February 2013 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month the catfish bite on Wilson should be pretty good. Last year February was the best month through early summer for catching numbers of smaller fish. One key to success this month will be the rainfall. If we receive flooding rains creating high water levels with strong current, you can catch catfish by the cooler fulls. If heavy rains do not occur, fishing will still be good during times of maximum current release from Wilson and Wheeler dams. Fish locations will be much the same as last month. Fish will be holding on ledges, bases of bluff lines, and sharp contour lines on islands and humps. Locate the shad schools with your electronics then search for the fish underneath them. There will be fish holding in the tailwaters of the dam. To catch these fish, drift downstream of the dam with small pieces of cut shad or skipjack. For the larger fish go down the river. On the South side of the lake, look for fish in the 20 to 45 foot range along the ledges. Good areas are the bluffs ½ mile up and downstream of Gargis Hollow. On the North side of the lake target the river channel ledges from Four Mile Creek to Shoals Creek. Any of the old river locking structure should hold a few fish.

I tactic to try for cats this month is fishing a Bojole Flutter Spoon. I started using these spoons years ago to catch skipjack for bait below the power dams. I have found they are deadly at times on catfish in cold water. I use a white or chartreuse spoon with a 1 ½ to 2 inch strip of skipjack filet attached to the hook. For fish in open water with little hangy cover cast the spoon out and allow it to fall on a tight line down into the fish. Slowly retrieve the spoon while twitching the rod top a few inches. If fish are holding in tight cover lower the spoon down about 2 to 3 feet above the top of the cover and twitch the spoon vertically on a tight line. I have line counters on all my reels which helps me to position the bait at the proper depth. When cats are aggressive they will bite with rod jarring strength so hold your rod tightly while jigging.

For trip info 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 www.brianbartonoutdoors.com.

January 2013 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month look for the catfish bite to be boom or bust. Historically on Wilson January can produce a great bite one day and turn stone cold the next. Fish will be grouped tightly in schools for the most part so good numbers can be taken if you locate fish when they are biting. Look for fish in the 25 to 40 foot range on the upper portion of the lake. Start with bluff banks and ledges where sharp bottom contours are found. I like the area on the south side of the lake just below Town Creek downstream to Gargis Hollow. Also, check the upstream side of the humps and islands in this section of the lake if the dam is generating strong current. On the lower end of the lake fish can be caught all the way down to 90 to 100 feet. However, I concentrate on the 60 to 75 foot range for most of my fishing. Again, contours are the ticket to locating numbers of fish. Target areas with definite ledges or drops where fish will be positioned. The bite will be slow so the use of an anchor versus trolling will be most productive.

For stripers try fishing in tailrace of the dam just downstream of the boils of the turbines. Fish should be schooled tightly in eddy currents between units. Fish live shad if available on a Carolina rig. Depending upon current rig a ¾ to 1.5 ounce egg sinker above a heavy swivel on a 14 to 16 inch leader. Anchor your boat in the ripple current and cast behind the boat and allow to settle to bottom. If you don’t have action in about 10 minutes move side to side across the tailrace until fish are located. If you don’t have live bait try the same rig with a Bojole Flutter spoon. The natural action of the bait catches fish while holding it still and allowing the current to do the work.


December 2012 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month look for catfish on Wilson Lake to start locating themselves in their winter hideouts. Most fish will start to stage or group up on deep points, bases of bluff banks, and deeper holes, and downstream points of humps in the main lake. Once water temperatures drop below the 50* mark it’s best to anchor down over the top of the fish and fish vertically. I use smaller pieces of cut shad and skipjack then in the preceding months due to the fish will be less aggressive in the cooler water. Fish will also be more difficult to locate with your electronics because they will often be lying flat on the bottom in deep depressions or holes. Start your search for fish on the lower 1/3 of the lake from Shoals Creek downstream to Wilson Dam. Likely targets would be the river channel ledges and deep bluff banks on the North side of the lake. The east of point of Darby Hollow is always good for one or two fish this time of year even on the slowest days. To catch these fish I use an 8 ft. BnM medium action rod and bait casting reel spooled with 80 lb. test Vicious braided line. I place a 2 to 3 oz. egg sinker above a barrel swivel, then attach a 3 to 4 foot 50 lb. test mono leader with a 7/0 Daichii circle hook. I place a small red float about ½ way between the hook and swivel to float the bait just off the bottom. Best baits are shad minnows, cut shad or skipjack at this time of the year. An important thing to remember is to be patient. I have let my baits lay in one spot as long as thirty minutes this time of the year before a fish takes my offering.

