anglers to cast up current and let the egg sinker roll along the bottom until it reaches one of the holes where redfish congregate. He emphasizes keeping the sinker weight at 3 ounces for a natural presentation. Fishing with crab bait requires a more hands-on approach, setting the drags loose to prevent the fish from dropping the crab due to resistance.

While targeting bull redfish, Boyington’s night fishing trips often yield black drum as well, with some approaching state record sizes.

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Bass: Neely Henry

Professional angler Wes Logan reveals his successful strategies for fishing on Neely Henry during the summer months. Logan won the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on this lake, which offers the option to target fish in either shallow water or offshore brush piles.

In the early morning, Logan uses a Scott Canterbury Pro Buzz Bait without a skirt, paired with a black Zoom Horny Toad, to catch shoreline bass in the lake’s stained waters. This approach allows for covering a lot of water quickly and works best under overcast conditions when the fish are more aggressive.

As the sun rises, Logan shifts to fishing in shaded areas under overhanging trees, bushes, or boat docks. Cooler water temperatures in these spots attract fish during the hot summer days. For this pattern, he employs a Texas-rigged Zoom Z Craw Jr. or a Luke Clausen compact pitchin’ jig.

Logan recommends fishing the mid-lake area, approximately 5 to 8 miles upstream and downstream from the Highway 77 Bridge, as it holds a good population of both spotted and largemouth bass due to the lake’s fertile conditions.

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Crappie: Logan Martin

Fishing guide Ryan Willis shares his insights on crappie fishing during the challenging mid-July to September period. During summer, he primarily guides on Logan Martin Lake, setting up brush piles to attract fish. Side-scan sonar is his essential tool for scouting locations, marking brush piles, and pinpointing spots using a slip cork rig without a hook. His clients use 1- to 1¼-inch minnows under slip corks to tempt bites.

To assemble a slip cork rig, he ties a slip knot on the main line, adds a Thill Pro Series Slip Float, an 1/8-ounce egg sinker, and a swivel with a 12-inch leader and a size 6 gold Aberdeen hook. Willis keeps the boat about 15 feet from the brush pile to avoid spooking fish and suggests starting at 15 feet deep and adjusting the float until reaching the bottom. He usually catches the biggest fish at the bottom or off to the side of the brush pile.

When fishing alone, Willis prefers using a 1/24-ounce Eye Hole hair jig with crappie niblets in purple rain or money colors. He notes that fishing is best with current and rain, as they lower the water temperature, increase oxygen levels, and improve the bite for quality fish.

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King Mackerel: Orange Beach

During the summer months, king mackerel provide exciting fishing for families and seasoned anglers alike. The bite is sometimes sporadic, but when a king strikes, it’s as if you hung a passing submarine. Even a small king will have your reel’s drag smoking.

Veteran guide Captain Don McPherson reports an average king weighs 8 to 10 pounds. “There’s always an opportunity to catch a much larger fish,” McPherson said. “Alabama’s record king was caught in 2012 and weighed more than 69 pounds.”

Productive techniques for teasing kings include chumming at anchor over structure, drifting live baits or slow-trolling baits and lures. These techniques work offshore, and they work nearshore in shallow water. Of these, trolling is popular nearshore, especially for families.

To book a fishing trip with Captain McPherson, call (251) 981-8047 or visit www.getawaygulffishing.com.

Whiting: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach

One way to beat the summer heat is an early morning trip to the beach to catch whiting from the surf. An onshore salty breeze improves attitudes and expectations. A whiting looks like a redfish without the spot, and they are good fighters. The state record is 2 pounds, 15 ounces.

When packing for your vacation, take a 6-foot medium-action rod with 12-pound-test monofilament. Also take your beads, weights (1/4 to 1 ounce) and swivels for tying a Carolina rig, plus a pack of 1/0 hooks. At the beach, buy a pound of fresh shrimp at the fish market for bait, and you are ready to hit the surf.

The best places to cast are cuts in the sandbar. Whiting move from the Gulf through the cuts to feed in the trough between the sandbars.

Greater Amberjack: Orange Beach

With the opening of amberjack season on August 1, offshore anglers have an opportunity to tangle with these hardy reef donkeys. Twenty-pound AJs are common and 40- to 50-pound fish are not unusual. Occasionally, anglers land 60 pounders.

AJs offer fast action and don’t hesitate to attack artificial lures or live bait. Since AJs hunt in schools and can be anywhere in the water column, 9-ounce butterfly jigs on 60-pound-test leaders provide for quick hook-ups. Lower the jig to the reef, then lift the rod and reel as fast as possible to recover 20 to 25 feet of line. Pause, lower the rod tip and repeat. Expect to receive a hard strike on the first drop from a 20 pounder.

