Pickwick Reservoir in Tennessee
Pickwick Reservoir (43,100 acres) is a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) mainstream reservoir and water levels fluctuate between 414.0 mean feet above sea level (full pool- summer) and 408 MSL (winter pool) The reservoir lies within the state of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi with approximately 6,159 acres in Tennessee. Pickwick Reservoir is a deep-sided reservoir in Tennessee and the maximum depth is 85-feet. The reservoir within Tennessee lies in Hardin County and the major embayments include a small portion of Yellow Creek, Winn Springs, Dry Creek, and the embayment within Pickwick Landing State Park.
Major sport species harvested by anglers include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and catfish (three species). A reciprocal agreement exists between all three states that include all impounded water from Pickwick Dam upstream to Tennessee River Mile 224.8 at the mouth of Bear Creek but does not include Bear Creek and does not include the portion of Yellow Creek above Hwy. 25 Bridge. The angler must abide by the regulations of the state in whose waters they are fishing.
Deepwater fish attractors have been constructed and installed to concentrate fish for anglers. Recently, a transition to artificial structures has occurred which include the following designs:
Deep-water sites are marked with a buoy and are refurbished on a consistent basis to maintain effectiveness.
BEST BETS: Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, Sunfish, Catfish CONTACT INFORMATION: TWRA Region I Office: 731-423–5725 Pickwick Landing State Park: 731–689-3129
- Largemouth/Smallmouth/Spotted Bass: 5 per day in combination.
- Largemouth Bass: 15 inch minimum length limit.
- Smallmouth Bass: 15 inch minimum length limit.
- Spotted Bass: no length limit.
- Crappie (all species): 30 per day in combination, 9 inch minimum length limit
- Catfish (all species): No creel limit for fish 34 inches and less in length; only one fish over 34 inches in length may be harvested per day.
- Striped Bass or Hybrid Striped Bass: 2 per day in combination, 15 inch minimum length limit.
- White Bass: 15 per day, no length limit.
- Yellow Bass: no creel or length limit.
- Walleye: 5 per day, 16 inch minimum length limit.
- Sauger: 10 per day, 15 inch minimum length limit.
- Paddlefish: 2 per day; season is open from April 24 through May 31. Culling is prohibited.
- Redear Sunfish: 20 per day, no length limit.
- Bluegill/Warmouth and other sunfishes: no creel or length limit.
Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass are abundant in Pickwick Reservoir and make up most of the Black Bass fishery. Spotted Bass are present but are not at densities to be actively sought by anglers. Black bass prefers some type of cover along the shoreline or suspend off the ledge drops in Pickwick Reservoir. The average weight of angler harvested Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass has exceeded 2.6 and 2.2 pounds respectively during the last ten years. The daily creel limit for all three species is five in any combination with a minimum length limit of 15 inches on Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass; there is no length limit on Spotted Bass.
Smallmouth bass fishing in Pickwick Reservoir has produced trophy smallies for years and rivals Dale Hollow for sizes of fish caught. Smallmouth fishing takes patience and a good familiarity with the lake – this is where a good sonar system and topo map come in handy. Since smallmouth generally inhabit deeper water, it is difficult to develop a fishing pattern. Sometimes an angler will have to stay on the move to find where smallmouth bass is hanging out. Night fishing for smallmouth bass is a popular technique on the lake during the warmer months.
Smallmouth Bass: Smallmouth Bass will usually go shallow in March preparing to spawn but depths can vary. Many anglers use Rat-L-Traps, spinnerbaits, or shad mimicking baits such as a Sassy shad. Deep points or ledges that drop to deep water are also popular areas to fish after the spawn. Jigs with curly tail bait are popular when the water warms. Popular areas are the shoreline behind the islands upstream of Dry Creek and some of the deeper embayments on the north shoreline near the dam.
Largemouth Bass: Bass fishing is successful year-round and fish location can vary depending upon water temperature and depth. Bass prefer areas with rock banks, ledges, natural habitat, and channel drops. Baits used include deep diving crankbaits (colors include blue and yellow or shad mimicking, like the Tennessee Shad), Alabama rig, spoons, artificial worms, and Carolina rigged jigs around ½ oz. in weight. Other lure colors include dark green, black, orange, red, and crawfish. Popular areas include the mouth of Dry Creek along the rock walls, Winn Springs and Pompey Branch,
Bluegill and Redear Sunfish are the two most sought sunfish species in Pickwick Reservoir. which has several different species of sunfish making this family of sport fish the most abundant in the reservoir. Sunfish prefer cover in various depths and make beds on flats during the spawning season. The average weight of angler harvested Bluegill and Redear Sunfish in the last ten years is 0.33 pounds and 0.52 pounds respectively. The daily creel limit for Redear Sunfish is twenty with no length limit. Bluegill and other sunfish species do not have a creel or length limit.
April to June are the prime months to target Sunfish. Preferred bedding areas are in shallower water around thick brush in the water or on large flats. Baits include jig heads using crickets or worms. Other setups include a split shot and small hook using wax worms, ¼ oz. jig heads drug along the bottom, or a small spinner using plastic grubs. The back of Dry Creek and Winn Springs embayments are popular areas.
Although Channel, Blue, and Flathead Catfish are abundant in Pickwick Reservoir, Blue Catfish are the most harvested by sport anglers. Catfish are usually caught by anglers in the main river channel when the flow is present. Average weights vary by species and there is no creel limit on any species less than 34 inches in length. Only one fish over 34 inches can be harvested/day/angler.
Catfish fishing is good year-round. Targeted areas range from 15- to 60-feet of water depending upon water temperature and flow. The bite is better during slow to medium flows compared to higher flow rates. Preferred baits include chicken liver, cut bait (Shad or Skipjack), shrimp, nightcrawlers, shiners, and Kool-Aid soaked chicken (flavors vary). Bait size will determine the size of fish caught. Jug fishing on the mudflats off the main channel is also a popular method.