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 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 www.brianbartonoutdoors.com.
Dear Alabama High School Student Angler:
Our 4th Annual Timmy Horton High School Bass Anglers Challenge will be held on Pickwick Lake in Colbert County (NW) Alabama on Sat., October 22, 2016. This tournament will be televised nationally.
Student anglers in 7th through 12th grades are invited to participate in this tournament as are those students who graduated the Spring of 2016 since we had to postpone the tournament from May until October. Tournament fees are $25 per angler and this fee is used to offset various expenses of the tournament.
This is a fantastic opportunity for you to have a great time fishing while you earn big money for college. I’ll be on hand for the tournament and all the events associated with it. I Hope you will make plans to come fish on my favorite lake, Pickwick in NW Alabama, on October 22, 2016.
If you need additional information, call us at (256) 383-0783 or e-mail us at SusannHamlin@Comcast.net
Let’s Have Fun Fishing!
$20,000 IN SCHOLARSHIP FUNDS & TROPHIES TO BE AWARDED
Breakdown of winnings in two divisions (7th – 10th grades; 10th – 12th grades)
First Place in each division - $3,000 Second Place in each division - $2,500
Third Place in each division - $1,500 Fourth Place in each division - $1,000
Fifth Place in each division - $500
Bubba Jones left the Shoals with a nice payday and some special memories after winning a North Alabama Kayak Anglers bass tournament on Wilson and Pickwick lakes.
Jones, of Hazel Green, caught three bass with a combined length of 56 inches to win the tournament that was held May 21. Unlike traditional bass tournament where anglers take their fish to a central location to be weighed, kayak anglers take a picture of their catch on a measuring board and then compare photographs to determine the winners. The bass are released immediately after being photographed.
Jones caught his two largest fish, a 20.5-inch and a 20-inch largemouth bass, after seeing them feeding in shallow water on Wilson Lake. “The water was so shallow where I saw them swirl that I thought they were probably just some big carp. I decided to go ahead and cast a buzzbait into the spot where they feeding, just in case they were bass…”
Jones won $870. In addition to winning, the Shoals tournament had special meaning for Jones. It was the last opportunity for and his son, Zac Jones, to fish together before Zac left for a mission trip in Guatemala.
“I will remember this tournament for a long time,” Bubba Jones said.
Eric Atkins finished second with three bass that had a combined length of 53 inches. Matt Delaplane was third with 50.25 inches. Rounding out the top 5 were Lanny Watkins with 50 inches and Greg Massa with 49.5 inches.
Susann Hamlin, president and CEO of Colbert County Tourism, which helped sponsor the tournament, hopes to attract additional kayak fishing competitions to Wilson and Pickwick lakes. Hamlin said the tournaments are an excellent way to boost tourism in Colbert County and to provide fishing opportunities for local residents who enjoy fishing from kayaks. She said fishing from kayaks is gaining popularity among recreational and competition anglers.
Pickwick Lake in northwest Alabama belies the notion that all good things must come to an end. Completed in 1938, the bass fishing in this storied 47,500-acre Tennessee River reservoir is better than ever.
Bassmaster Elite Series tournament angler Timmy Horton was a fishing guide at Pickwick before he became one of the top bass pros in the country. He still fishes Pickwick often and is astounded by what the lake is producing.
“Last spring you had to have 30 pounds to have a shot at winning any bass tournament here,” Horton says. “A 20-pound limit no longer gives you bragging rights at Pickwick.”
Electrofishing by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources found that Pickwick’s largemouth bass were fatter than bass from other Alabama reservoirs in 2008. That was a harbinger of better things to come. Read More