November 16, 2014
By Doug Stange
Pickwick Reservoir, Tennessee/Alabama, Blue Catfish
Pickwick is but one of the Tennessee River impoundments flowing from Alabama into Tennessee and Kentucky that holds record-class blue catfish. The largest blue ever recorded from these sections of the river stands at 111 pounds, but there's little doubt that fish surpassing the 150 mark swim there and could at any moment break the 143-pound world record caught at Buggs Island, Virginia, in 2011.
Guntersville, the upper reservoir, flows into Wheeler, which flows into Wilson, which flows into Pickwick. All of these reservoirs fish well for big blue cats all year long, but much of the best winter fishing unfolds in areas that have riverine portions at the upper end of the reservoirs. One famous fishing area is near the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant near Decatur, Alabama, on Wheeler Lake, which is where the 111 was caught, the world record in 1996.
My fishing late last February was on the upper portion of Wheeler, south of Huntsville. Capt. Jason Bridges has guided anglers to blues weighing 101, 95, and 91 pounds. Our first day on the water produced an 85 pounder for me, my personal best, along with another fish weighing 60 pounds. Big fish are always released, but smaller blues weighing less than 10 pounds are caught most days and can be kept for delicious meals.
Contact: Capt. Jason Bridges, 256/738-9461, wheelercatsguideservice.com; Capt. Phil King, 662/286-8644; Search the Internet for other guides on the various reservoirs. Huntsville or Decatur have plenty of lodging options for fishing on Wheeler.