John's Journal...

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

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

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, I know you fish for catfish and take your clients catfishing. Tell me where and how you’re catching them in August and September.
Stegall: Most pure bass fishermen don’t think a bass-fishing guide should fish for catfish. But those Tennessee catfish really pull well, bring smiles to my clients’ faces and are delicious to eat. Remember that I’m a fishing guide, and I’ll take my customers to catch whaClick to enlargetever they want to catch. If they want to catch catfish, we’ll catch catfish. I have customers who’ve fished with me for 15 to 18 years. We catfish together every year, and I really enjoy it. When we go catfishing, we catch numbers of catfish. The Tennessee River where Pickwick’s located is a dynamite river for catching catfish and is full of catfish. We fish for the cats with rod and reels, the Strike King jugs made especially for catfishing and trotlines. I like to see those Strike King jugs when big catfish get on them.

Question: When you’re jug fishing for cats, how deep do you have your lines, and how deep are you putting your jugs out to catch cats?
Stegall: If I’ll be fishing the jugs in the daytime, I’ll use fairly-long lines. If the bottom’s 20-feet deep, I’ll set my jugs with lines to fish at about 17- to 18-feet deep. If the bottom’s deeper, I’ll have enough line to keep my bait about 1 or 2 feet off the bottom. If I’ll be fishing at night, I’ll be fishing more shallow. I’ll only have 6 to 12 feet of line on my jugs. Many people don’t believe it, but catfish will come up and feed in more-shallow water at Click to enlargenight than they will in the daytime. Too, I catch cats by putting out trotlines. I generally put out two trotlines with about 75-hooks each. Although normally I’ll have my trotlines with the hooks just off the bottom, sometimes I’ll float my lines, so the trotline is only about 6-feet under the surface. If I see numbers of mussels dying on the river when we have an oxygen depletion, with their shells open and their bodies floating on the surface, I’ll have my lines only about 6 feet from the surface. The last time I floated trotlines, we caught 150 pounds of catfish in one night.

Question: What are you baiting with when you’re fishing for cats?
Stegall: I prefer Strike King’s Catfish Dyna-Bite links. I like the blood, the shad and the catalpa worm flavors. Too, I’ll bait some hooks with just hotdogs cut into little chunks. Trotlining is a lot of fun because you never know what you’ll have on that line when you go out to run it.Click to enlarge

Question: What’s the average catch when you run your trotlines in the morning, if you have two lines out with 75-hooks each?
Stegall: The last time I put out trotlines, we had 27 catfish that weighed a total of 175 pounds. Our biggest cat weighed about 12 pounds. During the hot months of August and September, catfishing is a lot of fun at Pickwick Lake, whether you’re jug fishing during the day or at night, rod and reel fishing or putting out trotlines. Strike King’s catfish baits will help you put more cats in your boat than you want to clean.

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: Hot-Weather Deep-Water Largemouth

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 3