In the spring, anglers in northern Alabama and nearby states start thinking about frogging. No, not catching frogs for dinner, bass anglers dream about running soft-plastic frogs across the weedy surface of Lake Guntersville!
Lake Guntersville is about 44 miles southeast of Huntsville, Ala.
“Nothing is more exciting than a big fish blowing up on a top water bait — except two big bass blowing up on a top water bait!” remarked Jake Davis with Mid-South Bass Guide Service on Lake Guntersville (615- 613-2382, www.midsouthbassguide.com).
One of the best bass lakes anywhere, Lake Guntersville can certainly deliver monster largemouths. The lake annually produces many bass in the 6- to 10-pound range with some bigger ones. The official lake record topped 14 pounds!
“Without a doubt, Lake Guntersville is one of the premier bass lakes in the nation,” said Mike Iaconelli, a former Bassmaster Classic champion. “It’s an amazing numbers lake, but can also produce giant bass.”
The upper portion of Lake Guntersville extends from northeast Alabama into Tennessee as the massive reservoir snakes 75 miles along the Tennessee River. The largest lake in Alabama covers about 69,100 acres and drops to about 60 feet deep in places. In the northern portion, the lake retains much of its riverine characteristics. The lower lake turns into a typical southern reservoir. Throughout the lake, vast flats along either side of the main river channel and major creeks grow thick with milfoil and hydrilla, providing excellent bass habitat.
“Guntersville is such a great lake because it has so much grass,” Iaconelli explained. “Most milfoil grows in 2- to 3 feet of water with some down to about 7 feet deep. The hydrilla goes all the way out to about 12 feet. People can catch bass out of hydrilla or milfoil, but I love to fish areas where those two grass types mix.”
Almost any grass flat on the lake can produce giant bass that hit frogs on top. When scouting for the right flat, look for life. Shad, bluegill and other forage species frequently hide in thick grass. Big bass stay where they can find abundant food. Look for shad flicking the surface and listen for bream. With their small mouths, bream often make distinct snapping sounds when feeding near the surface. Fish-eating birds may also indicate good bait supplies in an area.
When bass go to the weeds, few baits can get to where lunkers lurk better than frogs or similar lifelike soft-plastic creations. Many anglers rig frogs weightless with a 3/0 to 6/0 wide gap hook inserted into its body to make it weedless. Other frogs come with hooks already attached. These hooks generally turn upward so these baits can easily skitter across the most entangling cover.
“When grass gets too thick, I go to a frog,” Davis recommended. “In many places on Lake Guntersville, weeds get so thick that it’s impossible to get any other bait through it. Bass will eat about anything that moves over the grass tops.”
Anglers can fish frogs in several ways. Some frogs slowly sink and others float. Toss either kind across the thickest cover and bring them back with a steady retrieve. Hold the rod tip high and crank the reel just enough to make the legs and feet sputter across the surface. A buzzing frog looks, feels and sounds like a live frog swimming across impenetrable salads.
With floating frogs, the “hop and pop” method works effectively. With this method, move the bait a few feet and then pause, just like when working a traditional top water lure. Let it sit on the surface a few moments and then pop it vigorously. Let it sit again until the concentric rings clear and then pop it again. The commotion simulates a live frog splashing across the surface. When approaching a thick, grassy patch or lily pad, “crawl” the frog over the vegetation and pause briefly. Sometimes, bass see the frog silhouette and explode up through the pad, frequently engulfing vegetation and all.
With sinking frogs, anglers may also use the “stop, sink and go” approach. When the frog hits a pocket of open water, let it sink a few seconds before pulling it back to the surface or across pad tops. As the frog slowly sinks, its appendages twitch and quiver, driving bass nuts.
Just about any part of the sprawling lake could produce a giant bass, particularly in the spring. Several large feeder creeks feed the system. Some better creeks to look for big bass include North and South Sauty, Siebold Creek, Brown’s Creek, and Town Creek.