Last Updated March 30, 2018
If you can catch these small rivers back in their banks, you should be in for some excellent fishing. As is with spring, rains can do a number on them very quickly. When the water is receding, target run-ins where newly hatched crawdads and minnows will be washing in to the main stream. Bass, crappie, and catfish will be at this banquet table. Use lures that imitate the prey. The oxbows will have received a fresh stocking from the flood but access is limited until roads dry out from the recent high water. The Hatchie Refuge lakes are open except those affected by high water. The McCool Lakes have been open and hold some nice crappie and bass. They were stocked with redear and bluegill as well. Call the office at 731 772 0501 for closures. Oneal Lake is now open daily but is catch and release on bass until June first when there is a limit of two per day per angler. Crappie anglers should use casting gear to reach stumps with jigs and minnows as the water is back up to full pool. Boats 17 feet and under are allowed with trolling motors only. The riprap on the northwest dam will stop the erosion and allow the lake to be held at a higher pool and provide additional fish habitat. Some folks have taken advantage of the fishery since it opened on March 16.
The lake level rose above pool making for good navigation right after we went to press last month. April will see excellent crappie and bass fishing around the full moon of April 22. Some spawning was observed on the March 23 moon. The fish will be in the spawning cycle and very shallow. Basin crappie will be using submerged logs and stumps for their ritual. Pad crappie will be spawning in sandy bottom areas around old pad stems and submerged logs. Most bass will be on the spawnjng beds and will be hugging the beds positioned on stumps, shallow logs, and even cypress roots. Lizards, big worms, tubes, and suspending jerk baits are surefire baits for spawners. Bluegill and catfish will also be more active as waters warm. Look for more details in our next issue when we will present a special section on Northwest Tennessee.
Gibson County Lake
731 855 2990 - Shallow is the name of the game for some of those lunker bass as spawning will be in full swing. Backs of coves and sides of the main lake will be used by some of the biggest bass in our area (some over 13 pounds) as they seek out sandy bottoms to lay their eggs. Lizards will be especially effective for these. Later in the month, watch for bass chasing fry. Spinner baits, buzz baits, Rattletraps, and top waters fished over grass beds should be considered at this time. Crappie will be spawning in tops, cedar mats, and over grass beds; you can't beat minnows for these. Bream, shell crackers, and catfish will be more active from mid-month on as waters warm. Everything you need for a great day can be obtained at the store. Lake is at a good high level, launching is easy and the new dock is very handy.
731 422 095 - April is the month for this lake's monster bass to spawn. Fish lizards in black/blue or watermelon red and watch for the slightest movement is the shallow coves. You might catch your fish of a lifetime. The lake was liberally stocked with Florida bass years ago and has produced some over 12 pounds. The last several years have seen resurgence in bass fishing on this TWRA lake opened in 1982. Many over the six to nine pound mark were landed in the spring season the last few years. Several over ten and one over 12 have been brought to the scales in recent years. The crappie population has also seen a boom and has become very popular when large reservoirs are at flood stage. In late month, expect the bream and catfish to be a good choice for targeting as they move shallow. You may be surprised to catch some of the holdover rainbows but you still need a trout stamp to keep them. Store is open and well stocked with all you need. Boats are also available for rent.
Glenn Springs Lake
901 853 5253 - This Tipton County TWRA Lake is noted for its cat fishing as it is stocked regularly by the Agency. Jugging is permitted except on weekends and holidays. The bass will be bedding in the small coves and attacking anything that gets in their nests. Pitch a lizard or tube in and be patient! As the month progresses, you would be well advised to fish the grass lines with flukes, frogs, and shallow crank baits, or soft plastic jerk baits. Crappie will be holding in the bushes that are in the middle of the coves and flats as they spawn. Minnows and dark jigs are favorites here. Shell crackers and bream will be biting from mid month on. The store is open and is well stocked for all your fishing needs. Lake is clear and at pool.
Herb Parsons Lake
901 861 5087 - This oldest TWRA lake (1952) in the region is located at the Shelby- Fayette County Line making it very accessible to a large population. It produces large numbers of game fish due to conservation efforts by the Agency. Regular stockings of catfish mean an abundance of catchable eaters. Whether by bank or boat, anglers experience good catches using livers and night crawlers. Bass will be bedding in the shallows making them susceptible to lures fished slowly in their beds. Crappie will be spawning in the many tops and brush piles all over the lake. Bream will be heading to the beds as well and may spawn on the April full moon if water temperatures are warm enough. Yellow bass are an invasive species that are fun to catch and are also good eaters. Ultralight gear for them can save the day for anglers looking for a good time. Lake is a little dingy but at pool. Store is open and has all you need for a day at the lake.
