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Last Updated May 2, 2018


Pickwick Lake

Pickwick has seen incredible catches of bass in April, lots of two pound – plus fish and some lunkers. The frequent shad kills this winter not only put weight on the bass, but has made them more aggressive as there are fewer baitfish for the predator population. Rattletraps and Red Eye Shads in half and three quarter sizes have been good choices. There will still be some late spawners in early May as cool weather has delayed their activity, but for the most part, you can look for a little tougher bite due to those recovering from the spawn. As the month progresses, fishing will improve as the feeding resumes. Look for bass around any cover where fry are gathering. Grass beds will begin to show so fish the edges and pockets where action is observed. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, Flukes and weedless plastics should be good. Late in the month, smallmouth and bigger largemouth should be heading to the humps and ledges for the summer. Deep divers, jigs, A rigs, large plastic grubs and worms as well as shaky heads will come into play. Colors such as Pickwick green and sprayed grass will be good. The College Tournament saw many BIG smallmouth weighed including one 7.5. Wow!
Another source for Pickwick, Capt. Gary Harlan, told us, "Those of us who make all or part of our living fishing here on Pickwick and the Tennessee River as a whole have argued for years against holding tournaments here in April. The majority of the largemouth and smallmouth are bedding during April. Tournament weights are typically down and quality, legal 15" fish are hard to come by. One tournament might not affect the fishery even if it's a large one. However, year after year of multi tournament weekends affects the spawn. The weekend of 04/20-23/2018 is a prime example. There were two large tournaments on opposite ends of the lake (450+ boats total) and several other smaller tournaments going on at the same time. The larger legal and breedable fish from the lower end were transported to the upper end and vice versa. Having the spawn interrupted year after year is going to be detrimental to the fishery and ultimately to the tournaments. May and June would be much better months to hold the larger tournaments on Pickwick for several other reasons besides the spawn. The weather is better, fish are biting not breeding and you are going to have better turnouts for the tournaments. Lower turnouts for the tournaments also affects the economy of the surrounding communities that rely on tourism dollars as a large part of their income. Off my soap box…
At the time this forecast was written, the water temp was in the low-60s and the clarity was stained. The lake level was at 416.18 and rising. The recent deluge that has covered the Tennessee valley has the lake above summer pool of 414.0 as I am typing. Fishing has been on par to a little below with the cooler weather. But we must remember this is April, time to crappie fish not bass fish…once things settle down and we get a stable lake level and some warmer water the fishing should be off the charts in a good way. I believe the fish are tired of the weather and temps just like we are. I was in Kentucky on business last week and it was snowing! Never in my 57 years have I seen snow in April.
May to me means the first topwater action of the year! The fish that have spawned are guarding fry and this can make for some explosive strikes. The rest of them are just plain hungry. I like to have a one two punch for the fish in May. I keep a Strike King Sexy Dawg Sr. or Jr. and a Caffeine Shad tied on. Vary the speed and cadence on the Sexy Dawg until you figure out how they want it. Use the Caffeine Shad as a follow up bait for missed strikes. May is also a good time to throw a small to medium crankbait like the Series 3, 3XD, Series 5 and 5XDs. Shad, bluegill and crawfish patterns will all produce. Bluegill and redears will be heading to their beds by the end of the month and given some warmer temps the catfish won't be far behind them.
Good luck and please be safe, the lake is really crowded and is only going to get worse as things warm up..."
To book a trip with Capt. Gary Harlan, call 901-413-2650. Roger Stegall's Professional Guide Service, LLC.


See our special section for May tips

Kentucky Lake

See our special section for May tips

Lake Graham

731 422 0950 - This spring saw more big bass caught. This can be attributed to several factors. Among them are the shad stockings by TWRA, some have been hanging around the trout net to feed on the escapees. Early May might still see some spawning activity due to all the cool April weather. Lizards will still be a good choice for these shallow fish. Later month will see the early and late bite on topwaters and spinnerbaits. Be observant for breaking fish around bluegill beds that will be abundant attracting bass feeding up after their spawn. The bluegill and shellcrackers will be the featured specie in May and literally thousands will be on the beds in backs of coves and shallow flats. Catfishing will also be picking up and some real giants lurk here, some over the fifty pound mark. Crappie will be slow from mid month on.

