September 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

Norm Brown

As the water slowly cools this month catfish will become more active. Large shad schools will start to rise in the water column and the fish will be just underneath them. A good tactic this month will be to fish a slip float rig along deep points and bluff walls where you locate baitfish. Set your float depth two to five feet deeper than the depth of the bait. Jugging is also good in the early fall. Set jugs in the same places in the early morning and late evening hours for the best action. Live or freshly harvested shad minnows will be the best bait. Small bream, fresh shrimp, and cut bait will also work well. Fish will be distributed all over the lake. Use your electronics to find the greatest concentrations. Start your search on the North side of the lake from Shoals Creek to the Wilson Dam in 40 to 70 feet of water. For anglers comfortable with fishing the tailrace there will be plenty of fish below Wilson and Wheeler Dams when TVA is generating current.

This month will find large numbers of smallmouth and white bass in both tailraces also. Live shad or bait shop shiners will both provide plenty of action on these fish. Use medium action spinning tackle with 8 to 10 pound test line for drifting. I like a small Daiichi circle hook and split shot when drifting. Use a weight size that will allow you to feed 50 to 60 feet of line off the reel and still remain just off the bottom when drifting. This method will catch plenty of channel cats on Wilson Lake between Big Nance Creek and Town Creek in the middle portion of the lake.

For catfish, live bait smallmouth and striper trips, contact Captain Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit our website at

June 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month search for Mr. Whiskers in the mid to upper portions of Wilson Lake. Much of the bait fish schools will now be headed upstream to the cooler turbulent waters of the dam’s tailrace. This is also the month that most catfish will spawn on Wilson Lake, and the upper portion of the lake has better bottom substrate and depth for spawning than the lower portion. If the dam is generating, drift chicken livers, cut shad, or fresh shrimp just downstream of the dam to Hog Island. The mouth of Big Nance and Town Creek will also be good. Focus on the gravel points and rock bottoms. If current is low try fishing the bluff walls along both the Colbert and Lauderdale sides of the lake in 15 to 25 feet of water. Keep an eye out for early willow fly hatches. If you spot a tree limb loaded overhanging the water loaded with willow flies the channel cats will be just underneath the bream enjoying the feeding frenzy. Ten to fifteen channel cats from underneath a fly hatch in less than thirty minutes is not uncommon. For guided trips contact Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit us on the web at

July 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

July can be boom or bust for big stringers of catfish. If we get adequate to excessive rainfall to keep the dam’s generating it can be one of the best months of the year for numbers of catfish. By now large numbers of catfish will be congregated at the base of the dams in the cooler more oxygenated water. Fish in the lower lake portion will now likely be suspended near the thermocline so it’s critical to suspend your baits at the level you mark fish on your electronics. As a general rule, the thermocline on Wilson forms about 35 to 40 feet deep. If you’re fishing in waters shallower than these depths, traditional bottom bumping will do fine. If fishing deeper it’s vital to keep baits at or just above the thermocline to find active fish. Soured cut baits and commercial stink baits will produce well in the warmer water temperatures. One pattern that will produce good results is fishing pea gravel bars on the edge of weed lines at night or twilight hours. I prefer a live shad, whole shrimp, or large night crawler for this type of fishing. Position your boat parallel to the weed line and cast down the edge of the weeds. I use a 7 foot B- n- M spinning rod with 10 pound test Vicious mono with a 3/16 ounce split shot for this method. Let your bait lie still for a few seconds then raise the rod and allow the bait to sit still again for 20 to 30 seconds. It’s like plastic worm fishing for bass in slow motion. Make sure and use a quality 1/0 or 3/0 circle hook so you get maximum hookups. The only hooks I use are the Daiichi Circle Bleeding Bait hooks. Other locations to look for fish would include Shoals Creek along the highway bridges, Peach, Cox, and Hog Islands will all have a few fish suspended along the ledges. Fish the bottom of the ledges in the middle of the day and focus on the sides and tops in low light hours. For guided trips contact Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit us on the web at

