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.

October 2012 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This is one of my favorite months of the year for catching catfish on Wilson Lake. Water temperatures will ease back to the upper 60’s this month and that will fire the cats up. Wilson and Pickwick Lakes have an excellent shad hatch this year and that should lead to great fall fishing. Best bets on Wilson for numbers of fish will be the area just downstream of Wheeler Dam and the base of the dam itself. A slip float rig fished along the base of the spillways and lock area will be hard to beat. I use a B-n-M medium action spinning rod ( prototype) spooled with 12 lb. test Vicious Ultimate fishing line to target these fish. Most of the fish will be in the one to three pound range so heavy tackle is not required. My bait of choice is a lively shad minnow attached through the lips on a 3/0 Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle hook. If you cannot collect shad minnows try store bought minnows or small fresh shrimp. Set your float depth two to three feet above the bottom. Make a long cast and allow your offering to sit still a minute or so, then reel a few turns of the handle and allow it to sit still again. Most strikes occur as soon as your float stops movement. Other good choices are the ledges of Hog Island and the flats in the mouth of Town Creek. Here I use the same tackle but go to a drop shot style rig with a ½ to ¾ ounce split shot 18 inches under my hook. Slowly bump the bottom with this rig while drifting downstream.

For big catfish head down the lake to the Shoals Creek area and to the South toward the Robert Trent Jones clubhouse. These flats range from 50 to 65 feet deep and have numerous humps and other topographic features. Here I switch to Vicious 80 lb. test braided line with a 50 lb. test mono leader. I tie a Carolina rig with a 2 to 3 ounce sinker about 3 to 4 feet above a 7/0 Daiichi circle hook. I attach a golf ball size float about half way between the swivel and hook in order to float my bait up off the bottom. Bait of choice here is a chunk of cut skipjack 3 to 5 inches in length. When fishing this pattern, I’m fishing for 20 pound plus fish so I use much larger baits. Trolling at .3 to .4 mph over contour usually works best, however if the bite is slow an anchor down approach is your best bet.

Pickwick Lake will be good from one end to the other. Cats can be caught in the tailrace below Wilson Dam is big numbers. Here anchoring in eddy currents usually produces best. For drifters, grab some minnows and drift from the Singing River Bridge to the Seven Mile Island area. Your likely to boat some good smallmouth and hybrids as an added bonus in this area with lively minnows. Further downstream, try the river ledges from Kroger Island down to Waterloo. Shad will bunch up in large schools along the river ledges and the cats will be just below waiting on an easy meal. To catch these fish drift or use your trolling motor to move downstream while keeping your bait a few feet of the bottom. Wherever you fish this month carry an extra cooler because the bite should be great. For fishing tips or fishing trip information visit

August Pickwick Wilson Lake Catfishing Report

This month the word in cat fishing is “ thermocline.” This month will be the hottest water temperatures of the year and most likely the warmest air temps as well. On Wilson, due to the extreme heat the lake will have a definite thermocline form anywhere from 35 to 45 feet deep in most cases. To locate the exact depth of the thermocline, run the sensitivity on your fish finder to 100%. You should see a solid horizontal line form across the screen. This is the thermocline. Whether this depth is the top, middle, or bottom of the thermocline is debatable among anglers. I have had my best success setting my baits at or just above the depth of the line on my screen. In the upper portions of the lake where current exist and water depths are generally less than 35 feet deep fish near the bottom as you would any other time of the year.

The best fishing on both lakes this month will be near the headwaters where the water will be moving, creating slightly lower temperatures and more oxygen. On Wilson, concentrate your efforts in the Hog Island area North to Pebble Beach and upstream from there. The young shad will be schooling heavily and will be about two inches in size. Cats will be gorging themselves on these minnows and there greatest concentration will be near the dams. Try drifting slip floats below the dams at a depth two to three feet shallower than the bottom. The young shad make excellent bait if you can dip or collect them in a throw net. If not available any traditional cat baits will do fine. If you do choose to fish the lower portions of the lake, look for fish near the thermocline.Whether fishing 45 or 100 feet of water count your bait down or set your float depth at or just above the depth of the thermocline on your fish finder.

Best bets in deep water will be near the bluff lines where the shad schools are following the deep bluff walls. Since the summers hot sun and high water temperatures sometimes put cats in a lethargic mood night fishing is a good option. It’s not only cooler for the angler the fish often bite much better in the darkness.

July Pickwick Wilson Lake Catfishing Report

The success of cat fishing this month will depend highly on the amount of rainfall we receive, monthly temperatures, and daily cloud cover. The ideal scenario would be above average rainfall and below normal temperatures. Rainfall is critical because the best fishing on Wilson and Pickwick lakes will be near the dams. The more rainfall we get, the more water the dams will have to release which will create more current which is essential for a steady catfish bite. This combined with cooler temperatures and a cloudy day will produce the ideal fishing situation.

On Wilson Lake, look for catfish to be located along ditches, ledges, and humps in the upper portion of the lake. The sides and downstream portion of Hog Island, Pebble Beach ledge, and the bluff banks between Town and Big Nance creeks should all be good. Cut baits like bream, shad, and skipjack as well as shad guts and chicken or turkey livers will all be good choices. When the current is flowing, try drifting while fishing the tops of the humps and ledges. If the dam is not generating, anchor down and fish the deeper areas.

On Pickwick, the best area to fish for numbers of cats will be from just below Wilson Dam downstream to the Cypress Creek area. If current is moderate to strong, fish can be caught drifting down the entire lake. Jugging in the early morning hours is a good way to catch a lot of catfish fast. Set jugs at depths of six to twelve feet deep and place them along the channel ledges. Use a cut bait or shrimp for bait. My favorite places for jugging are the ledges and rock rows from Mulberry Creek down to the Waterloo area.

On both lakes the best fishing will be in the tailrace or directly against the wall of the dam. Fish will congregate at the base of the dams seeking the cooler more oxygenated water coming through the turbines. Only experience boat operators should fish these areas and always wear your PFD. The turbulent discharges occur quickly and can easily tip a boat over without warning. For catfish trip information or booking a trip contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

June Pickwick Wilson Lake Catfishing Report
On Wilson Lake look for catfish to be almost everyhwere. Fish will be in both spawn and post spawn patterns. Best bets will be the main river flats and tailrace below Wheeler Dam. Look for fish to be holding along the sides and rear of Hog Island in 10 - 15 feet of water. In the mid lake region, fish along the shorelines in 15 to 25 feet of water until you loctae fish. For trophy fish try whole skipjack herring or live hand sized bluegills fished under the bluffs in 45-70 feet of water on the lower portion of the lake.
On Pickwick, concentrate on the upper half of the lake from Natchez Trace bridge to the dam. Like Wilson, the tailrace should be hot. Drift chicken livers, shad gut, or small cut baits for fryer size fish between the dam and Seven Mile Island. Kroger Island and the Mulberry Creek portion of the main river channel will produce plenty of action. Anchoring over shell mounds or drifting a bottom bumping rig will be your best bets. Contact Me

Brian Barton
Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty...........

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