Last Updated November 29, 2017
Even though the Lake is not at low levels, the crappie fishing is in dynamite mode. Green and blue jigs tipped with crappie nibbles or minnows are doing the job. This is single hand pole fishing at its best. Fish each stump and, if no bite, move to the next. The Lower Blue Basin is jam-packed with some of the Lake's biggest crappie and will continue indefinitely until spring. The areas to search are the ten to twelve foot levels and fish should be about half way down. Days with a slight ripple seem to the best. The three ramps on the south side of the lake and two on the north end are usable. Cat fishing is still pretty good but will slow as winter sets in. TWRA in years past have released thousands of red ear sunfish (shell crackers). These should have boosted the panfish population somewhat. Bass fishermen should wait until an extended warm spell occurs. A good choice for some cold weather bassin' is number of watershed lakes in the area. Don't forget the eagles that show up from now until spring. We will have a special section on Reelfoot in January that will give you updates on all the cold weather activities there.
Gibson County Lake
Lake is falling some but launching is possible, just be careful and use the center of the ramp. If we have a little rain in early month, you may use any boat to get in. Bass fishing is slow and deep. A few bass can be caught shallow on Rattletraps during warming trends. Deep diving crank baits in chartreuse or shad colors are best. We have had verified reports of some over twelve pounds caught in winter on a deep diving crank bait or large minnows fished in the deepest waters. Be patient and look for channel bends and humps; a monster could be around. A warming trend may bring them up to the points and logjams. Some crappie action has been observed. Crappie over the two-pound mark, have been caught in recent years and the numbers have been impressive. Another good bet is fishing on the bottom with red worms for some of those giant shell crackers for which this lake is noted. Catfish can still be caught but patience is required, as the bite has slowed considerably Store is closed until mid March.
Beech Lake Marine - (731 968 8492) Crappie will be the main target this month with no size limit. Locals prefer to troll minnows down the ledges that have brush piles on them. There are literally hundreds of these hides put there over the years and are fairly easy to find. Bass fishing will be hit or miss. A good warming trend will bring them up from the ledges onto points and humps. Deep running crank baits and jig/craw combos will be the lures of choice. Once again, the "Day on the Lake" in the latest Bassmaster magazine is, without a doubt, Beech Lake.
The Tennessee River was very low for a good part of November making for good fishing. Some of the white cat fishermen mopped up, however. Hopefully, the conditions will be right for white bass and sauger by the time this issue gets to you. The whites will be running the riprap areas. Most anything white will get them. Jigs, crank baits, and spinners will all be effective. You might be lucky enough to tangle with a striper or two, as well. The sauger will be gathering at the creek mouths for their spawn. The old one-ounce jig and trailer is hard to beat. You can tip the jig with a minnow or similar soft plastic for some great action for those tasty smaller cousins of the walleye. Crappie will be holding in the tops and mats right next to deep water. A bass bite can be expected as the shad gather at the creek mouths prior to the cold snap that may result in a shad kill. Crank baits that resemble shad will be your best bet. See the article, "Sauger, Southern Style" in this issue for more tips.
(731 738 2960) The big river has been in and out of the chute for several weeks, but was falling around 10.0 on the Memphis gauge at press time. In winters when the Mississippi stays out for a good period of time, crappie fishing has been worth the trip. Just be aware of the waterfowl hunters and Asian carp that may be present. The smaller lakes that are very low such as Heathwright Pocket and Crutcher are also good before the river rises. Nearby Champion Lake is closed until mid March. Some folks shift their attention to Fort Pillow State Park Lake for crappie and bass. It is open year round and has a fine concrete ramp but it, too is low.
Our good friend Billy Doyle (901 497 1577) has good winter seasons on the Wolf despite low water. He has, in the past, reported catching more big bass than he ever had in late summer. He still does guide trips so give him a call. This will go on all winter as long as the water stays fishable. The Hatchie was on a clear fall at press time and still falling without rains. It is as low as has ever been seen in recent years. Fishing in the Refuge oxbows should pick up as soon as the water rises and restocks these lakes. These will be open all winter. Oneal Lake, Woody, Kelso, and the Hillville lakes are closed until mid March. The Hatchie could be good for crappie and bass as long as the conditions allow. Beware of ramp conditions in Haywood County. The Hwy.70 ramp has a treacherous drop that has meant the demise of several trailer axles. The Hwy. 76 ramp has a mud bar that reaches way into the channel. Large four wheel drive vehicles can manage it. The bridge construction is moving along quite nicely. Hopefully, it will conclude before the projected date of August 2018.