Gibson County Lake

731 855 2990 - As with most of the area TWRA lakes, Bream will be the star specie for anglers looking for action and table fare. They may be found in the backs of coves, along the old creek channels that are lined with trees, and in the brush lines extending into the lake. Catfishing will also be getting in full swing as waters warm. Bank fishermen may choose the area around the pier for catfish. Livers, worms, or prepared bait will all be effective. Bassin' will be good as spawners will be feeding after the spawn, especially from mid month on. Many over the eight-pound mark have been weighed this year. The sparse grass that has been covered by spring floods presents a different opportunity that calls for working lures over the top of it. Rats, frogs, and floating worms would be good choices. Look for the bigger bass to be heading to the creek channels and deep holes at late month. That's when the big worms and jigs will be good choices. Top water fishing will be good early and late. Use these baits on the flats and shorelines close to deep water.

Glenn Springs Lake

901 853 5253 - Bass anglers look forward to May as the grass starts coming on strong. That's when the frog bite really gets exciting! Shoreline vegetation and grass beds make this a fun activity if you know how to adapt to the condition. Heavy line and a stout, long rod are a must for getting bass out of the goop. Bream and redear sunfish will be bedding and anything placed in their beds will get bit. Catfishing is what this lake is so noted for and May is when they really start biting. Any stink bait or natural bait will get them. Jugging is allowed except on weekends and holidays. Boats w/ motors are available for rent.

Herb Parson's Lake

901 861 5087 - May is bluegill month on this old TWRA Lake. Beds in the hundreds can be found at the backs of the short coves. Crickets, red worms, Beetle spins, or fly rod poppers are all great so choose your weapon. The catfishing will also be improving as waters warm. Whether by boat or bank, folks can catch the limit due to regular TWRA stockings. Most will be in the three -pound class but a few monsters over thirty always show up each summer. Crappie will be slowing down and may be caught in the deeper sections by slow trolling. There is sill a ten inch size limit and many will be fun to catch but will be under the slot. Bass will be coming off the beds and by mid month should be in a feeding mode. There is a ten fish limit and no slot limit so be advised. Use top waters early and late and fish crank baits or plastics around shoreline cover later in the day. Some will be shadowing the bream beds and will be susceptible to lures resembling bluegill. A prop lure worked around the beds is a good choice. Yellow bass are always fun and can be caught using ultralight tackle. There is no limit on these so catch and keep as many as you can.

Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake

Better get ready for more big bass this year. Now in its 6th year of public fishing, bigger bass are showing up more frequently. The twelve pound mark was t reached two years ago. This is a deep lake and spawning may be extended on into May. Search for spawners in the shallows where a hard bottom is located which is most any cove. Lizards pitched to beds near shallow cover can be dynamite. Early morning and late evening topwater fishing will be red hot on spawners as soon as they recover from the rigors of spawning. Bass will remain shallow for quite awhile as they will be scavenging the bream beds which will be numerous. This is also a great time to carry kids to catch some of those monster 'gills that this lake has become known for. Just get some crickets and hang on! Crappie will be in the shallow water mix until the lake gets heated up at month's end. Then, trolling over open water will be the best method. Catfishing will be improving, as they will begin spawning around logs and riprap. Any standard catfish bait will get them. By month's end, the pleasure boaters and jet skiers will be in abundance so go early if you plan to fish outside the protected zones under the power lines. Permits are required and can be obtained at the lake store where there is also a limited supply of bait and tackle.

Shelby Forest-Poplar Tree

It's time to get your cricket box and paddle your boat to the coves at the east end of the lake. All of these coves are loaded with bream beds. To really fish them thoroughly, stay off them and start at the deeper edge and work shallower. Catching the ones on the outer beds will keep from spooking the ones that closer in. Fly rods with poppers and bream killers are great choices to use here. There will also be some beds on the short points on the sides of the lake. You will probably snag a crappie at these. Bass fishermen would be advised to head to the large cove on the north side about halfway down the lake. There could be a few late spawners that would hit a lizard or tube pitched into the bed. As the weather heats up, you will have to go early or late and use top waters or Rapala minnows. Fish around the bream beds or by the riprap at the dam. The Park opens at 7a.m. so you don't have to get up too early. Boat rental is open and permits are required.

Hatchie/Wolf Rivers

Boondocks guide Billy Doyle (901 497 1577) reports the best bass fishing on the Wolf is after the water settles. He and his guests were catching 20 to 30 bass a trip, many in the three to five pound class and one over 11. The Hatchie was falling at press time but a rain event could easily mess it up. Watch the Mississippi and when it falls quickly, so will the Hatchie. It has been known to fall as much as four feet overnight. This is when run out fishing is at its best. Refuge lakes will open as soon as the roads are passable. Windrow Road is open and the McCool Lakes will be also. Oneal Lake is open every day with catch and release on bass in effect until June first. The lake is very clear. A two fish limit will then be in effect. Regulations ask that you please remove any pickerel you catch. Last year the bream and crappie were thick and easily caught. The high water has inhibited the weed and pad growth but they will be coming on strong with the warmer weather.