Shelby Forest-Poplar Tree
The boat rental concession is now open. This 100-acre State Park Lake offers a great getaway in the northwest part of Shelby County. There are also cabins, picnic areas, hiking trails, and disc golf courses. 25 acre Piersol Lake is nearby but there is no boat ramp. Both lakes offer good fishing for bream, bass, and crappie. Anglers can use any size boat at Poplar Tree but must only use a trolling motor or paddle for propulsion. Crappie and bass will be spawning in April with the bream not far behind. These lakes are easy to figure out. Begin in shallow water at the east end and go toward the dam until you find the fish. Both lakes will be slightly stained at the east end due to runoff. They are rarely ever muddy. Crappie fishermen will appreciate the fact that there are many keeper sized in this small lake. Boat rentals are available.
Check the Beech River Section in this issue for tips.
Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake
This ought to be the hottest lake around for all species this year. Liberal stockings have been taking place each year by TWRA. It is especially known for big numbers of bass, mostly small, but some over twelve pounds have been boated. It is a great lake to carry novice fishermen for some fun. If the conditions are right in early month, the bass spawn will be on. Seek out protected coves with a southerly view for maximum heating. Black and blue or pumpkin lizards are killers on these spawners. Big Bream will begin fanning nests in gravel areas such as old roadbeds. Crappie will be moving into the buck brush along the banks. Many will be just over the ten-inch limit. Catfish will also be more active as waters warm. Remember to stop at the headquarters for permits. You won't have to worry about pleasure boaters until mid May.
Perryville Marina - 731 847 2444 - The White bass run is in full swing out on the Tennessee River. Baby crawfish are the favorite bait for these strong fighters. Other good choices are white Rooster Tails, jigs, or small white crank baits. Riprap banks and creek mouths are the places to try. There will still be some sauger biting for those who prefer them. Bass and crappie will be in the shallows spawning around mats, brush, and button bushes. The River needs to be around 357 for the best level that will put everything in the backs of bays. It has been high but should be heading back down as you read this.
The "Big Muddy" has been in this old chute since last month's forecast. It's hard to predict what it will be in April as there is still some flood waters to come down the River. We do know that the Mississippi gets in the Chute around 16 feet on the Memphis gauge. Even if the higher water stays, as long as it is stable, fish can be caught. The next best time depends on the water clarity. When the River begins to fall and draws the backwater out of the bottoms through the many creeks and ditches, anglers can hit it big by fishing these run outs. Game fish stack up at these feeding stations. Garfish also congregate there. The problem is getting a lure through them to the bass and crappie. An alternative is to fish the smaller oxbows on the Chickasaw Refuge or Champion Lake on the Lower Hatchie Refuge as soon as the Hatchie falls out.
This month is crappie time all over this area. Such lakes as Big Lake, Mallard, Poinsett, Charles, and Horseshoe are known for their crappie spawns. Wappanocca near Turrell opened a few years ago for fishing having been closed for several years and should be prime by now. It was drained down and restocked. During the drawdown, grass and bushes grew on the shallow lake bottom making for additional cover for fish. Lakes such as Storm Creek and Village Creek should also be in their prime for crappie, bass, and bluegill. Of course, the major bluegill spawn is still a few weeks away. Check our other Arkansas headings for more details.
Pickwick Below the Dam
Clagett Talley reports that he will be busy this month below the Pickwick Dam. Early April he'll be trolling or have clients troll a deep diving crank bait that dives over 15'. He likes to troll these baits from the dam to the first power line crossing below the dam. Throughout the month you will want to have a top water bait tied on as well. The Strike King Wake Shad is an awesome bait that stays on the surface in the boiling water below the dam. Just cast it into the turbulent water and hang on. When they hit it they usually hit it hard and the action can last for hours. You will also want to try drifting with live bait throughout the month. Bass fishing in April will be hot too. This is a great time to take advantage of the shallow bass on the umbrella rig with Shadalishish plastic minnows. He also likes to crank a Series 3 crankbait along the rocky, river banks towards the Botel. Also throw a plastic crawfish on a jig in creek mouths and along gravel banks. If you're after numbers and a fun fight, April is your month to start white bass fishing if you haven't already started. You can use live crawfish on split shots and be ready to jerk your rod because these fast fish can take a crawfish before you know it. He likes to use a white Strike King Series 3 crankbait alone the river banks and creek mouths. Don't completely give on on sauger yet. He has had some of his best days trolling for sauger with bright colored Series 3 crank baits. Strike King makes a large line of colors, my favorite for sauger in April is white with red eyes and citrus shad. "If it wasn't for my gun store keeping me busy I would love to take this entire month off and enjoy the nice weather and awesome fishing April has to offer".