Herb Parsons Lake
Crappie and yellow bass will be primary targets in December. Both species will be schooled up and easy to catch when you find them. A good LCR is paramount in locating the schools. Some folks will take advantage of warming trends to go for bass and catfish. Bass fishermen will do well to wait until mid-day after the water has had time to warm. The best time will be from ten o'clock 'til dark. Use minnow style baits and fish points and shallows next to deep water. Lake is low. Store is closed until mid March. Be sure to check the limits and remove all small bass and yellow bass within the limits.
Glenn Springs Lake
This is a fine winter lake for bass and catfish. Bass fishermen should concentrate on points and ledges near deep water with black/blue jig and craw combos. Due to the many springs around the lake, some fish may be holding in waters nearby that are a degree or two warmer. Small crawdad crank baits worked over the fallen logs and timber in these shallow areas can be effective. Cat fishermen will be advised to fish on the bottom in the deepest waters with turkey livers or cut shad. Some crappie will be catchable in the trees out around the channels. Minnows or dark jigs are good choices. Bream and shell crackers can be caught from the piers by fishing red worms on the bottom. Lake is clear and at pool. Store is closed until mid March.
Boat rentals are closed until March. Permits are still required. Lake is clear and very low. We suggest trolling for crappie or fishing from the pier for bream. Bass fishing will be slow except during warming trends. Even then, going late in the day is advised. Fish the areas most exposed to the sun and the riprap on the dam.
Store is closed until mid March. Bass fishing will be slow unless a warming trend occurs. Watch for schooling minnows that still may be attracting bass. As long as the mild weather hangs on, this is where bass can be caught. Cast shad-like lures past the schools for the best effect. Crappie will be schooled around the logs and will move vertically with the weather. Your best bet is to target leaning logs and fish different depths until you locate them. Cat fishermen should target the mouths of coves and channel ledges. Some folks will be fishing for bream and shell crackers off the piers and riprap. TWRA will be stocking trout in the cove near the store by months end. A Tennessee trout stamp is required for fishing for these.
Carroll County 1,000-Acre Recreational Lake
This lake had some spotty action on bass and crappie last winter. Crappie trollers were still having moderate success trolling them ledges along the north shore lines. Bass fishermen were scoring with small diving crankbaits at the four to six foot depths. This large lake still has an abundance of submergent grass but most is dying off. Your best bet is to fish the small creek intersections in the sheltered coves. Other good places are the old roadbeds and the riprap dam. Use the honor box as the store is closed until late spring. Check our MSHFN website for updates.
The low water in November made for some unusually good fishing. Normally, bass will be moving to the rocky points and islands near deep water. A warming trend may again send them shallow so be prepared. Depending on their location, lures should be selected accordingly. Top waters have been doing well around shad schools. The last few years, some bass remained shallow all winter. Crappie will be holding in the 12 to 20 foot or so depths and slow trolling will be the technique to use. Locating fish along the channels and ledges with an LCR is necessary. Boat control is the key to getting a good catch and holding your baits still is a good idea, as the cold will drastically slow down the bite. Don't forget the New Johnsonville Steam Plant where warm water will attract all species during the winter months. Ky. Lake has been holding around 354 for many days. Be extremely careful when running.
Our source for Pickwick and Wilson lakes, Gary Harlan, told us the lake level (at the time this forecast was written) was 410.25 and falling. The water temp was low- to mid-60s and the clarity was stained slightly to gin clear.
"We have had our coldest night so far this year (35deg) recently. The water temperature has fallen around 10 degrees since last month. Normally I would think that the water temps were warm for this time of year but, I went back through reports I had written in 2012 & 13 and the temps are virtually identical. (That's why it's important to keep a journal or log) We are catching good numbers of fish and a few big ones during the day. The Smallmouth bite is really picking up; we are picking a few up every day now. Several good-sized Mean-mouths have been caught too. The shad population has exploded; there are small shad minnows everywhere. I am reasonably certain we had a Shad spawn a few weeks ago when the water temp was hovering in the 70's. Most of them are less than or right around 2-inches long. Using a bait that mimics the small shad is crucial to getting a consistent bite. The Spinnerbait and lipless crankbait bite has picked up. This has a lot to do with the water cooling down and the fish getting more active. I have been using a Strike King white or white and chartreuse double willow Premier pro spinnerbait and the Redeye and Diamond shad lipless baits in 1/4 and 1/2 ounce. White bass are on a tear right now too they have been schooling as well. There are a ton of these on the ledges and in the creeks right now, a grub or a jigging spoon will work on these. All species of bass are schooling on shad right now. Keep your eyes and ears open and watch for the jumps and the birds. I have heard a few good reports on Crappie this fall they will really pick up when the water cools off a little more. I am starting to book some Crappie trips and have some days open if you are interested. Catfishing will improve once the lake settles down to winter pool of 409. Please be careful when travelling on the lake. There are numerous shallow hump and ridges with a few feet of water on them now as well as the occasional stump. So be safe and wear your PFD!" Cpt. Gary Harlan w/ Roger Stegall Professional Guide Service; LLC.; www.fishpickwick.com; 662-423-3869 after 12:00 noon please!
