Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fishing Report for Pickwick Lake: Government Shutdown Edition

Check out the Video! 

I've said it before, but I am very lucky to have a group of fisher-friends here at work. So, when we were all sent home, we made a deal that we would fish as much as humanly possible. The issue was, of course, money. None of us would be getting paid and we didn't know how long it would be before we could go back to work. So, we divided up the bills which would allow us to maximize our time on the water. Jon had been doing extremely well on Pickwick. I really like Pickwick and despite it being a near 3 hour drive from his place, we decided that the fishing was definitely worth it.

Here are some of my other Pickwick Adventures:
MFC Tournament on Pickwick
Alabama Mountain Lakes Media Days on Pickwick
MFC Tournament on Pickwick 2012
MFC Night Tournament 2011

I was surprised when he told me what type of tackle to bring. See, I was thinking about deep diving cranks, drop shotting, shakey heads, and other typical Small mouth stuff. Nope. We would be fishing grass. So, no smallmouth at all, I asked. Oh yea, they will be mixed in, he said. I raised an eyebrow. That had not really been my experience. But, after seeing the pictures he had...I was sold.

Some quick background. As you all know, Pickwick is the smallie capital of the world. It's the truth. What many of you also have heard is that it's one of the few places where you can catch an 8 pound largemouth and a 6 pound smallie on back to back casts. While I HAVE caught smallies that big, the largemouth have never really impressed me. Sure, I knew they were around. But I had doubts that we could consistently catch fish that big. But, I trusted Jon and I was really excited to get in on that action!

Day 1
So, the first day, I met Jon and Short at Jon's house early. Like....4AM. Which meant I was up at 2:45. We hit the road and made it on the water by sun up. There wasn't any current and the fishing was slow. In fact, we had 3 fish by 10am and I was already starting to loose faith. We fished some rock piles and other visible structure. My only fish of the morning came on a shakey head in 30 feet of water. But, when the sun came up, the generators kicked on. Like a light, we noticed a ton of action on grass adjacent to the main channel. Everywhere we looked were fish busting. They were running bait out of the deep and into the grass. Jon and Short were throwing plastic Ribbit frogs while I threw a hollow belly Spro and probed the grass edges with a Lucky Craft Sammy.

Getting bites came easy for me, but getting them in the boat was proving much harder. They weren't hitting the Spro frog hard and they were diving into the grass with the Sammy and dislodging it. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem. When I throw the Sammy on Guntersville, I use braid. But since I thought we would be fishing open water, I stuck to mono. Big mistake, especially when I tempted a solid 8 pounder to annihilate my bait not once but 3 times, only to pop it out in the grass. Jon and Short, however, didn't seem to miss a fish. I made the swap over to the Ribbit and that solved a lot of my problems. The other thing I did was eliminate the wait when they hit the Sammy. Now, I snatched them to the top and surfed them in.

We pounded them pretty hard that day, but just as we were hitting stride, we had to go. I had plans at 5 and we had to be off the water at 2. No problem, really. We learned a lot and we knew we would be back. We caught around 25 fish over the course of the day with at least 20 of them coming in the 11-1:30 frame. We had several 4 pounders and 1 that pushed 5. I missed at least half of my fish.

Day 2
It was painful counting the days until we could hit up Pickwick again. We started out early again and it didn't take long to get started. On the way back to the ramp on the first day, we stopped a nice gravel bottom next to a shelf. On perhaps the 2nd cast, I hooked into a fish. I could tell after about 3 seconds I wasn't dealing with a largemouth. After a serious fight, we got the fish in the boat. It wasn't a huge largemouth, but it was a decent one.
We fished the same grass we ended with the previous trip, but they weren't biting yet. It was early and we didn't expect them to start biting until the current kicked in around 11. So, we ran up to some rock piles that have always been good. About the time we got there, we noticed there was indeed some current. It had fish fired up and we watched both largemouth and smallmouth busting shad. I was throwing a Strike King 6XD while I picked off top water fish. That worked extremely well as we had a couple of doubles. But, strangely enough, the current cut off and the sun got high. 

We fished in the area a good bit longer, but didn't have near the action. We fished the same grass mats as teh previous trip but couldn't coax the fish. We had just about given up when we decided to run upriver to a spot Jon had see a lot of activity on a previous trip, though he hadn't fished. 

Between the main channel and the bank was a secondary channel. In between the two channels was a grass mat. The fish were pushing bait back and forth like a pack of wolves. We went top throwing shallow cranks. I was throwing a Strike King Series 3. Suddenly, the action was fierce. We were catching a mix of white bass and largemouth. Even though we had only caught around 10 fish to that point, we loaded the boat for 30 minutes before we had to head home.  The highlight of my day was one of the very last casts. I had seen a nice fish running the bait and I tossed the Sammy out and he missed it. Again. And again. But, I kept twitching the bait, even all the way to the boat. He must of missed it 5 times. But, right at the boat, he destroyed it! 

Day 3

Because the action had been so much later in the day, we decided not to get on the water until 11. That gave us plenty of time to relax and take our time. We put in and fished the spot we ended at the previous day. The action was decent as the fish were hitting crankbaits. The problem was, the wolf pack of fish would move back and forth, sometimes even as far away as 100 yards. But when they came back, we would catch a ton of them, both whites and largemouth.

The middle of the day was pretty slow, but we pulled back up to the original spot around 5 and from 5-dark we slayed the fish. We even recorded an awesome triple! Keith hooked into a fish with a crank. He held the fish still as I threw the Sammy in on top of him. Another fish nail my Sammy. Jon threw a crank into the fray and hooked one too! It was an awesome feeling!

In all 3 trips, I was able to get the big fish that I missed on the first day to bite. But man, that's one smart fish. I never could get her in the boat. The size continually went down as the water level was dropped. Numbers were good, though. All in all, I learned a lot about the lake. The thing I liked the most about Pickwick was, you can catch fish however you would like. There is every type of fishing a bass fisher could want. Can't wait to get on it again!