Pickwick Lake in Counce, TN
Photo Credit: Bill Dance Outdoors

Make a Mid-Week Trip to Pickwick Lake

Bill Dance, famous Tennessee fisherman, recommends some of the state's best fishing spots.

Tennessee summers, while hot, are usually sunny with fishing water levels remaining consistent on Tennessee’s larger reservoirs. Bill Dance, famous Tennessee fisherman, recommends fishing Pickwick Lake in the summer months. The reservoir and he share a long history of fishing wonderful fishing trips. It is where he learned to fish larger reservoirs, while also being where he landed some of his best smallmouth bass. If you love fishing and outdoor recreation, it’s a reservoir that you need to come to know as well.

Pickwick Lake 

Running from Pickwick Dam near Counce, Tennessee to Wilson Dam at Florence, Alabama, Pickwick offers untold opportunities for the angler. The waterway, and all its coves, creeks and tributaries can provide wonderful fishing for largemouth, smallmouth, crappie, and catfish. Pickwick Lake is a popular summer retreat with beautiful homes on its shores. During the weekends, you can expect to see crowds of pleasure boaters. Weekdays, however, receive far less boating traffic, so summer anglers may want to shoot for week-day fishing trips. Summer pool is typically maintained at around 412, but summer shallows can cause a rise and some stained water. Since the lake runs from south to north, you should be attentive to rains and weather patterns south of the lake. That is the weather that will influence fishing conditions. There are also many ramps along the lake to provide easy access. 

Fishing for Bass

The summer is a transitional period for bass at Pickwick Lake and though many will be found on the 12-foot to 18-foot ledges, others still remain in 4 feet to 10 feet, at least until water depths rise into 80 degrees. Fishing along ledges is likely to produce bigger bass and 4- to 5-inch plastic grubs fished on jig heads, deep-diving crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastics are the lure choices of many at this time. Also don’t neglect the topwater bite with Pop-R’s and Devil Horses fished early and late in the day.

Fishing for Catfish

Catfishing can be good at the tailrace below the dam as well as on the main lake. Drift-fishing with cut-bait, night crawlers or rooster livers is the most successful tactic. The water’s current turns them on, so be sure to check generation schedules. Pickwick catfish bite better when the water is on the move. If you want a trophy catfish, the best bet is to target “the boils” below the dam during periods of generation. Some incredibly large catfish have been caught at this location in summer, but be prepared for the fight with heavy tackle.

Fishing for Crappie 

Pickwick is an excellent crappie reservoir, but one must fish deeper for them in summertime. Catches of slabs up to 2 pounds are not uncommon by anglers targeting depths of 18 to 24 feet. “Pulling” is a traditional Pickwick tactic, with anglers fishing 1/8th-ounce jigs over stump fields and deep ledges. You may even want to go to a heavier jig on windy days, and you will most certainly rely on good electronics to help you pinpoint crappie in the greater depths. Yellow Creek is often cited as a crappie hot spot, but there are other great places throughout the reservoir. You may even make a mental note to return to Pickwick Lake for a fall crappie fishing trip, too. The fish are moving more shallow, and the catches can be incredible.

Things to Do around Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Landing State Park – Counce

Extend your stay at Pickwick Landing State Park. Book one of the premium cabins that feature kitchen and dining areas, your choice of two or three bedrooms. Enjoy lake views while relaxing in the living room or on the patio.  Campsites are also available. Mark your calendar to book a stay once the Lodge opens featuring renovated rooms, a full-service restaurant and more. The marina is conveniently located on the south bank of the Tennessee River near Pickwick Dam. The marina has boat rentals available and free access to the three-lane boat ramp. Overnight dockage for boats up to 80 feet in length and covered and uncovered slips, sail boat slips and dry storage are available at monthly and yearly rates. Certain slips come equipped with electrical, water and cable services depending on size. Showers, laundry, Wi-Fi and restrooms are also available. You can find boat supplies, snacks and other items at the marina store. Bait can be purchased from local stores in the area.

Shiloh National Military Park – Shiloh

If you like history, you’ll love taking a self-guided tour of Shiloh National Military Park. Browse the museum to see battlefield artifacts, learn the battle strategies used and more. Then, take the 12.7-mile auto tour which features 20 stops that include the Hornet’s Nest, the Albert Sidney Johnston death site and the Peach Orchard.

Pickwick Lake is a fishing paradise for local and visiting anglers. Plan your fishing adventure in Tennessee

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