Pickwick Below the Dam
This is the time to get out your sauger gear as they will soon be stacking up below the dam and the creek mouths for the annual spawning run. They must have running water to be successful. See the article in the issue fro specifics on tackle and special locations. The other hot species are smallmouth bass and white bass. Both will be holding right off the current in fairly shallow waters all along the riprap areas. Drifting yellow tail minnows or casting small crawdad colored crankbaits for the smallies and white jigs or small, white cranks for the whites.
Your best bet for crappie in winter is Horseshoe Lake near Hughes. It ,too is low. Fish the brush piles around the docks or possibly the dead pad stems in the shallows during the warmer days. Cat fishing in winter has been pretty good the past few years out in the main channel. The 10 to 12 foot depths seem to be best and turkey livers were the bait to use. The Black River near Powhatan is another good choice as long as it is not flooded. The walleye run has begun where the Spring River empties into the Black. Mallard Lake near Manila is another good choice for both crappie and bass. Fish the north end around the logjams. All the Crowley's Ridge Lakes should be in fair shape as they have also been affected by the drought. Big Lake is closed until mid March for waterfowl. Storm Creek and Bear Creek Lakes are excellent choices for winter fishing due to their southerly locations and many sheltered coves.
Our source for Dale Hollow told us, "The water has now gotten good for some nice Fall and early Winter bites. We are getting some nice smallmouth in the 12 and 15 ft range. Small jigs and Ned rigs have been good. The float and fly will also catch some nice fish on shady banks if you have clouds. We are at 57 and 58-degrees on water temps on most of the lake. Largemouth bass are good on white swimbaits back in the creeks. It should stay on this pattern for a few more weeks. Call me anytime for more details, 270-427-0419, or go to www.bobbygentry.com. Thanks and good fishing!"
Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water elevation is 486.7 and water temps ranging in the high 50's to low 60's and the bass have been on fire. The shad are schooled up and the bass have been taking advantage of it. Tournaments have been taking over 20 pounds to win and the smallmouth have been biting like crazy. This is one of my favorite times of the year. I have been focusing on main lake points leading into pockets or creeks. The mouths act as highways to the fish and they have no choice but to swim through there following the bait. With shad being the main forage right now I have had tremendous success on jerkbaits. I use a Megabass Vision 110 and my favorite color is the HT Kossori Shad. This bait has great action in the water and reacts perfectly to the twitches of the rod. Having the right cadence is key when fishing a jerkbait. You have to let the fish tell you what they want. Sometimes they like a "twitch twitch pause" and soak it for five to ten seconds and other times they want it as fast as you can jerk it. When the temps are in the high 50's to low 60's I like to work it faster with the occasional pause. Unlike most people I prefer to throw this on light line and a spinning rod. The lighter line helps the bait get down deeper and I think helps me work the bait a little better. Also, as the temperature drops even further, look for the Alabama Rig to become a big player. Be sure to follow state regulations while using one. In the state of Tennessee you can have as many baits, but can only have hooks on 3 of them. Anywhere there is bait you can use these tactics to catch fish. The crappie have been rather shallow as well chasing the bait. Shallow brush around deep water have been producing fish. The hybrid have been running in large schools as well and have been hitting Alabama Rigs. The schools of fish I have found have ranged in the 3-10-pound range and have been a blast to catch. Remember to follow the navigational buoys as the water has dropped to winter pool and can be very dangerous."[email protected].
Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "Water elevation is 444.56 and water temps in the high 50's. The bass bite has gotten much better as the water temperature is dropping and becoming more stable. The fish are moved back into the creeks and are feeding on the large schools of bait fish. I have had most of my success throwing a 1/4-ounce Strike King Red Eye Shad in the Sexy Shad color. The bass have been in very predictable spots. Large flats off the creek channel have been the key and if you can find a flat with dead grass you will catch some fish. The bait uses the grass to hide, which brings in the largemouth. I will reel that Red Eye Shad almost as fast as I can looking for a reaction bite. Normally if I catch one I will catch more because they are roaming together. I have also had good luck throwing a spinnerbait, but have found the wind plays a big factor in that. If the bite gets tough a number 5 Shad Rap can always catch a fish or two. The giant Rock Fish have moved back into the creeks as well and have been getting caught on Alabama Rigs and 5-inch swimbaits. These are probably the most fun to catch because they put up one heck of a fight. My personal best is 38-pounds and have heard of some into the 50-pound range being caught. Be sure to check your state laws when throwing an Alabama Rig. The state of Tennessee only allows 3 hooks per line. We have had a very rainy fall and with rain comes with floating debris so always be alert while boating."[email protected].