Timmy Horton’s tips for Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake in northwest Alabama belies the notion that all good things must come to an end. Completed in 1938, the bass fishing in this storied 47,500-acre Tennessee River reservoir is better than ever.

Bassmaster Elite Series tournament angler Timmy Horton was a fishing guide at Pickwick before he became one of the top bass pros in the country. He still fishes Pickwick often and is astounded by what the lake is producing.

“Last spring you had to have 30 pounds to have a shot at winning any bass tournament here,” Horton says. “A 20-pound limit no longer gives you bragging rights at Pickwick.”

Electrofishing by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources found that Pickwick’s largemouth bass were fatter than bass from other Alabama reservoirs in 2008. That was a harbinger of better things to come.

The Alabama Bass Anglers Information Team (BAIT), which has been gathering information on Alabama’s bass populations for 26 years, reported this:

“The lake that has shown the most improvement in recent years is unquestionably Pickwick, which has shown drastic improvements since 2006. This reservoir had the highest percent success (97 percent) and accounted for nearly 50 percent of all bass over 5 pounds caught in Alabama during 2011. Of all bass over 8 pounds caught in Alabama during 2011, 86 percent of them came from Pickwick.”

Stay put for a few minutes before you bolt out the door on the way to Pickwick. Horton has some sound advice on how to catch the lake’s heavyweight largemouth and smallmouth bass in autumn.

“If there’s a lot of current, the largemouth will be feeding up on the main river,” Horton says. “If the current is slack, they’ll be in the backs of the creeks.”

A shallow-running Bomber 4A crankbait scores big for Horton when he’s in the creeks. Should he see any surface feeding action, he picks off the bass with a Heddon Zara Spook.

Horton keeps the Spook tied on when the bass are feeding on the main lake. He also dotes on the Chug’n Spook, which throws more water.

“The last few years, there’s been a lot of hydrilla at Pickwick,” Horton says. “That has kept the largemouth on the main river, more so than in years past.”