On Pickwick Lake the lower portion will be your best bet for numbers and larger cats. The dams generation schedule will determine feast or famine on Pickwick. Try to fish when the dams are releasing the maximum flow. The bases of the main river ledges are good places to start. The section from Natchez trace bridge to Brush Creek are hard to beat. On the south side of the lake fish the old Muscle Shoals canal system. The canal averages about 30 feet of water in it’s bottom and rises to near the surface at winter pool on the sides. If you can locate any structure that provides a horizontal current break it could hold lots of fish. The secret here is to anchor down and fish slow. On further down the lake try the base of steep river ledges and holes in the main channel from Bear Creek to Yellow Creek. Commercial fisherman harvest lots of eating size cats on trotlines throughout the winter months in this portion of the lake. December is often boom or bust. The bright side is it’s one of the top months of the year for a big cat on either lake.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   www.brianbartonoutdoors.com  256-412-0969

November 2012 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This is the best of the fall months on Wilson Lake. Water temperatures should range from the mid 60’s down to the upper 50’s by the end of the month. As the water temperature cools the shad schools will bunch tighter and begin to descend into the water column. Catfish will be anywhere from 10 to 100 feet deep this month. The most active fish will be two to three feet of the bottom in the mid to lower lake regions regardless of depth. This is a great time to catch trophy cats. Use whole shad four to six inches long or large chunks of cut skipjack. Fish just off the bottom anchored or at a very slow troll ( .1 to .3 mph ) over ledges, humps, or along any significant contour line change. Watch your electronics closely. If you see the larger fish suspended up off the bottom adjust your baits accordingly. My favorite locations are the islands between the mouth of Shoals Creek and Gargis Hollow. Try to locate the greatest concentration of baitfish and fish close by. Other good locations will be the ledges of Shoal Creek near the mouth at the main lake and along the base of the bluff lines along the north shore between Shoal Creek and Indian Springs. It’s important to remember that it’s possible to hang into a 50, 60, 70 pound or larger fish at this time of the year. Make sure you have the proper gear before tangling with possibly the fish of a lifetime. I always equip with a sturdy B-n-M rod, spooled with Vicious 80 pound test braided line and a razor sharp 7/0 Daiichi bleeding bait hook. For numbers of fish, try using your favorite cat bait in smaller portions in the mouths of the sloughs and along the flats on the South side of the lake. Target 15 to 30 feet of water depending upon weather and water conditions. These cats should bite aggressively once located.

On Pickwick, search for numbers of cats in the middle to lower portion of the lake. Drifting shad minnows and cut bait in the river channel from the Kroger Island area to Bear Creek should produce plenty of action. If current flow is low try anchoring over deep holes or on top of the river ledges and fish vertically up the ledge. The pea gravel bars along the shorelines will produce good numbers of Channel cats early in the month. Locating the fish will be the key. If you’re not getting bites keep searching. For tangling with a trophy cat try the tailrace below Wilson Dam. Most of the cats will have migrated downstream for the winter, but there are always some big fish that remain under the dam throughout the winter season. Best places to fish will be in idle water along the face of the dam. Use fresh, large chunks of bait near the bottom.

For trip information contact Master Captain Brian Barton@ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit us on the web at www.brianbartonoutdoors.com.

September 2012 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

The summer of 2012 has been one of the slowest catfish bites in several years on Wilson Lake. Even bona fide cat fisherman have struggled at times this summer catching cats on Wilson. Hopefully, with the shorter days and cooling water temperatures, the bite will pick up. Last year the big cats turned on about the 15th of the month and bit well through the entire fall. Start searching for fish early this month in the middle to upper portions of the lake. Islands and humps from Six Mile Creek and upward should hold fish along the bases. As the water temperatures cool back to the 70’s by the end of the month, the thermocline will begin to dissipate and fishing will be good down the entire lake. Locate baitfish with your electronics and look for the cats to be just a few feet beneath. In the upper regions of the lake fish will hold from 15 to 25 feet of water. In the middle to lower end of the lake fish will be suspended from 25 feet down to as deep as 90 feet of water near the end of the month. Fish will suspend along the steep wall bluff banks underneath shad schools. To catch these fish I use a slip float rig attached to Vicious 65 pound test braid with a Vicious 20 pound mono leader. I use ½ to ¾ ounce sinker 18 inches above a 5/0 or 7/0 Daiichi bleeding bait circle hook. When the fish takes the float under just start reeling and he is hooked. If fishing for trophy fish use a 50 pound test fluorocarbon leader and use 3 to 4 inch cut sections of skipjack or shad. To catch numbers of fish head to the tailrace of Wheeler Dam. The small shad will gather along the dam by the thousands and the cats will be right there with them. The best bait here is a live or fresh shad minnow floated in the current on a split shot or bottom bumping rig.

Pickwick Lake should improve this month as well. The determining factor on this lake will be rainfall and power generation. Because of the lack of both early this summer this lake has struggled as well. If Wilson Dam is not releasing at least 40,000 cfs through the dam, the bite down the lake is tough. If adequate current is present, cats will pull up on shell mounds, gravel bars, and river ledges to feed while the dam is generating. These fish will be very active and easily caught once located. Watch for schools of shad on your electronics as well as on the surface of the water. Last year we caught fish in the Natchez Trace area in 3 to 6 feet of water in the mid afternoon. Fish the mouths of creeks, cuts in island chains, and anywhere else bait tis plentiful. As always there will be plenty of fish below Wilson Dam. Fish in front of the dam, or drift the tailrace to the Highway 133 bridge for fryer size cats. Best baits again will be small shad minnows, cut shad, shad guts, and chicken livers.


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