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Joel Tuck .
I have just returned from a fantastic sauger fishing trip on Kentucky
Lake. I was joined by my two of my best friends, and favorite fishing
partners. We enjoyed one of the best trips we have ever had. We were
fishing from the Pickwick Landing area on Kentucky Lake, and launched
our boat at the state park public boat ramp just below Pickwick dam.
This location has had several articles written about the excellent
sauger fishery that exists. Most recently in the Walleye In-Sider,
one of the top locations to fish for sauger during this time of year
Before I proceed any further with this fishing report, I would like
give credit to both of my fishing companions. They made this trip
entertaining, and contributed to our success with their wisdom and
WATER - CLEAR
SURFACE TEMP. - 43 DEGREES
AIR TEMP - 19 TO 35 DEGREES
WATER DEPTH - 20 TO 32 FEET
TVA DAM DISCHARGE RATE & TURBINE OPERATION:
MORNING - STRONG
MID-DAY - MILD
LATE AFTERNOON - STRONG
5/8 TO 1 1/4 OZ. HAIR JIGS (Banana, Erie & Wedgehead with stinger
LIVEBAIT USED: 3 TO 4 INCH SHINERS
We started fishing Wednesday morning near the Pickwick dam shortwall
that separates the turbines, and the flood gates. We were fishing along
the floodgate side along the shortwall, just out from the wall at the
edge of the current. The first sauger was caught within 5 minutes,
it was a very heavy 16 inch fish. The action was very slow during
mid-day near the shortwall, so we decided to take the trolling motor,
and work our way down the floodgates vertical jigging with thumper
This did not produce any fish, so we continued to move to common
structure that attracts sauger near a dam, such as current breaks and
We finally located some sauger near the large barge pillars close to
locks. We used a controlled drift while fishing the area that separates
the two locks. The current is kind of strong around the barge pillars,
and the area has scattered holes that offer the sauger current breaks.
What was so impressive was the fish we were catching were not small
fish. We only boated a couple of 14 inch fish on Wednesday, and we
no fish that small in our livewell for Thursday. All of these fish
at least 15 inches in length with the majority of fish 16 inches and
larger. Our largest sauger was 18 1/2 inches, but this was a very heavy
Typically, late afternoon offers excellent fishing near the dam
shortwall. This proved to be our best location, with sauger very active
after 3:30 pm until dark.. There were times when all 3 of us had a
on at the same time.
Thursday morning we enjoyed some success fishing along the lock wall
near the corner of the floodgates. However, this is where we caught
majority of smaller fish. Our best location Thursday was fishing near
the barge pillars again. Boat control was slightly more complicated
times because of strong winds.
Watch for sauger to really turn on with approaching weather fronts.
possible try to target them a couple of days before the front arrives.
Excellent sauger fishing should continue throughout February. A few
sauger will spawn late, and provide some decent fishing on through
first couple of weeks in March along the lower Tennessee river.
We ended our trip just a little earlier than normal due to the
approaching storm system. This storm is supposed to be a major winter
storm for most the south.
We joked with one another about good old boys from down south needing
ice picks just to launch our boat. Ironically, this was not to far
the truth this trip. The problem we feared most was the boat ramp
freezing, thus making loading, and unloading a boat hazardous. However,
this was not a problem, in fact there was no more then 3 or 4 boats
fishing on both days. We did have some trouble with our rod tips
freezing, and the livewell hatch was a pain to open at times. I'm sure
some of the your northern walleye fishermen are getting a kick out
this part of my report.
In total we caught over 30 sauger on Wednesday, and a dozen Thursday
morning. We ended up keeping 19 or 20 fish for a future fish fry. I
to tell you that I don't think that there's anything better then a
old southern fish fry when it's cornmeal battered, deep fat fried sauger
fillets. Top that off with some southern style hushpuppy's, coleslaw,
and fries for one heck of a meal.
