Dam Tailraces for Stripers with Tommy Akin
Best Bet for Stripers
Editor’s Note: Tommy Akin of Greenfield, Tennessee, has fished for saltwater stripers for 14 years. On any day, after office hours, you’ll find Akin in a tailrace at Pickwick Dam on the Tennessee/Mississippi/Alabama border, catching those drag-stripping, rod-bending, muscle-straining saltwater striped bass. Akin’s strategies will catch stripers in any tailrace.
Question: Tommy, what do you like about striper fishing?
Akin: Saltwater striped bass are probably one of the strongest fish when you’re fishing current as any fish I’ve ever targeted. I enjoy battling a big striper, watching the line pull off my reel and sometimes having to chase the stripers in my War Eagle boat.
Question: What kind of War Eagle boat do you use?
Akin: I use the 756 Tomahawk Bass Series with a 150 hp Evinrude motor on the back that has plenty of power to move me around in the boils (a mushrooming-up of the water as the water moves from the bottom of the dam to the surface) and the turbulent waters below the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) hydroelectric power plant. When TVA increases the generating power of one turbine or activates another turbine, this boat and motor allows you to move quickly and safely out of harm’s way. It has a live well that keeps my bait or my fish alive and a low deck, so I can reach over and either dip my fish or land them with a Boga-Grip. Even though the deck is low, the boat ride is well out of the water. Too, my War Eagle boat has plenty of room where I can store all my gear. I can leave my striper-fishing equipment in my boat. Then when I get ready to go striper fishing, I can hook up my boat to my truck, and I’m ready to fish when I arrive at the lake.
Question: What’s a secret for catching stripers?
Akin: Fish below dams like Pickwick with a good generation schedule and plenty of fast-moving water. Most of the lakes on the Tennessee River are powered by the TVA, and because the TVA generates water to create electricity, the tailraces below these dams generally have an abundant supply of all types of shad and baitfish. If you know where the baitfish arelocated, you’ll find the stripers because they follow the baitfish. Locating fish can take up a lot of time. But at a dam like Pickwick, where the bait’s concentrated, you’ll find the stripers.
Question: Does how many generators are running impact your catching stripers?
Akin: Not really. I’ve caught stripers before with only one generator running. Most of the time there are six generators running below Pickwick. The best fishing occurs when there are at least three or four generators running. Generally the more generators running, the more baitfish that will be pulled up close to the dam, and the more stripers you can catch.
For more information on Pickwick Lake, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 731-925-8181 or 800-552-3866, or visit www.tourhardincounty.org.
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