BFL Wildcard Recon
Pickwick: Schooling Fish In Grass

Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo: Jimmy Mason
Pickwick expert Jimmy Mason says he wouldn't bother locking through to Wilson, since all the better bites he's gotten lately have come from Pickwick.

Record low temperatures and a major cold front this week have finally brought fall to the south. Normally these low air temperatures bring a lowering of the water temperature, which, in turn, sparks off the annual fall bite - arguably the best bite of the year - unless it happens only days prior to an event.

This is the situation that anglers will face on Pickwick and Wilson lakes this week as they vie to finish in the top 20-percent of the field for chance to fish the FLW All-American slated to be held on the Mississippi River in Moline, Ill.

Unfortunately anglers have had a tough time this week due to the major front that brought the lowest temperatures of the fall - thus bringing with it a tough bite. But tomorrow's weather is supposed to be stable with highs in the mid-70s and a nighttime low of 40 - the warmest nighttime temperature of the week.

Will this stability in the weather come just in time to put the fish on their fall bite or will it continue to give the fish lockjaw?

In order to get an idea what anglers can expect Friday and Saturday, BassFan talked with Pickwick guide Jimmy Mason to see what he'd do if fishing the event and also see what the weather effects will have on the anglers.

Here's what he had to say.

Concentrate On Grass

"Schooling fish should be a big deal on both lakes," Mason said. "On Pickwick the anglers need to concentrate on the hydrilla and milfoil that's begun to breakup and form blowouts. The shad are heavy in these areas and the bass are with them there.

"On Wilson it's a little different," he added. "The fish there are on the points that have the water-willow grass and they're also chasing the shad."

Flukes, Spooks and Blades

"On both lakes the fish are eating fluke-type baits, like a Yum Houdini Shad in pearl, very well in the grass," Mason said. "Work the bait fast on top and try to elicit a reaction strike.

"One key to the schooling fish, though, is you have to be on them fast with the Houdini Shad," he said. "If you can't make the cast while the fish are surfacing you can still catch them on a shakey head with a green pumpkin finesse worm below the boils. Also, make sure you dip the tail chartreuse on the worm.

"Another bait that's been working well for me on Pickwick is a 3/8-ounce Booyah Super Shad spinnerbait," he said. "The water is really clear right now so use a natural color like glimmer shad. Also, the three bladed bait imitates the small shad present and fished through the milfoil has been drawing some good fish."

Wilson's grass bite has another thing to offer, though.

"The fish on Wilson have also been eating the Houdini Shad, but there's also a really good Spook bite going there as well," he said. "I fished the lake yesterday and had good luck on the Super Spook Jr., but I'm rigging it a little differently than most of the people.

"I'm adding a Front Runner about 12 inches above the bait and also replacing the rear hook with a feathered treble. The shad are really small and I feel the Front Runner looks like a shad and the Spook looks like a smaller fish chasing the shad."

Don't Forget The Deep

Grass isn't the only pattern working now, though.

"I feel this tournament will be won by the angler that mixes up fishing shallow and deeper water," Mason added. "Especially on Pickwick.

"There's still a deep jig and crank bite going on there and the person who concentrates on a few quality bites is more than likely going to win the event.

"The deeper fish are following a pretty standard fall pattern feeding in the middle of the day," he added. "The baits I've had my best luck on are a Fat Free Shad in the foxy shad color and a 3/4-ounce Booyah football head jig in black and blue with a green-pumpkin Crawpappy trailer."


"Another pattern that's been working on Wilson has been a dock pattern," Mason noted. "There are still a lot of bluegill around the docks so flipping and swimming a 1/4-ounce Booyah Boo jig in rootbeer green with a green pumpkin trailer around the docks has been working well."


> Mason noted that smallmouths could be a major factor in this tournament: "There's a decent population of smallies on Wilson and they're mostly over 4 pounds. That could play a major key in the event."

> If he was fishing the event he'd stay on Pickwick. "Lock time is about an hour to go from Pickwick to Wilson and the fishing has been better on Pickwick lately so I'd stay there.

> He feels it will take between 32 and 33 pounds to win the event and 25 pounds to make the All-American cut.

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