I made a spur of the moment fishing trip yesterday on Pickwick Lake as I was hearing about all the big fish that are being caught right now. The weather was pretty nice with the low in the morning at 41* and a high of around 58*. There were very few clouds in the sky and the wind shifted during the day. The wind was blowing out of the north when I started but shifted out of the WNW as the day progressed. The water was very muddy as TVA was running current through the lakes at about 245,000 cfs, we have had a lot of rain this past week. The water temperature was 57* to 58* in the area I was fishing.The key for me was to find clear water running into the lake mixing with the muddy water. These areas seemed to be holding the shad in the shallow warm water. I did notice several time shad flicking on top and if I threw to those areas I would either get a bite or catch a fish.
The best lures for me were two primary lures one was a Squarebill 1.5 crankbait in my Hunger Pang pattern and the other was a Rattle Trap I painted in the Dark Crystal Craw pattern. I fished these two lures about 95 percent of the day. I did catch one fish on each of the following , an 1/8 ounce shaky-head with a Zoom Green Pumpkin Trick Worm and one on a Texas rigged Vibe tail Speed worm. I had a couple hit a spinnerbait but did not hook either one even though I had a trailer hook on it.BER Custom Lure Painting – Hunger Pang.BER Custom Lure Painting – Dark Crystal Craw
I ended up catching a total of 27 bass with most of them in the 15″ range. My best bass pushed 5 pounds. Overall it was good day of fishing since this is the first trip out since the first week of December from last year.
Check out this video I did of the spawning process of the Pumpkinseed sunfish in my 125 gallon aquarium. I have figured out no matter what time of the year it is, once the water temperature gets around 72* to 75* the bluegill will try to spawn. The female can lay up to a 1000 eggs during the spawning process.
These are a couple of patterns I did in the SB-125 lure body I can get or have on hand. This is an amazing walking bait that really has a great side to side walk that can almost be walked in place. If interested in these lures contact me through my webpage. Contact
While doing a little research at the library this week I ran across some history about Pickwick and the canal systems.
Before TVA took over the operations of the Tennessee River there were canals all up and down the river from Florence because of the Mussel Shoals also called Muscle Shoals. These were not navigational sections of the river because of the low water over these rocks and the rapid descent of this portion of the river.
After the dam was built and the shoals inundated there were a series of canals that were built up to Wilson Dam. When the original two stage lock was built the original canal shown in light blue below was used to get to the locks. But after the start of construction on the new larger single lift lock the canal was rerouted up to the original lock.
In the above photo you can see the all three canals that were used during the new lock construction. The canal colored yellow above is now closed on both ends and is in the middle of Patton Island. The one in blue is now the location of the Florence Port or what we called Fuzzy Feeds canal.In the above photo you can see where the canals were dammed off and the other canals rerouted.Here you can see a photo of all three of the canals in this aerial view photo. You can also see the construction of the new larger and longer single lift lock.
In this photo you can see where Dam #1 was located and also the new existing canal. If you notice you can see the old swing railroad bridge that was used for the trains crossing the river into Florence from Colbert County.
In this photo you can see that the Dam #1 was removed and the existing lift canal is still in place.
In this final photo you can see that the swing bridge was replaced with the lift bridge for the railroads. This bridge was also removed and all railroad traffic was stopped crossing the river into Florence.
In this blog I’ll give you a little history about the locks at Wheeler Dam located on the Tennessee River.
This a photo of Lock #2 which is located above Wheeler Dam, which was part of the original canal system that ran from lock #1 at the mouth of First Creek all the way to the Riverton Lock at Waterloo. The above lock at the mouth of Second Creek is now under about 40’ feet of water.
Located two miles above Wheeler Dam, now submerged in about 45′ of water.
The lock is located about 50 yards out from the mouth of first Creek in about 45 feet of water. The GPS coordinates if you would like to look at it with your Side Image or Down Image units is N034.48.734 – W087.20.799.
The original lock at Wheeler Dam was started about 6 months prior to the forming of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933. The project was completed in 1936 and stood until the collapse in 1961.
In this photo you can see an old paddle boat going through the lock at Wheeler dam.
Collapse – June 2, 1961
History – Back in 1961 the original lock at Wheeler Dam had a structural failure. The side wall collapsed killing two people. The Corp of Engineers was in the process of constructing the new larger lift lock that is now in place. There was almost daily blasting to remove the side walls and to get down to the bedrock. Almost immediately after the failure the Corp got into high gear as all barge traffic on the Tennessee River came to a halt.In this photo you can see where the wall collapsed and you can also see where water from Wheeler Lake is rushing in through the lift gate. There was also flooding into the construction area where the Corps of Engineers were blasting for the new lift lock.
