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Last Updated December 28, 2017

Tennessee

Hatchie/Wolf Rivers

The Hatchie fishing will be confined to the oxbows and small lakes that are not muddied by high water or frozen once the River falls back out of the bottoms. Winter crappie fishing can be excellent after the River rises and restocks the oxbows. Minnows or black/chartreuse tube jigs are good choices. Bass fishermen should use black and blue jigs and expect slow action unless a warming trend occurs which is always a possibility here in the Mid South. Check out the water level gauge near Brownsville on the Hwy.76 Bridge at our MSHFN.com web site. The Wolf is similar in that water clarity and level dictate the fishing. Wolf River guide Billy Doyle likes to go on dark, misty, cold days in late winter for some of the biggest bass of the year. Call him at 901 497 1577 for a unique fishing adventure in the area's most pristine wilderness.

Reelfoot

Sportsman's Resort - 731 253 6581 - Recent rains gave this lake a boost by bringing the lake back up a little and, with more rain expected, conditions for that winter crappie bonanza will be prime. Even with the high water, big crappie limits are frequent. Minnows and green jigs tipped with minnows or crappie nibbles were the right tickets to success. Some catfish catches were reported prior the rise. Bass fishermen should target leaning logs and duck blinds with big bladed, slow rolled spinner baits and black/ blue jig and pig combos. That is if the blinds are not occupied, if an extended warming trend occurs. The ditches are always a good choice. The Eagle Festival is the first weekend in February but the eagles are there now. Grizzly Jig in nearby Caruthersville will be having their crappie seminars the last weekend in January. See their ad in this issue for details.

Cold Creek

Cold Creek Grocery - 731 738 2960 - The big river has been under the magic 16 feet number on the Memphis gauge so much that predicting it this time of year is almost impossible. The fishing conditions are governed by its rise and fall associated due to rain and snowmelt from up North.. The exception will be the nearby oxbows on Anderson Tully and Lower Hatchie Refuges that are shallow and warm quickly where fishing can be great when the Mississippi is not in them. Be sure you are not on an area closed for the waterfowl migration. The only other area choice is Fort Pillow Lake that does allow fishing year round.

Shelby Forest

One of our readers reported catching several large bass from Piersol Lake one recent December. He was bank fishing with a Rattletrap as his lure. This lake is about 20 acres but only small boats can be utilized, as there is no ramp. Both this lake and larger Poplar Tree have excellent crappie, bass, and bream populations. Both lakes are clear and low. Permits are required and can be obtained at the Park Office or Shelby Forest Store. The Park opens at 7 a.m. The rental boat concession is closed until March.

Glenn Springs Lake

The Store is closed until March. Anglers must use the honor box for daily permits. This is a prime winter lake that remains clear all year. Bass, crappie, bream, and catfish can be caught by fishing slowly and being patient. Catfish and bream favor worms and night crawlers fished on the bottom. Crappie will be suspended in mid lake and large coves around the sunken timber and brush. Bass will be on the major ledges at the end of the tree line near the dam and off deep points. Jigs and dark plastics fish along these can produce several lunkers. If a warming trend occurs, try small white crank baits around logs in the shallow backs of coves. Lake is clear and near pool due to the many springs that feed the lake.

Herb Parsons Lake

Store and boat rentals are closed until March. Use the honor box for daily permits. This is one lake that offers excellent winter fishing. Many folks try for catfish from the bank near the picnic grounds. A sunny day will find diehards in their lawn chairs tossing gobs of night crawlers after those tasty channel cats for which this lake is famous. Others will be trolling for crappie near the dam, while some will be casting their ultra light tackle for yellow bass. Largemouth bass can be caught with jig and pig combos off the wooded points by slowly probing the sunken tops. Lake is low and stained but still fishable.

Lake Graham

Store and boat rentals are closed until March. Use the honor box for daily permits. TWRA has stocked rainbow trout here for several winters. This has provided lots of action for anglers wanting a change. The area in front of the store has a long cove that is blocked with a net for this event. Anglers must have a trout permit in addition to their regular license. These can be obtained on line from TWRA. Most prefer corn or red worms as the baits of choice. Some fly cast or use small spinners for good results. Crappie anglers should target leaning logs along the main channels with minnows or light colored jigs. Bass fishermen should wait for warming trends that will put bass surprisingly shallow but close to their deep water wintering areas. Jigs and diving crank baits in shad or crawdad colors are good choices. Many bank fishermen catch catfish from the riprap-lined parking lot by casting night crawlers to the nearby depths. Lake is clear and near pool.

