The white bass, or stripe, is one of the most abundant game fish species below Pickwick Dam

Pickwick’s Piscatorial Pleasures

I love it when the Tennessee River is flowing fast and Pickwick Dam’s generators are cranking out their electric juices for TVA communities. Piles of litter and logs collect in front of the dam creating a large debris field. Although it appears unsightly, this collection swirled from the upstream banks and creeks sets up a haven for baitfish. Those baitfish form a food line of piscatorial delights for their predators and those predators become my prey. In other words, it makes for some good fishing!

I was first alerted to this terrific fishing phenomenon by outdoor writer Stan Warren of Bethel Springs. We stayed at Pickwick Landing State Park for a couple of days awaiting the growth of the debris field.

Once it formed, we caught largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, stripers and white bass. Stan casted a Mann’s Shadow to imitate a dying shad. I casted a 1/4-ounce jig with a white curly tail grub that looked like a lively shad trying to escape Mr. Jaws. Energetic or not we had a load of fun pulling in fish.

One winter, I landed a 30-plus-pound blue cat when I was with Phil King from Corinth, Miss. He uses skip jack for bait – a blue cat’s favorite food. He caught two cats that were heavier than mine. But wrestling in a little old 30-pounder wears out the angler too.

Phil King is a tournament champion when it comes to catching catfish. This blue cat weighed more than 30 pounds.

On a fishing trip with Doug Markham we fished below the dam to haul in stripers and catfish on almost every cast. On other trips I catch sauger and stripe. There’s always something biting at Pickwick. It’s not Bill Dance’s favorite lake for nothing.

The History Behind the Park 

Pickwick Landing began as a riverboat stop back in the 1840s and a century later the site was chosen for a dam by TVA. In 1969, Tennessee bought 681 acres from TVA to build a state park, which offers golfing, a three-mile hiking trail, picnicking, indoor swimming, and two public launching ramps.

The marina currently has 191 wet slips, slips for dry boat storage, 46 sailboat slips, and 35 transient slips. There is no charge for temporary docking, but for transient (overnight) docking you’ll have to pay up.

I recommend the catfish served in the Inn’s restaurant. That’s not the only place to get superbly fried cats, but I’ll save that for a later blog.

You can get more info about the park here.

Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I...Read on


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