John's Journal...

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

Largemouth Aren’t Just Deep Now

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, August and September are the most-productive months for fishing deep. So, why do you fish shallow during these 2 months?
Stegall: August is a great month to fish for largemouth in shallow water in lakes with grass. I define shallow water as 10-foot deep or less. Those bass won’t only be holding in grass, they’ll be concentrating around stumps and logs. When they’re holding around targets, like stumps and logs, I’ll be fishing the Strike King spinner bait. Since we’ve recently had an invasion of grass here Click to enlargeat Pickwick, the lake has really exploded with largemouth bass. The grass brings the largemouth to the shallow-water structure as well as to the grass itself. The grass provides shade, oxygen and a perfect place for baitfish to hide, move and feed. Even in hot weather, there’s cool water, plenty of oxygen, shade and bait up under the grass. My favorite baits for fishing the grass are the Strike King Rage Toad, the Rage Shad and the Frog. These are all top-water baits you can swim over the top of the grass. Too, the new Rage Anaconda worm can be extremely deadly when you swim it over the top of the grass.

Question: What size hook and lead do you use when fishing the Anaconda over grass?
Stegall: I use a No. 5/0 hook with a 3/16-ounce weight on the Anaconda. Another bait that will be a dynamite grass bait is Strike King’s new Rage Space Monkey with all its legs and appendages. Strike King has a number of new baits that came out last year and this year that will work in a wide variety of situations, but especially in grass. More lakes in the South and the East are getting grass in them, so naturally you expect a company like Strike King to produce lures that will deliver bass in the grass, but also have other fishing applications.

Question: What colors do you like when fishing for bass in the grass?Click to enlarge
Stegall: I like green pumpkin, red, watermelon-red, plum, redbug or any other soft-plastic lure with red in it. The bass are searching for bream, which have some type of red or green in their color pattern. Too, I fish a swimming jig, like a 1/4- or a 3/8-ounce Premier Elite jig with a Rage Tail Craw on it. I like to swim the jig through the grass and then drop it into the holes.

Question: What pound-test line do you fish when you’re fishing a jig or Strike King’s new creature baits, worms or other soft-plastic lures through the grass?
Stegall: I use either 17- or 20-pound-test line, so I have the strength in the line to pull those bass out of the grass once they attack my lures.

Question: How big are the bass you catch in the grass?
Stegall: We’re catching bass from 3/4- to 8-pounds each when we’re fishing the grass.

Question: Roger, if I book a trip with you and tell you I want to catch bass, how many will we catch in a day of fishing, and will you expect to catch either smallmouths, largemouths or a combination of the twClick to enlargeo?
Stegall: I recommend fishing for both smallmouths and largemouths to try and catch the most bass we can in one day of fishing.

Question: How do you combination fish for largemouths and smallmouths?
Stegall: We’ll spend part of the day, probably the early morning, fishing gravel bottoms and shell bottoms for smallmouths. We’re likely to catch largemouths on these same spots where we’re fishing for smallmouths. Then we’ll leave the pea-gravel and the shell bottoms to fish in grass, logs or stumps and try to catch big smallmouths.

Question: How many bass do you plan to catch in one day?
Stegall: Bass fishing is bass fishing. We may catch and release as few as 10 or as many as 50, and we should catch or at least hook-up one bass over 5 pounds.

Question: If we put out a trotline the night before we go bass fishing, how many pounds of catfish do you think we’ll catch off two, 75-hook trotlines?
Stegall: We should catch anywhere from 100 to 150 pounds of cats in August and early September.

Question: Roger, if I just wanted to white bass fish, how many white bass will we catch in one day?
Stegall: I fished for 5 hours with two youngsters the first week in August, and we caught 30 white bass. There’s no telling how many white bass you can catch and release if you start at daylight and fish till dark. But I don’t know anyone who wants to know or try it.

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.

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 5