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

Hot-Weather, Deep-Water Largemouth

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 have two tactics for catching largemouths during August and September. You fish for them in both deep and shallow water. Let’s talk about your deep-water tactic. How do you find and catch largemouths in deep water this month?
Stegall: I prefer to use a big worm and a big crankbait when I’m fishing deep water at this time of year. I also like the Strike King Football Head jig, which is one of my go-to baits in August. I also like to fish Strike King’s new 10-inch Rage Anaconda. If you want to catch big bass, you need to cast a big worm. I use a 7-foot rod to throw the Anaconda on 12-pound-test line with either a 5/16- or a 3/4-ounce slip sinker up the line. I’m using a No. 5/0 hook inside the worm. When you fish a big worm like this, you won’t get as many bites as you will if you fish a 4- or a 6-inch worm. But when you do get a bite, it’ll be big. I like to fish this big wClick to enlargeorm on humps and ledges 10- to 25-feet deep out in the main river. At this time of year, the bass start to move up from deep water to shallow water, but there still are numbers of big bass holding in deep water.

Too, I fish the Series 5 or the Series 6 crankbaits in deep water. I’ve experimented with both baits, and to get them to run really deep, I normally fish them on 10-pound-test line. To get them down deeper, I’ll fish them on 8-pound-test line. I’ve fished 8-pound-test Sufix Elite line to get the Series 6 crankbait down to 14- to 16-feet deep. I really prefer the Sexy Shad color on my crankbait, but I also throw a watermelon-shad color. On cloudy days, I’ll fish with a chartreuse-blue back or a chartreuse-black-back-colored crankbait. I always fish my crankbaits on a slow retrieve, once I get them down. I’ll change the type of retrieve I’m using based on the type of retrieve the bass are biting best.

Question: Roger, when you’re fishing deep water with crankbaits and the Rage Anaconda, do you ever catch smallmouths as well as largemouths?
Stegall: When I’m fishing the crankbait, I’ll generally catch largemouths and smallmouths. Click to enlargeBut when I’m fishing the big worm, rarely will I ever catch a smallmouth.

Question: Roger, one of the problems with catching big bass at this time of year is because the water’s so hot, the fish get extremely stressed. When you’re pulling them out of the deeper, cooler water into the warmer water, the fish have a hard time recovering. What system do you use for releasing your bass back alive and healthy into their deeper haunts?
Stegall: Here’s a trick everyone needs to learn and use at this time of year to return bass back to deep water quickly. Every bass fisherman has a buoy marker with a flexible lead at the bottom of the string tied onto the lead and the buoy. You can take that lead and wrap it around the buoy, and the lead will stay in place. I take the weight on the end of my buoy marker and bend it in a U-shape like a clamp and then clamp that lead weight around the bass’ bottom lip. Then I gently put the bass over the side of the boat with the lead weight on its lip and feed the buoy line out as I drop the lead and the bass back to the bottom. When I feel the lead and the bass at the bottom, I jerk on the buoy line two or three times. The lead weight releases the bass’ jaw, and the bass returns to deep water quickly, cool and comfortable and unharmed. Then you Click to enlargecan pull your lead back up and be ready to use it to release another bass when you catch it. Mark Davis, a Strike King Pro from Arkansas and past Bassmaster Classic winner, showed me this trick, and I’ve found it to be one of the most-effective methods to ensure you release your bass back down to where it’s been holding quickly and efficiently with the least amount of stress on the bass.

Question: Roger, you mentioned earlier that you fished the Strike King Football Head jig. How, why and where do you fish it in deep water?
Stegall: When Strike King first introduced this jig with the Rage Tail trailer on it, I started catching bass in deep water at an unbelievable rate. I like the 3/4-ounce jig in green-pumpkin, Texas-craw or black-and-blue colors. I use a black-and-blue trailer on the black-and-blue jig, an amber or a green-pumpkin-colored trailer on the green-pumpkin colored jig and either an amber or a green-pumpkin trailer on the Texas craw-colored jig. When I’m fishing the Football Head jig, I drag the jig across the bottom, just like I will a Carolina-rigged worm, stop it, take up slack and then drag it again. The Football Head jig kicks up a lot of dirt and sediment on the bottom. The bass really like that jig because it closely resembles a crawfish.

Question: What pound-test line do you use?
Stegall: l prefer 10-pound-test line. I know most people use heavier line, but I’ve learned that I can cast further and keep the jig in the bass’s strike zone longer with lighter line than with heavier line.

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: Largemouth Aren’t Just Deep Now

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 4