Angler of the Year race is heating up

The fourth FLW Tour derby of the season took place this past weekend at Pickwick Lake in Alabama and while it was some of the toughest fishing I have ever experienced, things ended up going pretty good for me en route to a 33rd place finish in the 165-angler field.
Over the course of the three practice days, fishing from dark to dark, I only was able to find a few spots where I thought I might be able to catch some fish.
On the second day, I didn’t even catch a keeper so my confidence was not exactly through the roof heading into the tournament.
Pickwick is a good lake with plenty of big fish in it. Heck, when we were here two years ago, I caught the biggest bass of my life and had a great week, but it was much different this time.
A combination of factors made the fishing tough, including a cold front that lingered through much of the week and a fluctuation of water levels in the weeks leading up to the tournament.
Plus I think a lot of the fish were in transition between their spawning areas and the off-shore areas where they’ll spend the summer.
On Day 1 of the tournament last Thursday, my first spot turned out to be pretty hot and I caught my five-fish limit from it in about an hour, so that took a lot of pressure off for the rest of the day.
During the rest of the day, I only managed to catch two more keeper-sized fish, which needed to be 15 inches on Pickwick. My catch of 14.07 pounds on Day One landed me in 24th spot so I was happy.
The wind blew very hard on that day and it really muddied up the area I was fishing, so I was a little bit concerned about catching fish on Day Two. I knew that if I didn’t catch them off my starting spot, I would have my work cut out for me.
It was good in the mornings, then it was tough to catch a fish off of it—for reasons unknown to me. I ended up catching three fish from the starting place despite the muddy water and ended up running all over the lake to finish off my limit.
At the end of the day, I managed to catch six “keeper” fish that weighed 11.14 pounds.
There were a lot of good anglers who had a very tough tournament last week, so I was fortunate to grind out my limit each day. I gained valuable points and moved up to third in the Angler of the Year race with two tournaments remaining at Kentucky Lake and Lake Champlain in June.
The Angler of the Year award is very prestigious and comes with a $100,000 prize, so it’s a big deal.
Things have been going my way on the water this season so hopefully it continues for a couple more tournaments!
This week I’m still fishing in the U.S., but I’m making my way north—fishing the annual Sturgeon Bay Open bass tournament on Lake Michigan. It’s a big team event, similar to the KBI and FFCBC, so it’s a lot of fun.
I’m teaming up with my friend, Cody Meyer, from California. He is fellow FLW Tour angler and has become one of my good friends, so we’re looking forward to having some fun this weekend.
Look for the report on this event in my column next week!