Gibson County Lake

Store and boat rentals are closed until March. This is your best bet for a real wall hanger in this entire area. More bass exceeding 10 pounds have been landed here than any of our West Tennessee lakes since the lake opened in 2002. They don't come easy, however. One must expect to fish extremely slow to land a real lunker in the dead of winter. Umbrella rigs, bottom digging crank baits such as Norman's DD22, Strike King 6XD, or Bomber Fat Free 7's are good choices to use as you probe the channel ledges and log jams. Large jig and pig combos are also good produces. Jigging spoons can be effective but are also prone to hanging in sunken timber. The exception may be when an extended warming trend occurs and baitfish head to the shallows. The big bass will follow. This when Strike King Redeye Shads and Rattletraps can be dynamite. Crappie over two pounds have been caught here as low water in other lakes has sent crappie fishermen here. Some catfish action can be expected from the pier area. Lake is not as low as in past years. It is high and in good shape.

Beech Lakes

Beech Lake Marine - 731 968 8492 - Crappie fishing and duck hunting take the forefront here in January. Trolling is the method most effective but it must be done very slowly. There are a myriad of sunken brush piles placed strategically along the ledges and underwater humps that hold large numbers of crappie. Four years ago the 10-inch limit was dropped due to the huge population of this species. Bass fishermen would do well to target a warming trend when the bigger bass will move shallower following the shad schools. Otherwise, deep diving crank baits or bottom-bumping jigs would be advised.Most Lakes are close to pool and clear. But Beech is low.

Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake

Fishing slowed considerably after the water temperature fell in to the fifties, according to our source, who has spent many hours there. Seems the crappie are getting harder to find with colder weather, The good news is that 10,000 crappie were added last year to the Lake by TWRA. The ones stocked the past seasons are now right at the 10 inch, legal limit. Catfishing was improving with the warm December but were deep at 20-30 feet. Few bass were being caught. Your best bet for them is to check the ledges and roadbeds next to deep water with jigs and deep diving crankbaits. Remember that several over 10 pounds have been boated here.

Perryville

Perryville Marina - 731 947 2444 - Sauger and white bass fishing are the primary activities here in mid winter. Creek mouths are holding places for the sauger and they gang up here in droves. Bottom- bumping jigs tipped with minnows or similar plastics will get 'em. White bass tend to stick close to the many riprap banks and favor anything white such as jigs or small crank baits. Some hardy bass and crappie fishermen will be out on warmer, sunny days targeting these species around stumps and lay downs on the main river and creek mouths. Shad colored crank baits and spinner baits will be favored for bass and minnows for crappie. The Tennessee River is usually at winter pool and clear, except after big rains as occurred in late December.

Pickwick

Our source for Wilson and Pickwick lakes, Gary Harlan, told us the water temp was 51-54 degrees and the clarity was clear.
"The cold nights we've had recently has dropped the water temp a good bit. We are definitely headed towards full blown winter now. The bass bite has been good though. There have been good catches of both largemouth and Smallmouth. A-rigs, Jerkbaits, Swimbaits and Jigs are taking most of the good fish. Most have moved into deeper waters or are real close to it. They will be close to a drop off or steep bank. On sunny days they will come up to sun themselves and on cloudy days they will be found on or near the bottom. I have been throwing the KVD Jerkbait in translucent colors because of the clear water. My go to bait this time of year is the 1/2 & 3/8 oz Denny Brauer structure jig. I like the small Baby rage craw or a KVD chunk for trailers. Black and blue and natural patterns seem to work best. Fish the really slow and keep the bait in contact with the structure. If you haven't tried or experienced the "Ned rig" now is the time to try it. I use a mushroom jig head in 3/16 to 1/16 oz and 1/2 of a Strike King Zero (No Magic here). Again, I like natural colors on the Ned Rig. I like on with a little flash or flake in it on sunny days. The Crappie bite has been really good. They also have moved into deeper water and are schooling up more now. Please be safe! Cold water kills! Invest in a comfortable life jacket and wear it at all times especially when fishing alone this time of year. Thank you for following the reports! I look forward to staying in touch during 2018. Have a blessed year!"Cpt. Gary Harlan w/ Roger Stegall Professional Guide Service; LLC.; www.fishpickwick.com; 662-423-3869 after 12:00 noon please!

