Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
Just as soon as one season ends, the preparation for the next begins, and both new and returning anglers are filled with excitement to get going this week. The event is hosted by the City of Florence, Alabama with both the launch and weight-in at McFarland Park, all three tournament days Wednesday through Friday.
With cold weather moving in and questions surrounding the water flow, anglers are likely practicing in totally different conditions than they will be dealing with throughout the event. Sub-freezing temperatures at night will likely change potential patterns but should keep staging fish in areas where they can be targeted.
Mitchell Elsey lives in Tennessee but does not have much time on the water at Pickwick until this week. Of the lakes he fishes on the regular, Wilson Lake has the most similarities to Pickwick and he began his practice period trying to dial in what Pickwick has to offer for the anglers this week.
“The majority of what I have seen is that staging, pre-spawn type things, but I wouldn’t rule out other phases and areas to play in some way as well,” said Elsey. “I am going to keep my eyes open throughout practice and the tournament and see what transpires.”
The typical pre-spawn type areas should play regardless of the weather but the falling water has changed where fish have been positioning the last couple days. Bluff walls, lay down and key transition areas should be a factor in continuing to have big fish come across the scales at Pickwick.
“I am guessing we will see some big bags; the last few weeks there were 28-pounds a few times taking the win with over 20-pounds in 10th place,” added Elsey. I think if you can find some of those giant smallmouths, mixed bags with spotted or largemouth bass, that will be the difference in several places on the leaderboard.”
Similar to Elsey, Richard Kee is still working to put the puzzle together. He is hopeful that the recent rains will be enough to keep the flow going throughout the event as it should help set up the fish better.
“I have been seeing 58-degrees a lot, but the water has dropped over 5-feet in the last week and that is changing things,” said Kee. “The current affects those fish set up off shore and staging, but not so much the spawners.”
Keeping his options open to both sides of the river, Kee will keep narrowing down his plan of attack throughout the rest of practice and going into the first day on Wednesday.
Billy Doyle spent the first day of practice in unfamiliar water in hopes of unlocking some potential areas for the tournament but has not yet figured out anything solid. With his previous experience on the North end of Pickwick, the falling water is keeping things interesting.
“The lake has not showed me much as of yet,” said Doyle. “They have been pulling water from recent rains and with perfect conditions for my liking today, it was tough – the fish do not really know what to do.”
Doyle loves winter fishing and cold weather so he is not deterred from the freezing temperatures coming.
“I love the clouds and wind usually, but the water is falling and I am thinking it will be more stable for the event,” he added. “I am thinking it may be a reaction type deal or fishing really slow. We have sunshine the next few days (of practice) so we will have to see.”
How to Watch
Tune in daily March 15 through 17 to watch daily action from Florence, AL, with Live Coverage here and on the FREE PHYX TV App beginning on Wednesday.
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