As the weather warms the waters, we expect April to be red hot for bass and crappie. Crappie will be moving into the shallow mats, button brush, and stump fields for the spawn. This is when the hand poles baited with minnows or light colored jigs are most effective. Bass anglers can expect an abundance of line breakers as some topping the ten and eleven pound mark were weighed in this year at March tournaments. This is becoming regular for Kentucky Lake and may be a sign of things to come. Backs of coves and shallow points out of the wind will be prime spots for spawners. This all depends on the water temperature and the lake level. If high water occurs as it has in the past, go as shallow as you can. Grassy areas with easy access are great places for bass to migrate as they search for minnows and aquatics. Catfish and bluegill fishing should be coming on strong at month's end.
Our source for Dale Hollow, Bobby Gentry, told us, "We have had some wild weather changes this year. The bite has been good if you follow the shad. Swim baits have been good and crank baits also so you can cover lots of water. I have had some nice fish on Ned rigs and jigs. Jerk baits on windy points can also work for you. Use shad pattern and natural colors for best results. Green pumpkin and brown and orange are some of my colors I like this time of the year. Call me anytime 279-427-0419 or look on facebook, Bobby Gentry, Dale Hollow Lake Fishing or look for my website, www.bobbygentry.com. Thank You."
Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water level is currently 484.03 (at the time this forecast was written) and the temperatures were ranging from mid to upper 50's. The bass bite has continued to be tremendous as the fish are getting ready to spawn. They have become extremely active and can be caught on numerous different lures and techniques. With a large wave of male buck bass moving shallow a small squarebill crankbait is hard to beat this time of year. I have been using a Spro Little John in the spring craw color to catch numbers of fish. I like to target banks with large crack rocks on them as the fish like to lay in the cracks to ambush prey. You can also use a #5 Shad Rap to do the same thing as well. The rocks are a great pattern for early spring as they warm up a lot faster and hold the heat better. To catch my better quality fish I have been fishing in 10-12 foot of water using football jigs and craw imitating plastics. The female bass have not quite pulled up shallow yet and have staged near their spawning grounds. They are feeding up for a long exhaustive spawn and are fairly easy to catch. I am focusing on points and staging areas near shallow water. The fish can use the shallow water to pull up and feed throughout the day. The hybrid are being caught at the mouths of creeks on live bait and trolling umbrella rigs. They are feeding up for the spawn as well. This bite will stay good for the next month. We have had an extremely wet spring with fluctuating water levels which has increased floating debris. They have sucked the lake back down to winter pool and it can be extremely dangerous. Also wear your life jacket and kill switch any time you are operating the outboard."
Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The lake level is currently 443.89 and the water temperature is in the mid to upper 50's with it occasionally reaching 60 by the end of the day. The bass fishing has been mediocre this spring. The amount of small fish is astounding, but the quality has not been there like years past. The most dominant technique is still the Alabama rig. Although I see that in the next couple of weeks that bite will diminish into more of a lipliess crankbait bite. My favorite is the Strike King 2 Tap in chrome and blue. You can never go wrong with a bait that has flash to it. I will target spawning flats where the fish will pull up to lay eggs. The weather will determine the retrieve I use that day. If it is colder than normal I will start out pumping that lipless extremely slow. I will almost fish it exactly like a jig. If they dont want it that slow I will try a steady retrieve with the occasional pause or twitch of the rod tip. Sometimes the fish want it so fast you are almost waking it across the top of the water. I like to cover as much water as possible when doing this. The more casts I can make in a day the better. The rock fish are still being caught on Alabama Rigs in the creeks close to channel swing backs and bluffs. The crappie are easy pickings as well. A chartreuse tube on a jig head of your choice has been the best method as of late. They are still being caught on deep docks with sunken brush piles around them. The slower you can work that tube the better. Be sure to stay aware of your surroundings while running down the river. We have had a lot of flooding this spring which makes the river a floating mine field."