Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pickwick 9/28/12

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I think all bass fishermen out there respect the TVA chain of lakes. Being from North Alabama, I am fortunate to live within 2 hours of 4 of those. Those 4 being Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson, and Pickwick. If you read my blog posts, specifically from the last year, you would see that I have utter disgust for Guntersville these days. Wheeler isn't too far behind it. Yet the two that I have fished the least have provided some of the most success. It doesn't seem to matter WHAT metric I use to categorize success, Wilson and Pickwick are almost ALWAYS in the lead. the metrics are usually in a stair stepped approach.The metrics I frequently use are:

  1. Trips that I don't catch fish at all(I have NEVER struck out on Wilson or Pickwick, yet Guntersville and Wheeler have stoned me multiple times THIS YEAR)
  2. Trips where I catch a limit
  3. Trips where I loose count of fish I caught
  4. Trips where I catch a mixed bag (I admit that it is tough to catch smallies on Guntersville)
  5. Trips with a 5-plus large/3-plus smallie/spot
  6. Knock-out trips (use your own definition, because mine is fairly sad this year)
It should be noted that I don't much care for the difference between 2 and 3. It's kind of an either/or for me.

Anyway, so one of my fishing buddies Jon and I had talked over the last year about trying new spots and new lakes. Both of us had become fairly sick of taking time off, spending lots of money on gas, and not catching fish. His solution (and still is) has been to fish kayaks in untapped areas around Decatur. Not having a kayak, I have stuck to fishing lakes that are providing me success. Wilson has been my clear cut favorite. It has provided me with all 6 metrics of success in this last year. Multiple times, at that. But, I have wanted to expand my repertoire even more. Pickwick is a major lake on all big fishing circuits, but (at least in my opinion) doesn't see the traffic that you would expect. But, then again, I have only fished it 3-4 times. I fished it twice last year. Once with NASA where Josh and I put together a solid 10-12 pound limit. Once with NATA where I didn't do so hot on keeper size fish, but caught at least a few fish. Once this year with NASA where Buzz and I weighed in 11 pounds of fish with a 4.3 kicker (it should be mentioned that we caught 20 plus clones of the same 2.5-3 pound fish. And now this trip.

To this point, I had only fished from McFarland down to 7 Mile Island. That isn't much. The lake is VERY long. Jon had started fishing the mid and lower lake area. It's quite a haul, but he wasn't afraid to strike out into new waters. Of course, he asked me to go several times, but there was always a complication preventing me from going.

On a Thursday afternoon, he called me at the office and asked if I wanted to go. I made it work this time.

Whew, getting up at 2:45 was tough! But, I was excited. I met Jon at his house and we got Big Easy ready and headed out. He had fished this area around Koger's Island the last few trips and hat done well. Specifically a few rock piles coming from 25 feet to surface breaking.

We put in at Colbert Ferry park, which I must say is FANTASTICALLY taken care of. I highly recommend it. We started fishing grass lines right off the ramp and quickly bagged a few fish on  the H20 (Academy Sports house brand) Lucky Craft Sammy knock-off. Yes, I said it...I am fishing with knock-offs...but the top water baits from H20 are excellent. We then proceeded to a rock dike near Koger's Island. While the fishing wasn't great, we did spot this:
Yep. I am sure most of you won't believe me, but these two deer swam the entire channel. It's not the first time I have seen this either. In fact, I have on multiple occasions watched deer swim half a mile to a mile.

We didn't catch many fish on the rock dike, although the ole Bait Hound once again showed it's worth by retrieving lures for both of us. Again, if you don't have one....get one. you can read my review of it here:

I did manage to catch this guy..which I thought was hilarious!
If I didn't know any better, I'd say this guy was eating his own kind! That's a Lucky Craft, if you didn't know. And it's one of my FAVORITE small cranks. Notice how almost identical the coloring is!

Anyway, after giving up on Koger's, we proceeded up river to one of the creek entrances. The fish were fairly active in the grass, so we started throwing frogs. Apparently the fish on Pickwick don't share their Guntersville brethren affinity for the frog. I couldn't get one to look at it. I started throwing the Lucky Craft crank around the grass point leading into the creek and did catch two.

We got into the creek and we noticed that the current had picked up. we had expected it at 730 am, per the TVA mobile app. But, we didn't see it until 10am. Which makes sense. That's several miles up stream, approx. 8 miles. So, 2.5 hours at 3 miles an hour is about right. Anyway, the fish started schooling around the grass edges and I started throwing the H20 top water bait. I caught one real quick...prob the first cast. Then I proceeded to have 7 straight casts of hits...sometimes multiple hits per cast....without hooking up. Frustrated, we left.

Jon asked my what I thought about the day so far and what I would do. On the way our to the ramp area running towards Koger's, I had seen what I call is "hard placements". Now, just to school you on my vernacular, I have "soft placements", which are trees/brush/etc and "hard placements" which would be pumphouses/docks/culverts/etc. I don't normally  pay much attention to rip rap unless it's around a hard placement, nor do I pay any attention to standard rock banks. On a 1 mile stretch of lake, there were 4 hard placements with associated rip rap. I said that had I never been on this section of lake, which I hadn't, I would start there. So, we decided to give it a shot.

First spot we fished was a intake pipe. It was fairly small, but downed timber next to it yielded several bites on a shakey head, but no fish. I was fairly certain that it was bream. Next spot was a power house that sat on a power line. Again, the small bites were prevalent, but seemed to be a little different than the bream bites. They seemed to be picking up the bait instead of machine gun biting like a bream would do. So, I would wait a little longer, and one 3 consecutive casts I caught fish. First few were small large mouth. 3rd was a solid 2.5 pound largemouth. As we drifted down the rip rap bank, my last cast landed a keeper smallie! Yes, I know he isn't very big....but I LOVE catching them!

Nest spot we hit was further down river...some unmarked rock piles. I tell ya...gotta be careful on this lake. These were surface breaking rock piles that are completely unmarked!

On the first few casts, Jon caught the fish of the day...and sadly, we got him back in the water quick because of how it was hooked, before we could get a picture. But it was a solid 3.5+ smallie! Gorgeous fish!

A few stragglers aside, that was it. We didn't tear them up, but once again, Pickwick didn't leave me fishless. Which is more than I can say for those "other" famous TVA lakes. I'd say we caught 12 fish. Not a banner day, but I have a good time with my fishing partner who is always a gracious host, letting me come with him and giving me his string cheese sticks! I can't wait to fish that area again.

Here is my thought for the day regarding smallies. And I may be completely wrong. But, on this day, the smallies were not around big natural rocks. In fact, not around any rocks larger than 2.5 in diameter. They were all around man-made chunk rock piles or smooth river stones. So, I think I may be on to something in regards to them. If you can't put your arms around the typical rock in the pile, you may want to consider going somewhere else. Of course, I leave it to you guys to prove me wrong!