Last Updated March 1, 2018
Our friend Billy Doyle will be fishing the Wolf regularly in the Ghost River section. He has already had good success by pitching jigs around the cypresses and logs. March will bring on the use of spinnerbaits and crankbaits as well. Billy has a guide service for his boondocks on the Wolf and Hatchie. ( 901 465 4692). The Hatchie has been high for so long, since early December. The oxbows haven't been accessible due to this. Traditionally, seasonal spring floods will be frequent. The Hatchie Refuge can give you road info at as 731 772 0501 or their website. The Quail Hollow Lake at Hillville was drained several years ago and has been very low again due to a leaking spillway pipe. It and Goose Lake were stocked with catfish, bliuegill, redears, and bass. Oneal lake will open March 16 but bass will be catch and release until June when a two bass limit will still be enforced.
(731 422 4171) The store will be open and can give you the latest results. This lake has experienced a real big bass boom in the past few years. Several exceeding the ten-pound mark have been caught. They will be feeding up for the April spawn on drag baits such as jig and craw and big worms. If an unusual warming trend occurs as it did in February, spinnerbaits and crankbaits will come into play. Crawfish colors and chartreuse will be effective in stained water due to heavy rainfall. Crappie will be biting in the stumpfields. Seek out areas with leaning logs, as they will use these to travel to the optimum water temperatures and sunlight penetration.
Gibson County Lake
(731 855 2990) - There have already been a few big bass boated here this year. Last month deep diving crankbaits fished on the creek channels did the trick. Warming water, either by weather or warm rain, can send them very shallow quickly. This is the time for spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, and suspending jerkbaits. Fish areas close to deep water with exposure to the sun first. As the warming continues, fish the backs of coves and shallow points where males will be preparing beds for the spawn. Look for the sandy bottom flats that seem to be the most visited. Some spawning will occur on the shallow points next to deep water if the temperature is above the fifty-degree mark. This is the time to use the big lizards. Crappie will be using the exposed brushlines as they prepare to spawn in April. Start deep and gradually move shallow until you find them. Catfish and bream will be slow but more active by the last of the month. Store is open but lake is a little low. Use the center of the ramp.
Herb Parsons Lake
(901 861 5087) - Store is open and lake is dingy from rains, especially in the back of the north arm. The yellow bass bite is the most consistent on the lake. Troll small jigs with spider rigs as you would for crappie and keep all of them. Crappie will still be deep early in the month but will move into the brush and logs toward month's end as they prepare to spawn. When there is a full moon, we could see spawning if the water is warm enough. This is also when a bass spawn should happen, it all depends on the water temperature. For bass, fish the tops and brush next to the channel with slow moving jigs or creature plastics in dark colors. Then move to the shallows later in the month with spinners and lizards. Bream and catfish will be more active by month's end.
Glenn Springs Lake
(901 853 5253) - If we have a warm March, this could be the best bass lake around. The water clarity ensures that sunlight will warm the spawning coves rapidly. Use lizards and creature baits if there is a movement to these prime places. If the cooler weather remains, work the timbered channels with dark colored jigs or worms. As waters warm, switch to suspending jerkbaits or crankbaits and seek out the fringes of emerging grass beds that are exposed to sunlight. Lipless crankbaits will be effective except where grass will inhibit their action. Crappie will be holding in the brush tops in mid cove preparing to move shallow on the full moon. Catfishing will be steadily improving as the month progresses. Turkey livers are the most popular bait due to their toughness that holds them on the hooks. Store is open for licenses, tackle, snacks, and boat rentals. Lake is clear and at pool.
Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake
This could be another great year for this beautiful lake. It has been stocked liberally by TWRA with all species. Crappie are passing the 10 inch limit regularly and bass weighing almost 12 pounds have been caught. Crappie fishermen should probe the ledges and roadbeds for pre-spawners. Bass fishermen would be wise to cover flats near deeper channels with red vibrating lure such as Red Eye Shads or Rattletraps. Seeking out humps and ridges near the shallows would also be a good idea. These should be fished with jigs and deep crankbaits. Bream and catfish will be biting at month's end and really get going by mid-month if the temperatures rise. The lake is at pool and generally stays there due to runoff and numerous springs.
