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.
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.
In this series of Side Image and Down Image scans I’m scanning an original creek channel in the back of Bear Creek on Pickwick Lake. While scanning I found an interesting object on the lake bottom.
This one will be of Objects Found.
Take a look at this side scan and see what you can find before looking at the photo below. As I showed you in the last Blog on Bottom Composition you can see the darker colors are a soft bottom in this case the original creek channel. And the brighter color is of the harder bottom composition. The shadows next to the objects lets you determine the height of the object on the lake bottom.
Photo 2 below…….
Now that you’ve had a chance to find the objects I’ll point out what you should have found. (1) is a false return as I was making a sharp turn with my boat so disregard it. (2) is a sunken tree top that either was placed there by another fisherman or washed into the creek and sank on its on. (3) is a very large stump that you can tell by the shadow it casts. (4) Finally as you can tell this is an old sunken boat. It looks to be a flat bottom boat without an outboard engine attached. The GPS coordinates of the area if you want to look at the objects to learn your unit is as follows.
In this series of Side Image and Down Image scans on my Blog I’m trying and teach you what you are looking at while scanning with your Side Image and Down Image. This one will be of bottom composition.
If you notice the dark color in the screen shot is a mud or muck bottom. The sonar signal is absorbed in the soft material where the hard bottom in this case gravel and rock is hard and the sonar signal returns very quickly thus a brighter color on your screen.
I thought I’d start posting a few more photos from my Humminbird Onix Side Image units to show you what you should be seeing from the side scans. In this one I show you a small cut in the back of a larger creek arm that shows a a small creek channel leading out to the main creek arm.
I had a chance to get out on Pickwick Lake yesterday and do a little fishing and side image recording with my Humminbird Onix 10 SI Cross Touch. While i was scanning in the back of Bear Creek I scanned these old railroad tracks. These tracks are part of the construction of the old canal system that starts t the mouth of First Creek on Wheeler Lake and runs all the way to Waterloo, Alabama. If you want to scan the tracks for yourself I posted the GPS coordinates on the photo.
You can see the train the used the tracks now located under Pickwick Lake.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Historical Photo: This is a graveling crane and stone yard at Riverson, Ala., which is supporting the Colbert Shoals Canal project Nov. 8, 1895.
Here is a drawing of the canal lock that is submerged under Pickwick Lake that is across the river from Waterloo.
Construction of the Riverton canal, as you can see there was a lot of manual labor involved in the construction.
Setting the stones used in the construction of the lock. Most of the stones were cut from quarries up and down the Tennessee River. Keller quarry was one such place and you can still see some of the cut stones located there to this day.
Stones set in place as part of the Riverton canal.
Upriver entrance going into the entrance of the Riverton lock.
Down river gate exiting from the Riverton lock.
Humminbird Onix Side Image scan of the old Riverton Lock.
If you want to take a look at the lock with your Side and down Image units here is the GPS coordinates: N34.53.851 – W088.04.048 enjoy.