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Guntersville Bass On A Postspawn Feed Frenzy
Capt. Mike Gerry marks a map with 10 areas to find late April and May bass on the shad spawn or feeding up after bedding.
By Ronnie Garrison
Originally published in the May 2018 issue of AON
Lake Guntersville is producing lots of quality bass this spring. Capt. Mike Gerry caught this one on a spinnerbait during a trip with the author to mark a map.
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Postspawn bass in a feeding frenzy, with shad spawning in the mornings on rip-rap and shallow grass, and then eating all day to recover from the stress of bedding.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better lake than Guntersville to take advantage of these types of fun and exciting fishing this month, with the chance to catch lots of big bass.

Lake Guntersville is world renowned for its big bass and great fishing. By Guntersville standards, the fishing had been down for a couple of years. Apparently, the lake was just going through a typical cycle like all lakes. The fishing for quality stringers was still better than on most lakes, and this year seems to be the beginning of a new up cycle, with more bass being caught in general and with many more in the 3- to 6-lb. range.

Guntersville is a Tennessee River lake full of grass and lily pads. It has been called a bass factory for years and rated among the top lakes in the nation by Bassmaster magazine. For the first time in years, it was not in the Top-10 last year, but that is apt to change over the next few years.

Capt. Mike Gerry was a high school football coach who always had a passion for bass fishing. He started fishing Lake Guntersville in the 1970s and has been guiding on the lake since 1997. Now he has five other guides working for him while still guiding himself most days. He knows Guntersville better than most who fish the lake.

“I’m seeing a good upturn in catching bass this year, with more numbers each day and many quality bass,” Mike said. 

The fishing has been better this winter and spring than it has in several years for him, and the rattlebait bite Guntersville is famous for was great early this year.

Shad will be spawning in late April and May, and that will turn bass on everywhere. Guntersville is no exception. After spawning, the bass might be lethargic for a week or so as they recover, then they go on a feeding spree, eating more actively than just about any other time of year. They are moving from the spawning areas toward the river channels, and many stay in shallow, easily fishable water all day. They can be caught on many baits.

Mike’s go-to baits this month are a spinnerbait, swim jig and a buzzbait for fishing shallow grass. He will also have a swimbait, crankbait and football jig ready for fishing rip-rap and deeper water, and he’ll throw a Zara Spook for fishing over grass that is under the surface. All of these baits will catch bass from first light and throughout the day.

We fished the following spots in early April on a rainy, cool morning.  Bass were just starting to bed near them. We caught several keepers, including one 6-lb.-plus female in our short trip.

In late April and throughout May, the Guntersville bass have mostly finished bedding and are ready to feed at locations like these 10 marked on our map by Capt. Mike Gerry.

No. 1:  N 39º 31.126 – W 86º 06.352
— If you put in at Waterfront Bay Grocery & Tackle in Scottsboro, you can get breakfast and all your fishing supplies, and then you won’t have to run far to fish some great areas. North Sauty Creek has a lot of spawning areas for both bass and shad and a variety of structure and cover that hold feeding postspawn bass this month.

The bridge and rip-rap that crosses the creek is a major shad spawn area, and bass stack up on it, moving out of their bedding areas. There is often current moving under the bridge, making the bass bite even better. Mike will fish it with a spinnerbait, swimbait and a crankbait.

The corners of the bridge are key areas to catch bass. Current moving across these ambush corners moves bait to the bass, and the shad will spawn on the rip-rap rocks. Mike will fish all four corners, both upstream and downstream on each side, starting with a spinnerbait and then a crankbait. He then follows up with a swimbait to catch bass that want a more subtle bait.

A 1/2-oz. Picasso spinnerbait with a white and chartreuse skirt and silver willowleaf blades is good when there is little or no current. Mike will go to a 1-oz. bait if the current is strong. Bass will often suspend a little off the bottom to intercept shad, so you want to get your bait down near the rocks. At first light the shad will be right on the rocks at the water’s surface, but as the sun gets bright, the fish will move deeper and deeper, so slow-roll your spinnerbait deeper later in the morning.

