Last Updated November 3, 2018
Hatchie/ Wolf River
It has been very wet 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, 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. Water is almost at pool.
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 close to pool 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 schools. Some hardy bass fishermen still go out during the warmer hours of the day from around nine o'clock on. Checkout tree laps near the old channels where the sun has had time to warm the water. Lake is a little stained and low.
As we have stated many times, this is the easiest place to get a great batch of crappie. They will be suspended in the middle of the lake over the old channel and susceptible to trollers or ultralight casters. Small spinners, jigs, or minnows can reap a bounty, as there is now a 30 fish limit on number but not on size. Large bream will be in the mix and maybe a few bass. Bass fishermen should stick to casting dark jigs to the north shorelines and the dam. Late evening will see minnow type lures effective along the rocks. Lake is clear and at pool. Permits are required. Boat rentals and the store are closed until March.
Glenn Springs Lake
Store is closed until March. Clear water is the rule at this time of year. Search the old tree lined channels for bass and crappie with jigs and tubes. Some warmer days may see a crank bait bite in the same areas. Like most mid south waters the best time to go is a day or so before a cold front. This is the time when the waters are warmest and a southerly breeze is pushing baitfish into warmer coves. You may be surprised at how shallow bass may be during this brief period. Cat fishing is still going to be good until a hard freeze occurs. Lake is clear and at pool but still has lots of submerged grass beds.
Beech Lake Marine - 731 968 8492 - November is usually a transition month on these lakes. Late October was warm which put November more like October unless an unexpected cold spell occurs. The word will be s-l-o-w fishing. Take your time to ply the humps and ledges for bass. Use Jigs, Carolina rigged lizards, or shaky heads. Once you catch a fish, continue to work the area thoroughly, as they tend to group in loose schools. There are two reasons they are where they are, suitable water conditions and forage. If an extended warm spell does occur, look for surfacing schools busting minnows in the thin, warmer layers. This may occur anywhere in the lake, even over the deepest sections. Crappie will be the best bet for some eaters as they are abundant and can be under the ten-inch limit. Some folks like to sit on the rocks at the dam for a few catfish. All Lakes are at or below pool and clear.
Carroll County 1,000 acre Recreational Lake>
Staff outings in seasons past, still produce 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. An 11 lb. largemouth was boated in late October and a lake record 14-2 in July. 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 and Asian carp 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.
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 fantastic.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.
The Big Muddy stayed in the bottoms this October and we haven't heard much lately. Frances at Cold Creek Grocery (731 738 2960) says they traditionally catch a little of everything, bass, crappie, lots of bream, and a few cats. The water has settled down some and is in good shape, and will hold until the next big rise at over the 16-foot mark on the Memphis gage. If you go, beware of the jumping carp as they are many. The nearby Lower Hatchie Refuge lakes will close November 15 until mid March next year.
Our friend Steve McAdams (731 642 0360) reminded us that the Tennessee River was fairly stable in October but says conditions seem to be continuing to seasonal norms. He predicts that crappie will be in the mid depth ranges around ten to thirteen feet with normal weather but, if it stays warm, they could be surprisingly shallow. Bass will be susceptible to crank baits, and Carolina rigged lures along rocky points and roadbeds. He also says to flip around the many boat docks and marinas for bass. Other good bets will be around the topped weed beds with floating worms and suspending jerk baits. Water temperatures are stable into the mid fifties but they may shoot up again with extended warm spells sending the shad and bass back into the shallows where rattletraps and spinner baits can be effective. At this writing, the water level was near 354 and navigation was hazardous, so be advised to stay in the major channel markers. We've had reports that boats have been stuck on bars and stumps just off the main channel. The Asian carp have driven bass to the shallow flats making for good topwater action.
Horseshoe catfish and crappie will be the best bet this month if decent weather holds up. Studies are underway to determine how the crappie fishing might be improved. Seems there are plenty of two and three year olds but few any larger. Other good choices will be Mallard Lake for the same, but add big bass to the mix. Big Lake will close November 15th and reopen in March next year. All the Crowley's Ridge lakes should prime in early month but will slow as days and nights cool. The areas small rivers such as the St, Frances, Cache, and Black will be excellent choices for bass and crappie until cold rains occur and shut them down. The mouth of the Spring River where it joins the Black will see the beginning of the winter walleye run toward the end of the month. All of the Mississippi River oxbows in the eastern part of the State should be in good shape for fall fishing as the River falls.
Our source for Old Hickory, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The lake level is currently 444.23 and the water temps are in the high 50's and low 60's. The bass bite has been fairly consistent lately. If you can find the bait fish typically there are bass chasing them. I like to throw a shallow squarebill on shallow creek channel points and bounce it off any piece of cover I can find. The flats are covered with bait and schooling fish and are being caught on traps, flukes, and walking topwater baits. The crappie are being caught trolling creek channel swings on bandit 200's in shad colors as well as drifting live bait. The rock fish are moving into the creeks as well and caught be caught on Alabama rigs on channel swings banks and bluffs. Remember to be safe while boating and to always look out for floating debris."
Our source for Percy Priest, Joey Mallicoat, told us, "The water level is currently 487.62 and the water temps are in the high 50's and low 60's. The bass bite has been tremendous. The fish are feeding on shad like crazy which makes baits like and Alabama rig or jerkbait shine. I've been targeting shallow pockets in the backs of creeks with traps and jerkbaits. The bigger bites have been on Alabama rigs fishing in 10-15 foot of water on offshore structure close to channel swings. This gives bass a perfect spot to ambush the bait as it swims by. The crappie are stacking up on deep brush piles around the lake and are being caught on jigs and live bait. They hybrid have been biting as well. Alabama rigs and big single swimbaits have been the ticket. Remember to be safe while on the lake as the winter draw down is on the way."