Saturday, April 23rd - Saturday, April 30th - Pickwick Lake, TN.
Mark and Dave Schabell
While this report will show a bunch of really nice, tournament quality fish, this was a REALLY, REALLY tough trip, despite fishing in optimal conditions, and the ability to fish when and where we chose.
I made the trip with my brother Mark, who was breaking in his center console, Boston Whaler (style) boat. It performed admirably, while the driver still needs a little work. We departed Cold Spring at 7:30am on Saturday, April 23rd and arrived at our destination in the Deep South about seven and a half hours later. We were on the water by 5pm that evening.
We got lucky and secured a covered boat slip about 100 feet from where we parked the van, but ran into some problems getting fed each night and often had to scramble off of the lake and beg to get fed as the local restaurants were cleaning up and technically closed. People do things like that for you in the Deep South. There is a one hour time difference to CDT, but we stay on EDT. The restaurants close at 8pm their time, and 9pm our time. It doesn’t get dark until about 8pm their time, so we had to give up some prime-time fishing in order to get fed. Dinner staples are Ribs, Hamburger Steak, Country Fried Steak and of course, Bar-B-Que. Breakfast in the morning is always accompanied by Biscuits and Gravy and Grits. One night we threw in the towel, fished until dark and cooked up some Dinty Moore Beef Stew over noodles at 10pm at night. The nightly before bed cocktail was always appreciated.
My brother, Mark, actually out-fished me this trip and would have been declared the winner in a head to head weeklong trip.
We are definitely old school fishermen, fishing mostly shore lines, cuts, and points, whereas the new high-tech bass boat guys use their bazillion dollar electronics to locate fish on humps and ledges. They also have the advantage of burning $200 worth of gas to fish the tail waters of Wilson Lake or deep into Mississippi. I have been fishing spring and fall at Pickwick since Nick Schack and I first ventured there back in 1996 when the fishing was phenomenal.
It is pretty obvious that (hopefully temporarily) the bass populations of the smaller bass (12 to 15 inches) is on the serious decline. Not that long ago, back-to-back days of catching 25 per day was not that uncommon. In recent years, and especially this year, 5 to 8 total fish per day is the norm. Two things could be factoring into the equation. Recent years has seen early spring flooding which adversely effects the spawn, and the prolification of Asian Carp. We saw quite a few dead Asian Carp on this trip. The carp feed on Plankton. So do fry and fingerling bass. A lot of competition for little food out there, plus Pickwick has a huge shad population who also gobble up plankton.
Additional commentary on the photo at left. We fish in three states with a reciprocal Tennessee fishing license. We stay in Tennessee, fish a lot in Alabama, and keep our boat in Mississippi.
Next up a couple of day trips here on the Ohio River and maybe a field trip to Nolin Lake in quest of white bass. We are looking to get back to Canada, but only for a week – June 4th through 11th.