Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
I know, most of you must be thinking "Dang, Zach must not be fishing or at least catching cause he sure ain't posted in awhile."
If you guessed the latter, you would be right. Hey, it's tough to make a fishing report when you haven't caught a measuring bass in THREE WEEKS. That's right, folks. I've fished Pickwick at least once a week since essentially January first.
My first trips on Pickwick resulted in some big numbers or big bags. On one trip, we caught thirty fish like it wasn't any issue. Next trip was tough, but we had a solid 17 pound bag without any big ones.
But, starting January 1st, the fish stopped biting. Like, at all. But, if you have been on Pickwick, you likely know that.
Ok, so as days went by, I starting talking to more and more fishermen. Now, it's widely known that fishermen are liars, but I find that only the case when they are catching them. Frustration is easy to see. This included locals and non-locals alike. And, after Josh's motor tossed a blade and I was rescued by several locals, I was able to really get in depth with the local flavor and they had some interesting things to say,.
First, if the water temps are under 50 degrees, they say don't bother. Second, there was a shad kill and that killed everyone's change to get bit. Literally.
Everyone else reported what I've experienced: Days without a bite. After an unsuccessful trip Saturday, I watched a large club weigh in. The winner won with 14 pounds of spots out of his wrapped boat that proudly displayed his so-and-so fishing.com website. The rest of the field? I saw three fish weighed. Total.
In talking with fishermen I know, most everyone is skunked. The ones who catch anything get only a few bites, but they are the right kind, and they are coming within minutes of one another. So, if you DO get one to bite, you can get more, but it may only be a for a minute or two.
I know this has to do with the weather, so I started looking at some trends over this year and previous years.
First things first: TVA keeps water level records for five years. The lake is at 409.5 elevation. That is the lowest in the five year period.
Here's a comparison of previous years on February 5th and then on the 15th:
2017-410.8 / 410.65
2016-412 / 410.5
2015-409.7 / 409.6
2014-410.4 / 411.2
2013-414 / 411.5
Ok, so that's all just subject to rain, right? Here's a look at precipitation for those years.
Thus far in 2018, we have had 2.5", year to date, and that includes .79" in the last five days with an estimated 3-4" on the way this week. So, we should exceed those totals for the last few years and likely all previous years, which is why TVA has kept the lake low, I suppose. In the meantime, flow has been non-existant. You need at least 60,000-70,000 CFS to really get smallies biting. We've been seeing 30s most days. That's going to do a few things: bring the water level of the lake up and create flow, all good things.
While that's likely great for the smallies, the smallie bite alone won't support 220 boats. That means largemouth, and that means dependency on weather. Obviously, the weather has been a huge factor that resulted in a shad kill. How does it compare to past years? Let's take a look at average temp, average high and average low.
Year AVG Temp AVG High AVG Low
2014 44 65 30
2015 36 57 19
2016 47 63 29
2017 53 69 38
2018(to date) 40 49 33
In summation, this year isn't even the coldest average, but we haven't had the amount of "heating days." That is, while the average is slightly higher than, say, 2015 and the low isn't as low as 2014, the average high is 8 degrees lower than the nearest year. Since water has an exponentially higher thermal coefficient than air, it takes a lot more energy to warm it. That means days and days of much warmer air is needed, which we haven't had. And, brutal cold snaps, of which we've had several, undo any warming there could be. As it stands now, water temps are still in the mid-40s.
Anyway, it should be of no surprise that times are tough. The water is low, the flow is low, the temps are low. The question is, will there be enough heating days in the next 10 days to warm the water up at least five degrees?
Hope this puts things in perspective.