UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

It’s likely to be a ledge game at Pickwick

It’s likely to be a ledge game at Pickwick
Randy Blaukat

The pressure has begun mounting on the pros this week as they prepare for the fifth Walmart FLW Tour stop, this time on Pickwick Lake.

Of the approximately 170 anglers who'll be competing, a relative few of them will be vying for one of the 35 Forrest Wood Cup slots available for the August championship. A few weeks later, the last Tour event of the season, at Kentucky Lake, will settle matters for good.

Without question, the Forrest Wood Cup is the most difficult championship to qualify for in the sport of professional angling. If you fish the Walmart FLW Tour, no doubt you'll agree; if you don't, come on over and find out for yourself.

However, most of the anglers competing this week are out of Cup contention, and Pickwick will offer an opportunity to make a good paycheck to help cover the massive expenses required to fish professionally at this level.

I've talked to quite a few of the FLW Tour pros, and, as could be said for Kentucky Lake, this Tennessee River fishery is not at the top of their list of preferred lakes. The exceptions are the locals, or else those known for being experts at electronic imagery. It's not that Pickwick is a poor fishery. It's a good lake - to fish for fun on a weekday. For a huge tournament such as a Walmart FLW Tour event, not so much. The reason is that when you visit a Tennessee River lake in June, July or August, it's certain that the lake will fish small and that boats will be on top of each other in a big way.

This year it will be no different. Gone are the days when a few anglers knew the best shell beds and creek intersections and could capitalize. There are no secrets anymore, and on Pickwick, there aren't many options. The options that do exist, such as forcing a shallow bite or running to Bay Springs, can produce, but they will not produce the quality of fish necessary to earn a good check.

Add to this the fact that, in 2014, anglers will not be allowed to lock out of Pickwick, and it leaves even fewer options for the pros to explore. I don't mean to sound negative, but that is the reality going into this tournament, and that reality can't be sugarcoated.

Most of the bass caught this week will come from the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge to the Bear Creek area. This locale will be covered with anglers, as it's the area of the lake considered to be the best section due to the river/creek intersection, shell beds and adjacent spawning flats.

The anglers that choose to fish this area will have to deal with several elements. First, the schools are easy to find with side-imaging units. All the big schools will be located the first few days of practice. Catching them is the easy part. Big crankbaits, swimbaits, jigs, worms and drop-shots will all produce.

The hard part is getting on the sweet spots, given the boat draw. There will be a ton of super-nervous anglers at the pretournament meeting, waiting on their first-day draw number. Some will get an early draw and whack them, and some will see their 20-plus-pounds-a-day catches in practice dwindle to near zero with a late draw.

This scenario has happened to all of us, and one of the main reasons so many Walmart FLW Tour pros don't care to fish tournaments on Tennessee River lakes in the postspawn/summer months. The uncontrolled variables are far too many to deal with successfully.

While most of the field will be battling it out offshore, some of the anglers will look for alternatives. Some will try to catch tailrace fish, but most likely, we're a month too late for that to be a factor. Some will fish shallow grass and wood. This will produce, but the quality will not be there to compete with the offshore ledge fish.

There will be a few anglers that make the long run to Bay Springs Lake. This can pay off, but it's nearly an 80-mile run, and Pickwick can get rough. As many of you know, this year has seen some of the highest daily winds I can remember (20 mph or higher nearly every day in Missouri for months), so this is a big gamble.

Regardless, Pickwick is a healthy fishery, and the weights will be good. I look for it to take around 80 pounds to win the event, and around 20 pounds to get a top-75 check after two days.

I don't see any one angler blowing out the event - a few years ago, maybe, but not in 2014. Everyone is just too good now when it comes to finding those little key sweet spots. Given that, it will come down to who gets the best boat draws and the key bites, and executes to perfection.

Best of luck to all the anglers!

