April 2016 Pickwick/Wilson Lake Forecast

The catfish bite will really start to heat up this month. Smaller cats will begin to invade the sloughs and shallower water to begin gorging themselves with food for the upcoming spawn. Target gravel bars, ledges, and main lake humps with hard bottoms for the best action on the eating size fish. Whether trolling or anchored fish your baits right on the bottom. Chicken livers, shad guts, and shad minnows are best this time of the year. For the big cats focus on deeper ledges with wood cover and the front and back ends of the humps and islands. Use large chunks of fresh skipjack or cut shad heads along the structure for the bigger fish. Peach and Hog Islands are hard to beat this month. Big cats are caught every spring along the clay bottoms just offshore from Robert Trent Jones golf course.

Pickwick Lake will produce some of the largest smallmouth bass of the year this month. Depending upon the water temperature the majority of the smallmouth will spawn in mid- April, which means they will have their heaviest body weights of the season. Target these fish on gravel bars adjacent to the main channel. Good areas include Brush Creek, Second Creek, and Pride Landing. The fish will be in 6 to 12 feet of water depending upon the water temperatures. I use an 8 foot BnM Float N Fly Rod to present live shad with a small split shot or no weight at all to these fish. The “ Horseshoe” is a community hole located just below Wilson Dam which will also hold good numbers of fish this month.

For guided trips for catfish, live bait bass, or stripers contact Captain Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

March 2016 Wilson/Pickwick Lake Forcast

In my opinion March is the absolute best month of the year to catch a trophy smallmouth bass and one of the best months for trophy catfish. This makes it my favorite fishing month of the year. Big smallmouth will be holding on channel ledges, ditches, and humps waiting to move up for the spawn which starts the end of this month. Look for hard bottoms with some wood cover nearby. River ledges from State Line Island to Wilson Dam will hold fish. The key is to find the right bottom and cover. I like to anchor just upstream of the area I want to fish and present a live shad minnow on a Carolina rig to the fish. Fishing stationary versus drifting allows me to put the bait right in the fishes face and eliminates hang-ups.

This is a great time to catch a big blue catfish on Wilson Lake. They are still in their deep wintering holes for the most part but they will begin to feed more aggressively. Isolated structure from Shoals Creek to Town Creek will be your best option. If time allows, ride slowly with your electronics and try to locate schools of large fish. If fishing time is limited target the base of the ledges with wood cover. In the lower lake I fish the 50 to 70 foot water, in the upper portion of the lake fish may be as shallow as 15 feet deep. For the trophy fish I usually anchor and fish large chunks of fresh skipjack or shad. Set up for at least 20 minutes on a spot before giving up on it and moving to another location.

Stripers will start to school up at the base of the dams this month. Fish will locate in the seams between turbines and along rock piles just off the edge of the current. I like to cast a Mister Twister 4” Sassy Shad on a ¾ or 1 ounce lead head. Pearl / Black and Pearl / Blue baits seem to work best. The best time to target Stripers is when the dam is producing maximum power generation.

For guided trips for catfish, bass, or stripers contact Captain Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

January 2016 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Forcast

With some of the coldest water temperatures of the year the key to catching fish this month is to fish slow. Anchoring up on holes will be your best bet for success. Fish will be schooled by size and most likely holding tight to deep water structure. It’s more difficult to locate fish with your electronics because most fish will be tight to the bottom. Search for trophy cats in the deepest holes or depressions on the lake floor. Other key spots include the bases of deep bluff lines, channel bends, and the face of the dams on the upstream side. Smaller cats will be in more traditional spots such as deep flats, bluff points and channels. Fishing baits in a fixed position will still be most productive. I like cut shad, skipjack, and whole minnows in cold water. I have better luck on these in colder water than the traditional “ stink type “ or bloody catfish baits.

