Alabama's Pickwick Lake fall Fishing Guide
Alabama's Pickwick Lake fall Fishing Guide
By Reed Montgomery
Not quite as intimidating as Wheeler Lake or as massive as Guntersville Lake, but with 47,500 acres of surface water, Pickwick Lake still has an abundance of fishing situations for the avid angler to explore.
Without traveling to far from Florence landing, you will be at the lakes headwaters, just below Wilson lake dam. Here you will find an area loaded with a variety of fish, with as many ways to catch them as there are species to target. These lake headwaters are recognized as some of the best smallmouth waters in the south.
I had the pleasure of fishing with such noted pros as Guy Eaker and George Cochran in a 1998 Bassmasters Top 100 tournament held on Pickwick Lake in the Spring of that year. There were more giant smallmouth's weighed in than I had ever seen, anywhere! Ray Scott emcee, and tournament director, Dewey Kendrick both had to agree. They weighed in several smallmouths over 6 pounds throughout the 3 day tournament. This took place during some grueling, late-winter early-spring fishing conditions. One angler had 5 smallmouth that weighed almost 30 pounds! Mark Menendez eventually won the tournament. He was fishing suspending jerkbaits, up in Wilson Lake, with 5 bass per day averaging 20 lbs. His 3 day catch totaling near 60 lbs, consisted mostly of huge smallmouths.
This is not to say largemouth bass had to take a back seat to these brown bass during this Bassmaster's tournament. Two monster Largemouth’s, dwarfed even the biggest smallmouths. Each largemouth weighing around 8 and 9 lbs each, were weighed in, along with several more largemouth bass over 5 lbs, brought to the scales each day.
Just like during spring these smallmouth’s and largemouth’s move shallow as the cooler days of Fall arrive. However, they are not here to spawn. These gluttonous bass have one thing in mind...to eat!
As September slowly comes to an end, the days get shorter and the nights get cooler. The water temperature is dropped into the 70's and bass are triggered, to begin their trek shallow, as they follow the baitfish and scrounge the lakes bottom for crayfish. A very hot summer, with low lake levels has bunched up a lot of these bass on key structure at some very desirable depths. Moving shallow this fall will mean a lot of fish in ravenous schools will herd the baitfish together and bust them on top.
This is an excellent time for topwater fishing for smallmouth, largemouth and an occasional spotted bass. The lakes headwaters are also noted for its Fall schooling action, especially during October and November. Getting in on these surface explosions are some huge striped bass, hybrid stripe bass and smaller, but very aggressive, white bass. At times there are literally all species of these fish (and more) congregated in one area below Wilson lake dam, with was many as 50 fish of all species, being caught while sitting anchored in one spot!
Although many anglers come from afar just to sample the fantastic Fall fishing at Pickwick Lake’s headwaters, many anglers venture downstream and find the creeks, pockets and main-lake flats just as productive as the lakes headwaters, often with less company. Little Cypress Creek, Coffee Slough, Spring Creek, Little Bear Creek, Sinking Creek and Dry Creek, can all be found with a little map study. Many of these feeder creeks are just a few miles below Wilson Lake dam, before you come to Natchez Trace Parkway, that crosses the lake.
From topwaters to worms, jigs, spoons, Carolina-rigged plastics, to spinnerbaits and crankbaits, these bass will feed heavily until water temperatures drop into the 50's. Here the lake narrows and smaller streams are evident. Pickwick Lake lacks the wide open water like other Tennessee river reservoirs. With lake levels dropped for winter pool, by October, there are a lot of creeks and backwaters left high and dry. Still, some major feeder creeks harbor some big bass, that refuse to leave, just because of undesirable conditions.
Check out Pickwick Lake’s lower end, feeder creeks such as Second Creek, Mill Creek, Cane Creek, Indian Creek, Yellow Creek, Bear Creek and some smaller areas nearer the main Lake such as Short Creek and Whetstone Branch. Keep in mind on all of these Tennessee River Impoundment's that although the main river channel is deep, some Lakes lowered for winter pool, are hazardous to run during low water conditions. This especially holds true when getting out of the main river channel. Use extreme caution, study your map, watch your depthfinder, wear a life jacket and kill switch, when navigating Pickwick Lake this Fall and Winter season.
As Fall progresses and the bass continue to feed, the shallows will eventually cool into the 60's. Alabama's Lakes will stabilize by the end of November. By the cooler month of December bass will become accustomed to their new homes. Although hunting season will be at hand, don't hang up those rods just yet! Some of Alabama's best bassin' is yet to come, as Winter creeps in and we see what the next few months reveal. In the years past, the cooler months of December, January and February, have shown anglers catching some of the year’s biggest bass. Check back here for more on fishing Alabama's Lakes and Rivers for all species of bass next season. Winter, when the really “Big Bass” are on the prowl and preparing for the rituals of the spring spawn.