Cold Creek Grocery
(731 738 2960) - The big river has been in and out of the Chute several times this winter. Frances at the Store says the late February warm spell had lots of folks buying bait but seems they are closed mouth about their catches. That usually means fishing was good. Should warm weather and low water be the rule, which is problematic, some good crappie fishing could be in store. Fish the deeper stumps on the west side where the channel break occurs. Bass might also be caught off of logs and brush next to deep water on jigs or soft plastics. The smaller lakes such as Heathwright Pocket and Crutcher Lake are always good in early spring as long as the Mississippi is out of them. Small boats are about all that can be used on these lakes. Other are choices are the Fort Pillow Lake and Champion Lake which will open March 16 if the Hatchie is out of it.
Perryville Marina (731 847 2444) Finally the Tennessee River rose enough to fish. In fact, at press time its flooding. After the flood, Denny Dennison of Beech Lake Marine has been very successful by fishing minnows and jig tipped minnows for crappie in creek mouths in the area. He usually starts at the deepest cover and moves shallower until he finds them. Surprisingly, he also caught some nice bass on his small crappie rigs, even in the shallow mats. Other choices would be going for sauger and white bass. The low, slow current of January and February certainly slowed fishing, but the annual sauger run has been non existent.. Few limits of sauger over the fifteen inch have been caught. They can still be caught at the many creek mouths and traditional bends of the river. The white bass bite will be peaking soon as well.
These two lakes offer some excellent early spring fishing. Piersol Lake is the smaller and shallower. It will warm faster and is well stocked with bream, bass, and crappie. Only small jon boats can be launched as there is no ramp. Poplar Tree is around 100 acres with a good ramp, boat rentals, and small store for permits. Both lakes are sheltered by surrounding forests, which shield them from all but the fiercest winds. Poplar Tree has a great population of bass, bream, and crappie and only trolling motors may be used. Both lakes remain clear all year.
See the Pickwick Special Section in our print edition.
The cold winter kept most fishermen from going in mid January and February. The brief, bearable, warm spells were kind to the few who went. Crappie should begin to bite in the 18-24 foot range as they become more active as March wears on. Slow trolling with minnows is your best bet. Seek out ledges that have crappie suspended over them. Good electronics are a must. We could see an early spawn as the full moon is on the 12th. It just depends on the weather. Bass fishermen would be advised to concentrate on primary and secondary points with slow moving lures such as jig and craw or suspending jerkbaits. Colors depend on water clarity. Bright colors such as chartreuse or orange, for stained and more subdued, such as shad for clear. Catfishermen can still load the boat at the New Johnsonville Steam Plant discharge. There is also bass, bream, crappie, and striped bass activity here. Lake is experiencing high, warm water and is presently fairly dingy but all could change quickly under the TVA control.
Crappie have been biting very well on some days in the bigger basins and has been especially good on Upper Blue Basin according to the folks at Sportsman's Resort. Some of the year's biggest fish exceeding the two-pound mark have been boated. This will continue in March with trolling small minnows the favored technique. Some anglers will be after black or snub nose crappie by hand poling the old pad stems with small jigs in shades of green or black/chartreuse. Katie's Gourd, First Pocket, Starved Pond, and Buzzard Slough are popular areas for this. Bass fishermen will be having more success as waters reach the fifty-degree mark. Until then, fish the traditional black, blue tail large worms or jig and craw in the same colors around treelines and dead pad stems. As waters warm, add jerkbaits and spinnerbaits to the mix. If topwater action is observed, toss a buzzbait or spitter at 'em. Lake is a little above pool and clear, except where the rains have been washing into the backs of coves.
Beech Lake Marine (731 968 8492) Some call these lakes the "Great Lakes of Tennessee" and for good reason. Not only do the seven Beech River Watershed District lakes produce, but so do the four Natchez Trace lakes. By far the most popular is Beech, especially in early Spring. This large lake, at 900 acres, is known for the lunker bass population that predictably moves shallow in early March. They also did recently with the warm days in February. Many tournaments have been won with five fish limits over twenty-five pounds in early March. Jerkbaits, lizards, crankbaits, shaky heads, jigs, Carolina rigs, all have claimed victories for the anglers who planned to be at the right place at the right time. Rock structure, treetops, stump fields, even pad stems can produce. Pin Oak is also a popular tournament-winning destination. It is more suited to the fishermen who are structure oriented. The notoriety of Brown's Creek Lake for trophy bass was boosted in late fall a few years ago when a monster ( 16-15) was shocked up by TWRA. Don't forget the Annual Coca Cola Classic in early March .Look for a special section on this area in the next issue of MSHFN.
