John's Journal...

Where and How to Catch Fish in August and Early September with Roger Stegall at Pickwick Lake

Don’t Forget the White Bass

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Roger Stegall, the owner and operator of Roger Stegall’s Professional Guide Service on Pickwick Lake, which makes up the boundary of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, has fished Pickwick Lake for 32 years and guided on the lake for 22 years. Unlike many guides, Stegall will help you find and catch any species of fish. He’s just as comfortable running a trotline and catching catfish as he is guiding his clients to smallmouth that weigh over 5-pounds each. He can put you on a limit of white bass or show you where and how to catch the biggest largemouth you’ve ever hooked. You pick the species, and Stegall will locate the fish and show you how to catch it.

Question: Roger, many people forget about the white bass because they’re extremely plentiful, fun and easy to catch, but they’re not glamour fish. Do you ever guide for white bass?
Stegall: The white bass is a great alternative to the largemouth or the smallmouth bass. If the largemouth-bass and the smallmouth-bass fishing are slow, I prefer to look for white bass. Then I know I can get my anglers’ rods bent and strings stretched and put smiles on their faces. The white bass likes curreClick to enlargent in the middle of the river. So, when I’m searching for white bass, I’ll be fishing underwater humps, Indian mounds and any kind of rise off the bottom at Pickwick Lake where shad concentrate.

Question: What do you use to catch white bass?
Stegall: I prefer Strike King’s Sand Blaster, Rocket Shad or white-colored grub. Most people throw these baits on 6-, 8- or 10-pound-test line. However, because you’re fishing where both largemouth and spotted bass fishermen fish, there’s often a lot of line underwater where you may get tangled-up. I fish these baits on 17- or 20-pound-test line. So, if I get hung-up in some of that line broken off underwater, I can use that stronger line to break my lures free.

Question: What colors do you like in the Sand Blaster, the Rocket Shad and the grub?
Stegall: I like chartreuse, pearl and white. One of my favorite colors is the lime chartreuse. I also use the shad and the blue-shad colors.

Question: What type of retrieve do you use?Click to enlarge
Stegall: I cast these baits out and let them fall to the bottom. If the white bass don’t take the lure on the fall, once the bait hits the bottom, I hop it up off the bottom and allow it to fall back to the bottom.

Question: How deep is the water where the white bass will be holding?
Stegall: Many times I’ll catch the white bass in water as shallow as 8 feet or as deep as 20 feet. One of my favorite places to fish is the upstream ends of underwater islands. If I find an underwater island in 8 feet of water and the point of that island drops off in 20 feet of water and is facing the current, I’ll almost always find a good school of white bass holding in this area. Too, I prefer 20-pound-test line here because very rarely do you find schools of white bass holding by themselves out on the points of these islands. We have hybrid striped bass and saltwater stripes in Pickwick, and most of the time when we’re fishing for white bass, we’ll tie into one of those big linesides that may weigh from 10 to 20 pounds. So, even though your lures are set up to catch 2- to 3-pound fish, when you hang into a 10- to a 15-pound hybrid or striper, you’ll be glad you chose that 20-pound-test line.

Question: How do you find these schools of white bass, hybrids and stripers?Click to enlarge
Stegall: I use my Lowrance depth finder, which will light up those fish.

Question: How big are the white bass you’re catching?
Stegall: We catch a number of white bass that will weigh from 1-1/2- to 3-pounds each. From now until Thanksgiving, fishing for white bass will improve. When you’re fishing for white bass, there’s a good chance you’ll catch anything that swims in the Tennessee River. I was fishing a tournament and pulled up on a spot holding white bass. I started fishing right in the middle of a big school of white bass busting the surface. My partner asked, “What are you doing catching white bass in the middle of a bass tournament?” I smiled and said, “You’ll see.” The next fish I hooked was a 5-pound smallmouth running with the schooling white bass. After I landed that smallmouth, I caught 10-more white bass and then another 5-pound smallmouth. My partner and I won the tournament, and I had the two biggest bass in the tournament. Some of the best catfish spots on Pickwick are places where I fish for white bass. We’ll occasionally catch an 8- or a 10-pound catfish while we’re white-bass fishing. When you decide to fish for white bass with me, you not only will catch white bass, you’ll also catch a good number of other fish.

To fish with Roger Stegall at Roger Stegall’s Guide Service or learn more about the fish at Pickwick Lake, call him at 662-433-3869, or visit, or email

For more information on staying at Pickwick Landing State Park on Pickwick Lake, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at, call (731) 925-8181 or (800) 552-3866, or visit Pickwick Landing State Park offers fishing, boating, hiking, camping, swimming and golf. Lodging includes the lakeside inn with over 100 rooms, cabins that sleep eight and a campground that contains 48 sites with grill and electric/water hookup at each site. A restaurant at the park offers delicious southern cuisine. Call (731) 689-3135 or (800) 250-8615 to learn more.

Tomorrow: Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

Check back each day this week for more about "Where and How to Catch Fish in August and Early September with Roger Stegall at Pickwick Lake"

Day 1: Trophy Smallmouth
Day 2: Don’t Forget the White Bass
Day 3: Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty
Day 4: Hot-Weather, Deep-Water Largemouth
Day 5: Largemouth Aren’t Just Deep Now


Entry 471, Day 2