To target big AJs, leave the jigs in the tackle box hook. Instead, hook a lively hard tail (blue runner) on a 7/0 or 9/0 circle hook with an 80-pound-test leader.

Largemouth Bass: Pickwick Lake

“Ledge fishing on Pickwick,” said Damon Abernethy, Assistant Chief of Fisheries for the Alabama DCNR, “is far and away above all other summer fishing. When you find a school of fish, it’s possible to sit in one place and catch 30 to 50 largemouth. It’s fun to catch fish averaging 3 1/2 pounds on nearly every cast. Ledge fishing is best from late May through July.”

To find aggressive schooling bass, Abernethy uses side-scan sonar to search main river ledges. Often, he will idle for more than a mile before seeing a large school of fish.

To catch fish, Abernethy recommends anglers fish with a variety of lures. “Identify seven or eight baits you like to throw on ledges,” he said, “and rotate through them every 10 or 15 minutes. Eventually, you will figure out what they want. Deep crankbaits are always good, so are football jigs and 10- or 11-inch worms. Swimming a jig close to the bottom is effective.”

Largemouth Bass: Warrior Lake

According to biologists and anglers, the largemouth bass fishery on Warrior Lake is on an uptrend with good numbers of 2-pound bass. These young bass are an angler’s best friend when conditions are tough. Located between Eutaw and Tuscaloosa, this riverine lake has plenty of weedbeds and river ledges to support productive summer patterns.

Early morning, work weedbeds by sliding a surface frog over the vegetation. Afterward, search the cooler water under weeds by flipping creature baits.

By far, though, the primary pattern in August is hitting stumps and humps on the river ledges with crankbaits or a jig and pig.

To fish the lower lake, the Corps has a ramp at Jennings Ferry, which is off County Road 14.

Rainbow Trout: Sipsey Fork

Depending on the time of the year, the water temperature in the tailwaters below Smith Dam range from the mid-50s to the mid-60s and is cold enough to support trout year round. The cold water flowing from the bottom of the lake also makes the upper Sipsy Fork ideal for fishing in the dog days of summer.

To sustain the put-and-take fishery, the Alabama DCNR stocks about 1,500 pounds of 8- to 15-inch trout every month, usually on the third Thursday. Occasionally, in summer that number can more than double.

Access to the tailrace is via Cullman CR 95, which parallels the Sipsey Fork. The road leads to excellent parking areas and from there it’s a short walk to one of the seven staircases down to the water. If you walk ½ to ¾ mile above the pump station, you will find the best trout habitat on the river.

Anglers catch the greatest number of trout between the dam and the S.R. 69 Bridge. On this stretch of the stream, anglers are restricted to wading. Wading, however, is not possible if Alabama Power is generating hydroelectricity. Fish with caution and be prepared to move quickly to high ground in the event they release water from the dam.

Light tackle is all you need to catch rainbow trout. Spinners, small spoons, salmon eggs, and corn, are excellent baits. Fly-fishing is popular with light rods.

Flathead Catfish: Millers Ferry

Perfect habitat and low fishing pressure make Millers Ferry a top destination for flathead catfish. The fertile waters of the Alabama River combined with the many sweeping river bends filled with snags and logjams provide prime holding areas for the secretive adult flatheads. Due to Millers Ferry’s distance from metropolitan areas, flatheads do not receive significant recreational fishing pressure, nor do they receive substantial harvest from commercial fishing.

Night fishermen catch good numbers of yellow cats weighing up to 30 pounds on limb lines, trot lines and rod and reels. To cover as much water as possible, arrive on the water before dark to set out limb lines upstream from the bends in the river. Then anchor upstream from a logjam or a creek mouth for a night of fishing with rods and reels.

Unlike blue and channel catfish, flatheads are predators. Most anglers use live bream, but bullheads catch more fish.

Flathead Catfish: Claiborne Lake

As summer temperatures hover above 95 degrees on Claiborne Lake and day becomes insufferable, night fishermen are waiting for the sun to sink below the trees to start working the banks. They use the remaining light to tie their limblines to overhanging branches.

To target 20- to 40-pound flatheads, live bullheads work best, but if you want smaller fish to fry, 4-inch live bream works well. Position your baits upriver of deep holes and logjams.

Claiborne is the last reservoir on the Alabama River. The lock and dam, which is near Monroeville, did little to change the look of the great Alabama, as it failed to flood the river’s steep banks.

