How to Fish at a Lock and Dam

by Zach Lazzari
Use a heavy weight to reach the main currents.

Use a heavy weight to reach the main currents.

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The lock and dam is a specific type of dam that allows boat passage. The dam consists of a spillway and artificial channel with gates. The gates hold water and allow boats to pass through the channel via a fill and flood system. The dam construction is intended to maintain the river as a navigable entity without sacrificing the control of flow and production of electricity. Fishing the lock and dam requires a simple approach and an ability to read the water for suitable fish habitat.

Items you will need

  • Spinners
  • Spoons
  • Sliding sinker
  • Live baitfish
Step 1

Approach the dam from the spillway side. The spillway is a simple concrete wall designed for overflow. Water may or may not be pouring over the top of the wall. Cast spoons and spinners in the calm water against the wall.

Step 2

Continue working the spillway, moving several steps downstream after each cast. Fish will school below the spillway and you must cover ground until the school is located.

Step 3

Approach the dam from the lock side and fish the heavy currents for large catfish and deep water species. The currents carve deep channels and provide a steady stream of food for the fish.

Step 4

Add a sliding lead sinker above your leader and bounce the sinker along the bottom of the deep channels to access the fish. The catfish are especially prone to holding against the bottom of the stream.

Step 5

Use live or dead baitfish imitations on the bottom of the channels. Lures are also effective, but the dam kills baitfish and washes the remains down the channel. Shad and shiners are common food sources for the deep water channel cats and bottom feeders.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use heavy gear for lock and dam fishing. Light gear is more sensitive and enjoyable but heavy gear provides the casting power required for large waters below the dam.
  • Fish the area below the dam during periods of normal flows. High waters require heavy releases and the area below the dam becomes dangerous.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images