In this aerial view that was taken 5 weeks later you can see the full damage side wall collapse.
During construction some barge traffic was continued as you can see in this photo by unloading from below the dam onto barges on the up river side of the dam. This is a grain barge unloading it’s cargo of about forty five feet.
Photo of the down river view entering the new lock at Wheeler Dam, you can see the old original lock on the right after repairs.
Do you fish braided line with a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader? The Albright Knot is one of the best for this but to me was a hard knot to tie. I made a simple jig for tying this knot that I keep in my boat. You can make your own jig or modify it anyway you want to but this one works great for me and is very simple to make. Here is a video of the jig and how I tie the Albright Knot.
If you love to catch and eat crappie you might want to try this way of cooking them. there is very little mess and my favorite way to cook them now. I love fried crappie by I seldom fry them now unless I’m cooking them for my friends or family gatherings.
Ingredients you will need:
Cajun Injector: Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Cajun Injector: Cajun Shake
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Morton’s Lite Salt
Go ahead and pre-heat your gas grill to 400*.
Take your crappie fillets and pat them dry with a paper towel and lay them on piece of aluminum oil as in the photo below.
Take the Cajun Shake seasoning and coat the fillets with a very heavy coat of seasoning.
Turn over the fillets and sprinkle on a little of Morton’s Lite salt. Then dribble on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Now cover the fillets with a very heavy coat of Cajun Injector Lemon Pepper seasoning. I don’t think you could add too much.
Now take a second piece of aluminum foil and place on top of fillets and double fold the sides to form a sealed pouch.
Place on grill for 5 minutes then flip over and grill on other side for 3 minutes. The pouch will swell up as the cooking steams and grills the fish. Take off grill and carefully unfold the aluminum foil be careful as it will be hot. The crappie fillets will fall apart as the fish of a crappie is very delicate.
Serve with the condiments you like and enjoy. I usually on eat the crappie but you could do fries, Tater Tot’s or sometimes I roast potatoes in the oven to serve with them. The only mess is the aluminum foil just throw it away.
When you’re out on the water scanning with your down image you have the options of using the 455 kHz or 800 kHz setting on my Humminbird Onix. In the photos I’ll show you what you are missing if you are not using the correct setting. When you are in deep water you need different setting than when you are in shallow water. With the Humminbird Onix the 455 kHz setting is using two 86 kHz beams at once which covers 172 degrees. While the 800 kHz setting use two 55 degree beams that only cover 110 degrees total. So you can see that the narrower beam does not reach out as far as the wider 455 kHz setting.
With the 2D or sonar beam you have a choice of either the 20 degree or the 83 degree cone or a combination of both. You need to remember that with the 2D sonar cone set to 20 degrees you are only scanning 1/3 the depth of the water. In other words if you are in say 9 feet of water you are only looking at a 3 foot circle under your boat. With the 83 degree setting you are covering an equal area to your depth. If you are still in the 9 foot of water you are scanning a 9 foot circle under your boat. For the best scanning I’d suggest you a combination of both the 20 cone and the 83 degree cone.
Now let’s look at the photos a second. The photo above I have the setting set to 455 kHz with a wide beam selected. In this can I am in water that is less than 10 feet deep and you can see I can scan a very wide area out from my boat.
Now in this photo I have my unit set to 800 kHz with a beam wide setting which only covers 110 degrees out from both sides of the boat. I’m still in about 10 feet of water or less. As you can see you can’t see nearly as much detail as in the photo above set to 455 kHz.
Now let’s look at the down image scan while I’m scanning in water around 30 feet deep in the photo above. I have the unit set to 455 kHz and I’m covering 172 degrees under the boat. The fish by the way are stripe and shad. As you can see there are rocks close to the shore line.
Finally in the above photo I have the unit set to 800 kHz in 30 feet of water and scanning the exact same water and since I have a narrow 110 degree of coverage I can’t see the shoreline or the rocks near the shore. I can still see the stripe and the shad but in this case the 455 kHz gave me more detail than the 800 kHz setting.
Let’s wrap it up, the setting are really up to you and what depth water you are in. If you only have a Down Image unit the beams are different in that your choices are 455 kHz using a 75 degree cone angle and 800 kHz which only gives you a 45 degree cone angle which will not give you as much coverage as the side Image units. One recommendation I suggest is to set the Down Image to 800 kHz and the Side Image to 455 kHz while scanning so you don’t get the cross-talk if the transducer trying to pick them both up at once id you have them set to the same 455 or 800 kHz setting.
Hope this helps you better understand your unit better….