When bass head for deep water, look for changes in the bottom that will hold baitfish and bass
Pickwick Lake is a great ledge lake. Although you primarily will be fishing for and catching largemouths there in June, when you get a strike, you don’t know what you’ll reel in, because all types of fish and baitfish will be running those ledges. All of the Tennessee River lakes are extremely fertile and home to an abundance of baitfish. During June, the ledges are the structure you can bet on to find and catch bass.
We’ll fish these Pickwick secondary ledges — not the river ledges — many different ways. In June, bass will be holding on the first ledges you come to between the river-channel ledge toward the bank. The weather is warming, but it’s not quite enough to move bass out to the deep-water river ledges just yet.
We’ll also fish secondary points and bars. This time of the year, I’ve found the best Pickwick bassing to be between Second Creek and the Natchez Trace. This area has many ledges and bars with underwater creeks cutting through them. Generally, you’ll see some grass starting to grow on some of these bars in June. My favorite two June places to fish at Pickwick are mussel-shell bars on these secondary ledges and the ends of those bars.
Crank ‘em up
I’ll start off with Mann’s 15+ and 20+ crankbaits in gray ghost or brown back/chartreuse colors. The gray ghost represents shad, and the brown back/chartreuse represents bluegills. I’ll put my boat over deep water, cast to the tops of ledges and fish for about 100 yards above the underwater ditch, down the sandbar, around the end of the ditch, through the mouth of the ditch, around the other end of the ditch and 100 yards below the ditch.
I’ll be fishing these crankbaits on a 7-foot-6 Shimano glass composite rod with a Curado 200K casting reel that has a 6.2:1 gear ratio and 20-pound test White Peacock fluorocarbon.
Carolina rig ‘em
If I can’t get a bite on the crankbaits, I’ll fish a Carolina rig on this same rod and a 7.5:1 Curado reel. I’ll have 50-pound bass braid on the reel with a 2-foot leader of 23-pound fluorocarbon. I’ll use a 1-ounce slip sinker up the line with an orange bead under the weight and a barrel swivel tied to the braid and the fluorocarbon. I’ll fish with a No. 4/0 wide-gap hook tied to the leader and a 6-inch plum-colored Jelly worm. I’ve learned over the years that the Tennessee River bass like plum colors for soft plastics. I’ll ease that weight on my line through the shell beds, cast upcurrent and bring the Carolina rig downcurrent.
Later in June
By the middle of June, bass will move out to the river ledges, and I’ll fish the same lures as I have on the secondary ledges. But my main go-to lure when bass are on the river ledges is a ½-ounce, Mann’s Preacher jig that’s made of feathers and hair. I’ll throw the jig upcurrent and swim it with the current, coming down the river ledges. I’ll let the jig fall all the way to the bottom, make three or four cranks on my reel and let it fall back to the bottom again. I’ll use this type of retrieve all the way back to my boat.
I’ll fish the jig on 20-pound fluorocarbon with a 7-footo-3, medium-heavy Shimano rod with an 8.2:1 Curado reel. This feather-and-hair jig will produce numbers of a wide variety fish. You’ll catch spotted, smallmouth, largemouth and white bass and stripers. You even may catch a catfish. This jig is white, and just about any fish that swims the Tennessee River will eat it.
You’ll probably have to fish numbers of ledges before you locate a bass. However, once you do find the bass, remain in that area, since the bass will move up and down on those ledges. I hope to pinpoint three or four places where I can catch bass and will go back and forth to each of them several times a day.
In June, current usually will start running early in the morning, stop in the middle of the day and begin again in the afternoon. Your most-productive bass fishing will be when the current’s running. On a good day in June, you can expect to catch 20 to 25 bass weighing from 1½ up to 5 or 7 pounds each. During a day of June fishing at Pickwick, I expect to catch at least one bass that weighs from 4 to 7 pounds.
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