That's the report for now. I'm trying to stay warm as the snow has
already started falling here now. Until next time y'all keep your hooks
sharp, and your lines tight.
Joel Tuck a.k.a. Mr. Sauger
This is my latest fishing report. 11-29-99
It's time to update the sauger and walleye fishing report from the"Dixie".
So sit back and enjoy some southern eXposure! This report cover two locations
Wheeler lake on the Tennessee river and Bankhead lake on the Warrior river.
WEDNESDAY: November 24th
LOCATION: Wheeler lake on the Tennessee river sauger fishing below Guntersville
dam. We decided to try our luck again for sauger and we had a great day
on the river. The front that has dropped snow and rain across the mountain
and plain states was moving our way. Bringing some
much needed rain for our area. The pending front also turned on the
sauger and we caught 32 fish. However, we released all of the fish that
we caught on this trip, as we have plenty of sauger fillets in our freezer's
The big difference about this trip from our previous trips is where
we caught most of our fish. The surface air temperature was low seventies
and the water temperature is still holding at 58 degrees. We did fish the
"short wall" but with only limited success. After about an hours time,
I had caught 5 sauger and my fishing partner had caught 2 white bass. Again,
we were jigging with thumper jigs, but this time I was using a 1 ounce
jig instead of a 5/8 or 3/4 ounce jig.
We moved down to the mouth of the first creek below the dam just above
the first bluff to try our luck there. We had a mild current flow and so
I opted for a 2 ounce bottom bouncer with a chartreuse minnow spinner harness
as well as continuing to use a thumper jig. We started fishing
in about 18 feet of water drifting downstream and through a 30 foot
deep hole. The action was fast and exciting. This was our best day fishing
in this location as the sauger begin to stack up below the dam. We did
not fail to catch something on each pass we made. In fact we had multiple
catches of multi-species of fish.
This fast paced action continued until the wind began to blow very
strong and the skies became very cloudy. We could tell that the rain was
about to begin. We ended our day fishing just a little earlier then normal
due to the weather. The rain started as soon as we sat down in my
truck after loading the boat back upon its trailer.
This past week we noticed more and more fishermen on the water. It
seems the word is out that the sauger have started moving in below the
dams along the Tennessee river. I was talking to one of the clerks at Ken's
Bait Too Tackle store on Alabama highway 69 in Guntersville. This clerk
said that the sauger had not really turned on yet, upon the main lake.
I plan on fishing on the main lake soon so we will see if he is right.
TUESDAY: November 23rd
LOCATION: Walleye fishing on Bankhead lake on the Warrior river. We
decided to try and chase down some of the native genetically separate southern
strain walleye on the upper end of the warrior river. This area produces
some nice "eyes" starting in the late fall throughout the winter and into
the early spring. The walleye population is not extremely large, however
it is self sustaining. At present there is not a stocking program for walleye
in Alabama, and most of the walleye that are taken in the state are caught
We launched at 7:00 am at the U.S. highway 78 public boat ramp just
southeast of Jasper, Alabama. The surface air temperature was in the mid
sixties and the surface water temperature was a cool 55 degrees. As the
day wore on the surface water temperature climbed up to 58 degrees.
The area we concentrated in is where the Sipsey river and Mulberry
fork of the Warrior river merge. This upper section of Bankhead lake is
a ravine area of the reservoir. The water flowing into Bankhead lake from
the Sipsey river is very cool, and the state of Alabama has a rainbow
trout stocking program for this area that is a favorite for local fly
We covered miles of water searching for "old marble eyes" by trolling
shad imitator crankbaits, bottom bouncers and by jigging, but we only managed
to catch a few spotted bass. This area seems to produce best just a little
later on during the months of January through March. We were in hopes of
finding a few "eyes" in their spawning migration near the cooler water
at the mouth of the Sipsey river. The trip was entertaining and we vowed
to return soon and try our luck again.
