June 10, 2014 by Colin Moore
Fishing the ledges of the western Tennessee River lakes in the summer is like spending another day at the office. You pretty much know what to expect. There are lots of other guys around you, doing the same job and trying to stay out of each other's way. Starting time is set by the boss, in your case the tournament director, and the bass will let you know when it's quitting time. Today probably will be about like yesterday. The monotony of it all can drive you crazy. Of course, there's always the chance that a surprise might come along to spice up the routine a bit, but there's no guarantee that the surprise will be a good one. Sometimes it can be both good and bad in the same workday, as was the case for these anglers in the Walmart FLW Tour stop on Pickwick Lake presented by Straight Talk Wireless. Jeff Gustafson Day 1: 24-08 (1st) Day 2: 15-15 (12th) Day 3: 12-2 (17th) My first day went great. I almost could do no wrong. My big bass of the day (10 pounds, 12 ounces; the Bridgford Big Bass) was the biggest I've ever caught. The spot where I got it probably gave up about 30 fish that day, from mid-morning to lunchtime. When I pulled up to this spot, which was a point sort of sticking into the current, there was nobody else around. I caught a number of nice fish off of there (mostly 3-pounders) and some smaller ones. The big fish was caught about midway through the flurry. It might have been that I caught more fish than I should have off this spot, but once I had that big fish, I felt like I needed to put up as much weight as I could to go with it. I caught them until I couldn't catch anymore. Most of the fish came on a football jig. I fished another spot the first day, and it was loaded with a good school as well. I actually caught two fish - a 3 1/2- and a 3 1/4-pounder - on the same crankbait when I made my first cast on it. Like I said, it was just my day. One thing that hurt me was not having enough spots that weren't getting covered up with other anglers. Most of the other stuff I had that I really wanted to fish was getting worked over by several other anglers all the time. That big bag on day one really separated me from the rest of these guys, but had I not caught it, I would have just squeaked out a good check at this event. On days two and three, I did get on a few schools, but they weren't the right size. They weren't the 3 1/2- to 4-pound-plus fish that I was looking for and needed. It seemed like all the schools I was finding consisted of 2-pounders. I'm not sure why that was because I was confident going out in the mornings that I would run into some schools of fish of the right size, but it just didn't happen. The Monday after the tournament I spent the day on Pickwick, fishing with some sponsors. The fishing was really good. I would have had around 22 pounds if the tournament had still been going on. I caught some good fish that reloaded on some of the community spots and on some of the spots I fished earlier in the event. What I take from this is that at future ledge events - the soonest being Kentucky Lake - I need to find some of the little, inconspicuous spots that are close to those community spots. That's where those big schools are, but the pressure really moves them around and turns down their activity level. I think if I can find those little places near the main areas, they can kick out a fish or two every day. I really didn't let the conditions dictate where I fished so much during the event. Instead, if there was a spot open that I wanted to fish, I fished it. Having three days of practice, I didn't have the number of spots that maybe some of the other anglers had. I'm hopeful that I learned enough about the lake that if we ever go back I'll be much more efficient in finding more of those subtle spots that others might overlook. Randy Haynes Day 1: 23-9 (2nd) Day 2: 17-10 (9th) Day 3: 10-12 (18th) I started off well enough, but then on the second morning I hit a log before I even got to my first place, and it kind of messed me up. I thought I had just bent my prop a little, but it turns out it bent the shaft and I had to get towed in. That was the day a lot of guys caught them early. Still, I had more than 17 1/2 pounds. Everything I caught in the tournament came on a crankbait I helped design: the Profound Outdoors Z-Boss 20, which goes down to 18 or 20 feet on 12-pound test. It's a very subtle bait that throws like a piece of lead, has a tight wobble and suspends perfectly. I was fishing it on 15-pound-test anywhere from 10 to 16 feet deep. I wasn't fishing the big schools, just the smaller ones that I felt like probably wouldn't get as much attention. My last day, which was Saturday, I just couldn't get it going. It was like I was out of sync or something. I never could hit the right school at the right time. I'd be sitting and watching somebody fish a spot for 30 minutes, and when they'd leave, I'd start moving in and somebody else would show up. I burned 55 gallons of gas trying to find spots that didn't have so many fishermen on them. Everybody in the top 10 knew where the fish were and kept hammering away at them. The fish didn't leave. Usually when they get pressured they move off some, and then the fishermen go away too. In practice I found some places where I thought the fish would move to when they got pressured. That's kind of my thing; that's how I win tournaments. But at Pickwick the fish just stayed put where the top 10 guys could get to them. A lot of times things happen in a tournament that you can't explain. I would have liked to have found fish that had been let alone, but that never happened. I went down the lake and saw where everybody was fishing. I felt confident I knew where those fish would get pushed to, except they didn't budge. So there were four or five boats on every school. I can't win by getting in there with everybody else. When everybody's trying to get a slice of the same pie, the pieces keep getting smaller, and you can't win like that. I hope the fish move better at Kentucky Lake. I think they will. Shane Lehew Day 1: 20-9 (8th) Day 2: 13-14 (29th) There were three primary spots I was fishing, and a couple of others I considered so-so. I was boat No. 60 on day one, and when I got to my best spot I was surprised to find that I was the only one there - at least for a while. I started catching 4-pounders, and then other boats started easing in. On the second day, I got there later, and there were already a couple of tournament boats on it. I went to one of my backup spots and actually caught more fish there, but they were smaller keepers. I never could get a big bite there. I was using swimbaits and a power-shot rig. Later on in the day, I finally got back to my first spot and had it to myself. I caught a 4-pounder there and lost another big one and then had to go. I probably should have stayed on that one place all day and not tried to run around and fish other places. I'm going to have to learn to fish in a crowd. I did a lot of running, trying to find something I could fish by myself. There weren't many places like that at Pickwick. Of course, Kentucky Lake will be a lot more spread out. Troy Hollowell Day 1: 19-12 (12th) Day 2: 22-14 (5th) Day 3: 10-9 (15th) I caught a bunch of keepers the second day, especially when they turned the water on in the afternoon. We had current all the third day. I figured the fishing would bust wide open then, but it didn't for me. I pulled into a place that I shared with Brent Ehrler, and I watched him catch five keepers on five casts. That encouraged me to go to one of my other places down toward Yellow Creek, where I thought the tournament should have been won. The reason I thought that was because on my second day I probably caught about 30 keepers there on a crankbait. I crushed them, and there were two more deals near there I didn't fish on the second day because I didn't think I needed them. Then, on the third day, those fish were gone too, and I never could reconnect with any of them. All three places were current-dependent. I thought it was going to be perfect because they were pulling current the third day. These were the kind of places where the fish would move to when they got beat up, or so I thought. It messed with my head. I found out later that after Brent caught those five fish on the first spot, he didn't catch another one there. Everything that worked for me the first two days went south on the third day.