Wheeler Reservoir, Alabama Blue Catfish

Wheeler Reservoir, Alabama Blue Catfish

Wheeler Reservior, an impoundment on the Tennessee River in northern Alabama, along with lakes Wilson and Pickwick, offers world-class opportunities for blue cats, with 20- to 40-pounders common and chances at fish into the 100-pound range. Some believe the next world record will come from these Tennessee River waters.

While the late-fall-into-winter bite can be prime for big fish, summer into fall also presents opportunities for outstanding fishing. In summer, slow-trolling or controlled drifting is an effective technique to contact blues in water shallow to deep, on and around structure like humps and channel ledges and for working larger areas on main-lake flats.

Using cutbait like skipjack herring or shad, baits are slow-trolled vertically on three-way rigs or modified Santee-Cooper-style rigs using a bow-mount trolling motor, with speed sometimes controlled more precisely with a driftsock. Slow-trolling is a precise technique that allows tracing of contours and for thoroughly working productive spots.

While in the area, enjoy the music history and culture in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, or visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and other attractions in Huntsville. Plenty of lodging and dining options are available. Contacts: Guide Jason Bridges, wheelercatsguideservice.com, 256/738-9461, Guide Phil King, h2ow.com/catfish, 662/286-8644.

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