The area in which we fished is loaded with flooded timber and "blow
downs" It will take a toll on your tackle including "weedless jigs". If
you like fishing timber and blown downs then this is the place for you...lol.
The fish tend to hold very tight to the timber now, and you must find a
way to entice them out of their ambush points. A little later on the walleye
will be located out in more open water and prove to be much easier to catch.
Most of the walleye taken from this area have been caught using jigs.
THURSDAY: November 18th
LOCATION: We fished below Guntersville dam on Wheeler lake on the Tennessee
river. The surface air temperature was in the mid-seventies and the surface
water temperature was 58 degrees. We arrived at approximately 7:00 am again
launching my boat from the Alabama highway 69 access on the Guntersville
side of the river. As always we stopped by R and J Bait and Minnow Farm
in Brooksville, Alabama to purchase our livebait. Mr. Talley the owner
of R & J Bait farm sells livebait to all of the Bait and tackle stores
up and down the Guntersville lake area. Besides getting the highest quality
livebait direct from the source, we also get the most accurate fishing
reports for the area from Mr. Talley.
We started our day fishing the "shortwall area" below the dam, but
with rather poor success for early in the morning. The water depth around
the short wall is around 17 feet, but rapid depth changes spells treacherous
tackle consuming bottom structure. The TVA was not running all of the turbines
and thus the sauger were not as active. We did catch a few small sauger,
but nothing to brag about. We were jigging with 1/2 ounce custom tied Erie
style jigs and Aspirin-head jigs. We were tipping our jigs using a shiner
minnows with stinger hooks. We also used 3-way rigs with at least 2 ounce
bell sinkers with an 8 to 10 inch dropper and 18 inch leader to a 2/0 octopus
We decided to run down river and fish the first bluff that is about
a mile and a half downstream. This area also has a large creek feeding
into the river just before you arrive at the bluff. I recommend that you
start fishing just above the mouth of the creek in about 20 feet of water.
As soon as we arrived I nailed a nice 16 inch sauger. However, that was
the only sauger we caught that measured 14 inches or larger in this area.
We did manage to hook and land two gars one of which was over
4 feet long. This was the first time I had ever caught a gar jigging.
We the moved further downstream to the "Paintrock bluff area". Again
we picked up a few sauger but nothing to brag about. This was the slowest
day we have had this season sauger fishing. We decided to return to the
dam and try our luck there again. The area around the short wall seems
to always be much more productive during the last couple of hours before
Upon arriving back at the shortwall that afternoon, I caught another
nice sauger. My fishing partner then nailed a 19 1/2 inch sauger on a 1/2
ounce orange on orange aspirin-head jig. This was our largest sauger so
far for this season weighing just over 2 pounds. We ended up with
6 nice sauger in the livewell at the end of the day. The most productive
colors are chartreuse/lime early and orange/orange in the afternoon until
Joel Tuck - Mr. Sauger
This past week we fished below Guntersville dam on Wheeler lake for
sauger on Thursday Nov. 11th, and then again on Saturday Nov. 14th.
following is my fishing report for both trips.
THURSDAY: November 11-11-99
We launched at 7:00 am from the Guntersville side AL. HWY 69 access,
following a visit to R & J (minnow) Bait Farm in Brooksville, Alabama.
Mr. Tally the owner of the minnow farm told us that the sauger fishing
was off, because the TVA was dropping lake water levels on Wheeler lake.
While this news caused some concern, it only reinforced our determination
to catch a limit of legal size sauger. For this past week we have also
had above normal temperatures enjoying much warmer than normal for fall
of the year weather. However, Thursday we had a slight cold front approaching
with some wind gusts, but no rain for our area. Air temperature was in
the mid-seventies and the surface water temperature was 61 degrees, water
clarity is clear. I had two other fishing partners fishing with me on this
trip and we were fishing from my backtroller.
