Pickwick Report:Big Smallmouth, Spots, and Largemouth 3-24-2013

Water temp: 49-54 degrees
TVA discharge rate: highly variable; averaging approx. 75k cfs, with a range of 25k-90k. GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA
Lake elevation: highly variable (we had a 2.75 feet rise in level while fishing yesterday) from about 415 to 418; avg about 417.
Brrrr! Since the last report we had one morning of 22 degrees (with our plum trees in full bloom) and another a week later of 24 degrees (with our peach trees in bloom). Looks like I’ll have to hope for some apples this year! Water temp fell from 49 back to 43 with snow melt, but has rebounded and climbed to the 53-54 degree range now.
   Weather and water conditions have really affected not only the bite itself but where you can even fish, meaning it can either be a very good day, or a real challenge. It has been a very windy late winter/early spring here, with several strong cold fronts. Two very heavy rains  muddied creeks so badly that some days any areas downstream of them were unfishable. A week ago. Pickwick is not the place to be when the current is running and big NW winds come up, like this past Monday with Dave Mansell and Josh Miller. A strong squall line with 47 mph winds, torrential rain, and hail had us calling it a day just after lunch. But as you can see from the pic of them taking shelter up under the boathouse in Florence Harbor, the morning bite was fantastic! Found out later that there were 4 confirmed tornadoes, lots of storm damage from straight line winds, hail up to silver dollar size, and almost a quarter of a million people in Alabama without power due to that line of storms. GThe pix are captioned with dates and names—and in some cases other pertinent info. Note the “grand slam” or “spots” designation on some of them, as the guys have really been catching some nice Lanier or Smith class spotted bass between 3 and 4 pounds to go along with the big smallmouths and largemouths.

I also want to give a shout out of thanks to Jimmy Mason, Tim Chandler, and Rex Chambers for helping out yesterday in supplying fish for the state hatchery smallmouth program. We were fishing out of Dave Mansell’s magnificent 921 Phoenix , and that made 4 Phoenix boats putting the hurt on the big smallies yesterday.  Dave trailered his boat all the way down from Roberts, WI, loaded with 40—that’s right, FORTY(!)–G. Loomis/Shimano rod/reel combinations! It’s easier to pull the boat down than unload all that tackle! Dave and Josh are excellent fishermen, and with that many good sticks on the lake yesterday, we were able to send John Davis back to Shane at the hatchery with the truck at maximum carrying capacity. A pic of Dave and Josh handing brood fish over to John is included, as well as one with Jim Bruce and John. Here’s hoping they make plenty of babies. The offspring and adults will be released back into the river and tributaries once the young reach a size that maximizes survival. Good program. Thanks guys!

Best baits continue to be the Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig with either a Rage Chunk or Rage Craw trailer, swim baits, and tubes. A few still being caught on jerkbaits and grubs, too. Check out the new Strike King KVD Slash Bait jerkbait for a premium quality, highly effective, and reasonably priced suspending jerkbait. I’ve been letting guys use them, and they love them. Kick’n’Bass craw scent is being applied to the soft plastic baits. My thanks to everyone for keeping it so enjoyable, and for your generosity. We really appreciate it.

God bless,
Steve Hacker

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Photos on flickr