Both lakes should fire up this month. Drifting live minnows below both dams should bring plenty of rod bending from trophy smallmouth to plenty of catfish and white bass for the cooler. Drifting current seams and eddy pockets just off the main current flow will be your best options.
For crappie search out Bear and Second Creeks on lower Pickwick Lake. trolling in 15 to 20 feet of water over ledges should be good. On Wilson lake McKernian and Shoals Creek will be the hottest crappie action. Sauger should start schooling on gravel bars from Second Creek to Natchez Trace bridge. These fish are starting to make a small comeback on Pickwick.
For trophy catfish your best options are the deep water bluffs on Wilson Lake. Slow troll 70-80 feet of water from Shoals Creek to Wilson Dam for the chance at the fish of a lifetime.
The catfish bite this month should be very good. We had a wet, cool, summer and that should lead to a continued good fall bite. By November the threadfin shad will have reached the 3 to 4 inch range which is excellent bait size for cats. The young shad minnows will be there primary forage at this time of the year. Start your search for catfish in the middle portion of the lake from Gargis Hollow downstream to Shoals Creek. Fish will be on ledges and humps in 20 to 50 feet of water in this area. Watch your electronics closely because fish will suspend underneath the shad schools throughout the lake. It’s not uncommon for fish to suspend 15 to 20 feet deep in 50 feet of water if that’s the depth the bait is found. Check out long points that extend into the main lake. If you can locate one with a steep drop on the downstream side, and has pea gravel on top that’s all the better. The North and East sides of Hog Island should be loaded with fryer size fish as well as the flats from Hog Island to Wheeler Dam. For trophy cats work the deep bluff lines and old river channel ledges from Six Mile Creek to Wilson Dam. Concentrate on the 45 to 60 foot range. As always with trophy fish, use large chunks of cut bait or whole shad. I like a 6 to 8 inch Gizzard shad best.
One tactic that works well this month is to cast live shad against bluff walls. Search for a bluff with wind and wave action pushing against the bluff if possible. I use a 7 foot BnM rod, spooled with 17 pound test Vicious line for this tactic. Collect live shad minnows with a throw net which are found in the back of most any creek this time of year. Lip hook the minnow on a 3/0 or 4/0 Mister Twister Weed less Worm hook and cast up against the bluff wall. I use a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce split shot to slowly sink the minnow. Allow the minnow to fall to the bottom then slowly lift it of the bottom and allow to fall back again. This method is deadly on fish feeding along the shore. It’s not uncommon to catch some nice flatheads with the live bait, especially if wood cover is present.
Last month was tough on our area lakes. Cold fronts, wind, and flooding played havoc on anglers most of the month. This month continue to search for catfish in deep holes at the bottom of ledges and channels. On Wilson Lake the fish should be in the mid to lower lake region. Start your search in 50 to 70 feet of water and move accordingly. If the dams continue to generate high flows smaller catfish will be numerous in both tailraces.
For Stripers try casting swimbaits or live gizzard shad in seams below Wheeler Dam. Start about 100 yards below the dam and drift to the mouth of Safety Harbor. Once fish are located, either anchor or shorten your drift to stay with the school.
For smallmouth bass your best bet will be the tailraces and the adjacent waters within 1 mile of the dams. Isolated rock piles and wood should hold a few bass, especially if current flow is strong. For largemouth bass on Wilson deep bluffs with timber and the deeper points should be the ticket. I like to focus on the north side of the lake when the sun is out. On Pickwick, your best bet for largemouth is to head down river. Concentrate on humps, ditches, and creek bends from Waterloo to Pickwick Dam.