Monday, November 30, 2015

Fishing Report for Pickwick 11/25/15

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Only in Alabama can you have such beautiful weather following a freezing spell, eh? This past week was as nice a week as you can expect for a Thanksgiving week. Brad and I decided to get out while the getting was good and head to Pickwick. While the water was still low, the current was whipping and we had heard that the smallmouth bite was on. 

While everything was stacking up to be perfect, the big ole orange/red full moon that lit the way to Florence had me worried. 

We started out drifting below the dam. Brad was throwing mostly the A-rig while I alternated between top water, crankbaits, single swimbaits, and jigs. 

Other than some magnum skip jack, we didn't catch anything by the dam, though we did run in to a few NASA colleagues who were also fishing, including one accomplished small mouth fisherman. 

We ran down to 7 Mile Island hoping to run in to some largemouth. No takers. Nothing. Not even a bite! 

After fishing a variety of different patterns, I suggested that we fish some pea gravel beds adjacent to bluff walls. 

With the current flowing at over 60,000 CFS, we had to stop the big motor about a hundred yards upriver from where we wanted to fish and drift down.

As we drifted towards the pea gravel beds, we picked up a few stripe, which was a good sign, as we hadn't really caught anything other than skip jack since early morning. 

While fishing the last of the bluff, a fish annihilated Brad's A-rig. After a short fight, Brad boated a very nice three and a half pound smallmouth. 

We fished the pea gravel pretty hard before moving to the next pea gravel bed. The only thing I caught was trees, stumps, and rocks. I was throwing a magnum shakey head a lot, backed by a PowerTeam 7" tickler. I bet I lost 15. It was almost comical. I would tie one on, make a cast, and get hung. 

Eventually I gave up. Though, it wasn't why you might suspect! 

Going down the bluff just before the next pea gravel bed, Brad hooked another smallie on the rig. 

We fished the gravel without a bite and moved to the next, where Brad caught yet another smallie.

At that point I began throwing the rig and we honed in on just bluff walls. I finally got on the board using my custom swimbaits!

We found that each stretch of bluff only had one active fish, meaning that we would cover 300 yards for one bite. It was time consuming, but eventually we caught a limit which included a few short smallies as well. 

The funniest part of the trip was when Brad was measuring his latest catch, he had set the rod down and let the A-rig free spool, though he didn't know it. The rig caught rock and jerked the rod over board! I picked up a crank and tried to catch it, but was unable.

We motored up and were lucky to find that his rod was floating! Thank goodness for floating handles! He did lose that rig, along with another one or two that day, making it a pretty expensive day! But, it was better than losing a $300 rod and reel combo! 

We ended the day with around 12 or 13 pounds, which was a site better than anyone else that we talked to, but still disappointing. But, at least we put together a solid limit. 

The water was 67 degrees. 

All fish were lively when we let them back in to the lake!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SEC Week 12 Picks

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Check back to last week's picks, which you can find here:

SEC Week 11 Picks

I went 2-4 thanks to some...interesting games. 

That brings the season to 20-15. That great lead on the spread has diminished mightily. I blame Gus Malzahn. 
Let's start with games that don't matter.

Tennessee at Missouri- Who would have thought that Missouri could pull an upset win, especially given everything that has happened. But, when I made my picks, Pinkel hadn't announced his retirement, and that was apparently reason to fire the team up. This week Tennessee visits Columbia and is an 8.5 point favorite. The Tigers offense is pitiful. The Vols are missing some big-time defensive players. That's a push. The question is, can the Vols score on Missouri. No one else has been able to score to win. I'll take Missouri in the upset. 

Mississippi State at Arkansas- Last year, the Hogs had two awesome back to back wins before dropping a toss-up game. Who was that to? Mississippi State. State showed its true colors against Alabama last week. Arkansas is a 3.5 favorite at home and playing as well as anyone in the country. Don't think last year's let down game will haunt them again. Take the Hogs and the points. 

Texas A&M at Vandy- It could be debated that Vandy is playing as good of defense as anyone, including East foe, Missouri. But, the Dores have found an inkling of offensive ability. TAMU has had as bad a fall from grace as anyone, Auburn included. But, the Aggies still open up as 6.5 point favorites. I think the traditional thinking is that eventually Sumlin and Co have to come out of their shell and start shelling defenses. Vandy has been awesome against the run, but the secondary hasn't been truly tested in terms of a true air-raid offense. While this is a dangerous game for both teams, I have to believe the Aggies will get the offense going and start putting up points.

LSU vs Ole Miss- Just two weeks ago, Ole Miss and LSU seemed to be set up for a showdown to settle the west. Well, Arkansas ruined all of that and put Alabama right back in the driver seat to Atlanta, making this game essentially a win-and-hope-Auburn-wins game for both teams. Ole Miss is a 4-point favorite. It's hard to get a reading on either of these teams, as they have fallen apart as of late. But, LSU has shown very little against premier foes, whereas Ole Miss has at least been in the games. I'll take Ole Miss and the points. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

SEC Week 11 Picks

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So, I completely forgot to do week 10 picks! Ugh. It's probably for the best because I wouldn't have gone with Auburn and Alabama winning in such a dominant fashion.

