Mississippians headed to Pickwick for opener
ATHENS, Ala. - The Mississippi Division 17 of the American Bass Anglers Weekend Bass Series will open its 2014 season Feb. 1 on Pickwick Lake near Iuka, Miss.
The competitors will launch at J.P. Coleman State Park, located at 613 County Road 321 in Iuka, Miss. Anglers may begin fishing at safe light. Registration begins at 4 p.m. Jan. 31. To register for this tournament, see www.americanbassanglers.com/proddetail.php?prod=828.
To enter, anglers fishing the Boater Division pay $200 with co-anglers paying $100. In addition, ABA members enjoy these other these other benefits:
- No more dual membership to fish the Weekend Bass Series.
- No more credit card processing fees for tournament entries.
- Liability insurance requirements have been reduced to an acceptable level for weekend anglers.
- Increased payback at divisional events from 20 percent of the field to 25 percent of the field.
Anglers fishing the Boater Division may weigh in up to five bass in any combination of largemouth, smallmouth or Kentucky spotted bass. Each bass must measure at least 15 inches long. Co-anglers may weigh in up to three bass. Pickwick Lake touches three states. An Alabama license allows anglers to fish from dam to dam. A Tennessee or a Mississippi license only allows anglers to fish certain parts of the lake.
In addition to cash prizes for top finishers, boater and co-angler competitors fishing this tournament and WBS events throughout the season may also win hefty bonuses from such sponsors as Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, Royal Purple, MotorGuide and T-H Marine. See www.americanbassanglers.com and click on "Contingency" for details on how to qualify for these bonuses.
At the end of the season, the best WBS anglers from across the nation will fish the 2014 Ray Scott Championship, slated for Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., from Nov. 15-18. The champion boater will receive $100,000 and possibly up to $50,000 in Triton Gold Bonus money. The co-angler champion will win $50,000 and possibly up to $25,000 in Triton Gold Bonus money.
As a special Ray Scott Championship bonus, the Boater Division and Co-Angler Division champions will each receive entry fees and sponsorship into the one of two professional bass fishing series of the angler`s choice. The sponsorship includes entry fees into three professional events and sponsorship support. This sponsorship will put the champion within striking distance of one of two professional bass fishing championships.
One of the best bass lakes in the nation, Pickwick ranks Number 20 on the 2013 Bassmaster magazine list of the top 100 bass waters in the United States. It can produce largemouth bass exceeding 14.50 pounds, but many people think Pickwick Lake could produce the next world record smallmouth bass.
Pickwick Lake spreads across 47,500 acres and runs for 53 miles along the Tennessee River from Florence, Ala., to Counce, Tenn. The lake offers anglers 496 shoreline miles, including 85 island shoreline miles. Throughout the system, anglers may fish practically any cover type they wish from grassy flats to deep rocky ledges. Near Wilson Dam, the lake still resembles the old river channel.
"Pickwick is both a river and a lake," explained Jimmy Mason, a bass pro and Pickwick guide from Rogersville, Ala. "At the upper part, from the Natchez Trace Bridge to Wilson Dam, it`s a river. From the bridge toward Mississippi, it turns into more of a typical reservoir. The lower lake has a phenomenal amount of ledges, grassy flats and structure."
Although anglers frequently catch smallmouth and largemouth bass in the same spots on the same lures, smallies typically prefer more current, deeper water and rocky bottoms. From the dam downstream to the Natchez Trace Bridge, the river flows around several islands, rocky shoals, sandbars and other obstructions. Some old rocky jetties that once marked the natural Tennessee River channel can hold big smallmouth.
"Those old rock rows are dynamite areas to catch smallmouth in the winter," Mason advised. "They create great areas where fish can get out of the main flow. When the river is flowing heavy, I like to fish those rock rows. I drift backwards with the current. I use the trolling motor to slow the boat drift and cast upstream. Then, I use the current to sweep my bait into the eddies."
Although anglers can catch smallmouth bass from dam to dam, the area from the Natchez Trace Bridge downstream towards Mississippi more resembles a typical southern reservoir and usually holds more largemouth. For largemouth, many anglers concentrate on fishing the grass beds. During winter, punch through grass tops with jigs or work Carolina rigs over deep ledges.
Yellow Creek flows into Pickwick Lake near where the Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi state lines converge. It offers some of the best fishing on Pickwick Lake for both bass species. Other top creeks include Bear Creek, the largest tributary to the lake, Indian Creek, Dry Creek, Second Creek, Coffee Slough, Colbert Creek and Panther Creek.
During a March 2, 2013, tournament on Pickwick Lake, Aaron Harrelson of Glen, Miss., won the Boater Division with a five-bass tournament limit weighing 29.09 pounds for an average of 5.82 pounds. Jason W. Lambert of Counce, Tenn., won the Boater Division big bass title with a 7.50-pounder.
In the Co-Angler Division during that tournament, Roger Morrow of Tremont, Miss., landed a three-fish division limit going 17.03 pounds for a 5.68-pound average. Michael T. Marlin of Nesbit, Miss., won the tournament lunker competition with an 8.13-pounder.
For more information on this tournament, call Kristin Malott, tournament manager, at 256-771-3709 or call ABA at 256-232-0406. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Weekend Bass Series, the American Fishing Tour or the American Couples Series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.