Winter Fishing on Wilson Lake
Reed's Guide Service
When winter arrives anglers flock to Wilson Lake. Rightfully so. This small lake located in North Alabama on the Tennessee River system, has received world renowned fame as the previous world record holder for smallmouth bass. It is my favorite lake in Alabama for trophy smallmouth bass. They don't come easy. I've only fooled two smallmouth bass (after a couple of lengthy, heart pounding battles) both weighing close to 7 pounds each. This is after fishing Guntersville Lake, Wheeler Lake, Wilson Lake and Pickwick Lake for over 30 years.
Many anglers fish these Tennessee River waters and never even see a 6 pounder. Many years ago my father caught an 8 1/2 pound smallmouth bass on Wilson Lake. Between him and my uncle it is said they caught over 100 smallmouth bass exceeding 5 pounds. Now their both fishing together again, in that big bass lake in the heavens.
For anglers still walking this planet, I can say, "We have a little bit of heaven right here on earth" in North Alabama. I can see why my dad and uncle loved fishing these lakes. They fished all of them year round, but it was evident when dad was gone fishing a lot. Winter is the best time to fish for trophy, smallmouth bass on Wilson Lake. From December to early March any angler can have a chance at a world record smallmouth bass. Other than Pickwick Lake located just below Wilson Lake, where else can an angler honestly say, they can have a shot at catching a world record sized smallmouth bass exceeding 10 pounds?
But still, like said, they do not come easy. Even when you find em' you have got to get them in the boat, to consider them captured. Any trophy bass hunter knows, preparation is the key to success. There is no room for error, between fooling a smallmouth bass into hitting your offering and getting it in the boat. My uncle said the 8 1/2 pound smallmouth bass that he witnessed my dad hook into on a jigging spoon, was the jumpiest freshwater fish he had ever seen. When telling the story (every relative we ever had, has sure heard) he never failed to mention how it "jumped head high to a full grown man 5-6 times" and how after a lengthy 5 minute battle, he had nervously netted it.
So how do you have a chance at this world record smallmouth bass? To begin with, preparation is the key to success. Everything honed to perfection, is vital to your success. Or maybe you could just be in that group of anglers that do not come prepared, with the well rehearsed saying, of the one that got away? So be ready, if your seriously after that trophy smallmouth bass this winter on Wilson Lake.
I don't have to go into detail, for every angler knows to prepare the boat, tackle, reels, rods and lures when going fishing. This means reel care; oil each reel, tighten all nuts and screws, tighten reel seats (where it attaches to the rod) and check and adjust each reels drag. Rods can be light tackle outfits or stought equipment, bring several of both. Replace all fishing line generally with 6-10 pound test monofilament on light tackle outfits and always rig a couple of rods with 12-17 pound line. Sharpen or replace all hooks, from worm hooks to trebles. Clean up the boat and arrange all tackle boxes in neat order and get organized. Make sure to tie a good quality knot when rigging each lure.
Ninety percent of all boat trailer problems center around the trailer wheel bearings or bad tires. Check both before either causes a mishap, ruining a well planned fishing trip. Check trailer lights. The boat could be in need of running lights, bilge pumps, aerators, batteries, in need of oil, or the trolling motor cable could break or it could have a bad switch, bring along spares for everything. Worse yet, you could experience outboard motor problems. You could hit an underwater obstacle, so a spare propeller is suggested. Keep in mind to have life jackets for every boat occupant and fishing licenses (of which any Walmart sells) for each will be checked by the water patrol. In addition they will check the boater for boat registration, a good charged fire extinguisher, a throw cushion and creel check. No alcoholic beverages for the boat driver either.
A good, long handled net, is just as important. Many trophy bass have been lost at boatside due to netting error or no net at all. This includes a good net man. One that lets you lead the bass into the net, rather than aiding you in losing the fish of a lifetime by stabbing at it. Maybe even with a little refresher course on netting before hand. Or you could find its time to replace that old net you've had for 20 years.
Lures? Some anglers prefer small minuscule worms, lizards, jigs, spoons, tube baits, crayfish imitations and shad type plastics fished on light tackle outfits now dubbed, finesse fishing. These light tackle outfits and lures are good for bass with small mouths. Even the bigger brown bass species can be very picky when it comes to (meals) lure selection. So with smallmouth bass...small is good. But not all the time.
Always bring along a few rods, shall we say loaded for bear. I've caught smallmouth bass on the same big, gaudy lures largemouth bass are known to prefer, fishing with 15-20 pound test line. Big topwater lures, deep diving crankbaits, 1/2 to 3/4 ounce rattling lipless lures, three hook oversized floating and suspending jerkbaits, are lures never to big to appeal to the voracious appetite of a big smallmouth bass. Even big 1/2 ounce to one ounce spinnerbaits with oversized #7 blades and trailers, gaudy jig combos, 8-10 inch worms, 8 inch lizards, 4-5 inch long plastic crayfish imitations, tube baits 5-7 inches in length and an array of other lures either cranked, swam or drug along the bottom of the lake, will work on occasions.
So come prepared this winter when fishing for smallmouth bass on Wilson Lake not only with various tackle, but lots of it as well. Or call on Reeds Guide Service (205) 787-5133. Passing on generations of angling wisdom for fooling the brown bass of the Tennessee River system.
Thanks be safe and good fishing this winter season!
*NOTE* Always wear your outboard motor kill switch and your life jacket, below dams and when boating, its the law and it could just save your life. Be prepared for any emergency for it can happen to even the safest boater. Dress warm. Bring along a lighter, fire starting material, spare clothes for emergencies and a cell phone. Let others know what lake you are fishing, where you are launching and when to expect you home.
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