FLORENCE, Ala. – As the top 10 pros came back to the start line after lap three of the EverStart Series Championship on Pickwick Lake Friday, Steve Kennedy pulled back into the lead by a scant 4 ounces.
Adjustments became a big factor today as anglers scrambled to keep up with changing conditions, and Kennedy was one of those that zigged when he needed to zig and zagged when he needed to zag.
The Auburn, Ala., pro qualified for the top 10 on the strength of a buzzbait fished along bluff walls on Pickwick. But after several fruitless hours of surface buzzing this morning, Kennedy put the buzzbait down, pulled out a football-head jig and headed for deeper water.
He targeted underwater ledges and rock in 12 feet of water, and the change produced two keeper largemouths.
But the thought of big smallmouths crushing his buzzbait along shallow, rocky bluffs began to eat at him, so he switched back to the buzzbait late in the afternoon. For Kennedy it was an instance of correct adjustments: The buzzbait netted him three keeper smallmouths in the waning hours of the day.
“I haven’t quite got the timing of that buzzbait bite down,” he said. “I thought it had something to do with current, but now I think it might be more of an afternoon bite. You have to cover miles of water with that buzzbait, and when you finally get a bite, you can usually get two or three pretty quick.”
Even though Kennedy is leading the event, he’s not exactly thrilled about it.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t like it at all,” he said of his 4-ounce lead. “I’ve led two of these tournaments this year going into the last day – both by about 4 pounds – and I gave both of them away on the last day. So, no, I’m not real comfortable with this right now.”
Bolivar flip-flops to second
Bolivar is fishing a shallow-running crankbait on Pickwick.
“I’m fishing miles and miles of water,” Bolivar said. “It’s a real hit-or-miss deal. I’ll go a while without a bite and then catch a few. I caught them much better yesterday – about 14 keepers – but today I only caught seven. I thought they would bite much better today with the clouds and wind; they didn’t and I don’t know why.”
Bolivar now stands 4 ounces off the lead.
“I think this area has the potential to win,” he added. “I caught some really big fish there in practice. The winning string is there, and if it’s meant to be, it will happen.”
“I made one pass down the stretch of grass I had been fishing on Pickwick, caught one keeper and decided it was time for a change, so I went to plan B,” Newby said.
Plan B meant fishing docks.
“If fished a few docks, got a couple of bites and a dock pattern became evident,” he said. “The way the wind was blowing onto the docks, the pattern was pretty easy; I knew where the next fish was going to be.”
“Every day I have to adjust to keep up with the fish,” said Gadlage, who is fishing in Pickwick. “I have been catching them shallow, but today I had to back out to 11 or 12 feet of water to get the bites.”
Gadlage is targeting largemouths with tubes.
“Each day I get in my area and fish around for a while before I get a bite or two to clue me in,” he added. “After that, the bites come a little easier.”
Hawk is fishing in Wilson Lake and focusing his efforts on structure in 5 to 20 feet of water. He is using a Pepper jig and drop-shotting a Slim Senko.
“I didn’t get the same number of bites as I did yesterday,” said Hawk who sacked 14 pounds, 4 ounces on Thursday to move into the top 10. “I think the fish are still there, I just need to get a couple of those quality bites like I had yesterday.”
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros after day three of the EverStart Championship on Pickwick Lake:
6th: Jonathan Newton of Rogersville, Ala., three bass for 6-8
7th: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., three bass for 5-0
8th: Jerry Green of Justiceburg, Texas, one bass for 4-3
9th: Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., one bass for 2-4
10th: Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, one bass for 2-2
The final day of the EverStart Championship on Pickwick Lake begins at 7 a.m. Saturday at McFarland Park.