Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tom Waynick

April 20, 2003 Tullahoma News and April 23 Winchester Herald Chronicle.

Tennesseans are very lucky to have a number of angling locations close to almost any place in the state a person may reside. Here in our area we have three major lakes, two well stocked trout streams, and a number of other possibilities for river, creek and pond fishing. Yet even with all this water sometimes a person just has to experience angling away from the confines of home.

Kentucky Lake is famous for hefty bass, massive crappie and bountiful catfish. The month April is the time to enjoy all this Tennessee River impoundment has to offer. Bass are in the shallows around buck bushes. Crappie can be caught from boat or shore as anglers there mark shoreline stake beds for easy access. Catfish are back in the major creeks and all one needs do is drop a few jugs, or cast a rod and reel out and hang on.

Birdsong Marina and Resort just out of Camden Tennessee is easily accessible. A short, scenic drive through the Tennessee River countryside from I-40 Exit 133 puts you on the shores of Birdsong Creek. Clean and comfortable accommodations are available on site most with decks for relaxing, grilling, and wildlife watching. It is rare that I find a bed away from home that feels as comfortable as the one in my own bedroom. At Birdsong I slept like a baby for the few hours allotted between fishing trips. At daybreak it is obvious how the place got its name. Instead of the annoying beep, beep, beep, of an alarm clock one is awakened by what sounds like a thousand bluebirds welcoming the morning sunrise. Birdsong owner Bob Keast offers a choice or cabins or mobile homes where vacationers appear to be instantly accepted by full time residents. Everyone I met was friendly, helpful, and open with angling advice.

On the water one never has to leave Birdsong Creek to enjoy Kentucky Lake’s healthy fish population. On Monday evening Guide Jim Duckworth, Tight Line Jigs Rep Charlie Clemons, Huntsville newspaper columnist Alan Clemons and myself idled from the marina a mere 200 yards to the first large bay we could find. Duckworth then gave us a demonstration of his jug fishing expertise or should I say jug-less fishing. Jim uses a self designed system which employs sections of water noodle swimming pool toys. The noodles have been modified for angling. Duckworth reports catching huge crappie, bass, and a variety of other fish, in addition to catfish. Jim has a new video which teaches the entire process. Information is available at www.fishingtennessee.com

Jim baited the noodles with live night crawlers which had been fed Worm-Glo. Regular night crawlers are fed a special food which results in a chartreuse night crawler. The worms become larger and livelier. To say the Worm-Glo enhanced bait was effective is an understatement. By the time we had baited and dropped our eighteen noodles two of them were already standing at attention and ringing the bell Duckworth had attached to the top of the cat noodle. We only stayed a short time as an early morning bass trip was scheduled a few hours away. The next morning Jim, Charlie and Nakai ran the noodles and there were sixteen catfish caught on eighteen noodles baited with the chartreuse worms.

Bass fishing on Kentucky Lake is fabulous. Shallow bays and creeks are filled with a variety of cover including brush, stake beds, flooded buck bushes, cypress trees and lily pads. It is virtually impossible to locate an area which isn’t attractive to largemouth bass. I lost count of the number of bass we caught during my two days on the water with Stratos Bass Pro’s Dan Morehead, Craig Powers, Emily Shaffer, and newcomer to the team Lance Oligschlaeger. We fished most every pocket and cover laden flat with a variety of lures. The top producers were jigs, floating worms and tube baits. Morehead, who just won $250,000 at the Beaver Lake FLW in Arkansas, picked up a few on top with a cigar bait from Mann’s. Powers caught several with some of his special homemade crankbaits. There were many bass caught in the three and four pound range, the largest of the trip being a five and one half pound largemouth caught by this outdoor writer on a pumpkin green flake Berkley Power tube threaded on a red Bleeding Bait Daiichi off set worm hook. Sure it was pure luck on my part but when fishing behind high caliber anglers like these Stratos Pro’s a man just has to brag a little.

The Waynick clan ruled as Nakai caught the largest Crappie of the trip which guide Jim Duckworth estimated at 2 ½ pounds. Nakai also caught several more slabs giving her the edge on number of fish as well. The slabs were caught on a Charlie Brewer Crappie Slider, white with a chartreuse tail. The plastic bait was threaded on a red weed less Slider head. Crappies were caught from stake beds just around the point from Birdsong in the same slough where the catfish were found. Nakai was using a new 5’ 9’ Fenwick HMG light action rod and Cardinal 600U center drag reel spooled with 4 pound test Trilene XL. “This is the most sensitive pan fish combination I ever fished with. I don’t think you are going to get it back”. She said.

If you are looking for a few days away for relaxing, fishing or experiencing the Tennessee River lifestyle Kentucky Lake is a fabulous place to visit. Best of all it is less than three hours away. Contact Bob or Janice at Birdsong Marina and Resort. Reservations or Pearl Farm Tours call 1-800-225-7469. For General Information, Guides, and Rentals call 731-584-7880

Local anglers are finding plenty of action to keep them busy.

At Tims Ford Lake Terry Smith at Travis Boating reports bass still on the flats or back in pockets preparing beds. Topwater lures or floating worms for pocket fish. Carolina rigs producing bass that are holding in deeper water. Lots of small Crappie with a few larger ones mixed in. Blacknose have been spotted up shallow spawning. Rockfish surfacing upriver and reports of fish moving down toward the Devils Step area.

Woods Reservoir-Barbara at Morris Ferry reports Crappie action picking up with more keepers than in the past couple of weeks. Bass action god. Fish shallow with soft plastics or spinnerbaits. Catfish moving up as are bream. The Thursday night tournament begins May 8th.

Normandy Lake- Bass action fair according to Johnny Collins who runs several tournaments on the lake. Johnny won a holiday wildcat Friday with a 4-3 largemouth caught on a spinnerbait. The Monday Nighter last week was won by Edwin Harris with a 3.65 Smallmouth and the Saturday morning tournament was won by Johnny and son Terry with two fish that weighed 4-9 total weight. Your best bet is to fish shallow with floating worms or spinnerbaits. Crappie are on shoreline cover expect to catch more small ones than keepers.

If you have outdoor news to share send the information to twaynick@mindspring.com