By B.A.S.S. Communications Staff
(Editor's note: B.A.S.S. officials postponed day 1 of this event due to strong winds and heavy current. Competition will now begin Friday and conclude on Monday. For more, click here.)
Brock Mosley believes current will play a prominent role in this week's Bassmaster Elite Series stop at Pickwick Lake in Alabama, and the Mississippi pro will be monitoring the Tennessee Valley Authority app regularly for water-release schedules because of it.
Competition will be conducted Friday through Monday with daily takeoffs from McFarland Park at 6:45 a.m. CT. Weigh-ins each day at the park will start at 3 p.m.
Mosley’s hardly a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, but he knows that current strength greatly impacts this TVA reservoir. Water movement definitely benefits bass anglers, but too much of a good thing can become a not-so-good thing. As of early March, Pickwick Dam was releasing approximately 157,000 cubic feet per second — a figure Mosley hoped to see taper down.
“There’s a lot of water being pumped through the system, and that’s fairly normal this time of year with the spring rains coming,” Mosley said recently. “I just hope that by the time the tournament gets here, it slows down to 70,000 to 80,000 cfs, or even a little less.
“If that current slows down, it will give guys a lot more options. For one thing, you always hear about guys going to ‘The Horseshoe’ (the boulder-strewn area below the Wilson Dam tailrace), and if the current is rolling that fast, it’s going to make that extremely tough to fish – and a little bit dangerous.”
It appears as if Mosley will not get his wish for lesser current, as the area was pounded by a series of strong storms this week. As much as 8 or 9 inches of rain fell in some locales.
Stretching 52.7 miles dam to dam and covering approximately 43,000 surface acres, Pickwick offers significant habitat options, such as islands, points, bluffs, creeks, bridges, riprap and grass.
Addressing the current’s clarity variable, Mosley said, “I always like a little stain this time of year. Pickwick can have a lot of clarity, but I think you can get away with a lot of different techniques with a little bit of color to the water.”
Lipless crankbaits, bladed jigs and swimbaits lead the seasonal lineup, while topwaters, jerkbaits and jigs may also see action. Largemouth bass keep company with a good population of smallmouth, so anglers targeting the latter may also add dropshots, Ned rigs, shaky-heads and Neko rigs to their arsenals.
The Pickwick event was originally scheduled for June 10-13, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency and associated limits on large gatherings, B.A.S.S. officials swapped this event with the Bassmaster Classic. Mosley said this change will likely afford anglers a more enjoyable and productive scenario.
“This will open up a lot more options on ways to catch them,” he said. “If we would have come in June, it would have been primarily a ledge deal with guys sharing schools and fishing on top of one another.
“That could have been a little frustrating for the anglers. Now it’s going to open up the entire lake and guys are going to be able to catch them however they want to.”
That being said, Mosley believes the Wilson Dam tailrace could end up delivering the winning fish – as it did for Davy Hite who, in 2011, notched his eighth Bassmaster win on Pickwick.
Smallmouth love that cooler, more active water, but quality largemouth feed there, too. The great thing about Pickwick is that both species live throughout the lake.
“This should be a really good event after coming from Knoxville (the previous Elite event), which was a grinder,” Mosley said. “This one won’t be nearly as tough, and guys are going to catch them.”
Mosley said limits shouldn’t be too hard to come by, but competitive bags will need a kicker of 4-plus pounds each day. Largemouth generally grow bigger than smallmouth, but Pickwick’s known for whopper bronzebacks.
“I’ve seen 28-pound bags of smallmouth come out of that place,” Mosley said. “A guy could catch all of either species or have a mixed bag and do extremely well with a little bit of each."
A full field of 100 anglers will fish the first two days, with only the Top 50 advancing to Saturday’s semifinal round. The Top 10 will advance to day 4 with a chance at the $100,000 first-place prize.
Live coverage for all four days of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast live with the tournament leaders beginning at 7 a.m. CT on Saturday and Sunday.