Friday, April 8, 2011

Pickwick Lake: Following the Water

Pickwick Lake is a reservoir in north west Alabama that is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority system. It stretched from Pickwick Landing Dam to Wilson Dam. It is site of this week's Bassmaster Elite Alambama Charge tournament. Pickwick lake is a popular lake that has a diversity of fishing. There is a strong population of bass, both largemouth and smallmouth along with stripers and white bass. Pickwick can be divided into two distinct areas.

The Fast Water
Tim Horton tries to break off a wedged bait in the
fast water.
(Photo: James Overstreet BASS)
The fast water is a huge draw for anglers. The tailwater below Wilson Dam is rocky and the current is quick. This draws baitfish, gamefish and anglers. This area is historically very popular. Some of the lake's largest smallmouth live there. Water levels, discharge rates and time of year greatly effect its flow. Current speed and water depth alter greatl causing bass and their food to frequently reposition. Find the correct drift will have you in haven.

The tailwater section of this impoundment eats tackle at an alarming rate. Snagging is a constant problem. Expect to clean your tackle box out quickly if you're not carefully watching your line. Other foes are the eager white bass and stripers. They love baitfish shaped lures equally and their aggressive nature can force smallmouth and largemouth to relocate. Many Elite pros will battle more stripers and white bass than they care too. But, that is all part of the game in the fast water.

The Timber
Denny Brauer is loving the flipping cover. He was the Day 1 leader.
(Photo: Rob Russow BASS)
Pickwick Lake is more of a river than a typical impoundment. It's shoreline can be very brushy and steep. Many sections of Pickwick are sheer bluff walls. But that is a different story altogether.  Finding the correct area can be flipping Nirvana. Trees, brush and stumps are ideal for flippers but also prime spinnerbait, topwater, and shallow cranking water. Largemouth in the timber can be a great pattern. Last year's Elite Pickwick Lake winner Kevin Short worked the wood to perfection.

What is Happening This Week
Water levels have been at an all time high. April showers means water in the bushes. The flippers have benefited from it but if it floods too much a lot of great areas become unreachable by boat.  High water is a double edge sword. It keep the largemouth in the cover but in the tailwater section of the lake expect,  ripping currents. Some find the strong current concentrates the bass. It also crams the anglers together which can make fishing a comedy of errors. Strong current makes boat and lure control dicey. Either way, high water can make fishing better for the anglers who work for it.

Receding water has pluses and negatives. As the water levels decrease, it sucks bass our of the flooded woods positioning them  in cuts, creeks, sloughs, dredged canals or along the outside edge of the wood. For the angler who can adjust and focus their casts to where the bass have relocated, its a sure way to vault to the top of the leader board. If the water drops too quickly it will crash the shallow water bite entirely.

Smallmouth anglers tend to like a little less current. It allows them to maintain more control over the fishing. It also allows the bass to spread across a wide geographical areas of the tailwater area. Which set of conditions are best is up to the fish and the angler who capitalize on the changes.

Tournament fishing is all about making good decisions. This tournament will be won by the angler who adjusts to the conditions on Pickwick Lake.

Stay tuned! 

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