Tags: randy-blaukat  blog 

Renewed Excitement for Super Tournaments

Renewed Excitement for Super Tournaments

Like everyone else, I had concerns about when we would be able to resume our 2020 season on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. Probably a bigger concern was what the rest of the season would look like. READ MORE »

Why I’m Excited to be Back with FLW

Why I’m Excited to be Back with FLW

This year has been an interesting one, to say the least. For the first time in my pro career, I’ve been home for much of the spring, and while it was great to fish local waters and get some projects done around the house, I’m ready to get back to fishing tournaments. READ MORE »

Big Changes for the Pro Circuit

Big Changes for the Pro Circuit

Recently announced changes to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit have me extremely excited to get the season back under way. Specifically, a good number of the Major League Fishing anglers will be fishing the remaining three Pro Circuit Super Tournament events with increased payouts. This makes these truly the most lucrative five-fish-limit events in the country, with potentially half of the tournament field being paid $10,000 or more. READ MORE »

My Line-Thru Addiction

My Line-Thru Addiction

Pollen is in the air, on the water and covers my boat on a daily basis. When this happens, it means one thing to me – the bass are on the bed. Now, most people are all giddy about sight-fishing, but that’s not my deal. I can count on two hands how many fish I’ve caught truly sight-fishing. What comes to my mind during this time is swimbait fishing, but more specifically, one kind of swimbait in particular – a line-thru swimbait. READ MORE »

Making the Most of Quarantine

Making the Most of Quarantine

At the beginning of this year I was excited about the opportunity to fish the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and the Bassmaster Elite Series. I was most excited about fishing the spawn in March and April on some of my favorite lakes. When the schedules for both circuits were first released I was feeling very confident about doing some sight-fishing on Santee Cooper, Eufaula and Lake Hartwell. READ MORE »

The Real Reason I love Spring

The Real Reason I love Spring

Fishing for a living is awesome, but when spring comes it can be tough. April is always a busy month for tournaments – and the fishing is usually fantastic – but I really love to turkey hunt and tournaments can put a damper on that. READ MORE »

A Silver Lining

A Silver Lining

From spending some quality time with my wife, Katie, and my dog, Doppler, to organizing my life and fun fishing, there are numerous ways that I have been able to take advantage of our current social responsibility to participate in “social distancing.” READ MORE »

Encouraging the Next Generation

Encouraging the Next Generation

Growing up in the city of Chicago, I didn’t have the outlet to the outdoors that a lot of our youth enjoy while growing up. It often takes hours to travel out of the city due to traffic, and there were no lakes within walking distance from my house. So it’s not like I could swing by the pond after school. READ MORE »

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

When selecting a new rod, I consider several elements: action, power, length and components.  Different rods will fit the role, depending on the type of lure, cover and fish species you are targeting. READ MORE »

Always Go Down Swinging

Always Go Down Swinging

Greg Bohannan's late father, Kenny, taught his sons to never take a third strike looking. "If you take the pitch and don't swing, you never give yourself a chance," he'd say. With that lesson in mind, Greg took his cuts at Lake Martin and gave himself a shot to win. Even though it didn't work out, he knows that at least he went down swinging. READ MORE »

How to Catch Your New PB

How to Catch Your New PB

Out of the five biggest fish I have caught in my life, four have come on a ChatterBait, including my personal best – a 9-pounder I caught this year on Sam Rayburn during the first Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event. READ MORE »

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Without a doubt, during a tournament day I always get a question from my Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Marshal about why I have both left- and right-handed Abu Garcia baitcast reels. I get comments about the same thing from multiple social media followers if I post a picture that shows my reels. The remarks originally surprised me, but not any longer because of how frequently I see them. READ MORE »

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Despite the solid start to the year, and the confidence that comes with overcoming adversity, Miles Burghoff knows very well how a good start to a season can either create positive momentum, or open the door to complacency, which often can result in a loss of motivation and focus. With the Harris Chain event kicking off this week, he's determined to keep that focus and motivation. READ MORE »

New Year, Same Feel

New Year, Same Feel

Ending 2019 on a bad note wasn’t how I pictured last season going. I was in contention to qualify for the FLW Cup going into the last FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain, but after coming in 97th at the finale I finished the season 51st in the Angler of the Year points and missed my chance for the Cup. Not going to lie, it stung a little bit and made for a LONG drive home, but it also made me hungry for 2020. READ MORE »

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Josh Douglas and his wife, Bri, created this baller recap video from Sam Rayburn and the first Pro Circuit event of 2020. In the video, which includes footage from practice and the tournament, Josh dishes on how he used his practice time to eventually uncover a productive trap pattern that helped him earn a 42nd-place finish, which is a big improvement on the 114th he posted at Rayburn in the 2019 FLW Tour event. READ MORE »

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »