Sauger

Marty Dunn was trying for crappie recently and instead caught this sauger. They're more often known by the colloquial name "jack salmon" and are said to be the finest eating fish in the Tennessee River. 

Tony Cooley of Cooley Store said that fishing is not great below the dam right now, but there is a bright light. Sauger or jack salmon are starting to bite.

Cooley said the sauger bite is more of a winter bite, but they are getting started. There was a man who came into the store and said he had caught a good stringer of them.

Cooley believes that Guntersville is one of the southernmost parts of the United States for sauger. These fish are typically good in cooler waters and vary in size. A good legal size is between 1 to 1-½ pounds. These fish do not typically bite until November or December, but there have been several anglers who said they are biting well.

A reminder from Cooley is the fish must be at least 15 inches long to be legal and you can only keep 5.

People who fish for sauger usually use grub and small hair jigs. He said a lot of people like to use a 1-ounce jig for vertical jigging in a boat or a ¼=-ounce jig for fishing off the bank. He explained that on a boat, people like to cast and bring the line back to them. These fish will bite, and you do not even know that they have done it. He said it is fun to fish for these if you are looking for a challenge.

Cooley said these fish are good to eat as well. You do not have to do anything special with their meat. It can be deep fried or done anyway you want really and it still tastes good.

This year will be a good year for sauger fishing, Cooley said.

As for the other fish, he said catfish are not doing great, but the bite is still fair. A lot of people are buying livers and nightcrawlers. Skipjacks are still doing well and a lot of people are stocking up on these fish for the winter months. Bream are so-so, but it is not great. White bass are doing good in early morning or late afternoon. A few people have asked about top water, but he said there is no word on it. Black bass and smallmouth are okay, but they are picking up.

The flood gates are open, but that is not a bad thing. On Wednesday, there were 3-5 gates open. This can be a good thing for the sauger. They like the turbulent waters.

The fishing is good early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Cooley recommends if you fish in the afternoon, you should do it about 1 to 1-½ hours before getting dark on the bank. If you are on a boat, early morning is the best.

(Former Advertiser-Gleam Sherry Mayberry is still working in her new career as a school teacher, but agreed to write a few stories for us while she was on fall break.)

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