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MONDAY, JULY 2, 2007
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North Alabama Fishing Reports

With the intense heat that has embraced North Alabama, fishing during early morning and late afternoon is best. Anglers have struggled to make excellent catches during the hottest portion of the day. So it makes good sense to fish at other times, including after sunset.

If you do plan on casting between noon and 5 p.m., make sure to use sunscreen, have plenty of cool water on hand and look for shady areas to fish or take frequent breaks. If there is a severe heat index, remember, sometimes it is better to fish another day.

Wheeler Lake: Topwater lures have been enticing big largemouth bass strikes shortly after the sun comes up around floating vegetation patches near the main river channel. An hour or so after the sun rises, expect bass to find shady or deep areas to stage. Late in the day, topwater lures, crankbaits and spinnerbaits can muster a strike or two if you are casting near submerged grass and other heavily structured areas around points.

Bluegill catches are good early and late around willowfly hatches. Popping bug and live crickets can make for a great catch if the flies are thick.

Catfishing is good at night if current is present. Using chicken livers, cutbait and nightcrawlers around deep-water current breaks is a good method to fill a stringer.

Wilson Lake: The best fish-catching action depends of the flow of current below Wheeler Dam. Catching catfish late in the afternoon is prime in the tailrace if there is a light-to-moderate current flowing. Cut skipjack and rooster livers on the bottom work well when used with medium/heavy-to-heavy tackle.

Look for stripers and hybrid stripe to be feeding early in the morning in the current. Drifting live shad and live shiner minnows is a good technique to use.

Largemouth bass are being caught early in the morning around points on the north shore within two miles of Wheeler Dam. Crankbaits on the back-current side of the point can bow a rod quick. Using this method, also expect to have a smallmouth bass or two to ambush your lure.

Pickwick Lake: Smallmouth bass are being caught around rocky points early in the morning when current is flowing. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits retrieved numerous different ways all work well when the bronzebacks are in a feeding mode.

Using the same techniques for smallmouth bass can also produce a few nice largemouth bass as well. Faster retrieves usually catch the attention of brown bass and the slower retrieves produce a different action that largemouth bass prefer when feeding.

When a swift current is flowing, drifting live minnows around causeway bridges can make for an enjoyable day. The best part of using this method is not knowing what is going to bite. White bass usually take bait presented this way, but lately, crappie, hybrid stripe, bull bluegill, smallmouth and largemouth bass, catfish (when the bait is near rocks), sauger and even drum have been bending rods. Itís definitely a great way to spend a day with kids, providing all the heat precautions have been utilized.

Lake Guntersville: Largemouth bass are making a big splash in the Goose Pond area early in the morning around floating grass beds near the main river channel. Buzzbaits work well shortly after dawn and as the sun rises, consider switching over to a plastic rat or floating 10-inch plastic worm.

Late in the afternoon, bluegill catches near boat docks have been good as anglers are using live crickets to draw bream out of the shade. If you find a willowfly outbreak, topwater popping bugs are hard to beat.

Paul Stackhouse

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