John's Journal...

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

Day 5: How to Fish the Culverts and Secret Places at Lake Guntersville for Wintertime Crappie

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 ViewLake Guntersville has numbers of culverts and bridges lined with rip-rap – ideal places for bank fishermen to fish. Although anglers may have to park their vehicles a few hundred yards to 1/2-mile away from the spots they want to fish, they can walk to the bridges and culverts while carrying their rods, jigs, minnows, stringers and ice chests and then down the well-worn paths to cast under the bridges and culverts or to the eddy areas just off the current. These are the most-prized spots for bank fishermen to fish, and only the early birds get these choice spots.

Many mornings you may see a line of 10 to 30 anglers casting jigs and minnows from the rip-rap toward the boats that are anchored down right off the current. But if the crappie aren’t there, you won’t see the cars parked along the road or fishermen lining the banks. When the crappie are active at the bridges and culverts, there seems to be an undercover network of fishermen who call one another. When the crappie are there, you'll see a large parade of crappie fishermen. But even when the crappie aren’t there, there still will be a smaller group of anglers on the banks and in the boats fishing for crappie.

A couple of other tactics that are never talked about also produce large numbers of big crappie on Guntersville. “We have some families and groups of fishermen who rent boat slips at Goose Pond Marina (,” Calvin McLaughlin, one of the most-rabid crappie fishermen, explains. “These crappie fishermen never put boats in those slips but instead sink brush in the slips. Then, no matter the time of year or the weather conditions, they have covered slips they can fish at night or in the daytime, since crappie are caught all year long out of these boat slips.” One of the advantages that the boat slip fishermen have over the bank fishermen and the boat fishermen is that they’ll have much more room to fish. Too, they can walk around all sides of the boat slip. The area where they fish is well lighted, as well as out of the weather.

Longtime crappie and bass guide, Captain Phillip Criss of Scottsboro, Alabama, also explains, “Many nights I like to fish around and especially in front of docks and piers here at Guntersville. Most lake residents put brush around their docks and piers to attract crappie and bass. By fishing these docks and piers in the wee hours of the morning before the sun comes up, we’re less likely to irritate the owners of these structures. We’re more likely to catch crappie, because rarely will we see anyone else fishing these spots from 2:00 am until daylight.” Criss also explains that since he’s started guiding for crappie he uses his side-scanning depth finder to find and locate underwater structure in open water that will hold crappie during the winter months.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewIf like me, you're having a craving for some fresh crappie fillets and want to know where to find them and how to catch them, then this information this week should be just what you need. Just because you don’t live near Lake Guntersville in Alabama doesn’t mean you can’t identify the same type of productive crappie fishing in the winter months anywhere in the country around bridges and culverts that lead from the main river channel into creeks where crappie spawn. If you don’t have a boat, there are plenty of good bank-fishing opportunities and possibly marinas where you can fish. Even though the temperatures may be cold, the crappie bite often will get hot at this time of the year and last all the way to the beginning of the spawn. Crappie are in most lakes and rivers throughout the country. Most lakes, rivers and creeks have bridges, culverts and rip-rap. During the wee hours of the morning before the sun comes up, these waterways usually have very little, if any, fishing pressure. So, try these tactics for catching wintertime crappie.

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.

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 5