Ten percent smarter than your equipment

franksargeant@charter.net

Though largemouth bass draw most of the attention on North Alabama’s TVA lakes, especially with the Bassmaster Classic on Guntersville approaching, crappies can be a more dependable target during a cold winter like this one.

Captain Tim Chandler, who is a hard core bass guide, says when he wants fish to eat, he goes crappie fishing, and is rarely disappointed on Guntersville.

“North Alabama crappie begin to spawn in mid- to late-March and wrap it up toward the end of April, so fish will be staging out from spawning areas in January and February,” says Chandler. “Most of them spawn on stumps and grasslines in the backs of creeks and bays.

“During cold weather, I look for shad on the graph near creek channel edges, especially if there’s any dormant grass around,” Chandler says. “Usually I use 1/16- or 1/32-ounce jigheads and a 2-inch plastic bait like the YUM Panfish Wooly Curlytail or YUM Houdini Fry.”

If the fish are less than 12 feet deep, Chandler opts for the lighter jig. For deeper fish he uses a heavier jig to eliminate some of the downtime while the jig sinks to the level of the fish. Baitfish-type colors work best, but he sometimes adds a touch of chartreuse.

Guntersville offers hundreds of docks that produce slabs almost the entire year, Chandler says. In fact, about the only time you can’t catch them from around docks is while the spawn is in full swing. Anglers use several tactics to target docks. One is simple slow “strolling” around the edges while watching the electronics for brush and baitfish.

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