Like the spotted bass upstream, Claiborne’s catfish feed best when the water is moving.

Flathead Catfish: Conecuh River

From Andalusia to the Florida border, the Conecuh River provides a flathead fishery supporting cats weighing more than 40 pounds. It also holds plenty of delicious 5 pounders.

At night, flatheads leave their ambush points in debris filled holes to feed on sunfish, bullheads and just about anything that swims. The first hours after dark and the last hour before light are best, so it’s not necessary to fish through the night.

Arrive before sunset to catch a dozen bream or bullheads before setting up on sandbar to fish the opposite bend in the river. Fish the live bait on a slip-sinker rig with a 5/0 hook.

Blue Catfish: Guntersville Dam

July is a great month to catch blue cats larger than 20 pounds from the tail waters of Guntersville Dam. The hotter it gets the better the fishing. Drawn to the cool currents of the tailrace from the lake below, these river fish offer anglers an opportunity to land a trophy weighing nearly 100 pounds.

To catch these big brutes, you will need a heavy-action bait-casting rod rigged with at least 20-pound-test line and a size 4/0 to 6/0 hook tied to a 50-pound leader. You’ll also need a supply of 2- to 4-ounce sinkers.

As the water leaves the dam, it creates a series of humps and holes that serve as current breaks for the catfish. Local anglers have found that drift fishing is the best method to find tail-water cats. It’s essential for the bait to drift near the bottom, so adjust your sinker weight accordingly.

Blue Catfish: Holt Reservoir

Best known for its bass fishing, Holt Reservoir now holds the state record for blue catfish. John Nichols of Tuscaloosa caught the 120-pound, 4-ounce monster on March 9, 2012.

In August, trophy catfish are scarce, but this is a great time to go jugging at night on this river-run lake. Holt offers outstanding fishing for three-pound cats, just right for the skillet.

The tailwater upstream holds fish and is popular, but there’s plenty of excellent fishing along this narrow winding body of water, which stretches for 18 miles. There are many creek mouths and small pockets along the shoreline for fishing jugs.

As for bait, Nichols’ big fish found chicken gizzard irresistible. Still you can’t go wrong with fresh-cut baitfish, fresh chicken liver or even commercial attractor baits.

Channel Catfish: Bankhead Lake

For the end of summer, take the family jug fishing at night for channel catfish on Bankhead Lake. Jugging for catfish is pure fun-filled anticipation for kids.

Bankhead contains 9,200 acres and is the second largest lake on the Warrior River. Located approximately 15 miles west of Birmingham and 30 miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, the reservoir flows through Walker, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties.

When setting out jugs on Bankhead in summer, look for structure that intersects the water column at depths of 4 to 10 feet on the main lake. Shallow sloping points, flats with stumps and dropoffs along the channel are all good places to drift jugs for catfish. Adjust the length of the lines to keep the hooks off the bottom. Also, the main lake has current for drifting jugs.

Summer-time cats are not picky. Chicken liver is popular, cut shad is effective and dip baits are easy.

Channel Catfish: Gainesville Lake

As temperatures peak in August, catfishing sizzles on Gainesville Lake. The Tombigbee is very fertile, and the river at Gainesville receives light fishing pressure. This combination provides an excellent opportunity to catch high numbers of channel cats.

To avoid the heat, plan on arriving at your fishing spot an hour before sunset to set out limb lines, set poles or jugs. With your gear set, it’s time to anchor at a creek mouth and cast out a few lines. Although on a good night, your gear will start dancing before reaching the creek, and your coolers topped off in a couple of hours.

Channel cats are not picky feeders, but it’s best to use fresh cut shad to take advantage of the big blues that cruise the shallows with their smaller cousins. 

Channel Catfish: Lake Andrews

During the dog days of summer, catfishing offers fast action across our state. One lake often overlooked is Lake Andrews, which is located below Lake Eufaula on the lower Chattahoochee River. Andrews offers outstanding fishing for three-pound channel cats, just right for the skillet. It’s not unusual to catch a fish on your first rod while baiting the second.

To escape the hot weather, anglers should plan to fish from late evening into the night. The best fishing occurs when there is a strong current, as it forces the fish in predictable yet easy to find locations. Every point, logjam or creek mouth may hold a fishing bonanza.

The most effective baits on Andrews for channel catfish are fresh-cut shad, shrimp and chicken livers. Scheduled water release times for the dam are available by calling for the generation schedule at 1-866-772-9542.