Where and How to Catch Fish in August and Early September
with Roger Stegall at Pickwick Lake
Note: Roger Stegall, the owner and operator of Roger
Stegall’s Professional Guide Service on Pickwick
Lake, which makes up the boundary of Tennessee, Mississippi
and Alabama, has fished Pickwick Lake for 32 years and
guided on the lake for 22 years. Unlike many guides,
Stegall will help you find and catch any species of
fish. He’s just as comfortable running a trotline
and catching catfish as he is guiding his clients to
smallmouth that weigh over 5-pounds each. He can put
you on a limit of white bass or show you where and how
to catch the biggest largemouth you’ve ever hooked.
You pick the species, and Stegall will locate the fish
and show you how to catch it.
Question: Roger, most people don’t think about
catching trophy smallmouth during the Dog Days of summer.
How do you find and catch them?
Stegall: To locate and take big smallmouths on Pickwick
Lake in August when the daytime air temperature is 100
degrees, look for shell bottoms to locate smallmouths,
and then search for smallmouths in more-shallow water
than normal. Many of the smallmouths I catch at this
time of year will be holding in 8 to 12 feet of water.
The smallmouths may be as much as 100-yards away from
a drop-off that drops into 20 or 30 feet of water. To
find the shell bottoms, use a Carolina rig and drag
the lead across the bottom. You’ll feel the lead
come in contact with the shells.
Question: Why are the smallmouths in that shallow water
during extremely-hot weather, instead of the deeper,
Stegall: The smallmouths move up to the shallow water
to feed on crawfish. In the hot-weather months, deep
water generally has an oxygen deficit. Therefore, many
of the fish that normally will be holding in deep water
because it’s cooler move up to more-shallow water.
Although the water’s warmer, there’s more
oxygen there than in their deeper haunts. The crawfish
and the shad will be moving back to shallow water because
they need oxygen to survive. When the night starts getting
longer, and the days become shorter, all fish will move
back to shallow water.
Question: The Tennessee River is known for having a
lot of current. How critical is having the current running
where you’re smallmouth fishing at this time of
Stegall: In August and early September, when the weather’s
really hot, having current is productive at producing
quality smallmouth bites. At this time of year, we’ll
have much-more current than usual because the hydroelectric
plants have to run more during hot weather than cooler
weather. Therefore, they force more current
through the lake, which make those smallmouths bite
Question: How will you catch the big smallmouths now?
Stegall: This month, we’ll catch numbers of smallmouths
in the 4- to 6-pound range. August may not be the best
month for smallmouths, but it is a productive month.
At this time of year, I’ll be fishing a Carolina
rig with Strike King’s new Rage Anaconda or the
Strike King 3X Grub. One lure that’s been really
hot this year for me is the new Strike King Rage Craw.
Question: What color Rage Craw do you prefer?
Stegall: The green pumpkin and the watermelon red have
been producing well for me.
Question: How long is the leader you use on your Carolina
Stegall: At this time of year, I like a 4-1/2- to a
5-foot leader with a 3/4-ounce weight above my barrel
Question: What size leader and main line do you use?
Stegall: My leader will be 10-pound-test line, and my
main line will be 20-pound-test line.
Question: Where do you fish this Carolina rig?
Stegall: Generally I’m fishing on shell bottoms
or around any type of structure in the 8- to 12-foot
range where I know the smallmouths are holding. I really
prefer to fish the Carolina rig around brush piles,
stumps or rocks on the bottom. When current’s
being generated through the lake, I search for current
breaks on the main river in 8 to 12 feet of water. You’ll
find places like this often where you’ll locate
an underwater creek entering the underwater river channel.
You’ll often find little ditches or submerged
Indian mounds where you’ll locate current coming
across the bottom in 8 to 12 feet of water. Any place
where you find a current break like this, you’ll
discover big smallmouths. We’ve had a tremendous
shad spawn at Pickwick this year and we’ve been
catching some really big, healthy smallmouth. I’ve
caught big, fat, healthy smallmouth this month that
look like they’ve never had hooks in them.
Question: What other lures do you use to catch smallmouths
at this time of year?
Stegall: I’ve been doing really well with either
the 1/4- or the 1/16-ounce shaky-head jig with the Strike
King brown or green-pumpkin Finesse Worm. The watermelon
red and the pumpkin red also have been productive colors
for me this year. I’m fishing the shaky-head jig
on spinning tackle with either 6- or 8-pound-test line
around stumps, rock piles and brush piles where I normally
fish the Carolina rig. At daylight, when I’m fishing
the pea-gravel banks, I’ll be fishing a Spit-N-King
or a spook-type bait. Most of the time when that Spit-N-King
starts flashing water over those gravel beds, the smallmouths
can’t stand it. They have to come up and eat the
bait. Although I mostly fish a shad-colored Spit-N-King,
on some days, a bright color, like chartreuse or white,
will really turn on the smallmouth bite.
To fish with Roger Stegall at Roger Stegall’s
Guide Service or learn more about the fish at Pickwick
Lake, call him at 662-433-3869, or visit www.fishpickwick.com,
or email email@example.com.
For more information on staying at Pickwick Landing
State Park on Pickwick Lake, contact the Hardin County
Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org,
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.
Tomorrow: Don’t Forget
the White Bass