Last Updated November 7, 2017
Hatchie/ Wolf Rivers
It has been very dry for a quite a spell. But, fishing on these small rivers should be prime this month. The best news is you don't have to be on the water at first light to have a good day. In fact, even though these streams are flowing, they do warm up as the day progresses and so does the action. Float fishing such small waters is a real treat in the fall what with all the color and usually clear water. Kentucky bass and crappie will be targeted by anglers willing to try for them. Crappie will bite minnows as they hold in eddies and the bass will be scattered amongst the drifts and clay bank cuts. Spinner baits, crawdad plastics, crankbaits, and tubes can be dynamite for bass. At press time the Hatchie and Wolf were clear and very, very low but a few days of rain were forecast. This could change the river drastically, depending on the amounts. The Hatchie Refuge lakes at Hillville and Oneal Lake will close November 15. Smaller oxbow lakes except Woody and Kelso will be open all winter as long as the roads are passable.
Here are some tips. The crappie bite will improve as the month wears on. Try slow trolling minnows on green jigs and slow is the word. Either side of ten feet should result in finding fish. There is an unusual way to catch catfish this month. Try flipping a large minnow to the base of mid-lake cypress trees where water turkeys are roosting. Catfish will be laying in wait to consume the droppings of these birds. Sounds crazy but it is true! If water levels rise, bass fishing can be red hot on warming trends. Try to get on the lake around nine a.m. and fish slowly as the waters warm. Generally, cloudy days are best here, but not so much in fall. The mid -day bite in sheltered places such as Burnt Woods, Katie's Gourd, and Snaggy Basin has produced some real memories for anglers who timed it right. White spinner baits, dark worms, and black/ blue jigs are good choices. Lake is about one foot below pool and clear. Turnover will occur anytime now so be warned. Try to avoid the early duck season's hunters in mid-month.
Gibson County Lake
The store will be closed until March. Until then, your best bet is to develop a contact with a local for water and ramp conditions. Water levels have fluctuated according to rainfall. Generally, waters here are low and launching can be a problem during dry spells. Years ago, launching from the shore was a tactic that had to be utilized. Small boats had to be pushed off the trailers during extreme low water. So far, this has not been the case. If you go, try prime times after a three-day warming trend and high cloud cover that allows some sunlight penetration. Look for a southerly breeze prior to a cold front and fish the windward coves that will be warming first. Fish the flats with Rattletraps, spinner baits, or swim baits. Look for isolated cover that is more likely to shelter a big hawg. Pitch a large worm or jig to this. Don't overlook the humps and roadbed that can be fished with the aforementioned baits or diving crank baits. Crappie fishermen will be dipping minnows in the tree lines and underwater brush that is abundant.
The consistent water clarity makes this an excellent fall fishing destination. In addition, the standing and leaning timber means there is plenty of visible cover to choose from. Waters here warm fast as the shorelines are sandy and they extend out into the depths. Start your search on the northwest corners and shorelines where warming occurs first. There are plenty of lay downs, stumps, and channel bends that attract bait and predator alike. Warming trends before a cold front mean top water schooling bass will be slashing the shad schools on up until Ole Man Winter freezes them out. Catfish tend to gather around the riprap areas where the rocks warm. Some continue to fish for bream and shellcrackers on through the cold months with redworms fished on the bottom. TWRA will stock the cove next to the store with trout in the near future. Store is closed until March. Use the honor box for permits. Lake is clear and at pool.
Herb Parsons Lake
Store is closed until March. Crappie, catfish, and yellow bass are the most popular species in the fall. Seek out warm coves and humps for crappie and cats. The little yellows may show up anywhere there are shad. There is a liberal limit on crappie and bass under the ten-inch limit. So it's a great time for some eaters. Some folks like to sit on the rocks at the dam for a few catfish. Lake is clear and low.
Beech Lake Marine - 731 968 8492 - All Lakes are at or below pool and clear. Try Beech for crappie as some big ones showed up the last few years. Spider rigging with minnows is best. Some bass can be caught off points with jigs or deep crankbaits. A warming trend will put them up shallow around cover and pad stems. Try topwaters, then. Shellcrackers will still be your best bet at Dogwood. The smaller lakes on the Natchez Trace Park can be surprising, especially Maples where Florida bass were stocked years ago.
