Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau

Fishing

Tim Horton

The Muscle Shoals area offers some of the best fishing year-round opportunities in the nation, with well-known Pickwick and Wilson Lakes. Initially these lakes were formed 1930s, when the Tennessee Valley Authority began construction of a series of massive dams along the Tennessee River in North Alabama. This unique combination of the nature-made deep channel of the river and the man-made reservoirs of flooded fields, bluffs and marsh areas has generated excellent habitats for a large variety of game fish.


Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake

Bassmaster magazine is recognized as a global leader for news about bass fishing, including which lake in Alabama is the best place to fish for the immensely popular game fish.

In its 2017 listing of the top bass lakes in the Southeast, Pickwick was ranked highest in Alabama, beating out popular fishing destinations such as Guntersville Lake and Logan Martin Lake.

The 50-mile long lake has a surface area of 47,500 acres, that covers portions of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. An Alabama fishing license allows anglers to fish in the waters of all three states on Pickwick Lake. Numerous boat ramps provide easy access to all areas of the lake.

Pickwick Lake features a variety of habitat for fish including swift water, grassy flats, deep offshore ledges, rock bluffs and gravel-covered points. Pickwick Lake is one of few lakes in America where anglers can catch trophy-sized largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. Monster-sized blue catfish, giant striped bass and big crappie and bream can also be caught. During the winter months, sauger fishing is popular, especially in the swift water downstream of Wilson Dam. Winter is also a great time to fish for big largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Interactive Pickwick Lake Map - Click here for fishing hotspots, marinas, and more


Interesting Facts About Pickwick Lake

    Pickwick Lake Pickwick Lake

  • Several smallmouth bass in the 10-pounds range have been caught on Pickwick Lake over the years and many noted anglers – including Bill Dance – are convinced a smally larger than the current world record of 11 pounds, 15 ounces is swimming right now in Pickwick Lake.
  • Anglers with a valid Alabama fishing license can also fish in Mississippi and Tennessee waters on Pickwick Lake.
  • The Alabama state record for sauger of 5 pounds, 2 ounces was caught March 5, 1972 on Pickwick Lake – in the tailrace of Wilson Dam – by William F. Huntley of Athens.
  • The Alabama state record for muskellunge (which is no longer stocked in Alabama) of 19 pounds, 8 ounces was caught Dec. 31, 1972 on Pickwick Lake – in the tailrace of Wilson Dam –by Steve Leatherwood of Haleyville

What the Pros Say About Pickwick Lake

    Pickwick Lake

    Pickwick Lake

  • “Pickwick Lake is awesome. Bass fishing on Pickwick is absolutely on fire. Lots of big largemouth and big smallmouth are being caught.”
    -- Tim Horton, Bassmaster Elite Series angler and outdoors television personality, Muscle Shoals
  • “Pickwick has been amazing. It is fishing the best that I have ever seen it. People are coming all from all over the country to fish Pickwick.”
    -- Cameron Gautney, Tennessee River fishing guide, Muscle Shoals
  • “The great thing about Pickwick is if the catfish aren’t biting, you can switch tackle and fish for striped bass or you can fish for largemouth and smallmouth or fish for crappie. You can catch something every time you go out on Pickwick Lake.”
    -- Brian Barton, Tennessee River fishing guide, Muscle Shoals.

Wilson Lake

Brad Whitehead

Wilson Lake

At 15,500 acres, Wilson Lake pales in comparison to the size of other Tennessee Valley Authority lakes along the Tennessee River.

Being a small lake does not mean Wilson Lake does not produce big fish. Largemouth bass weighing more than 7 pounds, smallmouth bass over 5 pounds and blue catfish that tip the scales at more than 50 pounds are frequently caught on Wilson Lake.

Wilson Lake features deep water on the lower reaches and swift water on the upper end, at the tailrace of Wheeler Dam. There are numerous shallow sloughs along the lake. With such a diversity of habitat in a lake that is only 15-miles long, many anglers love fishing on Wilson Lake because if a fishing technique is not working, they do not have to go far to change techniques and fish an entirely different type of structure.

