UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

High School Stars Square off at Pickwick

High School Stars Square off at Pickwick

Bass fishing’s youth movement was in full flower at daybreak here on Pickwick Lake as 330 teams representing 33 states began their quest for scholarships, prizes and glory in High School Fishing’s National Championship and World Finals.

Day 1 Photo Gallery

The two-tiered event represents the largest national tournaments staged by The Bass Federation and its partner in fishing, FLW, under the auspices of the Student Angler Federation. The field consists of state champions, Open winners or others who qualified as two-person teams in special tournaments held around the country. Each team is accompanied by a captain or coach who operates the boat’s outboard. Otherwise, the high schoolers decide where and how to fish.

“We had a tournament in Texas in December that drew 513 teams from that state, but this is the biggest that involves so many teams from so many states,” says TBF President Robert Cartlidge. “We’re so pleased it exceeded our expectations, as it shows how big and how fast high school fishing is growing on a national scale.”

Eight flights of boats began trickling out of McFarland Park at 5:30 a.m., with the first flight due back for weigh-in at 1:30 p.m. The early takeoff was planned to accommodate Alabama’s typically hot June weather, but a recent cold front served to render the daytime temperature downright manageable – at least for the next few days until higher humidity returns.

As for the fishing, reports from the high schoolers who practiced are mixed. Some report that remnants of shallow patterns such as fishing scattered shad spawns or mayfly hatches might pay off for the anglers in the first flights, but the ledge bite is iffy.

Add that to the list of stuff that Tropical Storm Cindy can be blamed for messing up.

Last weekend, dam managers along the Tennessee River Valley string of lakes expected the storm that blew up along the Gulf Coast to generate flooding of biblical proportions as it moved northward. In anticipation, impounded water was released for a number of days. The fishing was great while it lasted, particularly in Pickwick Lake, but then the rain turned out to be a washout, figuratively speaking. Though it did rain, there was no deluge. And the low barometric pressure that enhanced the bite didn’t stick around.

“The fishing is good if you fish the right ledge at the right time, but it’s not like it was last week,” says local stick Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn. “Some of the best stringers of the year came in then. When the rain went on by they [dam keepers] stopped drawing water. It’s on again, off again now on the ledges, but maybe it will settle back down by the weekend.”

Haynes says that Pickwick aquatic grass is too short and sparse to draw many fish, though some patches of eelgrass are harboring fish.

“There’s really nothing much else to count on,” says Haynes. “It’s going to be a ledge deal, though they [the participants] might be able to pick off some fish along the shoreline first thing.”

More than $95,000 in contingency prizes and scholarship money – including a $24,000 grant from Bethel University – are awaiting the top teams this week. The three-day National Championship ends Friday, while the two-day World Finals is over Saturday.

Tags: pickwick-lake  colin-moore  article 

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