We proceeded to fish the edges of the strong current near the short
wall of the dam. Most of the turbines were on providing us with plenty
of current. Although we had a slow start catching only a few fish within
the first hour. Afterwards we were able to patterned the sauger and enjoyed
a banner day. We primarily worked an area just down stream from the short
wall taking the bow trolling motor to position us at the edge of the current
and then drift down and circle back and repeat the
pattern again. This trip we fished with smaller jigs from 1/4 ounce
up to 3/4 ounce with 1/2 ounce proving to be the best overall size. Since
the current is kinda strong you simply allow your jigs to drift down and
hop them back to you. This method is costly upon tackle as you do hang
up and lose some tackle but about half the time we were able to save our
tackle without any damage or loss. Strikes were very aggressive thus making
this type of jigging even more fun. We also fished with 3-way rigs and
we were using a combination of flathead (tuffy's) and shiner minnows as
our livebait. It appeared to me that the shiners were slightly preferred
over the tuffy's by the sauger taken by us while jigging and using 3-way
This ended up being our best day yet sauger fishing. Coming at a time
that everyone else had said that the sauger bite was off. The key(s) to
success in fishing is confidence, understanding sauger behavior, habitat
and adjusting to meet changing conditions with your presentation. Jig color/size
patterns changed from the morning hours to a completely different
color/size pattern in the afternoon. I recommend that whenever you're fishing
for sauger you experiment with different color/size jigs and jigging techniques.
Sauger have THE most light sensitive eyesight of
all of North American fish. A saugers eyesight is even more sensitive
than their cousin the walleye. If I had to recommend four colors to use
to fish for sauger my choices would be chartreuse, lime, orange and yellow
or combinations of these colors.
Again other sauger fishermen around us watched dumb founded as we enjoyed
a consistent catch rate and a much greater success with quality fish. This
trip we also caught a lot of smaller fish as well.
Almost everything that was described for Thursday trip can be said
for Saturdays trip with only a couple of exceptions. We had a lot of fog
on early Saturday morning and so we ended up arriving just a bit later
then we did on Thursday morning. Winds were calm and the air temperature
just a couple of degrees cooler. We did not have as much current being
generated by the turbines Saturday because power demands are generally
less during the weekend. However, the sauger were still biting if you adjusted
to their behavioral pattern for that time of day and under different conditions.
We did fish the bluffs down river from the dam Saturday and that is were
I caught my biggest sauger for the day.
The word on Saturday morning from the local bait and tackle store had
changed from Thursday morning to now say that the sauger bite was improving
despite of the TVA water drawn down.
That is this weeks report from my latest trips to Wheeler lake. I wish
you all great success on your next fishing trip, so until next time keep
your hooks sharp and your lines tight.
On Thursday we (the 3 of us fishing from my boat) caught the limit
of sauger 10 per person in Alabama waters. On Saturday our total was 17
sauger for 3 people fishing. The largest sauger was 18 inches on Thursday
and the largest sauger was 15 1/2 inches on Saturday. We practice catch
an release for most of our catch keeping no more than 10 fish during any
Current creel limits and regulations in Alabama is 10 sauger per fisherman,
of which 7 sauger must measure 14 inches in total length or larger. The
Heart of Dixie state sauger regulations allows you to
harvest 3 sauger of your total daily creel limit to be less then 14
inches in length. This regulation is in effect for mortally hooked fish
that there is no way in which to release it in which it will survive.
Current creel limits and regulation in Tennessee is generally 10 sauger
per fisherman. On Kentucky lake the sauger must measure 14 inches in total
length with a creel limit of 15 fish per day. Tennessee has varied creel
limits set throughout the state on sauger and walleye. Due to this fact
you will need to consult a Tennessee Fishing Regulations publication when
fishing throughout the Volunteer state to be certain of exact creel and
If anyone needs any assistance about locations to fish, regulations,
out of state licenses, guides or lodging just have them contact me and
I will be glad to offer advise and assist them. I am making this offer
just as a fisherman willing to help. I am not in any form or fashion connected
with any commercial operation
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