Editor’s Note: Years ago, 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.
I must admit that I can’t fish that 1/32-ounce green-and-black hair jig nearly as effectively as Jernigan does. He drops the jig down to about 15 or 20 feet, starts shaking his rod tip and begins reeling the jig up as slowly as possible. Although I use that same technique, I still can’t catch the crappie as efficiently as Jernigan. As I studied his tactic, I saw that he shook his rod tip up and down quickly, hardly moving the jig at all. But even though I shook my rod tip every way I knew how to shake it, I still couldn’t duplicate the action Jernigan used to catch the crappie. According to Jernigan, “If I get my jig all the way to the top of the water, and I haven’t caught a crappie, I’ll drop it straight down in the same spot I did before and start repeating that motion again, as I slowly start reeling the jig up to the surface again.” Jernigan explained that many times when he takes out clients, he’ll take minnows with him to fish. Although he tries to teach his fishermen the same action he uses, when he’s catching crappie, and they’re not, he’ll put live minnows on their rods, and they can start catching the crappie.
Without question, Jernigan is one of the best crappie fishermen I’ve ever fished with, and the size and number of crappie he produces in a morning of fishing is as good as – if not better than – the number caught on most of the wintertime crappie lakes I’ve ever fished. And, if you doubt the validity of this article, if you’ll drive over some of the bridges that cross Guntersville Lake, you’ll see a crowd of anglers casting to the bridge pilings and lines of boats on almost every piling under every bridge. You also can sit and watch large numbers of big crappie being caught every night by anglers in snowmobile suits wearing balaclavas and insulated hoods and possibly wearing fishing gloves to have a crappie fishing trip of a lifetime.
If you’ve never fished Guntersville during the winter months for crappie, and you go on your first trip there, I promise you it won’t be your last trip. However, the quickest, easiest and best way to learn how to fish for crappie during these winter months is to hire a guide on your first trip and let him teach you how to find and catch Guntersville’s big speckled sides while most crappie fishermen are sitting on the couch, sipping on hot coffee or hot chocolate and watching the early morning news on TV.
To contact Jernigan, you can reach him by calling Waterfront Bay Grocery and Tackle (phone: 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.
To learn more about crappie fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Catch Crappie All Year: Fishing a Single Pole, Using No Boat and Farming Crappie” in print, Kindle and Audible versions at http://amzn.to/1DBpnNh. 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.
Tomorrow: Why Fish for Lake Guntersville’s Delicious White Bass