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.

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This month the catfish bite on Wilson should be pretty good. Last year February was the best month through early summer for catching numbers of smaller fish. One key to success this month will be the rainfall. If we receive flooding rains creating high water levels with strong current, you can catch catfish by the cooler fulls. If heavy rains do not occur, fishing will still be good during times of maximum current release from Wilson and Wheeler dams. Fish locations will be much the same as last month. Fish will be holding on ledges, bases of bluff lines, and sharp contour lines on islands and humps. Locate the shad schools with your electronics then search for the fish underneath them. There will be fish holding in the tailwaters of the dam. To catch these fish, drift downstream of the dam with small pieces of cut shad or skipjack. For the larger fish go down the river. On the South side of the lake, look for fish in the 20 to 45 foot range along the ledges. Good areas are the bluffs ½ mile up and downstream of Gargis Hollow. On the North side of the lake target the river channel ledges from Four Mile Creek to Shoals Creek. Any of the old river locking structure should hold a few fish.

I tactic to try for cats this month is fishing a Bojole Flutter Spoon. I started using these spoons years ago to catch skipjack for bait below the power dams. I have found they are deadly at times on catfish in cold water. I use a white or chartreuse spoon with a 1 ½ to 2 inch strip of skipjack filet attached to the hook. For fish in open water with little hangy cover cast the spoon out and allow it to fall on a tight line down into the fish. Slowly retrieve the spoon while twitching the rod top a few inches. If fish are holding in tight cover lower the spoon down about 2 to 3 feet above the top of the cover and twitch the spoon vertically on a tight line. I have line counters on all my reels which helps me to position the bait at the proper depth. When cats are aggressive they will bite with rod jarring strength so hold your rod tightly while jigging.

For trip info contact Brian Barton at or visit us on the web at

This month look for catfish on Wilson Lake to start locating themselves in their winter hideouts. Most fish will start to stage or group up on deep points, bases of bluff banks, and deeper holes, and downstream points of humps in the main lake. Once water temperatures drop below the 50* mark it’s best to anchor down over the top of the fish and fish vertically. I use smaller pieces of cut shad and skipjack then in the preceding months due to the fish will be less aggressive in the cooler water. Fish will also be more difficult to locate with your electronics because they will often be lying flat on the bottom in deep depressions or holes. Start your search for fish on the lower 1/3 of the lake from Shoals Creek downstream to Wilson Dam. Likely targets would be the river channel ledges and deep bluff banks on the North side of the lake. The east of point of Darby Hollow is always good for one or two fish this time of year even on the slowest days. To catch these fish I use an 8 ft. BnM medium action rod and bait casting reel spooled with 80 lb. test Vicious braided line. I place a 2 to 3 oz. egg sinker above a barrel swivel, then attach a 3 to 4 foot 50 lb. test mono leader with a 7/0 Daichii circle hook. I place a small red float about ½ way between the hook and swivel to float the bait just off the bottom. Best baits are shad minnows, cut shad or skipjack at this time of the year. An important thing to remember is to be patient. I have let my baits lay in one spot as long as thirty minutes this time of the year before a fish takes my offering.

On Pickwick Lake the lower portion will be your best bet for numbers and larger cats. The dams generation schedule will determine feast or famine on Pickwick. Try to fish when the dams are releasing the maximum flow. The bases of the main river ledges are good places to start. The section from Natchez trace bridge to Brush Creek are hard to beat. On the south side of the lake fish the old Muscle Shoals canal system. The canal averages about 30 feet of water in it’s bottom and rises to near the surface at winter pool on the sides. If you can locate any structure that provides a horizontal current break it could hold lots of fish. The secret here is to anchor down and fish slow. On further down the lake try the base of steep river ledges and holes in the main channel from Bear Creek to Yellow Creek. Commercial fisherman harvest lots of eating size cats on trotlines throughout the winter months in this portion of the lake. December is often boom or bust. The bright side is it’s one of the top months of the year for a big cat on either lake.  256-412-0969

This is the best of the fall months on Wilson Lake. Water temperatures should range from the mid 60’s down to the upper 50’s by the end of the month. As the water temperature cools the shad schools will bunch tighter and begin to descend into the water column. Catfish will be anywhere from 10 to 100 feet deep this month. The most active fish will be two to three feet of the bottom in the mid to lower lake regions regardless of depth. This is a great time to catch trophy cats. Use whole shad four to six inches long or large chunks of cut skipjack. Fish just off the bottom anchored or at a very slow troll ( .1 to .3 mph ) over ledges, humps, or along any significant contour line change. Watch your electronics closely. If you see the larger fish suspended up off the bottom adjust your baits accordingly. My favorite locations are the islands between the mouth of Shoals Creek and Gargis Hollow. Try to locate the greatest concentration of baitfish and fish close by. Other good locations will be the ledges of Shoal Creek near the mouth at the main lake and along the base of the bluff lines along the north shore between Shoal Creek and Indian Springs. It’s important to remember that it’s possible to hang into a 50, 60, 70 pound or larger fish at this time of the year. Make sure you have the proper gear before tangling with possibly the fish of a lifetime. I always equip with a sturdy B-n-M rod, spooled with Vicious 80 pound test braided line and a razor sharp 7/0 Daiichi bleeding bait hook. For numbers of fish, try using your favorite cat bait in smaller portions in the mouths of the sloughs and along the flats on the South side of the lake. Target 15 to 30 feet of water depending upon weather and water conditions. These cats should bite aggressively once located.

On Pickwick, search for numbers of cats in the middle to lower portion of the lake. Drifting shad minnows and cut bait in the river channel from the Kroger Island area to Bear Creek should produce plenty of action. If current flow is low try anchoring over deep holes or on top of the river ledges and fish vertically up the ledge. The pea gravel bars along the shorelines will produce good numbers of Channel cats early in the month. Locating the fish will be the key. If you’re not getting bites keep searching. For tangling with a trophy cat try the tailrace below Wilson Dam. Most of the cats will have migrated downstream for the winter, but there are always some big fish that remain under the dam throughout the winter season. Best places to fish will be in idle water along the face of the dam. Use fresh, large chunks of bait near the bottom.

For trip information contact Master Captain Brian Barton@ or visit us on the web at


Pickwick/Wilson Lake Fishing Guide

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