Tournament week in Alabama

Back in 2014, things went my way the first time I fished a tournament on Pickwick Lake in Alabama.
On Day 1 of the tournament that year, I was fortunate to catch my first 10-pound-plus bass, as well as four other solid fish, to round out a 25-pound, five-fish limit—one of the biggest I have ever caught in tournament competition and, by far, my biggest fishing at the pro level.
It was enough to lead the tournament after the first day.
We’re back at Pickwick this week, about a month earlier than last time. All winter I’ve been excited about fishing here and expanding on the areas that I fished last time.
One thing I’ve learned fishing in these tournaments over the past few years is that very seldom are conditions the same from year to year, and that has a big influence on where we can find and catch bass.
The same thing happens on our lakes here in Northwestern Ontario as water levels, ice-out, and weather all have a big influence on each season.
Through a couple days of practice on Pickwick, it has been very disappointing for me. There are no fish on the 20 or so offshore spots that produced for me last time.
Most of the bass in these southern reservoirs move offshore to deeper water through the summer months—and evidently it just hasn’t gotten hot enough yet to kick them out.
My boat never went near the bank the last time we fished here, but things are different this time around and I’m running out of time to put it together. Hopefully by the time the tournament starts tomorrow (May 5), I will have solid plan to get me through the event.
One option I’m considering for my last day of practice is to head to Wilson Lake, which is the lake above Pickwick on the Tennessee River. There is a lock that connects the two lakes and during the tournament, we are allowed to lock over to Wilson.
My reasoning for exploring this option is that I’m hopeful that not many anglers will lock through to Wilson and I’ll have more water to myself, but who knows? This field of anglers does not leave any stone unturned.
I’m pretty disappointed with Pickwick so far so I’m simply considering changing things up. All I know is that I’m running out of time to find some fish for the tournament.
Prior to the start of the official practice for this tournament on Sunday, I spent a couple of days fishing Lake Guntersville—another lake farther east on the Tennessee River system.
It fishes similar to Pickwick but the water was a little bit warmer. I did manage to find one big school of fish on a main lake hump and caught a number of five- and six-pounders.
It was a good warm-up for Pickwick; now I just need to find them here!
The tournament starts tomorrow, with weigh-ins beginning at 3 p.m. (CDT). You can watch live at
It’s been a great season so far for me on the FLW Tour and hopefully I can keep it rolling this week!