Beech Lakes

Beech Lake Marine -731 968 8492 - As with many of our Mid South lakes, spawns have been sporadic with the best conditions arriving in late April. There will be some spawning around the full moon in early May and bed fishing for bass with lizards and tubes will be possible. There will be a slow bite on those post spawners, but given a few days to recover, and the top water bite will kick in. Look for fry around any cover. Logs, brush, lily pads, and grass beds will be the places to target before the hot weather drives them deeper. Even then, the same cover will be good early and late. Grass beds and pads will be excellent holding places. Crappie are abundant. Bream and catfish will be sought after species as they begin their spawns. Bream will be in the backs of coves and shallow flats. Catfish prefer the riprap banks.

Cold Creek

The big river has been in for several weeks. Watch the Memphis gauge as the Mississippi River was falling below 16 feet, wait a few days for the water to settle and go. When the fall occurs, look for places where water is coming in from fields and creeks. These are where you can strike it rich with a fishing bonanza. Minnows and crawfish will be washing out of these places and predator fish will be waiting in big numbers. Nearby smaller lakes such as Crutcher and Heathwright Pocket will be red hot for all species.

Perryville Marina

731 847-2444 - The Tennessee River will be at summer pool in May and the stable level means good fishing. Shallow fishing for bass will be prime. Target buck brush, grass with yellow flowers, logs, and stumps for some of the year's best bassin'. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, plastics, shallow crank baits, take your pick. Put a lure in front of a bass and it will strike. Look for fry being chased and pitch a lure there. White is always a good color as it is close to the color of the fry. Bream will be bedding in the coves and sandy flats. The crappie spawn will be over but some can be caught in the deeper mats. Catfishing will be kicking in and will steadily improve as the month progresses.

Northeast Arkansas

All the Northeast Arkansas lakes will be rounding into good shape as the rains become less frequent. Look for excellent bream fishing at Bear and Storm Creek lakes as well as Horseshoe in the southern counties. To the north, Big Lake, Mallard, Poinsett, and the Village Creek Lakes will be excellent. Bass fishing will be excellent at Horseshoe, Mallard, and the Black River as soon as it clears. Catfishing in the St. Frances, Cache, and Black is already good. A small lake that gets little pressure is Mound City Lake just east of Marion. A jon boat is advisable as the ramp is narrow and shallow. The lake is about a mile long and can be covered in a few hours. It holds a good population of all game species. There is a launching fee that is minimal.

Dale Hollow

Our source for Dale Hollow, Bobby Gentry, told us, "Dale Hollow is in full spring mode. Our water has hit the low-60s. Swim baits and crank baits are working well on and near flats. Nice largemouth bass can be caught with spinner baits and jigs. The night bite is good for some nice walleye on steep banks and bluffs. If you have questions you can call me at 270-427-0419 or go to my Facebook page, just search Bobby Gentry Fishing on Dale Hollow Lake. Thank you and good fishing.

Old Hickory

Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water level is currently 444.8 and muddy. The water temperature is in the low to mid 60s. The bass bite has been rather tough the last couple of weeks for quantity, but the quality has been there. I have witnessed more 7-8 pound bass weighed in this year than I ever have. Lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits have been the key for me. Any shallow pockets with a hard bottom have been holding fish. When that bite isn't producing, I have been flipping trees and logs in shallow bays. My go to is a black and blue jig. The muddy warm water will have the fish shallow and ready to spawn. The crappie have moved into shallow stake beds and are being caught on anything that you put in their face. My go to is pink and chartreuse with the muddy water. The rock fish are still being caught in the first half of the creeks on Alabama rigs. Always wear your life jacket while running the lake as there is more floating debris than normal."

Percy Priest

Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The lake level is currently (at the time this forecast was written) 490.2, which means the water is high and in the bushes! The flipping bite is going to be out of this world. The water temperature is in the low 60's and waves of fish are moving up to spawn. Before the water had risen bass were being caught on football head jigs and Carolina rigs. The buck bass have been extremely easy to catch, but the females have eluded me for the most part. Any shallow area has the potential to hold fish this time of year. With the rising water the fish will follow it into the new cover. Any creature bait, jig, or spinnerbait will do the trick! The crappie are moving shallow as well and are being caught on jigs as well as live bait. The hybrid are still getting fat and are easy to catch on Alabama rigs. Always use caution while running the lake especially with the amount of rainfall we have had."