John's Journal... Entry 249, Day 5
CATCHING SMALLIES AT NIGHT AND IN WARM WEATHER WITH ROGER STEGALL
Work the Current
Editor's Note: Roger Stegall of Iuka, Mississippi, has guided for smallmouths on Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee/Alabama/ Mississippi border for 17 years and has fished for smallmouths on the lake since 1975. In an average year, he and his party of fishermen will catch 50 to 60 smallmouth bass that weigh 5 pounds or more. At times, he'll even catch smallmouths that weigh 8 pounds or more. Stegall enjoys fishing for smallies and shares his techniques here.
The current really helps anglers catch smallmouths in the late season by stirring up the bottom, causing the crawfish and minnows to feed on the algae. The smallmouths feed on the crawfish and the minnows. They'll position themselves on the ends of humps. A smallmouth will always be in front of current. There's always a dead spot right in the front of a stump or a log and that may be where you'll find a smallmouth. A 3/4-ounce Strike King Premier Spinner Bait No. 5 in chartreuse or chartreuse and white with gold specks works great in these situations.
I'll also throw a grub on a Texas rig with a red hook. I'll fish both the grub and the spinner bait on tight lines. When the bait hits the bottom, I'll make about eight or 10 cranks to make sure the bait is close to the bottom. Then I'll let it flutter back down. The fish will hit it most of the time when it falls. I'll throw the spinner on a medium-heavy All Star rod with an improved reel like a 4:7:1.
I'll throw the grub on an 8:1:5, which is a 6-foot 8-inch-spinning rod with a fast-action reel. I'll use it on a yellow 8-pound line with a 2:1 spinning reel. In May and June, I expect to catch 30 fish with a party group-12 to 15 of those fish will be smallmouths. We've got a super population of fish in Pickwick Lake. I believe that Pickwick holds the next world-record smallmouth. I've had fish on my line that have weighed in the 10-pound range. I think there's a 12-pound smallmouth in Pickwick Lake. The world-record smallmouth will probably be caught in the Tennessee River channel on a 3/4-ounce Strike King spinner bait in March.
To learn more about fishing below the dam at Pickwick, contact the Hardin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at email@example.com, call 731-925-8181 or 800-552-3866, or visit www.tourhardincounty.org. 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.
You can learn more about Strike King Lures by going to www.strikeking.com.
For information about Pickwick Lake, contact Hardin County