In addition to huge bass and catfish, Wilson Lake is also a great place to fish for crappie, bream, sauger and striped bass. Boat ramps are plentiful around the lake, providing easy access to all portions of the reservoir.

Interactive Wilson Lake Map - Click here for fishing hotspots, marinas, and more


Interesting Facts About Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake

Fishing in the Muscle Shoals Area

  • With 21 generators that can produce up to 663 megawatts of electricity daily, Wilson Dam is the largest conventional hydroelectric plant in the TVA system. Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant, near Chattanooga, is TVA’s only hydroelectric with a higher daily generating capacity.
  • The main navigation lock at Wilson Dam is 110 feet wide and 600 feet long. With a maximum lift of 100 feet, it is the highest lift lock east of the Rocky Mountains. It takes 50 million gallons of water to fill the lock.
  • The Alabama state record for smallmouth bass of 10 pounds, 8 ounces was caught Oct. 8, 1950 on Wilson Lake – in the tailrace of Wheeler Dam – by Owen W. Smith of Fairfield.
  • The Alabama State record for freshwater drum of 41 pounds, 8 ounces was caught on Wilson Lake June 24, 1949 by Wilson Brock of Birmingham.

What the Pros Say About Wilson Lake

    Tim Horton

    Cameron Gautney

  • “A lot of fishermen overlook Wilson because it is a small lake. For some reason, they think that it is too small to produce the quality of fish that the bigger lakes like Pickwick and Guntersville turn out. Anyone who overlooks Wilson Lake is making a huge mistake because it is full of great big smallmouth and largemouth bass. It’s one of my favorite lakes.”
    -- Tim Horton, Bassmaster Elite Series angler and outdoors television personality, Muscle Shoals
  • “Wilson Lake is awesome. Some of my biggest bass have come from Wilson Lake. A lot of people who fish Wilson try to keep it a secret about how good it is, but I don’t mind sharing that it an amazing lake, especially for big smallmouth.”
    -- Cameron Gautney, Tennessee River fishing guide, Muscle Shoals
  • “There’s several lakes I can go to when I am wanting to catch lots of catfish. When I want to catch some really big catfish, I go to Wilson Lake. I catch lots of catfish in the 20 to 30 pounds range. Thirty-to-40-pound blues (catfish) are pretty common too. There always that chance you are going to catch a 60 pounder or even on that weighs more than 70 pound when you go fishing on Wilson.”
    -- Brian Barton, Tennessee River fishing guide, Muscle Shoals

Fishing Licenses

Fishing licenses are available at the Colbert County Courthouse and at many bait and tackle shops in the area. State fishing licenses may also be purchased online at www.OutdoorAlabama.com. This website also contains the latest license fees, creel limits and lake records.


Fishing Guides


Brian Barton Outdoors

Capt. Brian Barton
Specializing in trophy catfish trips and livebait fishing for smallmouth and striped bass
(256) 412-0969
brianbartonoutdoors.com


Shoals Bass Guides

Capt. Cameron Gautney
Specializing in electronics and trophy smallmouth bass
(256) 577-6962
Shoalsbassguides.com


Crappie Connection Guide Service

Capt. Brad Whitehead
Specializing in crappie and livebait fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass
(256) 483-0834


Davis Whitten Fishing

Specializing in trophy smallmouth and largemouth bass
Capt. Davis Whitten
(256) 702-5417


Bait & Tackle


Gray’s Tackle Shop

2813 Jackson Highway
Sheffield, AL
(256) 383-2716


Shoals Outdoor Sports

1605 U.S. Highway 72
Tuscumbia, AL
(256) 389-8150


Discount Dan’s

1010 E. 2nd St.
Sheffield, AL
(256) 383-1153


Walmart

517 Avalon Ave.
Muscle Shoals, AL
(256) 381-0987

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