Guntersville and Chickamauga Lakes early winter hot spots

BY Chris Erwin

While most of us were eating Thanksgiving dinner, Scott Doan was floating on Guntersville Lake. This has become an annual trip for him. He spends a few days on Guntersville then comes back into Tennessee, where he stays a few days on Lake Chickamauga.

Scott Doan from Morehead KY, showing off two of the many bass he caught while fishing these two lakes (photo submitted)

Since he has had such good luck the last few years making this trip, I thought it would be a good idea to tell you where he goes and just how he was catching these fish. The longest ride is to Guntersville, he stays at a place called Waterfront Bay. Before I get ahead of myself, just let me back up and say Guntersville Lake is in Alabama between Bridgeport and the town of Guntersville.
Most people that fish this lake find their best success fishing the huge grass beds. The lake is known for Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla, and eelgrass. However, these winter trips have not produced fish near the weeds. Doan tells me every time he makes this winter trip, he spends time testing the weed beds, but he has had little success catching much in them or even around them. We could go into why, however, it’s more important to understand what has been successful and how you can duplicate it.

What I’m about to tell you will work on just about any lake during the winter months if the fish are the least bit active. Your first objective is to find baitfish. This is when that costly depth finder will earn its worth on your boat. It’s best to have a few marker buoys ready to drop over the side, you can usually buy them in a package of two or four. Get them out and prepared with the weight unwrapped, so you are ready to just drop them.

Doan slowly cruises around areas near the channel looking for baitfish, this can take some time, and it’s best not to mark the first baitfish you see. Once you have scouted an area, you will begin to understand just where they are. If you pay close attention, you will be able to mark larger fish around them. These larger fish are what you’re after. Once you see them, you are ready to make another pass and drop your markers.

Scott Doan with one of the 15 drum he caught while fishing the system we described in this article (photo submitted)

Now it’s time to fish from one marker to the other, Doan was using two main baits, a Buckeye Shad, and a rubber dropping swim-bait. He also has, in the past, has had success using a Silver Buddy. The idea here is the verticle jig right through the shad. Understand where the bigger fish are, in relation, to the baitfish, will help you to know where you want your lure.
Scott not only found bass this way, but he also caught more than 15 Drum over 10-lbs using light line. He told me at one point, he had to move because he was finding more drums than bass. Catching a 10lb fish on light line is fun, especially when it’s cold.

After two days at Guntersville Lake, Doan decided to make his way back to Tennessee and Lake Chickamauga, where he spent another three days basically fishing the same formula and having the same results.

If you want to make one of the winter trips. You can call the numbers listed to reserve a room and plan your trip to one or both of these well-known bass producing locations. Waterfront Bay, 6989 Scottsboro, Highway 79 Scottsboro, Alabama 35769 Reservations: (256) 444-5017 They are located U.S. Highway 79 right next to Waterfront Bay Grocery and Tackle, 8 minutes south of Goose Pond, 10 minutes from Scottsboro, and 15 minutes from Guntersville. Chickamauga Lake, Island Cove Resort, 6701 Highway 58 PO Box 489, Harrison, TN 37341-9384, Phone: (423) 344-8331.

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