John's Journal...

Pickwick Dam, Tennessee Heaven for Fishermen with Roger Stegall, Todd Witt, Phil King, Roger Gant and Claggett Talley

Tons of Stripers with Claggett Talley

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: If you’re a multi-species fisherman, I’ve found a piece of fishermen’s heaven at Hardin County, Tennessee’s Pickwick Dam on the Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama border. Pickwick has some of the best populations of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, stripers, catfish and crappie in the country. This week, the fishermen who live and guide there will tell you why they believe this area is a fisherman’s heaven. Claggett Talley of Savannah, Tennessee, is a striper-catching machine and fishes Pickwick Lake.

Question: Claggett, how long have you been striper fishing?
Talley: I started fishing in the mid-1980s. The stripers below Pickwick were stocked back in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. The stripers in Pickwick are the Gulf Coast strain of stripers that once migrated up the river systems of Alabama, Georgia and Florida, laid their eggs in freshwater and then migrated back to saltwater. These stripers are almost extinct now. However, some of the original brood stock from this strain was captured, taken to fish hatcheries, spawned and re-stocked in fresh-water lakes and rivers throughout many areas of the South. Smith Lake in Alabama is the repository of this native strain of Gulf Coast stripers and is where much of the brood stock comes from that have been used to re-stock Pickwick and many other southern lakes and riversClick to enlarge.

Pickwick Dam stripers are unique because they’re reproducing in the river below the dam. For saltwater stripers to reproduce, a lake or a river must have enough current to allow the eggs to float and not settle to the bottom for a long period. For many years, scientists didn’t believe there was anywhere in the country where saltwater stripers could naturally reproduce in freshwater, but here, below Pickwick and near Weiss Lake in Alabama, saltwater stripers are currently reproducing. The comeback of the Gulf Coast strain of saltwater striped bass is a phenomenal story of how conservationists and fisheries biologists saved this species of fish and kept it from becoming extinct. Every year we get more stripers below the Pickwick Dam, and the fishing just keeps getting better.

Question: In a day of fishing, how many stripers will a fisherman catch and release?
Talley: On an average day, you’ll usually catch 15 to 20 stripers. Recently, I’ve had half-day trips where anglers have caught as many as 20 stripers.Click to enlarge

Question: How big will Pickwick’s stripers run?
Talley: A good fish now is about 20 pounds. A few years ago, we caught a striper that weighed 32 pounds, but in recent years, we haven’t caught any stripers over 20 pounds because the population is significantly increasing. Our average-size striper weighs 8 to 10 pounds.

Question: On what lures are you catching these stripers?
Talley: We like to fish artificial top-water baits like Strike King’s King Shad.

Question: Can you catch stripers all year on Pickwick Dam?
Talley: Yes, you can, but our prime season is from March to early November. We can have a productive day of fishing any day below the dam at Pickwick and keep rods bent and hot-action striper fishing here most of the year.Click to enlarge

For more information about Claggett Talley and striper fishing at Pickwick, call 731-607-5266, email, or go to

To learn more about fishing below the dam at Pickwick, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at, or 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 hook-ups 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 "Pickwick Dam, Tennessee Heaven for Fishermen with Roger Stegall, Todd Witt, Phil King, Roger Gant and Claggett Talley"

Day 1: Pickwick, the Land of Monster Smallmouth with Roger Stegall
Day 2: Bet on Pickwick’s Largemouth Bass with Todd Witt
Day 3: King of Cats
Day 4: Pickwick has Slabs Galore with Roger Gant
Day 5: Tons of Stripers with Claggett Talley


Entry 472, Day 5