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Pickwick/Wilson Lake Fishing Report With Timmy Horton

Pickwick and Wilson Lake Fishing Reports
November 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month will be a little more difficult for catching numbers of catfish than the previous months. Passing cold fronts and falling water temps will decrease the activity and mood of the fish. Fish will also begin to school up in large numbers, which means locating them will be more difficult. If anglers can locate a school of fish in a feeding mood the action can be good. The key to catching fish now is to anchor down and fish stationary. Try to present baits right at the fish and leave it as still as possible. Cut the bait size down and use a smaller hook like a 3/0 or 5/0. Cut baits will still be best, along with whole shad minnows. I like to cut the tail off the small shad in colder water. Concentrate on deeper water in the lower 1/3 of the lake. I like the Steenson Hollow area on the south side of the lake in 60 to 80 feet of water. The bluff lines from Indian Springs downstream to Wilson Dam will be good. Here focus on steep ledges and the base of Jackson Island.

Last year December on Pickwick Lake was on fire. Use live shad on the river ledges and holes in river channel to double on both catfish and bass. I like the ledges from Natchez Trace to Brush Creek on both sides of the lake. There are several holes in the river channel that are 3 to 10 feet below the remaining bottom. Anchor just upstream of the hole and allow your bait to drift back into the hole. Fish will normally be positioned at the front end or along the top edge of the hole. Walking bait with a three way swivel or simply a split shot above a hook will both work fine. Drift the main river channel from O’neal Bridge to the head of Seven Mile Island to catch numbers of smallmouth. For catfish concentrate on the base of the bluff line at Sheffield and the rock row near Tuscumbia Landing. Live shad minnows are always best but small cut bait chunks or bait shop shiners will also work. For up to date photos and information visit us on Facebook at Brian Barton Outdoors or the web at

October 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

Jase Doss

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

September 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

Norm Brown

As the water slowly cools this month catfish will become more active. Large shad schools will start to rise in the water column and the fish will be just underneath them. A good tactic this month will be to fish a slip float rig along deep points and bluff walls where you locate baitfish. Set your float depth two to five feet deeper than the depth of the bait. Jugging is also good in the early fall. Set jugs in the same places in the early morning and late evening hours for the best action. Live or freshly harvested shad minnows will be the best bait. Small bream, fresh shrimp, and cut bait will also work well. Fish will be distributed all over the lake. Use your electronics to find the greatest concentrations. Start your search on the North side of the lake from Shoals Creek to the Wilson Dam in 40 to 70 feet of water. For anglers comfortable with fishing the tailrace there will be plenty of fish below Wilson and Wheeler Dams when TVA is generating current.

This month will find large numbers of smallmouth and white bass in both tailraces also. Live shad or bait shop shiners will both provide plenty of action on these fish. Use medium action spinning tackle with 8 to 10 pound test line for drifting. I like a small Daiichi circle hook and split shot when drifting. Use a weight size that will allow you to feed 50 to 60 feet of line off the reel and still remain just off the bottom when drifting. This method will catch plenty of channel cats on Wilson Lake between Big Nance Creek and Town Creek in the middle portion of the lake.

For catfish, live bait smallmouth and striper trips, contact Captain Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit our website at

July 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

July can be boom or bust for big stringers of catfish. If we get adequate to excessive rainfall to keep the dam’s generating it can be one of the best months of the year for numbers of catfish. By now large numbers of catfish will be congregated at the base of the dams in the cooler more oxygenated water. Fish in the lower lake portion will now likely be suspended near the thermocline so it’s critical to suspend your baits at the level you mark fish on your electronics. As a general rule, the thermocline on Wilson forms about 35 to 40 feet deep. If you’re fishing in waters shallower than these depths, traditional bottom bumping will do fine. If fishing deeper it’s vital to keep baits at or just above the thermocline to find active fish. Soured cut baits and commercial stink baits will produce well in the warmer water temperatures. One pattern that will produce good results is fishing pea gravel bars on the edge of weed lines at night or twilight hours. I prefer a live shad, whole shrimp, or large night crawler for this type of fishing. Position your boat parallel to the weed line and cast down the edge of the weeds. I use a 7 foot B- n- M spinning rod with 10 pound test Vicious mono with a 3/16 ounce split shot for this method. Let your bait lie still for a few seconds then raise the rod and allow the bait to sit still again for 20 to 30 seconds. It’s like plastic worm fishing for bass in slow motion. Make sure and use a quality 1/0 or 3/0 circle hook so you get maximum hookups. The only hooks I use are the Daiichi Circle Bleeding Bait hooks. Other locations to look for fish would include Shoals Creek along the highway bridges, Peach, Cox, and Hog Islands will all have a few fish suspended along the ledges. Fish the bottom of the ledges in the middle of the day and focus on the sides and tops in low light hours. For guided trips contact Brian Barton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit us on the web at

June 2014 Wilson / Pickwick Lake Fishing Report

This month is my favorite month of the year to catch catfish. Water temperatures will range from the low to mid 70’s and the passage of cold fronts and heavy spring rains are pretty much gone by this time. Cats will be feeding heavily in the days leading up to spawning. Fish can be caught from 2 to 70 feet of water this month depending upon where you want to fish. To locate shallow fish check out log jams in cuts along the main river bank on both sides of the river. Logs stack in the back of these pockets and cats seek their cover out for spawning. I fish these areas by rigging spinning tackle with 14 lb test Vicious mono and a 3/0 Mister Twister Keeper red worm hook. I place a 1/16 or 1/8 oz. sinker about 8 to 10 inches under the hook creating a drop shot rig. Cast your bait up against or just under the floating logs and hold steady keeping a tight line. Worms, shrimp, shad or skipjack all work well with this application. For larger fish seek out 15 to 40 feet of water in the mid to rear portions of sloughs on the south end of the lake. McKeirnan Creek, Wilson Lake Shores, and Steenson Hollow among others will have cats this month. To fish these areas I rig heavy bait casting tackle with 65 lb Vicious braid and use a two hook rig. I attach a 6 foot leader of 30 to 40 lb. mono with a 2 to 4 oz. sinker on the bottom. I place the upper hook about 4 feet above the sinker with the lower hook riding 12 to 16 inches above the sinker. This rig allows me to troll my baits behind the boat while eliminating most snags with the hooks up of the bottom. One important tip for trolling on Wilson is to troll East to West across the sloughs and North to South in the main lake. Wilson is full of old abandoned trotlines and by trolling with the direction the lines are running as opposed to across them will prevent a lot of hook loses.

Pickwick Lake, like Wilson will be hot for cats throughout the month. Fish will be on top of and along river ledges, as well as the tops and backs of humps and mounds in the river channel. Blues will be staging heavily at the base of Wilson Dam this month. Its not uncommon for local anglers to catch 50 to 75 fish a day along the tailrace. Eddy pockets and any slack water areas downstream of the dam are likely to be holding cats. A favorite spot of mine this month is to fish the knees of Cypress trees from Seven Mile Island downstream to the Sinking Creek area. Channel cats will often load up in droves under these trees for spawning. Cast worms, prepared baits, or chicken livers underneath the trees to catch the fish. I use a slip float rig set about 6” above the bottom on 10 lb. mono on spinning tackle in these areas. The rock rows along Kroger Island will be a hot spot to search for blues as well as the flats downstream of the Natchez Trace bridge. Check out Brian Barton Outdoors on the web at or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  for trip information.

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