May 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month is my favorite month of the year to catch catfish. Water temperatures will range from the low to mid 70’s and the passage of cold fronts and heavy spring rains are pretty much gone by this time. Cats will be feeding heavily in the days leading up to spawning. Fish can be caught from 2 to 70 feet of water this month depending upon where you want to fish. To locate shallow fish check out log jams in cuts along the main river bank on both sides of the river. Logs stack in the back of these pockets and cats seek their cover out for spawning. I fish these areas by rigging spinning tackle with 14 lb test Vicious mono and a 3/0 Mister Twister Keeper red worm hook. I place a 1/16 or 1/8 oz. sinker about 8 to 10 inches under the hook creating a drop shot rig. Cast your bait up against or just under the floating logs and hold steady keeping a tight line. Worms, shrimp, shad or skipjack all work well with this application. For larger fish seek out 15 to 40 feet of water in the mid to rear portions of sloughs on the south end of the lake. McKeirnan Creek, Wilson Lake Shores, and Steenson Hollow among others will have cats this month. To fish these areas I rig heavy bait casting tackle with 65 lb Vicious braid and use a two hook rig. I attach a 6 foot leader of 30 to 40 lb. mono with a 2 to 4 oz. sinker on the bottom. I place the upper hook about 4 feet above the sinker with the lower hook riding 12 to 16 inches above the sinker. This rig allows me to troll my baits behind the boat while eliminating most snags with the hooks up of the bottom. One important tip for trolling on Wilson is to troll East to West across the sloughs and North to South in the main lake. Wilson is full of old abandoned trotlines and by trolling with the direction the lines are running as opposed to across them will prevent a lot of hook loses.

Pickwick Lake, like Wilson will be hot for cats throughout the month. Fish will be on top of and along river ledges, as well as the tops and backs of humps and mounds in the river channel. Blues will be staging heavily at the base of Wilson Dam this month. Its not uncommon for local anglers to catch 50 to 75 fish a day along the tailrace. Eddy pockets and any slack water areas downstream of the dam are likely to be holding cats. A favorite spot of mine this month is to fish the knees of Cypress trees from Seven Mile Island downstream to the Sinking Creek area. Channel cats will often load up in droves under these trees for spawning. Cast worms, prepared baits, or chicken livers underneath the trees to catch the fish. I use a slip float rig set about 6” above the bottom on 10 lb. mono on spinning tackle in these areas. The rock rows along Kroger Island will be a hot spot to search for blues as well as the flats downstream of the Natchez Trace bridge. Check out Brian Barton Outdoors on the web at or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for trip information.

March 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month the catfish will begin to move out of their winter staging areas in search of food to prepare for the upcoming spawn. As the water begins to warm this month shad schools will begin to position themselves along long points and flats. One good area to start your search for catfish is the area between Wilson Lake Shores and McKeirnan Creek. This flat should hold good numbers of fish. Start your search in 40 to 50 feet of water and move shallower until you locate fish. Other good areas to try are the large flat behind Hog Island, the mouth of Town Creek, and the flats in front of Turtle Point Country Club. Search for isolated cover, rock or wood, then fish just above or beside the structure. Best baits will be cut bait, chicken livers, live shad minnows, or shrimp.

For trophy fish I like the area in front of Wilson Dam. Both ledges of Jackson Island extend over a mile upstream and have several steep drops where big fish should be located. Slowly troll whole shad or large chunks of skipjack about two feet off the bottom along the ledges. Deep holes along the bluff walls on both sides of the lake will be good places to try. Search for holes that are five feet or deeper than the surrounding bottom and fish straight down in the deepest part of the hole for trophy fish. The big fish are later moving shallow in the spring than the smaller fish will be so they will still be in their winter patterns for most of the month.

March is absolutely the best month of the year to land a trophy smallmouth bass on live bait in the Wheeler and Wilson Dam tailraces. Last year we caught fish over 7 pounds drifting live shad. Live shad can be caught in cast nets in the flats in the back of most coves and at most boat ramp areas. Keep them lively in a well oxygenated tank by adding one pound of salt for every twenty gallons of water. Search for fish in eddy pools and back currents from just below the dams to a mile or so downstream. Ten fish limits of thirty pounds and more are very common this month.

If interested in catfish or live bait fishing for smallmouth this month, contact Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit our website at

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