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The Pickwick Puzzle
Editor’s Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.
If you had told me I’d end up tied with Mark Rose in the Pickwick Lake Walmart FLW Tour event, I would have guessed there would also be a sudden-death fish-off on Monday morning.
Pickwick in Florence, Ala., is a perfect place for a big tournament and coincidently one of my favorite lakes in the country. This time around, however, it didn’t treat me so well. I finished 58th.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to finish in the big money, but this entire season has been way too stressful, as I’ve been on both sides of the bubble numerous times.
I made a rally on day two, jumping from 96th all the way up into $10,000 check range. The difference? A terrible boat draw (as usual) on day one. My son, Mitchell, also had minor surgery on the morning of day one, and my mind was on that too. I couldn’t focus at all. Thanks to Scott Martin for letting me use his phone to check in with the family on the water because I had no cell signal. Mitchell had his adenoids taken out for the second time in his 11 years … weird. The operation went well, and he’s doing great.
As expected, ledges were the deal on Pickwick. The best areas were crowded, and finding a group of fish away from the crowds turned out to be key for the top finishers. Swimbaits, deep-running crankbaits such as the DT-16 and 20, big worms, and football jigs all produced. Smaller finesse lures such as shaky heads and drop-shot rigs also played for several of the top 20 anglers. When you talk to other anglers, you quickly realize that certain colors are a top choice on Pickwick. In the soft-plastic department, green pumpkin and redbug dominated. In the crankbait realm, shad and chartreuse colors ruled supreme. The real key, as is always the case when fishing offshore, was finding the big schools of Tennessee River bass.
I found four of the right schools in practice, but just like last year on Pickwick, I rode by all of them the morning of day one and found at least two boats on each one. All I could do was either pull right up to other anglers or try to scrounge up a few scattered fish away from the crowds, which is what I did on day one.
On the second day, I chose not to mess with the guys on my big schools who caught good limits. Instead, I started on a little spot where I caught most of my fish in the afternoon the day before. I caught several good ones there, and then, around 10 a.m., I decided to go check the other big schools. The first spot still had five boats on it, and the second one was wide open, so I pulled in and never left. I culled all but one 3-pounder I had caught earlier and weighed almost 17 pounds, making a check by a mere 4 ounces. I caught a 4-pounder on my last cast too, which never happened to me before. I had moved my boat out deeper off the end of the point in the last few minutes looking for solo fish and culled twice, including that last-second pig. I caught three of my weigh fish on a Storm 4 1/2-inch swimbait and the other two on a drop-shot Yamamoto Kut Tail Worm.
Scott Martin owes me an assist for a 6-pound giant he caught on day two. Fish would occasionally blow up on big gizzard shad, and other than the two that I caught on the swimbait, we could not get them to bite anything. We were fishing next to each other, and I asked if he had any Bull Shads. He dug around and found a couple and tossed one to me. I couldn’t get a bite on it, but Scott tied the other one on and then left. He returned an hour later with a story that turned out to be true: a 6-pounder on the Bull Shad. Lol.
So that was it. The next time we go to Pickwick, I’ll gladly take a tie with Mark Rose again!