Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
With a 9-pound lead going in, Brandon Perkins caught 24-pounds, 4-ounces on the final day to secure the second NPFL victory of his career, both on Pickwick Lake. Perkins started out with 24-pounds, 9-ounces on day one, added 17-pounds, 6-ounces on day two, and with high winds on Friday, he scrapped together a five bass limit giving him a three-day total of 66-pounds, 10-ounces.
Perkins spent the majority of the first two days fishing down the river and targeted shallow bars with key isolated irregularities. On day three, with high winds projected, he knew the run was more than he wanted to deal with, and started close by the takeoff. It didn’t take long to realize the current flow had been cut back, and he made a key adjustment as the day progressed to locate some bigger quality smallmouth, rounding out his limit and giving him a 13-pound, 10-ounce margin of victory on his home body of water.
“Today was testy, man,” said Perkins. “I know this end of the lake but it is not my comfortable zone. I checked these areas (by the dam) in practice and both days of the tournament without any luck. I ran into Mike Corbishley and he had just run back up the river and told me how rough it was – it was an easy decision to stay. Once I figured out the 20 to 30-yard stretch where they were sitting and it was hotter than a fire cracker all day.”
Throughout the event, Perkins fished a mix of reaction style baits to target fish staging on the river channel. By the dam, he rotated through a few others to get those bigger smallmouths to bite.
“I fished a whole lot of Bill Lewis this week – a Rattle Trap, MR6 and MR12 – and when I moved around, I swapped to a swimbait and a Buckeye Lures Jig. I threw everything on Rockohl Rods, different models, and today was about the 8-foot cranking rod,” he added.
“I came back to the NPFL for this event and the increased payouts. I have had some really tough times this time of year and those days helped prepare me for events like this. I was about to catch my goal weight of 66-pounds and I have some awesome sponsors to thank – The Outpost at Pickwick, South East Auto District, Prym1 Camo and Family Clinic at the Lake – I could not do this without them.”
Timmy Reams overcame a slow day one to finish the event in second place. He stacked bags of 16-pounds, 10-ounces on day two and the biggest bag of the tournament on day three weighing 24-pounds, 10-ounces. His three-day total of 52-pounds, 6-ounces gave him a 6-pound, 3-ounce margin over third place.
Reams had his best days of practice fishing in Wilson Lake, and decided on day one to sample an area near the tailrace where he had gotten a big bite, a decision that saved his event.
“This is a good start to the season, for sure,” said Reams. Day one was a struggle, but opting out of the lock and staying close by was a big blessing due to the issues others had. I found a little seam and was able to catch some good weights on the next two days.”
Reams made a switch on day two to a lighter action rod and lighter swimbait hook and was able to put more fish in the boat, something that hurt him on day one.
“I got there yesterday and it was loaded,” he added. “Same thing today, it was super fun. I could see them sitting there and they wanted to bite. I have to thank Dan at Fishermans Central for bringing me some baits this week and my sponsors Henny Rods and High Mountain Off-Road.”
After a slow start on day one, Mike Corbishley caught bags of 19-pounds, 12-ounces on day two and 18-pounds, 4-ounces on day three to finish in the third-place spot with a total weight of 45-pounds, 13-ounces. Dealing with more than just fishing this week, Corbishley located a key area at the end of the first day and went to work early and often the next two days.
“I lost two other good fish on day one that hurt me, but finding that load of fish saved my event,” said Corbishley. “I went back on day two and caught them super quick and then caught a 6-pounder later in the day.”
Day three was more of the same. He could locate the packs of smallmouth roaming the shallow bars with two Lowrance Active Target 2 transducers, one in scout mode, and one in forward. The precise casts with a swimbait were key to getting them to bite.
“The C-Mapping from Lowrance and HDS Pro units allowed me to pull up and find those sweet spots and catching them early on was key,” he added. Today, the wind blew my area out in two hours and I never relocated them fish.”
Off the water, he was dealing with his social media being hacked and had to shout out his fiancé and mother for helping to handle the fiasco.
“A big shout out to them for helping me take down the hackers,” laughed Corbishley. “Without the support at home, I could not do any of this, so they are really appreciated.”
Tim Cales worked the current seams of the Wilson Dam tailwater all three days to finish in fourth place with a total weight of 45-pounds, 10-ounces. His biggest bag of 18-pounds, 8-ounces on day one carried him through as he dealt with battery issues that took away precious fishing time both day two and three.
“My main deal was flipping that little Big Daddy Swim Jig on my FX Rods up in those breaks where they were sitting,” said Cales. “My water today had dropped two foot overnight and my targets were out of the water. And, I do have to thank Dan Blackert for loaning me his boat this afternoon when my batteries died.”
With back-to-back 13-pound, 13-ounce bags on days one and two, Jason Wilson upped his total to 16-pounds, 11-ounces on day three to finish in the fifth-place spot with a total weight of 44-pounds, 5-ounces.
Rest of the Best
Patrick Walters 44-2
Jesse Wise 43-12
Brian Hatfield 41-12
Louis Fernandes 41-8
Todd Goade 41-5