John's Journal...

Wake Up to 2:00 AM Cold Weather Crappie Fishing at Alabama’s Lake Guntersville

Day 3: Why Fish Around the Bridges and Culverts for Crappie in the Winter Months at Lake Guntersville

Editor’s Note: No one really wants to get up at 2:00 am on a cold morning, dress like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and go out on any lake in pitch-black dark. The only reason to answer that 2:00 am alarm is the vision of big slab crappie coming to your dip net on almost every cast at Lake Guntersville.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewWhen I questioned Captain Phillip Criss of Scottsboro, Alabama, a bass and crappie guide, as to why he believed the crappie ganged-up during the coldest part of the winter around bridges and culverts on Lake Guntersville (see Days 1 and 2), he explained, “Crappie are depth- and temperature-sensitive. They also begin to prepare for the spawn much earlier than most fishermen believe. During the winter months, crappie search for vertical structure, current and favorable water temperatures and depths around the bridges and culverts. The current that runs under these structures also pulls bait fish to the crappie. As soon as the water temperature becomes warm enough, the crappie move away from the bridges and culverts into the creeks where they spawn. These kinds of areas on Lake Guntersville provide ideal holding spots where large numbers of crappie can come from all over the main lake and locate vertical structure and cover that they can hold on, depending on water temperature. Also, they're close enough to the spawning grounds that as soon as the water temperature is favorable for spawning, they can move up to the spawning flats in the creeks above the culverts and bridges. Crappie have to eat every day, and they discover a large smorgasbord of bait fish holding around the bridges and the culverts. The crappie have everything they need around these two types of structure. We consistently can catch limits of crappie every night we fish here. Although the crappie bite best about an hour or two just before daylight and an hour or two just after daylight, we can catch good numbers of crappie from about 2:00 am until about 7:00 or 8:00 am in the winter.”

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewI also learned why large numbers of crappie fishermen congregate around the bridges and culverts in the wee hours of the morning. Most of the anglers who fish Lake Guntersville in the winter months are locals. They can pack their rods, reels and poles in their cars along with their ice chests the afternoon before they're planning to fish. Then, they can go to the bridges and culverts, fish from the banks or their boats and catch good messes of nice crappie before they have to leave the water and go to work. When they get off from work, they can eat dinner and spend quality time with their families. This way, their crappie-fishing addictions don’t interfere with their work schedules or their family times. This crappie-fishing secret is kept close to the vests of the Guntersville locals because they don’t want to see the number of crappie fishermen increase at this prime time of catching crappie. Another reason you don’t read much about winter crappie fishing at Guntersville is that most journalists and TV hosts aren’t willing to get up at 1:00 or 2:00 am to go out and report on this crappie-fishing phenomenon.

To contact Captain Phillip Criss about fishing Lake Guntersville, call him at 205-461-5549, or email him at

To learn much more about crappie fishing, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and some print books, “Crappie: How to Catch Them Fall & Winter,” “Crappie: How to Catch Them Spring and Summer” and “Catch Cold Water Crappie Now” by clicking on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: How to Set-Up to Catch Wintertime Crappie Under Lake Guntersville Bridges

Check back each day this week for more about Wake Up to 2:00 AM Cold Weather Crappie Fishing at Alabama’s Lake Guntersville"

Day 1: Answering the 2:00 AM Cold Weather Crappie Fishing Alarm at Alabama’s Lake Guntersville
Day 2: Three Lake Guntersville Anglers Explain the Outstanding Wintertime Crappie Fishing There Even in Cold and Nasty Weather
Day 3: Why Fish Around the Bridges and Culverts for Crappie in the Winter Months at Lake Guntersville
Day 4: How to Set-Up to Catch Wintertime Crappie Under Lake Guntersville Bridges
Day 5: How to Fish the Culverts and Secret Places at Lake Guntersville for Wintertime Crappie

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Entry 799, Day 3