June 11, 2011 by David A. Brown
FLORENCE, Ala. - What kind of angler rejoices over losing a perfectly-tuned crankbait that's currently producing fish? Someone who just won a tournament on his back-up bait, that's who. Today, that someone was Bartlett, Tennessee pro Lloyd Pickett Jr. - the EverStart Southeast Division champion of Pickwick Lake.
So, here's the deal. After finding a good crankbait bite in practice, Pickett naturally put the Strike King 6 XD to work on day one. Unfortunately, a big fish really liked that lure and Pickett had to say "goodbye." Fortunately, after picking up a Carolina rig, he was soon saying "hello" to three days worth of quality fish. Day one yielded a limit of 24-15, followed by 27-13 - the event's largest bag - on day two.
Pickett's first two bags included each day's Snickers Big Bass. He nabbed a 7-2 on day one and an 8-5 on day two.
Pickett lead the field by 13-7 going into the final round and finished the show with a day-three limit of 16-2 for a tournament total of 68-14 and a winning margin of 9 pounds, 13 ounces. The week, he said, set up perfectly for Carolina rigging, which is actually Pickett's signature technique.
"It was flat calm out there," he said. "It could not have been any more perfectly - unless (the TVA) was pulling more water during the day. They didn't start pulling (a high volume of water) until the afternoon. But it worked out fine and that's what's important."
Considering the amount of pressure Pickwick's sprawling ledges were receiving, Pickett decided to start each morning in Bear Creek, where he targeted humps in 15-16 feet. Once he secured a limit, he would move out to the main lake to work a handful of sweet spots on the ledges where he had located schools of bass in about 21 feet. Slowly dragging the `rig, he said, gave his fish a more subtle presentation that worked especially well given their orientation to the bottom.
"There were a lot of boats on the ledges and you could see every day - the fish were pulling away from the tops and pulling out," Pickett said. "What I had to do was get on top of the ledges. Instead of sitting out and throwing up, I'd basically get up and make the longest cast I could and drag that Carolina rig up the ledges.
Throughout the week Pickett fished Zoom Baby Brush Hogs, Old Monster worms and Zoom Magnum Finesse worms (watermelon and green pumpkin) on 3/0 and 4/0 Gamakatsu hooks with ¾-ounce weights. All of his day-three weight fish came on the Mag Finesse worm. Pickett fished his baits on a 7-foot-11 Hammer Rod with a Shimano Curado reel loaded with 15-pound Berkley Trilene Big Game main line. He used 12-pound Trilene on his leader.
Goggins gains a spot to second
On day two, Auburn, Ala. pro Anthony Goggins earned his final round spot by improving from 12th to third. Today, he sacked up the heaviest bag, a 21-pound, 9-ounce effort, that gave him a three-day total of 59-1. The only pro to break 20 on day three, Goggins caught 18 pounds on day one and added 19-8 on day two.
Goggins said his bites started quickly and he had all of his weight fish by 10 a.m. After intentionally cutting his first two days short - managing his spot and protecting his daily catch in the week's extreme heat - Goggins was put in a full day in the final round to get as much as he could.
"I only had two days of practice so I just stood on my graph for two days of looking and found two schools of fish in two different creeks," he said. "I just went back and forth between those. I'd go to one place and catch 15 pounds and then go to the other one and catch two 5's, and then I'd leave. I'd come back to the ramp at 12 or 1 o'clock because it was so hot."
Goggins caught his fish on a Strike King 6XD in gizzard shad and a Strike King spoon. He used the spoon to fire up the school and then caught most of his weight fish by running the crankbait through them. Although he caught big numbers, he regretted not finding the big kickers he needed.
"I probably caught 100 pounds of fish a day - I just couldn't get an 8-pounder," Goggins said. "I'd get 4's and 5's, I just couldn't get 8's. But you can't go to too many places in the world where you can catch them like that."
Third-place Padgett sticks with bucktail
A Pickwick regular, Bobby Padgett, of Lagrange, Ga. caught some of his day one fish on a Zoom crankbait, but he did most of his damage this week with a tried-and-true technique he uses every June. Downsizing to 6-pound fluorocarbon, he hopped a 7/16-ounce white bucktail jig three to four feet off the bottom to target suspending fish.
"What happens is you can scatter them pretty quickly, or someone else will fish the place," he explained, "but you throw in there one time (with the jig) and if you hit the right spot, you get one bite and it's usually a 3- to 4-pound fish. Maybe one out of 10 times, you get a second bite.
"I had this bag by probably 10 o'clock and my partner didn't have anything. So I gave him my bucktail and he started waxing me. I almost asked for it back. This is just a good thing to throw postspawn. It catches them when they're off the bottom, but it's a lot of work to catch them."
Padgett caught a day-three limit of 17-6 for a tournament total of 56-11.
Mansfield moves up to fourth
Scott Mansfield, of McKenzie, Tenn. added a limit of 16-8 to his first two weights of 16-7 and 18-13 for a tournament total of 51-12 that lifted him from fifth place to fourth. Mansfield reached the final round with a big day-two jump from 26th place.
A combination of spoons, swimbaits and crankbaits and a spinnerbait with white willow blades produced Mansfield's fish.
Improving from eighth to fifth, Matt Ferguson of Pontotoc, Miss. caught 15-15 on day three to finish with a total weight of 50-8. Ferguson got his day-one fish on a crankbait, but when the bite slowed over the next two days, he turned to a custom football head jig in Missouri craw with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Pickwick Lake event:
6th: Curt McGuire, of Paris, Tenn., 49-14
7th: William Davis, of Sheffield, Ala., 48-14
8th: Randy Haynes, of Counce, Tenn., 48-2
9th: Jeremy Utley, of Florence, Ala., 46-0
10th: Donny Beck, of Killen, Ala., 39-13