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Fall Fishing The Tennessee River / Wilson Lake

Fall Fishing The Tennessee River / Wilson Lake Fall Fishing The Tennessee River / Wilson Lake
By Reed Montgomery

The Tennessee River’s smallest lake has set some big records. One long standing record was broken but not with ease. In 1950, the world record smallmouth weighing 10 lbs.8 ozs was caught on Wilson Lake and this record held up for over 20 years before being broken in Tennessee with an 11 pound plus bronzeback.

With only 15,930 acres of surface water, this minuscule lake is very small, especially when compared to upper reservoir Wheeler Lake and lower Tennessee River Impoundment, Pickwick Lake, situated below Wilson Lake dam. Wilson Lake also lacks in numbers of feeder creeks, for the avid angler to explore. However, there are some small creeks that do produce numbers of decent sized fish. Town Creek, Shoal Creek, McCerman Creek and Blue Water Creek, all offer weeds, wood cover and loads of baitfish, all escaping the swift current of the mighty Tennessee River.

When September rolls around the bass are still in a late Summer mode. Until later in the season, changes are not likely. As Fall progresses, Northern Alabama lakes cool first and Wilson lake, situated near the town of Decatur in the North western section of the state, can cool down fast. This is when water temperatures dip into the 70's and send fish on a feeding spree to fatten up for the upcoming Winter. As waters cool even more, as during extreme cold fronts or after several days of cold weather, the bass are influenced to feed even more and some voracious schooling takes place.

At the lakes headwaters, just below massive Wheeler Lake dam, is an area noted as some of the best smallmouth fishing in Alabama during Fall. Downstream the residents of Pickwick lake may argue that point. Regardless, smallmouth gather at Wilson Lake’s headwaters each year as their travels are halted at the upper lake dam. Along with largemouth’s, a small population of spotted bass, and in huge numbers, white bass, stripers, and hybrid-striped bass.

Best ways to catch these fish? Its been said drifting with live bait is the most productive. But those that like to fish with lures can fool some big fish and should try topwaters, rattletraps, spinners, crankbaits, spoons, grubs, shad imitations, worms and jigs. All of these lures and many more take bass of all species at these lake headwaters. As Fall gets colder and nighttime lows dip into the forties it gets cold in Northern Alabama. This brings down the water temperatures and largemouth’s, like the fish below the dam, will go on a feeding binge in creeks, pockets and along slack water areas on the main lake.

Weeds will harbor schools of bass that took up residence there this summer and refuse to leave. This is when buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, soft plastic jerkbaits, floating worms, frog and rat imitations will be blasted through the greenery when some huge largemouth’s attack. October and November will show some weeds begin to die as lake levels drop and they become exposed. This is when bass are forced to other cover in the same areas.

Wood cover such as brush, stumps, laydowns, or washed-in debris, attract bass during drawdown. Some bass relate to bottom cover or irregular bottom changes. Humps, sandbars, submerged islands and bars are all over the lake and many bass suspend here when colder weather moves in.

As November comes to an end and gives way to the colder, incoming months of winter look for a lot of both species of smallmouth and largemouth bass to relate to drop-offs, ledges and depressions. Slow presentations and fishing lures on or near bottom work best now. Unless an unusual warming trend takes place, most bass will remain deeper until spring arrives. Rock bluffs and small pockets within these bluffs are excellent Wintertime and late Fall places to begin your search for these bunched-up bass.

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