Fishing Reports

Timmy Hortons Home Lake Pickwick Lake

This month should be good for catfish on Wilson and Pickwick Lakes. We have seen good rainfall totals the past two months so flow in the river should be high. Cat anglers have found November and December to be feast or famine. The abundant shad hatch this summer has given the catfish plenty of food and the bite has been somewhat slow as a result. This month we should see some shad kill due to cold weather and this will make for better fishing conditions later in the month. Focus your fishing on deep drops and ledges in the main lake. Isolated wood cover is an extra bonus if found near a drop off. When fishing the upper section of the lake search for fish in 25 to 40 feet of water. In the lower lake fish may be located at the bases of ledges as deep as 90 feet. Use your electronics to locate deep shad schools and fish just beneath the bait. Fish will be lethargic so it’s important to anchor down and fish slow. If fish are located on your electronics give them at least thirty minutes to bite before moving to another location. Cut skipjack, shad and minnows are your best bet for baits.

The tailrace of both Wheeler and Wilson Dams will hold fish. Try to locate on the edge of a current break and bump the bottom with a three way swivel rig right underneath the boat. Both dams have had great striper action the last couple weeks. If you can get live gizzard shad five to six inches in length and keep them lively you can experience some great Striper action. Try motoring within fifty yards or so of the dam and drift back downstream a quarter mile or till you see a reduction in current. Keep moving right or left each drift until fish are located. A 1/8 ounce split shot placed above the shad should keep your bait at the correct depth. Big Stripers, Smallmouth, and Catfish all can be taken at this time.

For live bait Smallmouth, Striper, or Catfish action contact Brian Barton at or visit our website at

This month expect to find fish pretty much anywhere on Wilson Lake. Early month water temperatures are usually in the mid to lower 50’s which can place catfish at about any depth. Start you’re your search in the middle to lower portion of the lake in the 40 to 50 foot range and move from there. For the most part shad schools will be much deeper now so catfish don’t have to suspend as much to find food. This makes for a more easy location of the fish. The flats and humps between the mouth of Shoals Creek and the Robert Trent Golf course are good this time of year. The huge flats between McKiernan Creek and Wilson Lake Shores produces several trophy fish during early winter. Here locate an isolated piece of standing timber and fish vertically just outside and upstream of the timber. The best method for fishing this time of year is to rig a Carolina rig and fish vertically just above the depth the fish are holding. Cut baits are always best, but live minnows work really well in the colder water. For numbers or smaller fish concentrate on the bluff walls on both sides of the lake. These fish will be suspended or laying on ledges from 15 to 60 feet deep.

Pickwick Lake is traditionally tough in December. Cold temperatures and rainfall will determine your success this month, for they determine how much water Wilson and Pickwick Dams release. When current is present, anchor in holes and depressions along the main river channel. On the upper end of the lake the Keller Bluff and Pride Landing areas are good. In the mid- lake region, which is my personal favorite at this time of year, fish between Mulberry Creek and Brush Creek. The lake has numerous depressions along the river channel in this region. It doesn’t take much to hold a few catfish. Often a depression only 2 to 3 feet deeper than the surrounding bottom will hold plenty of fish. Locate the area you wish to fish then anchor 40 to 50 feet upstream of the hole. Then either use a large enough weight to hold your bait on the bottom and cast into the depression or simply bump bottom and walk your bait to the fish. Either way you will want to fish from a stationary position. Use slightly smaller baits when fishing stronger currents. Large pieces of bait tend to create more resistance and may cause you to miss subtle strikes.

For trip information contact Brian Barton at



The catfish bite this month should be very good. We had a wet, cool, summer and that should lead to a continued good fall bite. By November the threadfin shad will have reached the 3 to 4 inch range which is excellent bait size for cats. The young shad minnows will be there primary forage at this time of the year. Start your search for catfish in the middle portion of the lake from Gargis Hollow downstream to Shoals Creek. Fish will be on ledges and humps in 20 to 50 feet of water in this area. Watch your electronics closely because fish will suspend underneath the shad schools throughout the lake. It’s not uncommon for fish to suspend 15 to 20 feet deep in 50 feet of water if that’s the depth the bait is found. Check out long points that extend into the main lake. If you can locate one with a steep drop on the downstream side, and has pea gravel on top that’s all the better. The North and East sides of Hog Island should be loaded with fryer size fish as well as the flats from Hog Island to Wheeler Dam. For trophy cats work the deep bluff lines and old river channel ledges from Six Mile Creek to Wilson Dam. Concentrate on the 45 to 60 foot range. As always with trophy fish, use large chunks of cut bait or whole shad. I like a 6 to 8 inch Gizzard shad best.

One tactic that works well this month is to cast live shad against bluff walls. Search for a bluff with wind and wave action pushing against the bluff if possible. I use a 7 foot BnM rod, spooled with 17 pound test Vicious line for this tactic. Collect live shad minnows with a throw net which are found in the back of most any creek this time of year. Lip hook the minnow on a 3/0 or 4/0 Mister Twister Weed less Worm hook and cast up against the bluff wall. I use a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce split shot to slowly sink the minnow. Allow the minnow to fall to the bottom then slowly lift it of the bottom and allow to fall back again. This method is deadly on fish feeding along the shore. It’s not uncommon to catch some nice flatheads with the live bait, especially if wood cover is present.

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

John David CrookThis month is my absolute favorite of the year for a trophy catfish on Wilson Lake. Shad schools will begin to ball up over open water and as cooler temperatures enter the region the shad will be forced down into the water column, creating a feeding frenzy for catfish. Catfish will begin to suspend just underneath the shad and are much easier to locate on your electronics. I like to search for bait over channel ledges, humps, and bluff lines where cats are likely hanging out. Fish will be as shallow as 10 feet in the upper regions of the lake to 90 + feet near the dam. Once fish are located I drop large pieces of fresh cut- bait down on a Carolina rig and suspend it at the depth I see fish. 60 pound plus fish are possible this time of the year so make sure to spool quality braided line like Vicious on a good quality rod and reel. I only use B-n-M Silver Cat Series rods with ABU 6500 C3 reels with line counters. Also a good quality 7/0 or 10/0 Daiichi circle hook is a must. In the upper portion of the lake check out Hog Island and the flats adjacent to Town Creek. All the tops of the mid lake humps will hold fish if you can locate bait fish. The lower portion will produce most of the big bites this month. The mouth of Shoals Creek and any of the deep water bluff ledges will hold big cats. The catfish will be fairly aggressive so I troll .5 to .7 mph in order to cover as much water as possible. For catching smaller fish for the deep fryer use the same tactics, just fish in the 20 to 40 foot range and cut down the size of the bait.

On Pickwick the key to a cooler full of cats is live minnows. If you can collect live threadfin shad try drifting them from the tailrace to Pride Landing. Use a 1/8 to 3/8 ounce split shot, depending on the current, and a small circle hook to drift minnows over rock piles, blow downs, and channel ledges. Blues and Channel cats will be feeding on the shad as they migrate along the river ledges. Fishing with live minnows may produce a big catfish on one cast and a big smallmouth bass on the next. I try to keep my boat speed such that my drift keeps my bait about half way down in the water column. If the catfish are feeding they will be suspended up off the bottom. Anchoring over shell mounds and isolated rock piles with shad gut, cut bait, or shrimp will effective for those who do not wish to drift.


Pickwick/Wilson Lake Fishing Guide

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