John's Journal...

The Five Best November and December Bass andCrappie Hot Spots with Kevin VanDam and Ronnie Capps

Alabama – Lake Guntersville and Neely Henry for Wintertime Crappie

Click to enlargeEditor’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, Click to enlargeTennessee, 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 with his tournament wins so far in 2009, VanDam has 15 victories on the BASS Elite Series and is approaching $3.5 million in bass career earnings. For more than 15 years, the team of Capps and Coleman has crappie fished all over the country at various times of the year. They’re the most-winning crappie team in the nation. Here are Capps’ picks for best crappie lakes in the nation for November and December. Today, VanDam and Capps will discuss their favorite lakes in Alabama.

Ronnie Capps’ Pick:Click to enlarge
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 B’n’M 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.Click to enlarge

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 VanDam’s Selections:
Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama – This is a tremendous 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.

To learn more about Ronnie Capps or to book a fishing trip with him visit

To learn more about 2009 Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam, visit

Tomorrow: Florida – The Kissimmee Chain for Cool-Weather Bass and Lake Harris for Crappie

Check back each day this week for more about "The Five Best November and December Bass and Crappie Hot Spots with Kevin VanDam and Ronnie Capps"

Day 1: Texas and California – Falcon Lake, Lake Fork and the California Delta with Kevin VanDam
Day 2: Alabama – Lake Guntersville and Neely Henry for Wintertime Crappie
Day 3: Florida – The Kissimmee Chain for Cool-Weather Bass and Lake Harris for Crappie
Day 4: Table Rock Lake in Missouri for Bass and Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake and Grand Lake in Oklahoma for Crappie
Day 5: Mississippi’s Grenada Lake and Sardis Lake for Winter Crappie


Entry 535, Day 2