Fish main-lake structure with a handful of baits and hold on!
August, generally the hottest month, means a high demand for air conditioning in the Tennessee Valley, causing the TVA plant upstream of Pickwick Lake to work overtime, generating power and releasing cold, highly oxygenated water from Wilson Dam.
That water will make baitfish and bass feed actively, so before you leave to fish Pickwick, call TVA or go to www.tva.com and learn when the power plant will be turning the generators, thereby creating current and causing bass to bite across the 43,000-acre reservoir.
You’ll catch a lot of fish at Pickwick — largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass, plus white bass, hybrid saltwater stripers, saltwater stripers, bream and catfish. The places you’re fishing may concentrate all those species. Although some schools of bass will hold in deep water, usually in moving water, you’ll find bass on sandbars, flats and points.
At first light, you’ll have a topwater bite and see bass schooling. I’ll move to grassbed points, mussel bars, main-river sandbars and the ends of main-river points.
I’ll begin fishing about 100 yards upriver from each point and fish all the way around the point and 100 yards below it. I search for bass and the depth where they’re concentrating on my Garmin LiveScope. I’ll fish different lures to try to make them bite, including a Mann’s 20+ crankbait, a Carolina-rigged Mann’s JellyBug, an 8-inch flutter spoon, a hair jig, a shaky head and a drop-shot.
The 8-inch chrome flutter spoon will catch big bass or 1½-pounders. You may get a number of short strikes on the spoon, but if a hybrid or striper is around, it will eat it quickly. Whatever takes that spoon is bound to put a bow in your rod and a smile on your face.
I’ll use my LiveScope to find an underwater school. Then, I’ll cast upcurrent a Mann’s 20+ in grey ghost color on a 7-foot-6 FX custom cranking rod with an ELS Bruin 6.3:1 ratio reel and 20-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon. I’ll reel the crankbait downcurrent, varying my retrieve, but generally fairly fast on the shallow part of the point, closest to the bank, depending on how much current is coming down the river. Next, I’ll cast my crankbait to the deep side, imitating a baitfish moving from deep to shallow water.
Then, I’ll change to a white/chartreuse hair jig, cast it to the deep water and retrieve it to shallow water on a 7-foot-1, medium-heavy FX custom rod, an ELS 7.3:1 Bruin reel and the same line. On the shallow side of the bar, I’ll cast a jig as far as possible upcurrent, allow it to ride the current until it hits bottom, snap it off the bottom and make several turns on my reel to take up the slack as it rides the current before falling to the bottom. I’ve learned I can cover a point much more effectively by reeling my lures from the deep side of the point up to the shallow side, especially on the north ends of bars. Then, the crankbait and the jig can ride the current while being retrieved.
Next, I’ll pick up my flutter spoon and watch the line as the spoon falls all the way to the bottom on my LiveScope. Once I jerk the spoon off the bottom, I can watch it fall back and the bass following it, even if they don’t eat it. I’ll use this on a FX 7-foot-4 heavy plus custom rod with a medium-action tip, the same reel and 23-pound fluorocarbon. Once the spoon hits the bottom, pull or snatch it off the bottom, take up slack until it hits the bottom and snatch it once more.
If I’m not catching bass, I’ll slow my baits down and also downsize them. My first lure choice will be a ¼-ounce shaky head jig on a No. 3/0 hook with a green pumpkin/purple flake JellyBug that’s Texas-rigged. I’ll use 15-pound bass braid with an 8-foot leader of 10-pound fluorocarbon. I’ll generally fish it like I do a Texas-rigged worm — pulling it up off the bottom and letting it fall back or varying my retrieve and dragging it along the bottom.
My other choice is to use a watermelon-red JellyBug, nose-hooking it on a drop shot rig with a 1/4-ounce drop-shot weight on the end of my leader, and the drop-shot hook tied about 8 inches above my lead. I’ll be fishing with a 7-foot-4, medium-heavy FX custom rod. I’ll run and look at as many points as I can until I spot a school of bass holding on a point on my LiveScope and then begin fishing.
The best reason to choose Pickwick in August is you may catch and release 100 fish a day of multiple species, and you’re the least likely to strike out.
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