Pickwick Lake Preview

The NPFL returns to Counce, TN, to kick off stop #3 of the 2024 NPFL Season on Pickwick Lake.

Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons

For the third time in four seasons, Pickwick plays host to the NPFL anglers for an old-fashioned summertime ledge tournament. In 2021, also in July, Brandon Perkins lapped the field with an 8-pound margin of victory. Again in 2023, Perkins stole the show with multiple 24-pound bags to earn the victory with an almost 14-pound margin.

This year, with tournament schedules shifted to better align with TVA river flows and alleviate pressure from weekend tournaments, the event begins on Wednesday and concludes on Friday. Similarly, the tournament hours for this event have shifted, with take-off at 10:30 AM and the first flight checking in at 5:45 PM.

Despite the shift in tournament hours, anglers are maintaining a narrow mindset towards the event, capitalizing on all available practice hours to break down a “tough” Pickwick Lake.

Will Harkins

“I am still practicing the same out here and I am not too concerned about the time,” said Will Harkins after day two of practice. “I am just going fishing. I have fished Pickwick quite a few times over the years, but I am definitely not a ‘local’ or an expert.”

Like other anglers have discussed on the NPFL Round Table Podcasts, streamed on PHYX TV, Harkins has seen an “up and down” practice thus far. Whether due to the weather conditions or the areas he has been fishing, it has been tough to locate larger groups of fish.

“Yesterday (day one) was good, and today (day two) has been a struggle,” Harkins added. “Most of the schools are broken up, and there are lots of one and two fish here and there. The boat traffic has been ‘mixed’ as well, and I have not seen many other anglers around me today. I don’t know if they will show up in the area come tournament day or if I will have anything to myself, but I am not fishing many ‘sneaky’ places.”

Despite the conditions, if anglers can locate fish, they have been biting. Harkins has had some success throughout practice, but mostly it’s been “inconsistent.” As always, the current Progressive AOY Leader will wait until Wednesday to make any decisions that matter.

“I am not sure if I will end up sitting in a few areas or move around and try to pick off fish here and there,” he said. “That will be a game-time decision after seeing where most of the pressure is going to be on the lake – this might be an event where I burn a lot of fuel.”

Richard Kee

Despite years of experience on Pickwick Lake, Richard Kee is “no local.” Between traveling with the NPFL and other obligations, his last few years have seen less and less time working the ledges of this week’s playing field.

“From what I am seeing out here, this could really be a tough event,” said Kee. “The fish are super scattered, but I have found some things I like. I think you may have to move around a lot throughout the day until you get on an area you like with a school of bass and just stick with it.”

Kee has noticed a steady decline in Pickwick over the last five years. With the added pressure and plethora of events, the fishing has changed, and it’s gotten harder and harder to ledge fish. With fish moving “on and off” in different spots, timing could mean everything.

“I like Pickwick better in January and February,” he laughed. “I enjoy ledge fishing when they are acting right, and this week it’s going to come down to getting on the right rotation of spots and hitting things at the right time. If you can be there when they pull in to feed, you could do well quickly.”

Through one and a half days of practice, he had not seen much to look forward to for the tournament. But that all changed late on day two of practice, just before he loaded his boat to join Ken Duke for the NPFL Roundtable.

“I found a ‘little deal,’ and it gave me some hope for the week,” he told Ken Duke. “I hopefully can pick it up on the final day of practice and make something happen. Overall, I think it’s going to be tough, and 54-57 pounds may be enough to win from what I am seeing. I will just keep grinding and adapt as the event progresses.”

Brandon Perkins

This round at Pickwick will be much different for the locals, including Perkins. Despite knowing all of the little secrets, none of it will make a big difference this week. Like the others, Perkins found and caught fish throughout practice, but the pressure and addition of boats on the ledges earlier in the day are going to affect the bite for everyone.

“I will have nothing to myself this week, unlike in the past when I’ve had some little places that I’ve been able to get on,” said Perkins, as the final day of practice wrapped up. “This one is going to come down to boat draw, and getting on a school is going to be tough.”

Given the later take-off and the fish scattered, Perkins knows how important it will be to get on a spot and capitalize on key bites.

“The fish are there, and if you can get one to eat, they have been decent-sized fish,” he added. “I can generate bites, as of practice, even when it’s not the ideal bite window, but as the week goes on and the fish see different baits, it will get more difficult.”

Perkins anticipates it will take a solid average to earn the victory this week. “They are where they should be, and someone will catch them,” he concluded.

How to Watch

Tune in daily from July 10 through 12 to watch the action from Pickwick Lake with Live Coverage here and on the FREE PHYX TV App, beginning on Wednesday.

Follow along and watch the daily LIVE Leaderboard, LIVE Blog, and on-the-water photo galleries and blogs of the anglers on Pickwick.

Under the Go Live Tab, choose LIVE Broadcast or check out the real-time leaderboard on the Weigh Live Tracker with estimated weights entered by the anglers on the water, and join us for the LIVE Weigh-ins, here!

And be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, & Twitter.

NPFL Stop #3 on Pickwick Lake is hosted by the City of Counce, Tennessee. For more event Information, check out the Event Showcase here.