By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Following is some pattern and gear information for the 2nd- through 5th-place finishers at the recent Pickwick Lake Bassmaster Elite Series.
2nd: Brock Mosley
> Day 1: 5, 19-09
> Day 2: 5, 21-08
> Day 3: 5, 16-12
> Day 4: 5, 22-14
> Total = 20, 80-11
Brock Mosley was the only competitor other than Bill Lowen to average more than 20 pounds per day. He came within a half-pound on day 1 of matching Lowen's feat of catching three bags that exceeded that threshold.
Considerable experience on the venue was a big key for him and he wasn't thrown for a loop when powerful storms in the days leading up to the tournament caused a dramatic rise in the water level and the Tennessee River current.
"I cut my teeth on that lake in college and I've spent a lot of time there," he said. "I'd seen it a couple other times when the water came up that much. I decided to stay in the river portion and fish current-related stuff.
"I have more experience on the other end of the lake, but I knew those fish had more places to run and hide, whereas in the river they just go up and down."
He fished current breaks on the main channel for the first three days, then relocated to the Wilson Dam tailrace on the final day once the current had subsided.
"I fished all the way up to the tailrace on the other days, but I waited for the water to slow down. On day 3 they closed eight gates and got the current down to where I like it a little better. Some guys didn't catch them there on day 3 and that's probably because it takes those fish about half a day to adjust."
He enticed most of his weigh-in fish by throwing a swimbait attached to a 1/2-ounce jighead into eddys. He caught two on a spinnerbait on the final day and one on a ChatterBait on day 1.
> Swimbait gear: 7'6" heavy-action Ark Invoker Series rod, Shimano SLX casting reel (8:1 ratio), 20-pound P-Line Tactical fluorocarbon line, 1/2-ounce generic swimbait head, 5 1/2" True Bass Hollow Belly (various colors, but primarily white).
> Spinnerbait gear: Same rod, reel and line, prototype 3/4-ounce Angler Assets spinnerbait (chartreuse shad with an oversized willow-leaf blade and a smaller Colorado kicker blade).
> Bladed jig gear: Same rod, reel (6.3:1 ratio) and line, Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer (white), Yamamoto Zako trailer (white).
Cory Johnston continued an impressive run of high finishes since the return from the COVID-19 shutdown last summer.
3rd: Cory Johnston
> Day 1: 5, 18-09
> Day 2: 5, 15-03
> Day 3: 5, 25-05
> Day 4: 5, 19-15
> Total = 20, 79-00
Cory Johnston logged his fifth single-digit finish since the return from the COVID-19 shutdown last summer. He primarily fished a couple of offshore current breaks near Koger Island for the first three days, sharing one with 9th-place finisher Chad Pipkens, then switched to docks in the final round after the water level had dropped.
The best break featured some hydrilla on the bottom, along with a ledge. He pulled the fish from 3 to 8 feet of water.
"The biggest thing for me was being able to kind of fish with a free mind," he said. "On day 1 the water (level) went up a lot and it was basically like fishing a new lake. I went and checked my main spot (from practice) and made two casts, and I knew they weren't going to be there.
"I moved over to the island and on my first cast I caught a 4-pounder. I left to try to catch a limit and came back and found another group of fish on the other side of the island."
His offerings included a bladed jig, a conventional jig and a swimbait. The swimbait accounted for only two weigh-in fish, but they were beauts – a 7-pounder and a 5.
> Bladed jig gear: 7'4" medium-action Daiwa Tatula Elite Glass Crankbait/Bladed Jig rod, Daiwa Tatula SV casting reel (7:1 ratio), 17-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon line, 1/2-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer (white), Yamamoto Zako trailer (white).
> Swimbait gear: 7'6" heavy-action Daiwa Tatula Elite Flipping rod, Daiwa Tatula 150 casting reel (6.3:1 ratio), 6" Scottsboro Tackle swimbait (white/chartreuse) on 1/2-ounce jighead with 6/0 Gamakatsu hook.
> Jig gear: 7'5" prototype heavy-action Daiwa rod, Daiwa Tatula Flip/Punch casting reel (8.1:1 ratio), 20-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon, 9/16-ounce Punisher Lures jig (green-pumpkin), Zoom Salty Chunk trailer (green-pumpkin).
