Friday Fishing Report: Muddy water makes times tough for anglers

For anglers fishing any river impoundment lakes anywhere in Alabama this week, it may be a good time to clean out the garage instead of go fishing.

With so much high, muddy water pouring downstream, the Tennessee River system, including Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson and Pickwick, are mostly unfishable.

However, Captain Mike Carter says there is some good bass action in the creeks at Guntersville, where areas of flooded woods, buck brush, and cattails has been the ticket for some solid fish. He said the Bill Lewis Echo squarebill has been the best bait for this action, though some are also being caught on Choo Choo Shakers. He said the cold snap this weekend will slow things, but it should pick up again as soon as warmer days come back starting Monday; www.anglingadventures.info.

The upper Coosa chain, which flows out of less agricultural lands and has a much shorter watershed, is likely to be better, as is the Warrior Chain, including Lewis Smith and Holt Reservoir, which both have lots of rocky forest streams feeding them with less muddy flows.

In fact, Lewis Smith may be a best bet this week. It won’t be the usual clear blue, but more a milky green, but there’s likely still to be enough visibility to successfully fish artificial lures, especially those that rattle, spin or flash. Vertical jigging a spoon around the herring schools may be a good bet for the spotted bass, and some will also be moving into the creek valleys in pre-spawn mode.

This is also getting into the magic weeks when most of the lake’s striped bass head up the tributary rivers, particularly the Sipsey River and Brushy and Ryan creeks, in their spawning run, continuing through March. Slow trolling a big swimbait is a good way to find these migrating fish, but they also hit topwater lures and of course, live shad.

The Bear Lake Chain, in the northwestern corner of the state, is also less muddy than some, and is noted for good crappie fishing on the lake’s many brush piles. Anglers should drop live minnows down to within a foot or two of bottom to get them.

MLF anglers fishing an event this week at Lake Eufaula have reported high and muddy water as well, but some of the creek headwaters are clearing and shad schools are showing up, indicating that should be a good pattern on this lake on the Alabama/Georgia border. Many of the leaders Wednesday were fishing offshore areas with current. See the full report at www.majorleaguefishing.com.

The water in Sipsey Branch below the dam at Lewis Smith is likely to be clear but low and slow moving, since the dam is not scheduled to be open for the next several days to prevent added water from building up downstream. Clear water is good, no flow is not—the rainbow trout stocked here like a little current flow to turn on the bite; www.riversideflyshop.com.

For coastal anglers, heavy runoff will push saltwater fish out of the coastal rivers to the marsh edges and down Mobile Bay. Captain Bobby Abruscato recommends trying marsh creeks, which maintain their salinity despite all the runoff. Both trout and reds gather around the mouth of these creeks as the water falls. For bull reds, the Dixey Bar will be a good bet, with live croakers or other baitfish will get lots of them—remember all these large females must be released. Sheepshead are in early spawning mode and will take live shrimp around the gas rigs and artificial reefs; www.ateamfishing.com.

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