Pickwick and Wilson Will Present a Wealth of Decisions for College Anglers


When nearly 200 teams of collegiate bass anglers blast off into Pickwick Lake and Wilson Lakes for their practice and competition days, they’ll be facing a wide range of choices on how and where to fish. Do they fish the deep ledges, what about the tailraces, or go shallow to fish the ample cover along the banks?

“The beauty of these lakes,” explains Elite Series veteran Jeff Kriet, “is that there are options galore and anglers can pursue their angling passion.”

“The last two times I’ve been there I’ve finished 13th each time,” he said. “Deep one time and shallow one time.”

Of course many of the biggest schools of fish are on or near the ledges that have made the TVA lakes famous and those skilled at structure fishing will certainly try their hand at them, but that’s not the only game in town especially with the colder than normal winter this past year that may have the fish not set up on the ledges yet like they’ve been the past two years.

“It’s been such a weird year and everything is behind this year due to the longer than normal and colder than normal winter. I’d encourage anglers to fish their skills and keep an open mind going into practice,” Kriet advises.

Those collegiate anglers who have experience with current might want to fish not only on the ledges, but also in the tailrace waters, where a favorable generation schedule can lead to winning, but an adverse one might force them to scramble late in the day. No matter where or how they fish, though, Kriet says that current flow would be a critical element of his game plan.

The Wilson Lake tailrace has been a factor every year – will it be the same this year?

Cabela’s Pro Clark Wendlandt who is well known for fishing fast and shallow says “Even for the shallow guys, any time the current is moving, that will help.  You want to look for little cut-throughs that will pull water. Little bitty washes and chutes through islands are also good. Pay attention to the generation schedule or you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You need to know when it’ll be moving and make sure that you’re on your best stuff at that time.”

Both pros expect it will take a minimum of 15 to 18 pounds a day to be in the hunt for a top ten but to win your probably going to need 20 pounds a day.

“If anglers are catching fish in the two pound class consistently, I’d recommend that they move, since the fish on Pickwick tend to group up by size. For teams who are comfortable with a variety of techniques and styles, then they should consider starting shallow early and then move out to the ledges later in the day,” Wendlandt further stated.

Both pros said they’d arrive with a rod locker full of a variety of technique-specific tools and tackle storage compartments equally filled to the gills. For the deep bite, they’d recommend the following five baits as his mainstays:

  • Deep-diving crank baits
  • Kriet Tail Big Bite Baits10-inch worm
  • Jewel 5/8 ounce football jig
  • Big flutter spoon
  • “And 100 percent, no doubt about it, a weighted swimbait.”

If and when deciding to go up shallow, go-to lures would include:

  • Kreature baits
  • Hollow-bodied frog
  • Spinner baits
    • Square bills

The lake’s large size naturally fishes big, but its varied options and huge fish population will spread the teams out far and wide.  When you add Lake Wilson into the fold, along with Tennessee waters, which are both now part of tournament waters, the opportunities and possibilities become even greater.  Kriet said that with all of the factors working in their favor, no lead is safe and no team is ever out of it.

A quote from Kriet back in 2013 still holds true “When you go to a lake that good, you can’t ever get satisfied,” he opined.

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