Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
With 24-pounds, 9-ounces on day one, Counce, TN angler Brandon Perkins takes the day one lead at the NPFL on Pickwick Lake. Perkins had a mixed bag that included a 6-pound, 5-ounce smallmouth to anchor his day one weight.
Perkins went into the day unsure of his game plan for the day. With a late boat draw, he debated starting close by the take off before making the run to the other end of the lake where he is most comfortable.
“I only caught seven fish today and that is tough. The water is cooling off and after catching a couple fish early, I was able to run around a fill out a limit with some quality fish.,” said Perkins.
Another local angler who regularly fishes the Florence side of Pickwick, Michael Brewer got to work early and brought 21-pounds, 13-ounces to the scales to sit in second place. Brewer was done fishing by 10:30 am and hopes to return to his starting spot for day two.
“From the first cast this morning, it was on,” said Brewer. “I was late putting my fish into the tracker; I had ice in my boat, it was cold, and all my fish were identical in size – it was the most fun I have had being cold in a while.”
His starting spot was something special, a place he has fished for over 30 years. However, due to some medical issues, Brewer has not been fishing as much as he typically would and therefore has never fished his area with forward facing sonar, until today.
“I did not catch one on my first cast, but I got slack lined, and I knew they were there. I could see some fish below me and it turned out those were spotted bass,” he added. “I want to finish out tomorrow with a shot on Friday.”
Brewer noted he beat up his area pretty good this morning and had some local pressure after he left. Knowing the likelihood of the risk of being seen, he made sure to save some other key spots for later in the week if needed.
Tim Cales had an up and down practice period and was unsure of how his day would go on day one. With a limit of 18-pounds, 8-ounces, he finished the day in the fourth-place spot with a lot of hope for the rest of the week.
“I honestly was not sure if I was going to get a bite this morning,” said Cales. I found a few spots in practice that I had gotten a bite and planned to just run those today. I was able to get some quality off one spot before moving around.
Louis Fernandes followed up a tough practice with a junk fishing 101 type of day. He sits in the fourth-place spot after day one with a limit of 18-pounds, 6-ounces. Fernandes relied on changes in weather and covered water to get his bites.
“It was garbage for me, man,” said Fernandes. “I knew we had good weather coming in so I stuck with the shallow bite and hoped it would turn on. I caught fish in several places I have never seen before and just hoped to run into fresh fish.”
With a limit of 18-pounds, 5-ounces, Dustin Wilkey finished the day in the fifth-place spot with an almost two-pound cushion over the next angler. Wilkey was able to take advantage of his main area early and used the rest of his day to practice for the rest of the tournament.
“I never found much after I left, but by 10:30 am I had my weight and left it alone,” said Wilkey. “It was a key spot from practice and I had a little milk run. I made my rotation and culled twice. My plan for day two is to lean on them hard and try to move up a little bit, I am shooting for 20-pounds.”
TVA Lock Survey Affects NPFL Anglers
With almost a dozen anglers reportedly locking to Wilson, the TVA had a “survey or unscheduled maintenance” problem this afternoon, therefore affecting the angler’s ability to return to weigh-in.
“The NPFL, and the anglers were in communication with the lockmaster this week and unfortunately, they had some problems which will affect the tournament,” said Brad Fuller, President of the NPFL. “We briefed the anglers on the risk, and those anglers decided to go to Wilson and were successful in their fishing. This is part of professional fishing tournaments and a factor that can come into play.”
The NPFL anglers will fish all three days of the event and hopefully have a chance to salvage points on Thursday and Friday.