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SUNDAY, JULY 10, 2005
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NORTH ALABAMA FISHING REPORTS

If meteorologists are anywhere close to correct with their forecast, Hurricane Dennis will create a force that Tennessee Valley anglers must consider.

So instead of offering my normal fishing report this week, I'm going to offer a few suggestions that outdoor enthusiasts may find helpful for the next several days.

Even if lakes become extremely muddy this week, you can still have a wonderful time catching several species from the bank while casting deep into the creeks.

Look for creeks branching off from the main river channel or creek channels that normally have a mild trickle of water running over rocks and grass clumps. If you find these creeks now have 3 to 4 feet or deeper of running water or no current at all, this could be a great place to wet a hook.

Don't worry if the water is muddy or clear because live bait is best when fishing under these conditions. My favorite live bait for fishing swollen creeks is a minnow. Using live minnows can attract species such as sunfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, white bass, rock bass, warmouth and catfish.

If a current is flowing, position your bait about two feet under a bright-colored float. Make a cast so as the float will carry the bait a long distance in the current. It is important when using this tactic to keep winding in line so you will be prepared to set the hook if the float goes under.

The float I would use in these circumstances will be a round plastic or painted cork about the size of a golf ball. If you use a float too small, the current itself may take it under, indicating a false strike.

If using a rod-and reel instead of a cane pole, make sure all strengths are medium or lighter. I have caught white bass, crappie and largemouth bass using a technique that requires you to make an accurate cast. If I see a branch hanging over the water, I try to make a cast over the structure, letting the float and live minnow go into the water.

After making the accurate cast, I slowly reel in my line so that the float is now out of the water near the branch, leaving my bait barely in the water. A live minnow with only its tail and a small section of its body swimming in the water presents a situation that fish can't resist. If you don't get a bite in the first few seconds, be sure to let the whole minnow be in the water for about 30 seconds so the fish can take in oxygen.

After you let the minnow swim below, wind the line back up so only the tail and a small portion of the body is back in the water. When you have the minnow positioned, it is important to closely watch your bait for a strike.

After a fish has taken the bait, wind the line in carefully so the hook doesn't snag on the branch.

When lakes are flooded and dangerous, these techniques can make for a great day of fishing. If using this method, be sure to bring bug spray and keep a close eye out for snakes. And as always, if any small children are present, they should be wearing a life preserver, even though they are not in a boat.

— Paul Stackhouse

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