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Guntersville Lake for Plenty of Food Fish Day 1: Where & When to Fish for Guntersville’s Winter Crappie

An angler holds up his catch of crappie
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Editor’s Note: Years ago, Alabama’s Guntersville Lake was one of the hottest crappie spots in the nation. However, bass fishing on Guntersville has become so popular – hosting about 500 tournaments a year or more – and the crappie fishing has been kept on the down low by most of the area’s crappie fishermen. But the crappie haven’t gone anywhere, and they’ve gotten bigger.

A crappie on a hookI had a call from my friend Phillip Criss of Albertville, Ala, a bass guide (205-461-5549; [email protected]) at Guntersville, who told me, “We caught three walleyes and numbers of spotted bass, black bass, crappie and white bass off the same spot yesterday. One of the walleyes weighed 5 pounds, and we released her and the other two that weighed between 2 and 3 pounds back into the lake. When can you come?” Several days later, I was sitting in Criss’s boat with him and his friend Scott Jernigan of Guntersville. After fishing that honey hole and not getting a bite, we went crappie fishing.

An angler holds up his crappieFifty-one-year old Scott Jernigan has been guiding to crappie for 15 years on Guntersville Lake. Criss says, “He’s one of the best.” When we asked Jernigan to name some of his best spots to catch crappie in the winter months, he answered, “South Sauty, Town Creek, Alred’s and Brown’s Creek. The type of wintertime structure I like to fish is all the bridges on the lake. During the winter months, most of the baitfish in the lake will congregate underneath the bridges, and the secret to finding the crappie is learning the bait on which they’re feeding. If you use your depth finder and see the baitfish holding around 15 feet or deeper, you can expect to have a tough day of crappie fishing. But if the bait is holding 10 feet or less from the surface, you can catch all the crappie you want to catch. My favorite jig to fish is a hair jig – a Leland Lures’ Crappie Magnet Pop-Eye jig that’s a 1/32-ounce jig with a green head and black hair. Although some people prefer 4-pound-test line, I like to fish 6-pound-test line.”

An angler holds up a large catch of crappieMost of the winter crappie Jernigan catches when fishing the bridges will be from 9 inches up to 2-1/2 pounds. In the 2021 winter crappie season, Jernigan caught two crappie under the bridges that went over 3-pounds each.

A cooler full of crappieTo contact Jernigan, you can reach him by calling Waterfront Bay Grocery and Tackle – located on Highway 79 between Scottsboro and Guntersville (http://waterfrontbaygrocery.com/, 256-582-6060), which has all of his info. You can call Jernigan at: 706-575-7239, email him at [email protected], or go to his Facebook page: Scott Jernigan (https://www.facebook.com/scott.jernigan.31). From November 1 until the end of January or the middle of February seems to be the best times to load your cooler with some of those white, tasty crappie fillets.

Cover: Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall and WinterTo learn more about crappie fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter,” available in Kindle, print and Audible at https://www.amazon.com/. At this writing, some states are still having deer seasons which run through February 10th and others last even longer. To learn more about hunting for deer, check out John E. Phillips’ “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” now available as of January 1, 2022, in Audible, as well as paperback and Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/. You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser. (When you click on the books, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book.Cover: Jim Crumley's Secrets for Hunting Deer

Tomorrow: What’s Guntersville’s Crappie Secret

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