Also try a Spro Little John crankbait in the nasty-shad color, trying different sizes to get to the depth bass are holding. Work your crankbait and spinnerbait with the current for a natural movement. If there is little current, a Kitech swimbait will be better. It has good tail action but offers the bass a more natural-looking bait.

No. 2: N 34º 31.069 – W 86º 05.485
— Upstream of the bridge, there is a big bay with a good channel that goes off to the left. The bay is a great spawning area, and the right point as you’re going in is a classic shad spawning area and a natural place for postspawn bass to stop and feed on the way out to deeper water. This clay point has blowdowns around it.

The point runs out shallow with grass on it. Unlike rip-rap, shad spawning on the grass 1 to 3 feet deep will not show on the surface, but you will see them skittering out of the water and swirls as bass feed on them. Bass will hold in the grass and ambush shad as they spawn.

Keep your boat out in about 5 feet of water, and work all around the point. Run a Spook, buzzbait or a spinnerbait over the grass 1 to 3 feet deep. Work your baits fairly fast, covering water while watching for activity. Any time you see shad jumping or swirls in the water, cast to it immediately.

No. 3: N 34º 29.656 – W 86º 06.969
— Yellow Creek is straight across the open water of North Sauty and is another great spawning area. There was already a lot of green primrose in the shallows, and it will be full of lily pads now. Bass spawn around the stumps in the shallows and then feed on shad spawning in the area.

We caught two good fish in here, including one between 6 and 7 pounds. Her tail was raw, and she was either on the bed or just off it. The cloudy skies and stained water kept us from seeing beds, but Mike said the area was surely full of bedding bass. These bass won’t go far after bedding, and they will be feeding here right late April and May.

Work the pads with a buzzbait and spinnerbait. A white 1/2-oz. Picasso buzzbait is best for lots of noise, but when there is bright sun, which often makes the bass hold under the pads, a more subtle 1/4-oz. bait will often draw more bites. Run the buzzbait through all channels and edges in the pads.

Fish the outside edges first. Start about halfway back from the point on the right, and work all the way around the back of this short, shallow creek. After running your noisy and flashy baits around the edges of the pads, cast a swim jig into them, and fish it out through the pads.

A 1/2-oz. Tight Lines swim jig with a white trailer is good when bass are mostly feeding on shad. Mike does not twitch his bait much in here as he reels it in. Instead he lets it deflect off pad stems and grass for a more natural action. He does caution to keep your rod positioned to set the hook immediately when a bass hits, or you are likely to miss them.

No. 4: N 34º 32.014 – W 86º 06.597
— There are some small islands in the mouth of North Sauty Creek between it and the river, and a big bay is to the right of the mouth. In this bay a series of grass humps top out about 3 feet deep with 7 to 9 feet of water around them. Shad spawn on the tops of them just like on long points, and bass feed on all of them.

Keep your boat off the humps in 7 feet of water and cast to the tops of them, working all around each one. A spinnerbait slow-rolled just over the grass is good, as is a swimbait run just over it. Always watch for bass chasing bait, swirling on top, and cast either bait to them. Try to determine which way the bass are moving and cast slightly ahead of them. 

Mike caught a keeper here when we fished. Although shad were not spawning, there is always food for bass in places like this, and they are especially good this time of year. There are several humps here, and bass may be scattered across all of them, or they may be concentrated on one or two, so spend enough time to check them all.

No. 5: N 34º 31.063 – W 86º 07.858
— Go out of the mouth of North Sauty, and head down the river, staying to the left side. There are two big islands not far off the bank in an area Mike said is called Church House Slough. Stop on the upstream end of the upstream island. A long shallow point comes off the back side of the end of the island and goes toward the bank. This point then splits out on the end.

Start well off the island with your boat in about 10 feet of water. The top of the point is 3 or 4 feet deep with grass about 6 inches under the surface, so this is a good area to walk a Spook over it. Bass holding in the grass will bust it as it comes over them.