This region has been hit by an unusually wet winter that put a real damper on fishing. Some lakes and rivers were unsafe to fish as waters were so high. If conditions improve, these are your best bets. Horseshoe Lake near Hughes for bream, bass, crappie, and catfish is the number one choice. Most anyone can catch crappie here by fishing the many boat docks, piers, and brushpiles around them. Minnows and light colored jigs are favorites. Catfish have come on strong in the past few years with the ten to fifteen water depths in mid-lake being the secret. Bass fishermen would be advised to fish the dead pad stems with slow moving jigs and craws. As waters warm, move to the cypress trees and roots nearest deep water with the same baits.
Other lakes that have stable water levels are Bear Creek, Storm Creek, Mallard, Austell, nd Dunn. All these offer excellent bass, bream, and crappie fishing. A favorite lake near Manila is Big Lake that opens March 16. It is famous for crappie catfish, and bream. Backwater sections are open for boats and canoes with a paddle or oar restriction, but offer excellent bass fishing.
When waters recede and conditions improve, the Black, Spring, St. Frances, and Little Red are all good choices that we will cover in future forecasts.
Our source for Dale Hollow, Bobby Gentry, told us, "It's been a wild week due to all the rain. Jigs in the backs of creeks are catching some nice fish. Dark colors black and blue and green pumpkin will work best. The swim bait bite has been fair—white with black back in 3-inch fished slow. Float and fly will get you some nice smallmouth. You might also try with a 10 ft leader fished off points and pockets next to channel. Warm weather and more rain can turn on the bite. Look for shad and then work through the crank baits and swim baits. Good fishing and be safe. Call me anytime 279-427-0419 or look on facebook, Bobby Gentry, Dale Hollow Lake Fishing or look for my website, www.bobbygentry.com. Thank You."
Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The lake level is currently 484.92 and has temperatures ranging from the mid- to high-40s. The bass fishing has been exceptionally well the past month as they are preparing for their spawn. This is a great time of year to catch your new personal best! The females are feeding up heavily and full of eggs which makes them much heavier. I have had great success targeting long sloping points outside of shallow pockets or flats. This is what I call a staging area and those females will use them to feed until it is time for them to lay their eggs. An Alabama Rig has still been my most successful technique, but a football jig has been getting bites as well. If I cant persuade a big female to eat, instead of fishing the point or ledge outside of the shallow area, I will move closer to the spawning flat. The buck bass will move shallow first to find an area for the bed and can be caught fairly easy. I like to throw a half ounce lipless crankbait and cover as much water as I can. This is a great time of year to catch a large number of fish as well. The bucks are just as fun to catch and occasionally you will catch a true giant doing this. The crappie are being taken on brush piles throughout the lake on jigs and minnows. Pink and Chartreuse has been the color they like the most. Also the lighter the jig head the better. The hybrid bite has been great as well. Alabama rigs and large swimbaits have been the ticket. Typically when I catch one there are more with it so really fish the area thoroughly. The lake level is still low so be sure to always wear your life jacket when the boat is on plane and to stay in the channels that are marked."
Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The lake level is currently 444.65 with water temps in the mid to upper 40's in the mid lake area. The bass have been CHEWING. Tie on any bait that resembles a shad and hold on. I believe the cold weather has really helped the bite. Main lake points have been producing the quality bites, but the numbers are in the creeks on the staging areas. I have noticed the main lake points I have been fishing are extremely close to shallow spawning areas. Also the closer the point is to the river channel the better it is. Alabama rigs and jerkbaits have been key for me as long as the water clarity is right. I like the water to be fairly clear for these techniques. The colors of the lures have not seemed to matter as long as it is some variation of shad. With the spawn quickly approaching and the water temperatures rising I look for the jig bite to get progressively better. The crawfish get much more active once the water temp gets in the 50's. The crappie are being caught on creek channel docks with sunken brush around them. A chartreuse crappie tube has been getting the majority of my bites. I have had to fish it slower than normal, but the bigger fish have been eating it. The rock fish are being caught in the first halves of the creeks on Alabama Rigs and swimbaits and have been a blast to catch. Some of the bigger ones we have caught would not fit in a normal net. Catching a 30-40 pound fish on normal bass fishing tackle always makes for an interesting trip to the lake. We have gotten large amounts of rain so be aware while running the channels. There is lots of floating debris just begging to tear off a lower unit."