Pickwick Lake

Florence, Alabama

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Short Take: 47,500 acres; primarily flooded river with points, gravel bars, stump flats, islands, small tributaries. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that when Pickwick Lake was impounded in the 1930s, no one dreamed it would become a world-famous smallmouth bass fishery. Famous is hardly the proper word to describe what this lake was like between the late 1960s and early 1990s; staggering is probably more accurate. During those halcyon years, anglers caught smallmouth bass in the 6- to 8-pound range regularly, sometimes several in a single day. A number of fishermen, including well-known television fishing personality Bill Dance, have hooked but lost world-record fish they saw and estimated to weigh more than 12 pounds. “I had found a school of smallmouth that were feeding on shad blown up against a rocky bluff,” remembers Dance. “I was sculling a flat-bottom johnboat, and I caught several fish on a topwater plug. Then this giant smallmouth hit, jumped five times all around the boat, and finally pulled both treble hooks out of my lure.” Today, this Tennessee River impoundment still produces good smallmouth action, and fair largemouth fishing, as well. Truly big fish are not caught as often, but for consistent mid-size smallmouth action, spiced with an occasional giant, Pickwick remains one of the better destinations in the South.

Pickwick Lake Professional Review and Guide

"Short Take: 47,500 acres; primarily flooded river with points, gravel bars, stump flats, islands, small tributaries. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that when Pickwick Lake was impounded in the 1930s, no one dreamed it would become a world-famous smallmouth bass fishery. Famous is hardly the proper word to describe what this lake was like between the late 1960s and early 1990s; staggering is probably more accurate. During those halcyon years, anglers caught smallmouth bass in the 6- to 8-pound range regularly, sometimes several in a single day.

A number of fishermen, including well-known television fishing personality Bill Dance, have hooked but lost world-record fish they saw and estimated to weigh more than 12 pounds. “I had found a school of smallmouth that were feeding on shad blown up against a rocky bluff,” remembers Dance. “I was sculling a flat-bottom johnboat, and I caught several fish on a topwater plug. Then this giant smallmouth hit, jumped five times all around the boat, and finally pulled both treble hooks out of my lure.” Today, this Tennessee River impoundment still produces good smallmouth action, and fair largemouth fishing, as well. Truly big fish are not caught as often, but for consistent mid-size smallmouth action, spiced with an occasional giant, Pickwick remains one of the better destinations in the South."

Activity Type: Fishing
Nearby City: Florence
Season & Limits: Best April, May, September through November
Local Contacts: Pickwick Dam State Park (TN)
Driving Directions: Directions to Pickwick Lake

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May 2018