Kentucky Lake

Winter brings new dimensions to fishing on this giant reservoir. There are many choices such as sauger fishing at stream mouths like the Duck River, crappie fishing along medium depth ledges in Big Sandy, bass fishing points, flats, and riprap next to deep water at Paris Landing and Eva, even fishing the warm water outlets at New Johnsonville for catfish. One can pick and choose the day and the time. It is no longer necessary to be on the water at daylight. In fact you can sleep in and start after waters warm from midday on. Just be sure to give the duck hunters their space. Those duck blinds where you caught fish in previous months are usually too shallow now, anyway. Some successful anglers have revealed a secret they learned. They have been catching some of their biggest bass by targeting stumps on flats close to deep water. They use a Series 6 Strike King crank bait in very shallow water. They would let the crank bait dig the bottom until it was beside a stump. Then they would stop and let drift up. That's when the bass would strike. Savvy anglers know that fish will move extremely shallow following baitfish when waters warm by just a few degrees. Due to such a warm fall, there is still some grass left to attract minnows and game fish.

Northwest Arkansas

Horseshoe Lake near Hughes is THE place for wintertime fishing. In recent years catfish have been on a mid-winter "tear". Anglers have been targeting the mid-lake region and fishing with cut bait and night crawlers at the 10 to 12 foot depths. Other choices would be fishing the docks and piers with minnows or jigs for crappie and the dead grass and pad stems for bass. The Spring River mouth on the Black River is the region's top walleye destination and jigs tipped with night crawlers is the favored technique. The lakes on Crowley's Ridge are all known for good cold weather fishing as they are shielded from the wind where an angler can be comfortable. They are all close to pool.

Dale Hollow

Our source for Dale Hollow, Bobby Gentry, told us, "We are having a good early winter bite on Dale Hollow this year—the water temps are at 49 up to 51 degrees.You can get some nice fish on jigs around 15- to 20-ft. Ned rig and live bait are doing good also. Float and Fly was good on cloudy days. Merry Christmas to you all from Bobby Gentry Dale Hollow Lake Guide Service. Call me any time for more details, 270-427-0419 or go to www.bobbygentry.com."

Percy Priest

Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water level is currently at 483.97 and the water temps have dropped into the mid 40's all over the lake. The bass bite has been tremendous with the colder weather finally moving in. The bigger fish have been showing themselves more and more as winter sets in. I have had great luck throwing an Alabama rig on bluffs off the main river and creek channel. I like to use a Yumbrella Flash Mob Jr. to do this paired with a white swimbait. States laws only allow 3 hooks on Alabama rigs so I place small willow leaf spinnerbait blades on my top two wires. I have found the lighter the jig head you can get away with the better. Those fish like it moving as slowly as possible. Also this time of year a Number 5 Shad Rap is very hard to beat. I have been using a crawfish pattern as well as the original black and silver. The key to fishing the Shad Rap is to find big chunky rocks and grind that bait through them. The fish will get in the cracks of those rock and will feed on anything that comes their way. Winter time fishing can be fantastic if you can stand the elements. This is a great time to get out and catch your new personal best bass! The crappie are being caught on deep brush piles all around the lake. Pink and chartreuse have been great colors as well as using live minnows. The Hybrid are still being caught throughout the lake especially the lower end on Alabama rigs and shad imitations. Remember to keep an eye out for submerged rock piles and to stay in the channel. Percy Priest can be very dangerous during the wintertime."

Old Hickory

Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water level is currently 444.82 and the water levels have been in the high to mid 40's. The bass bite has been fantastic. Fish are being caught on just about everything you could imagine. I have had great success throwing an Alabama rig on bluffs as well as a football head jig. I like to use a Yumbrella Flash Mob Jr. paired with white swimbaits. Typically, I like to dye the center swimbaits tail chartreuse because it shows up much better in the dirty water of Old Hickory. My football jig is pretty simple. I use a half ounce PB&J color with a green pumpkin trailer of some kind. I use a trailer with minimal action because in the colder water everything is moving slower. Bluff walls and points off of the channel have produced numerous fish for me. I have found when I catch one fish there are many others with it. I have not seen the quality like I have in years past, but the quantity is definitely there. If the water is clear enough I like to throw a jerkbait as well. That is probably my favorite bait during the winter. I use a Megabass Vision 110 in any color that has some flash to it. The fish can't stand it. I expect the bass fishing to continue to get better throughout the winter so get out there and give it a shot. The crappie have started to school up under deep docks with sunken brush. If you can find the right set of docks you can load the boat with them. Minnows always work well, but the bigger crappie have come on jigs paired with chartreuse crappie tubes. The big Rock fish are cruising through the creeks following the bait right now and some massive fish are being caught. You can catch them on a rattletrap all the way to swimbaits or Alabama rigs. If you hook one be prepared for a fight! Remember to always wear your life jacket and to bring along an extra set of clothes. There is nothing worse than falling into the lake with frigid temperatures."

 

 

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