Steve Kennedy's day-2 bag was a four-species "Grand Slam."
4th: Steve Kennedy
> Day 1: 5, 18-11
> Day 2: 5, 20-09
> Day 3: 5, 17-09
> Day 4: 5, 20-07
> Total = 20, 77-04
Steve Kennedy turned in his second straight Top-4 finish after opening the season with a 78th-place bomb at the St. Johns River. He wasted five hours on day 1 for a single keeper in the grass at the southern end of the lake, the relocated to the Wilson Dam tailrace and fished current breaks there for the rest of the event.
His day-2 bag was a "Grand Slam" consisting of a largemouth, two smallmouths, a spotted bass and a meanmouth (a smallmouth/spot hybrid). All five fish weighed more than 3 pounds.
He caught eight to 10 fish per day from depths ranging from 1 to 12 feet. His bait lineup consisted of a swimbait, a spinnerbait and a jig.
"Sometimes I'd be sitting in the eddy and throwing up to the rocks that were breaking the current," he said. "Other times I'd be drifting and pitching to the eddys or throwing the bait downstream and letting it swing around, the retrieving it up the current seam.
"With the water as stained as it was, the color of the bait didn't matter all that much," he said. "Getting it down where the fish were was the key – and getting it in front of a big one."
He said his Lowrance Ghost trolling motor and Lithium Pro Batteries were critical under the heavy-current conditions.
"Those batteries are making a difference," he said. "I'm able to cover more water in practice."
> Swimbait gear: 7'3" medium-heavy Dobyns 736 glass rod, Shimano Curado "Greenie" casting reel (6.3:1 ratio), unnamed 20-pound fluorocarbon line, 6" Scottsboro Tackle swimbait (various colors) on 1-ounce head.
> Spinnerbait gear: 7'3" heavy-action TIGERODZ Canoe Creek glass rod, same reel and line, 1 3/8-ounce Strike King Bottom Dweller spinnerbait (silver with blue back, silver double willow-leaf blades).
> Jig gear: 7'6" heavy-action unnamed rod, same reel, unnamed 65-pound braided line, unnamed 30-pound fluorocarbon leader, 3/4-ounce D&L Advantage jig (white), Zoom Super Chunk trailer (white).
The fish that Hank Cherry found in practice remained in place, but settled into deeper water in the heavy-current conditions.
5th: Hank Cherry
> Day 1: 5, 15-08
> Day 2: 5, 22-09
> Day 3: 5, 19-12
> Day 4: 5, 15-14
> Total = 20, 73-11
Hank Cherry was one of the few anglers in the field who was able to fish the same areas during the tournament that he'd practiced on.
"Halfway through the first day I'd spent so much time in flooded bushes that it kind of threw me off. I got on a place where I caught some on a jerkbait and a crankbait, down a little deeper. I realized that the water had come up, but the fish stayed. I knew to run my exact tracks from practice, but just fish deeper."
He stayed on the lower end of the lake and had two locales that were especially productive – a large rock on a bluff end and a big pea-gravel flat with a steep drop-off. He threw a crankbait and a swimbait and pulled fish from depths of 5 to 14 feet.
"The current was strong and the wind was blowing that way and those fish were sitting on the breaks, ambushing stuff. They were eating gizzard shad, skipjacks and white bass."
He'd planned to make the big bluff rock his second stop on day 3, visiting another place first. When he arrived at the rock, David Mullins was already there, but graciously ceded the spot to Cherry.
> Cranking gear: 7' medium-action Abu Garcia Winch rod, Abu Garcia Revo STX casting reel (6.6:1 ratio), 12-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line, unnamed medium-diving crankbaits (6' and 10', various colors).
> "The color of the baits didn't matter – I rotated between shad, chartreuse and craws," he said. "It was more about making the right cast."
> Swimbait gear: 7'4" medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veracity rod, same reel (7:1 ratio) and line (15-pound), 1/2-ounce, 1/2-ounce Berkley Fusion19 swimbait head, 5" or 6" Berkley Hollow Belly (various colors).