Store is closed until March - This clear lake has been a winter favorite since it opened in 1992. The many springs and bottom structures harbor good numbers of all species. Grass beds are also beneficial for attracting prey and predator.Try small white Bandits in the timber, back in the shallows. Black and blue jigs fished on points and near the dam are also good choices. Crappie will be deeper around standing timber and brush. Catfishing will still be good until extremely cold weather occurs.
Boat and concessions are closed until March. Bass will be slow until on up in the day. Fish the north side brush and the dam with jigs and minnow style lures. Crappie will be holding over the old channel in mid lake. Spider rigs should be good. Bream can still be caught off sloping points by fishing on the bottom with red worms. Lake is still up and clear. Park lakes open at 7 a.m.
Carroll County 1,000-Acre Recreational Lake
Staff outings in seasons past still produced lots of small bass on small, shad colored, medium running crankbaits and watermelon red plastic crawdads. Most were in the five to eight foot depths on creek channel ledges. Some were on flats nearby. Some top water activity was observed, however a warm spell could change everything as the clear water enables sunlight to penetrate the depths and warm the water quickly. Last year some crappie over two pounds were boated and this is to expected this year. Good spider rig anglers should be able to figure this out quickly with their advanced electronics. Bream will be on the bottom around hard bottom such as old roadbeds. Lake is super clear and much of the emergent grass is gone. There is still some live coontail moss covering the shallow flats.
Perryville Marina (731 847 2444) Low water just about shut down some fishing. As the River adjusts to winter pool, you can expect the crappie to be a main target. Mats and tops close to creek channels will be most likely to draw them to bait laden cover. Same for bass until a drastic cold spell slows them down. Last winter, the bass bite held up for long periods of time as long as the weather was not too bad. Good fishermen caught them on a variety of lures at the creek mouths where shad were present. Everything from top waters to plastic worms worked at one time or another. You just have to adjust to the conditions. Sauger and white bass will be biting all winter and the good bite usually begins around mid month. Target creek mouths for sauger and riprap shores for whites.
Our source for Wilson and Pickwick lakes, Gary Harlan, told us the lake level (at the time this forecast was written) was 411.28 and falling. The water temp was 73- to 75-degrees and the clarity was stained to clear.
"Schooling activity is picking up every day; most are small (10"-14") fish. There are more shad on the lake than I have ever seen. We have been catching them pretty good, numbers wise, bigger fish are elusive but seem to be grouped up when you find them. I look for the bite to do nothing but get better as the water cools off. Tonight's low temp is supposed to be 48 degrees! That's the coolest so far this fall. That should get things moving in the right direction. I spent several days on the water this week and noticed more and more shad are migrating into the hollows and creeks along the river. The bite has been tough the last two times I went out. The afternoon/evening bite is definitely better right now. While the water is falling during the annual draw down the bite may be inconsistent and tough at times. TVA is on schedule and the lake should be at winter pool of 409 by early November. Once TVA gets the lake to winter pool level and the lake settles down fishing will definitely improve. The topwater bite has picked especially early and late in the day. Strike King's Sexy Dawg in both Jr and Sr with work. I like to use the lager version when it's windy and the water is rough. This is my favorite time of year to throw a spinnerbait. A 1/2 oz KVD in shad patterns, the Burner and Baby burner from Strike King will all do the job. Try to match the blade size to the bait in your area. The clearer the water the faster you have to fish these blade baits. Crappie fishing should pick up as well as the water cools. Look for them to move to shallower brush in 7-10' of water or into stump rows in the creeks. I use the Lightning shads from Strike King. I'll start with a 1/16 oz head and use and 1/8 oz if the wind is blowing or I'm fishing deeper than 20'. Head color can make a difference I generally use a red one but will try orange and chartreuse until I get the bite dialed in. This varies from day to day this time of year.
As the lake level drops many of the shallow humps and bars will be out of the water of dangerously shallow. If you are unfamiliar with Pickwick please use caution when boating. Hypothermia is a danger we all need to be aware of it can happen in water as warm as 70 degrees. Please wear your PFDs especially when fishing alone. Good luck!"
