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The Major League Fishing MLF5 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit has checked the boxes in Florida and Texas and now moves on to the Tennessee River impoundment better known as Pickwick Lake. Pickwick has 490 miles of winding shoreline and about 47,500 acres of surface area. Largemouth bass are the most sought after species, but Pickwick has a reputation for very good smallmouth bass fishing. One of the most popular smallmouth fishing areas is the "Shoals" section directly downstream of Wilson Dam to the end of Seven-Mile Island. Swift-moving waters from the Dam create a strong current in this area. The middle to lower reaches off Pickwick provide excellent habitat for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

The April 21-24 event marks the mid-point of the season and should be interesting with a lot of fish on beds and around the shallows. That means the typical Pickwick ledge bite won’t be much of a factor. Pickwick runs northwest through Alabama, with the lower end and dam in Tennessee. When the Elite Series and Toyota Series visited in 2021, the Wilson Dam was very much a factor. But given that the take-off is a 48-mile run to the dam it won’t be an automatic “must try”. While not the longest run, the distance could force anglers to explore the lower reaches of the lake a bit more. One of those areas, Bay Springs was where Mark Rose won the 2009 Stren Series Championship.

Then again, there’s really no bad stretch on Pickwick. The upper end of the lake, near the Wilson Dam, is known for a lot of current and excellent smallmouth fishing. Down the lake there is a lot of action on shallower bars, on grass flats and even some flooded cover. It isn’t surprising to see a smallmouth or two in a bag at Pickwick, but as was the case last year with Bill Lowen’s first win, it’s the largemouth that make a winning bag most of the time. Late April means there should be no shortage of options for pros to catch fish and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the field well dispersed from the Wilson to the Pickwick Dam. Despite a lot of the lake being in play, one of the main focuses will be on shallow, flooded cover up around the Seven Mile Island area. Local pro and 2021 Tackle Warehouse TITLE champ Jimmy Washam expects more of a spawn, post-spawn tournament

As is the case with most Tennessee River reservoirs, shad are the dominant forage, and Washam thinks anglers could experience “an early shad spawn slugfest”. This tournament should see it all when it comes to ways to catch bass. For any early post-spawn or late pre-spawn fish, Tennessee River ledge techniques could be effective, such as crankbaits, hair jigs, Neko rigs, spoons and football jigs. For shallow fish, a Texas rig or jig flipped to docks, wood and vegetation should be productive. A vibrating jig will also be a factor. Finess fishermen have excelled with drop-shot, floating worm and Senko-style baits. Swimbaits, both soft plastic and hard, could also account for some good fish.


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