Last Updated January 3, 2019
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.
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 Grocery-731 738 2960-The big river has been over 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.
One of our readers reported catching several large bass from Piersol Lake a dew years ago in 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.
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 Lake Marine- 731 968 8492- This lake of over 900 acres has ben drawn down foe shoreline repairs. It is difficult to launch due to the low water. However , Crappie fishermen ate "Wearing them out" at about 12 to 14 feet deep. 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 two years ago to the Lake by TWRA. The ones stocked the past seasons are now right over the 10 inch, legal limit. Catfishing was improving with the warm late 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 including the 13 pounder caught last summer.
Perryville Marina-731 9472444- 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.
Famed angler Bill Dance had a field day on Pickwick several years ago in mid-winter. He and his partner launched in 17-degree weather but found the bass bite to be worth the trip. They caught countless white bass and dozens of largemouth by targeting the "gut" of creek channels with jigging spoons. This is almost a lost technique that old timers have been using for decades. Hopkins spoons and the newer jigging spoons are ideal for catching lethargic, cold-water bass. It is a simple technique to use once you locate the fish with your electronics. Just drop the spoon to the bottom, lift a foot or so and drop again. Most strikes will occur on the drop and you will feel weight as you lift it up, that's when you set the hook. The spoon resembles a dying shad, which, with the recent cold spells, there are plenty. Crappie will be "on" in Yellow Creek. Dragging or pulling as some say are forms of trolling using multiple rods baited with minnows. Slow trolling small deep running crank baits along ledges or humps will also be a good choice. Lake is near winter pool and clearing. The early December rains brought it up considerably and made the water quite murky. The rising water sent bass to the shorelines near deep water. Some even were taken on spinnerbaits.
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.
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.
Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The lake level is currently 444.96 and the water temps range in the mid to low 40's. The bite has been very hit or miss for me, but the days that I have caught them have been very good days. I have been targeting creek mouths that dump into the main river channel as these will be the bass' first stop on their way back to the river. I have been targeting them with alabama rigs and jerkbaits depending on the depth. I have caught some on channel swing banks and bluff ends in some of the larger creeks. The quality bites have been coming on the main river. The rockfish are on the river as well. They are probably more fun to catch than bass to be honest. If you are good with your electronics you can graph around until you find them streaking on bait and toss that alabama rig in them and catch one or two. The tilapia bite hasnt quite fired up in the steam plant yet, but the crappie have been biting good. Live bait on floats in the steam plan has been producing great numbers of fish. Remember to always pay attention while driving down the lake as the chance of floating debris is great."
Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water level is currently 484.91 and the water temperature is in the mid to lower 40's. The bass fishing has turned on tremendously in the last month. The cold water has finally grouped the fish up together in the very predictable winter time haunts. My main bait has been an alabama rig paired with 4 inch swimbaits. I have been targeting bluff ends as well as channel swing banks on the main lake. If the bite is slow I have been catching some fish on a ned rig also. This is a very slow technique, but will produce bites when nothing else will. I target the same types of banks when fishing the ned. The hybrid have been biting pretty good as well. I have stumbled upon a few schools of them while bass fishing. They can really make for a fun day of fishing. The crappie are being caught in the 15' range in brush piles on live bait. Remember to always stay in the channel as the lake is at winter draw down and can be very dangerous."