A buzzbait also works here, as does a spinnerbait.

If the bass don’t want to come all the way to the surface, run your spinnerbait just over the top of the grass. Fish all around both ends of the point and up the sides. Watch for surface activity, and cast your Spook to it.

No. 6: N 34º 30.510 – W 86º 06.426 — The downstream end of the second island has a very shallow hump, 1 to 2 feet deep on top at full pool. When we fished it, the lake was about a foot low, and one stump broke the surface. Stumps and grass on a hump or point attract both shad and bass.

Stay out in 4 to 6 feet of water, and work all around the hump, casting your Spook over it if the water is high enough to keep the grass below the surface. Also try spinnerbait and buzzbait over it.

If the grass is on the surface, work a swim jig through it. This is an excellent place at first light.

No. 7: N 34º 29.883 – W 86º 09.684
– Downstream on your left, a big open bay on the upstream side of Murphy Hill has a small island in the middle of it not far from the mouth. A point comes off this island toward the river and has grass on it under the surface. As in the others, bass and shad are attracted to it. The bass spawn back in the slough and stop on the point to feed.

Keep your boat in 7 to 10 feet of water straight out from the island and cast toward it, working a Spook over the point as well as a buzzbait. Slow-roll a spinnerbait over the top of the grass, and fish a swim jig through the grass. Work the jig right on top of the grass, and jerk it free when it sticks in the grass.

No. 8: N 34º 31.211 – W 86º 08.705
— There are deep bass in May on Guntersville, too. For a change of pace, go to the mouth of South Sauty Creek where it dumps into the river channel. A red river channel marker ( 372.2) on a pole with a light on top is just downstream of smaller red and green creek channel markers. Stop about halfway between the river and creek channel markers in 20 feet of water.

The point between the channels is about 8 feet on top and drops quickly on both sides. Current is needed to make the bite good here. Cast a heavy spinnerbait to the top of the point, and slow-roll it down the drop. Also try a football jig. Mike uses 1/2- to 1-oz. Guntersville Special Tightline jig with a watermelon red Mistle Bait D Bomb trailer.

In heavy current, use the heavier baits. Keep the spinnerbait right on the bottom. With the football jig, crawl it along then hop it, but don’t move it far on the hops since the bottom drops fast. Mike says two of the pros caught a lot of big fish here in a big tournament several years ago, and he has landed numerous 7- to 10-pounders here in May, so it is a great big fish hole.

No. 9: N 34º 30.678 – W 86º 09.905
— A little upstream the channel of Boshart Creek is a similar deep-water hole. It is straight out from a big three-story house near the bank and a long, straight asphalt ramp going down to a boat house with a pontoon under it. It is just downstream of a green drum channel marker.

The top of the hump on the edge of the channel is only 3 to 4 feet deep, so it is a good place to work a Spook over the top. Also try both spinnerbait and football jig down the sides of it. Mike says this is more of a numbers hole than really big fish, but he has caught a lot of bass off it.

No. 10: N 34º 30.200 – W 86º 10.936
– Just downstream of the mouth of Baker Springs Branch, which has the Waterfront boat ramp in it, there is an old quarry or spring offers a good place to fish. Idle around straight out from a gray boathouse with double white doors on the bluff bank, and you will see the bottom drop very fast from about 10 feet deep to 30 feet deep, and then it comes back up just as fast. It is just off the river channel.

A football jig worked on the drops and along the bottom of the hole will catch bass. Mike says almost every bass he has caught here have spit up crawfish, so work your jig like a crawfish crawling along the bottomthat scampers off it when spooked. This is another of Mike’s big fish holes.

You can catch Guntersville’s famous bass on all these places, and many others just like them all over the lake, right now.

Follow Mike on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mike.gerry.754?ref=br_rs, and see his weekly fishing reports and articles on fishing Guntersville. Or you can book a trip with him at fishlakeguntersvilleguideservice.com or by calling (256) 759-2270.
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