Winter Fishing on Lake Pickwick
Reed's Guide Service
Pickwick Lake is located in North Alabama near the town of Florence. Its an impoundment (now near 67 years old) on the Tennessee River System that has received world wide recognition as an excellent lake during winter for trophy smallmouth bass. There are close to 50 miles of water to explore for these jumping brown bass this winter. The lakes headwaters is where many anglers begin their search launching close to the town of Florence, at Mcfarland park boat launch. This public launch is located about 2 miles from upriver Wilson Lake dam, at Pickwick Lake's headwaters. Actually, although there are many places to consider fishing on Pickwick Lake, keep in mind you don't not have to go far. Within 5 miles of this boat launch, many trophy sized smallmouth bass are taken each winter and early spring season.
*NOTE* A WORD IF CAUTION - JUST BELOW WILSON LAKE DAM IS SWIFT CURRENT FROM DAM DISCHARGE WATERS. THE WATER IS SHALLOW WITH THE LAKE LEVEL DOWN FOR WINTER AND VERY ROCKY. BOATERS USE EXTREME CAUTION!
If heading upriver of Mcfarland park boat launch, you can run a boat just past the last bridge when seeing Wilson Lake dam, about 1/2 mile ahead. Idling and watching your depthfinder is suggested in these shallow lake headwaters. Depths of 5 feet are common with the lake down 3-4 feet until spring. It is also the law each boat occupant must be wearing a life jacket within 800 yards of the dam. the current is swift and paying close attention every minute is important. Lives are at stake! Boat registration papers, fire extinguishers, throw cushions, fishing licenses and creels may be checked by water authorities, so be prepared.
LURES AND FISHING TECHNIQUES; Like their name says smallmouths do have a small mouth and usually prefer small meals. Fishing the lakes headwaters and just down the lake a few miles, anglers will encounter rocky boulder-filled headwaters, a barge canal lined with rocks, deep rocky banks lined with stumps, brush and laydown trees, towering rock bluff banks, sand bars, islands, visible rock humps, small pebble banks, old Indian mounds covered in freshwater muscles, and the mouths of a few small cuts, pockets and creeks. These are all excellent places to find smallmouth bass, in addition to largemouth bass, striped bass and an occasional spotted bass.
Lures fished either on a jig head, Texas rigged or Carolina rigged, such as small 4-6 inch plastic worms, small lizards, 3-4 inch grubs or shad imitations, small crayfish imitations or jig combos and 3-4 inch tube baits, are all good lure choices. In stained water try brighter colored lures in these categories. In clear water situations stick with more natural colors. Bring plenty of all type lures, various sizes and colors. Lure weights can be small in light current and little wind. Heavier model weights may be needed when encountering swift current or high winds. So bring plenty of both. Besides the rocks have way of eating them up.
EQUIPMENT; Good quality rods and reels are a must so bring a few rods in light to medium strength, from 6-7 feet in length. Good quality line is just as important, usually from 6-10 pound test. This includes a good knot on each lure rigged. Some anglers use closed faced reels, some prefer spincast while others use only open-faced reels. Its a matter of preference. Be sure prior to your trip, to oil your reels, apply new line and tighten all screws, nuts and reel handles. Keep in mind to have at least 3 rods, so if you have problems with one, you still have two to fish with. Very sharp hooks aid anglers in getting these tackle testing smallmouths in the boat. Of course a good net and netman are essential.
There are also many other lures to consider for fooling these smallmouth bass this winter season. Winter warming trends have induced them to hit topwaters. Lures manipulated by the angler, such as zara spooks, prop baits and popping types topwaters, all stay in one place longer, than faster retrieved topwaters such as buzzbaits. Sluggish bass may refuse other faster moving topwaters while attacking a lure that does not move to far at one time or to fast. Heavier line in the 14-20 pound test is suggested for topwaters.
Floating and suspending jerkbaits are great smallmouth bass locators. Clear water makes them even better lures than other slower moving lures. Often these bass follow these jerkbaits to the boat, exposing themselves. They may hit other slower moving lures when you do find them and rework the area. You must work these lures with fast erratic jerks of the rod, jerkbaits simulate injured baitfish and this constant moving action is what triggers most strikes. Wear polarized sunglasses and always keep your eyes on the lure to avoid missed strikes or following bass. Line from 10-15 test is suggested.
Small to mid running crankbaits or deep diving crankbaits are good to in winter on Pickwick Lake. Keep in mind the water temperature, clarity and current with crankbait lure and color selection. Most anglers use long rods and line in the 10-14 pound test category. Very deep divers are larger lures, throw better in the wind and they go much deeper with each step down of line weight. Long rods of 6-7 feet are a must.
Many other lures, all in a category all their own, can work as well this winter. Spinnerbaits cast or drug along the lakes bottom, jigging spoons, tailspinners and inline spinners, blade baits, sinking lures like rattling lipless rattletraps and others, all should be experimented with on each outing to discover the days preference.
Be careful navigating Pickwick Lake this winter and always wear your life jacket, outboard motor kill switch and remember to bring along spare clothes and always dress warm. Call on Reeds Guide Service (205) 787-5133 for a trophy smallmouth bass trip of a lifetime this winter season!
Thanks and good fishing!
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