In a 1998 competition, Pickwick Lake guide Roger Stegall caught a five-fish limit of smallmouth bass weighing over 26 pounds from the tri-state lake. “I found the fish holding on a drop from six to eight feet near a spawning area,” he says. “The males were already shallow on the beds and I found the females in the nearest deep water. I caught every one of them on a slow-rolled one-ounce spinnerbait.” Other popular lures are lizards, red lipless crankbaits and tube jigs. “Pickwick smallmouths will stay shallow through April, bedding in two to three feet on gravel bars and holding in five to eight feet,” Stegall says. By mid-May, the smallies start moving deep and get on the summer pattern of holding on the humps and submerged islands along the river channel. An impoundment of the Tennessee River, Pickwick Lake provides smallmouth bass with an optimum growing season. Biologists say the lake is just far enough south to give the smallies a warm-water habitat at least 10 months of the year-and April is the best month for hooking a big, fat female. Mississippi’s state-record smallmouth of 7 pounds, 15 ounces was caught at Pickwick in January 1987. Contact: Roger Stegall (662-423-3869; www.fishpickwick.com).