Stripers will be at the base of both Wilson and Wheeler Dams. Its typically a tough bite in winter but a few can be caught when conditions are right. Mister Twister 4” Sassy Shad and Striper Lightin Bucktail jigs fished slowly across the bottom will be your best bets. Smallmouth bass will also be holding in much deeper water. Search for fish at the bottom of the steepest river and creek channel ledges. If you can locate a rock pile or gravel bar at the base of a deep ledge you will find fish. When fishing live bait in winter I always anchor over a spot and cast back using a Caorlina Rig. Nose hook the minnow and cast just downstream of the targeted structure. On sunny days fish may move up on top of the humps and rocks. In this situation, try floating a minnow over the structure with a split shot rig. For guide trips for catfish, stripers, or live bait bass fishing contact Captain Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

November 2015 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

October has been one of the best smallmouth bass and catfish months we have had in several years. If we continue to have above normal temperatures November should be just as good. For catfish, fish flats adjacent to channel ledges and drop-offs. Fish will hold from 15 to 40 feet deep depending on how deep the shad schools are located. Use small shad, cut baits, and shrimp to target these fish. Trolling at .2 to .6 mph will allow you to cover more water and catch more fish. For bigger catfish, the mouths of tributary creeks will be the ticket. Creeks with good flat fishing include Town Creek, Shoals Creek, Bear Creek, and Yellow Creek. Slow troll big chunks of cut skipjack 1 to 3 feet off the bottom for the big boys. A slower speed of .2 to .3 works best for bigger fish.

The smallmouth bass bite has been on fire in both the Wilson and Wheeler Dam tailraces. Use a throw net to collect 3-4 inch shad and keep them lively in a bait tank. Make sure to add salt and change the water every hour if you don’t have a commercial bait tank. I use BnM Float n Fly spinning rods in 8 foot length with 8 to 10 pound Vicious mono line. Attach a split shot about 18 to 24 inches above a Tru-Turn size 1 or 2 hook and you’re ready to fish. The size of the split shot needed will be determined by the amount of current. Usually 1/8 to ½ ounce of weight will do the trick. Cast upstream into a seam between two turbines and float with a tight line back downstream. It’s not uncommon to catch 50 to 75 fish per day drifting live minnows. Most days you will catch at least 6 to 7 different species including smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass, blue and channel catfish, along with drum, hybrids, and white bass.

For guide trips for Catfish, Striper, or live bait Smallmouth Bass fishing contact Captain Brian Barton at www.brianbartonoutdoors.com or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

October 2015 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

Cooler weather has finally arrived and the catfish and smallmouth bass bite should be on fire this month. Wilson and Pickwick Lakes have both had bumper shad crops this year and the fish are in extremely good health. For trophy catfish, set your sights on the lower one third of the lake. Big cats will be located in 50 to 80 feet of water from Shoals Creek to Wilson Dam. Target contour breaks along the north side of the lake, as well as the long flats between Wilson Lake Shores and McKeirnan Creek. These flats have scattered standing timber which holds lots of big fish in the fall. Use your electronics to find suspended bait schools and the cats will be just below the shad. Live gizzard shad and large chunks of fresh cut skipjack will work best. For numbers of smaller eating size catfish target 20-40 feet of water on points and along the bluffs. Tapered bluffs tend to hold more fish than straight wall bluffs.

For smallmouth bass and stripers head to both the Wheeler and Wilson dam tailraces. The downstream sides of both dams will hold tremendous numbers of small shad minnows that provide an unlimited buffet for the fish. Drift live shad down the outside current seams or search out eddy pockets along the shorelines downstream of the dams. Mister Twister Sassy Shads in Pearl and Blue / Black will also produce well. For those hard to get fish, use a BoJoLe flutter spoon on a Carolina rig with a 1 to 2 ounce sinker. This rig takes a little practice to learn how to fish but it’s deadly on fish holding near the bottom.

For guide trips for Catfish, Striper, or live bait Smallmouth Bass fishing contact Captain Brian Barton at www.brianbartonoutdoors.com or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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