Moving on. Still at 18-11 since I didn't do those picks. I will do some bonus picks this week.

Alabama at Mississippi State- Alabama is coming off their best game in probably two years and opens as a 7 point favorite traveling to Mississippi State. Oft forgotten, State is still alive in the west. The Bulldogs are a long way from where they were in 2014, and while they aren't a top tier team, they have quietly put together a solid season. Their offense is very good, but the defense has managed to corral only one team under 10 points, Auburn. This is actually a very good matchup, as State has an extremely talented WR core that could exploit Alabama's defense. Additionally, the ability for Prescott to run and become a +1 hat on a hat runner spells trouble for Alabama. Additionally, Alabama's offense is woefully predictable. That isn't to say it isn't good, because it is good enough. But, the run-first Bama offense needs time to score points and cannot play from behind. State has given up 100+ yards on the ground three different times this year, but still won one of the three games. Even in a losing effort against LSU with Fournette getting 150 yards, State lost by just two points. 

Over the last three years, Alabama has followed the LSU game with a matchup against State twice. Those games over the last three years have seen the Tide outscore the Dogs 73-34. But, the gap has been closed the past two years following a 38-7 drubbing in 2012. It's tough to ever pick against Bama, but Bama has always struggled to cover the spread and State has been a tough team. I will go Mississippi State against the spread. 

Arkansas at LSU-Arkansas is right back where they were in 2014, coming on strong at the end of the year. Arkansas stuffed LSU in 2014 just a week after LSU lost to Alabama. LSU opens as an eight-point favorite at home. Aside from Alabama, Arkansas is the most equipped team in the SEC to fight LSU, especially at Baton Rouge. While one can point to a possible let down game from the Hogs or a revenge game for LSU, the situation is almost identicle to last year. While Arkansas isn't as good on defense as Alabama, obviously, I believe the Hogs are actually a better offense, especially in the second half. I am taking the Hogs in the upset. 

BYU at Missouri- I don't think there has ever been a team with such a wide disparity between the offense and the defense. The Tigers are the 4th best defense and the 4th worst offense. It's amazing that the defense can achieve that ranking despite being on the field as much as it does. An argument could be made that if ANY other offense in college football were paired with the Tigers defense, Missouri might be undefeated. But, they aren't. On the other side, BYU has reeled off 5 consecutive unconvincing wins. Last week's 17-16 win against San Jose State is the closest thing to an SEC opponent, other than Michigan, that they have played. BYU is five point favorite. I can't take Missouri, no matter what the spread looks like, because they just can't score. Add in this issue with their players....BYU and the points

Kentucky at Vandy- Vandy is playing some serious defense, aside from being blasted by Houston. Vandy is a 3.5 point favorite in this matchup in Nashville. The 'Cats have been shredded in the last few weeks on defense while the offense has faltered. That shouldn't be a surprise, as it has been the hallmark of the Stoops era. Towles has thrown 12 INTs to just 9 TDs, and that has been the story. Vandy is going to be fresh off a near loss to Florida where they lost 9-7. Vandy has been especially good against the run, but consider they haven't played a real run-first offense. Kentucky is far from a run-first team, but expect the 'Cats to ride Boom Williams to victory. I am taking Kentucky in the upset. 

Florida at South Carolina-Florida is laying 7.5 points to South Carolina. I don't think this game will be close. Florida may have had a near miss against Vandy, but Florida was sloppy after winning the game against UGA in Jacksonville. McElwain will clean that up and Florida will blast South Carolina. Take Florida and the points. 

Georgia at Auburn- Auburn has lost seven of the last ten matchups. In that rivalry, Auburn has never won two in a row(not applicable since UGA blasted Auburn in 2014). More to the point, UGA has won at least two in a row for every Auburn win. With that being said, most predictive tools have this a straight pick 'em. ESPN has UGA with a 51.3% chance to win, which is the closest I can ever recall. Vegas has the Tigers as a 1.5 point favorite, which is essentially a pick 'em as well. 

UGA is desperate for a win. Like Auburn, this was a team predicted to be in Atlanta in just a few weeks. Instead, they find themselves with multiple losses and an identity crises.  For the first time I can recall, neither team knows who will be playing QB. Unlike Gus Malzahn, Richt may well lose his job if he losses this game. 

Since giving up 38 points in back to back weeks, the UGA defense has turned up the heat. The best game, offensively, came this past week against UK as they scored 27 points. That's only three points shy of what Auburn put on the 'Cats. And, to be honest, Auburn should have put up more. UGA gives up right at 300 yards per game, including around 170 through the air. 

Auburn's defense has been improving, but their improvements are from "dreadful" to "porous." While the performance against TAMU was terrific, TAMU is in complete disarray.  On the flips side, while no one knows what QB will start, Auburn's gameplan is going to be to give the ball to Robinson and make short passes. Malzahn's willingness to rest Robinson in the second half of the TAMU game should be a large indicator of this week's game plan. While the QB play hasn't been very good, Auburn's receivers, especially the younger guys like Tony Stevens, have come along. I expect No. 8 to have a good day. 

Auburn wins and I will take the points.