How To

Best Fall and Winter Fishing: Bass and Crappie in Alabama

Ronnie Capps with Crappie

Author’s Note: Although water and weather temperatures are cooling down, don’t put away your rod and reel just yet. There are plenty of big bass and fat crappie to be caught in November and December. To find out where to catch the biggest and the most bass and crappie this month, we asked two of the best professional fisherman in the industry – Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, four-time BASS Angler-of-the-Year and two-time Bassmaster Classic winner, and Ronnie Capps of Tiptonville, Tennessee, who, along with his partner, is co-winner of more than $1.4 million earned catching crappie, as well as co-winner of the 2009 Crappie USA South Region Regional Event – to name their favorites. VanDam has proven that he’s one of the best bass fishermen in the nation, and has surpassed tournament winnings of more than $3.5 million.

Ronnie Capps’ Pick:

Neely Henry in north Alabama – Weiss Lake, above Neely Henry, is nationally known for producing a number of crappie, as well as plenty of big crappie. Neely Henry is right below Weiss and often is overlooked by many crappie fishermen. I fish deeper on Neely Henry than I do on Reelfoot or at Grenada, and I’ll use a 1 ounce sinker on my Capps & Coleman minnow rigs. I’ll be fishing the river channel. There’s a lot of structure on the river channel, so you always can catch crappie there.

To catch nice-sized crappie at Neely Henry, fish the steep side of the old river bank where you generally will find the steepest and the cleanest underwater bank. When Neely Henry was flooded, there was a lot of timber on the old river bank and many of the old creek banks, and when the water rose, there were plenty of stumps left on that old river bank. There’s so much structure that you’ll have a constant battle keeping your hooks out of the wood when you’re slow-trolling down that old river channel or on any of the old creek channels.

I’ll be fishing in water 12 to 18 feet deep, using minnows and a 1 ounce weight on my minnow rig. I’ll be using 15 pound test line. I prefer the heavier line on this lake because my hooks will get hung up, and I want that stronger line, so I can straighten the hooks and get them out of the cover without breaking off my minnow rigs. There are some monster crappie on this lake and I’ll be keeping 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 pound crappie. If I had to pick a lake that can produce a new world’s record crappie, Neely Henry will be my choice.

Another of Kevin VanDam’s Selections:

Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama – This is a tremendous bass fishery, not only for numbers of bass, but also for sizes of bass. There are numbers of big largemouths here. You can see a lot of bass in the 4 to 8 pound class here, and you easily can catch a bass over 10 pounds. Fish the outside edges of the grass beds with crankbaits, top-water lures, lipless crankbaits and rubber frogs on top of the grass. I prefer to fish either lipless or diving crankbaits on the outside edges of those grass beds and fish the rubber frog over the top of the grass.

This article is part of a series on fall and winter fishing hotspots. Click here for bass in Texas and California and click here for Florida’s wintertime bass and crappie.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.