June 4, 2014 by Colin Moore
FLORENCE, Ala. – To listen to some of the pros gathered here for the Walmart FLW Tour on Pickwick Lake presented by Straight Talk Wireless, here’s the scenario that will play out for the next couple of days: Each morning anglers will depart the takeoff area and proceed to their first stop where, depending on their draw, they will be required to wait in line until it’s their turn to fish. Once they’ve caught a keeper, they will move on to the next community hole, where they will again repeat the process. And so the tournament will proceed until Sunday evening when the champion will be crowned. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Veterans and newcomers alike agree that Pickwick will fish much smaller than it really is in this, the fifth 2014 Tour stop that’s hosted by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau. Because fish-finding electronics have become so precise, most of the locations that consistently hold bass in early summer on Pickwick seem to have found their way into the waypoint logs of just about every angler entered. As veteran Texas pro Tommy Martin puts it, “either we’re going to have to play nice and share places and get along, or go find six or eight spots that nobody knows about. Good luck with that; I plan to play nice.” Tournament favorites Randy Haynes and Mark Rose said they spent more time in practice riding and looking than stopping and fishing. According to Haynes, there were so many boats on the lake “scouting” that he didn’t dare shut off his engine for fear of revealing one of his spots to prying eyes. Haynes, who’s a Pickwick regular, knows where he’s going to fish anyway, which is more than could be said for other pros such as Jason Christie, who is already bummed out about his prospects. “I didn’t fish hardly at all in practice,” says Christie, who’s currently seventh in the AOY race. “It’s too crowded offshore. There’s a boat every 50 yards. I did fish shallow for a couple of hours just to stretch my legs and get rid of the headache I got from staring at my electronics unit for a few hours. “To win a tournament like this, you’ve got to find the fish to win, and then also manage them – let them rest and come back to them. That’s not going to happen here,” he reckons. “I don’t like fishing around a lot of people, so I don’t really know where I’ll wind up.” Feelings of claustrophobia notwithstanding, somebody will bring in big stringers of bass – they always do. The only question is how many. Some of the heavy sacks will come off the ledges, while others are likely to come from below the dam, though that’s more problematic to estimate. Pickwick’s current is anemic right now, with average daily discharges hardly amounting to more than 15,000 cubic feet per second. Typically, a flowage of around 100,000 cfs, give or take, is considered optimum at Pickwick. It’s not likely to approach anything like that this week. Among the field, however, are anglers who know how to fire up lethargic ledge bass, presuming that the fish are bunched up enough somewhere to build a stringer. “This is the strangest thing, really weird. Hole after community hole was covered up in practice,” says Florida pro Scott Martin. “Pickwick is a great lake, but everybody knows every spot now. What it’s going to boil down to, I believe, is being able to get a good boat draw and make the right decision about where you’re going to stop first. If your best spot isn’t so hot first thing, and you go to your next spot, you’ll find boats already on it. If you go back to your first spot, then you’ll find boats on it too.” And then there are the anglers such as Birmingham pro Barry Wilson, whose usual laid-back demeanor seemingly has been even more relaxed this week. Wilson says he caught about 20 pounds of bass Monday, and shook off “12 or 15 fish.” “I live about two hours from Pickwick, and I grew up fishing here,” says Wilson. “A while back I figured out something that works in these conditions. I’m not doing the typical Pickwick stuff – not at all. It’s kind of off the wall. The current is not really the biggest factor, though there is current.” What’s he doing? Stay tuned. Thursday’s conditions Sunrise: 6:50 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 74 degrees Expected high temperature: 87 degrees Water temperature: mid-70s Wind: west at 10 to 15 mph Day’s outlook: Mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers or thunderstorms, mainly early in the morning and again in the evening, with a break in between. Warm, partly cloudy and blustery weather otherwise. Extended forecast: Highs in the upper 80s with partly to mostly cloudy skies through Sunday, with a 30 to 40 percent chance of thunderstorms each day; lows in the upper 60s to low 70s Moon phase: waxing first-quarter moon Competition format In Walmart FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday’s weigh-in, and the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days. For more coverage For those who can’t catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio. In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com offers real-time updates from the water. Simply click on the tournament ID within the “On the Water” banner at the top of the FLW or Walmart FLW Tour home pages. Walmart FLW Tour event information Takeoff Location: McFarland Park, 200 James M. Spain Drive, Florence, Ala. Time: 6:30 a.m. Weigh-in Thursday and Friday location: McFarland Park, 200 James M. Spain Drive, Florence, Ala. Time: 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday Saturday and Sunday location: Walmart, 2701 Cloverdale Road, Florence, Ala. Time: 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday FLW Expo Date: Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8 Location: Walmart, 2701 Cloverdale Road, Florence, Ala. Time: noon to 4 p.m. Admission: FREE Free Concert: See country star Chris Janson live in concert Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is free. Follow FLW For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Walmart FLW Tour on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.