Capt. Gary Harlan W/Roger Stegall Professional Guide Service, LLC. www.fishpickwick.com.
Staff reports: Cold weather and low water will send the bass back out to the humps and ledges. This will be a gradual migration and as long as the shad stay shallow, so will the bass. The key is being sensitive to the water temperature. Until a drastic cold spell occurs, bass will stay close to the shallows and move into feed. Backs of coves, weed covered flats, and points will be optimum possibilities. Anything from Rattletraps to shaky heads may effective. It's just hard to predict with the changing conditions. Crappie has made a gigantic comeback, probably due to the vegetation providing more nurseries for baitfish. Side pulling minnows or jigs has been a great method to get a good mess. Search the main creek channels at the twelve to fifteen foot depths as a start. Check your LCR frequently for the exact depth. Check with our good friends Clagget Talley (731 607 5266) or Gary Harlan (901 413 2650) for updates or expert guide trips.
Pickwick Below the Dam
The light current in October made for some difficult fishing except in protected areas. A few stripers were being caught by anglers tight-lining minnows on the bottom. Catfishing is slowing down as waters cool. Once the temperature of the water hits 34 degrees, it will be very challenging until spring. Smallmouth fishing on the River has been sporadic. Your best bet is to cast small white or crawdad colored crankbaits while drift fishing the rocky shorelines once the current slows. If it is still rolling, search the creek mouths and areas protected by sand bars or dikes. The cut-through behind Diamond Island has many lay downs and is always a great place for all species of bass. Sauger fishing should begin at the end of the month.
Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water elevation (at the time this forecast was written) is 487.79 and the water temps are ranging in the mid to high 60's. The bass fishing has finally turned on all over the lake and they are biting like crazy. The fish have moved up shallow in hopes of a feeding frenzy on small bait fish. This time of year I like to target them with walking top water baits such as a Strike King Sexy Dawg Jr. in a shad pattern. The smaller Sexy Dawg seems to be the perfect size to mimic the smaller bait fish being preyed on. You can catch them on top at all times of the day this time of year. If you love top water fishing this is your time to shine. It won't last too long because once it drops off cold that bite will shut down. I also like to throw a 1/4-ounce Strike King Red Eye Shad in chrome and blue. Again the smaller size of the bait really mimics the bait fish being keyed on. The backs of pockets seem to be holding the majority of the fish because they can push the balls of bait up into the shallows where it is hard for them to escape and let the feeding frenzy begin. Any baits mimicking shad will be successful this time of year you just have to be around the bait and the bass will not be far behind. The hybrid are also chasing the bait fish around and are being caught on Alabama rigs as well as top water walking baits. They get very aggressive this time of year and school up very well. Its not uncommon catch fish out of a school for an hour. The crappie are being caught on deep brush piles and brush around marina docks on pink and blue jigs. With the winter draw down the lake can be very dangerous so be cautious while running the lake." [email protected].
Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The lake elevation is 444.67 and water temps are ranging in the low to high 60's. The bass fishing has still been extremely tough. Tournament weights are some of the lowest I have ever seen. Numerous fish are being caught, but the quality isn't there. I have been throwing a Strike King 1.5 shallow Square Bill in the Tennessee Shad color. This is normally a very successful technique this time of year. Ive had to cover as much water as I can to catch fish, but when I catch one I can normally catch more. They are running in packs feeding on shad. Finding the right creek and right area of the creek is the key. That is why covering water is so important. I also like to have a #5 Rapala Shad Rap tied on. This is one of the best tough time baits out there. I like the black and silver color unless the water is severely stained then I'll use something with chartreuse in it. I have had success fishing points leading into pockets in the creeks. The pockets with the river channel close to it have been the best. The bait fish will follow the channel back into the creeks which creates an ambush point for the bass. Do not get discouraged if you go out and don't catch a fish. This is normally a tough time of year, but as the temps get lower by mid to late November the bite will pick back up. The crappie are still being caught trolling bandits near deep creek channel banks. Creek Channel docks have been good as well if you can find some with sunken brush around them. Remember to keep an eye out for floating logs and debris while running the lake."[email protected].