Posted by Shad Lips on October 16, 2002 at 20:46:40:
I got home today after a 5 day excursion below Wilson and Wheeler Dams. I was amazed at the number of folks who were fishing tournaments and pre-fishing for upcoming tournaments. Lots of people like me out fishing just for fun too. I would have had much more fun if the smallmouth were biting better.
Between the cold fronts coming through and the wind and rain that came along with it, I had a tough time of finding any decent smallmouth that were willing to bite. TVA did not generate much over the weekend or on the Monday holiday which made for tougher fishing. The water temperatures were at 72.5 degrees last Saturday and had dropped to 69.7 degrees by this morning. I guess it was still too warm for smallmouth to migrate to the tailraces in great numbers and I only managed to catch smallmouth less than 1.25 pounds. I found plenty of better largemouth and spotted bass along Seven Mile Island and the steam plant that were willing to bite both artificials and live bait. When TVA would quit generating and the water would start falling the largemouth and spots would start a feeding frenzy over the submerged downstream portion of the rockpiles as well as the stumpy flats at the tail end of Seven Mile Island. I was able to follow the falling water downstream to catch dozens of 1-4 pound schoolies on points, cuts, stummps, and chunk rock.
The drum and catfish were more than willing to bite the entire trip. Most catfish were from 1.5 - 3.5 pounds with the largest weighing about 7 pounds. I must have given away well over 100 pounds of catfish to bank fishermen. I caught mostly channel cats but managed a few blues and flatheads as well. They bit threadfin shad fished from 3-8 feet deep under a slip float from the powerhouse to several miles downstream. Fishing along the rockpiles on Pickwick produced the most consistant catfish bite. Fishing in the main current anywhere below Wheeler Dam would catch them.
Finding shad for bait was no problem below either Wheeler or Wilson Dams. I used live baits from 2" up to 5" with the smaller ones catching all of my bass and the larger ones catching catfish and drum exclusively. I even caught some creek minnows (fall fish) in my cast net and managed to catch a mixed bag with them as well. I brought home a few dozen to see if the bass below Guntersville Dam will be interested in a little variety in their diet. Good Luck!
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