Lakecaster Online

Tournament Pathfinder
by John Presley

On March 9 ,10, and 11 the final Bassmaster Eastern Invitational was held on Pickwick and Wilson lakes .The tournament size limit was a 15 inch minimum and those were very hard to find for most anglers. During my practice days I only caught three or four keepers one being a 5 pound smallmouth. We were catching a lot of small fish in the 12 to 14 inch size To say the least, it was very tough . It was so tough that only 7 limits were caught the first day and 126 anglers zeroed. Pickwick Lake impounds 30,175 acres of water along the Tennessee River stretching 46 miles. Wilson Lake is upstream from Pickwick and is divided by a lock and dam system. The lock raises you up more than 100 ft in elevation from Pickwick to Wilson and takes about 30 minutes to lock through into Wilson. Wilson impounds 15,930 acres of water along the Tennessee River and is about 15 miles long. Lake Wilson is the holder of the world record smallmouth bass at 10 pound 8 ounces. Both lakes have deep rocky banks, plenty of gravel points and lots of stumps and laydowns to fish. During the tournament most anglers were locking up to Wilson. The fishing seemed to be better and the bite more consistent. The first day of the tournament we had almost 100 boats in the lock and it was a site to see. After the first day Shane Mears of Rome, Georgia found fish even though it was tough .He took the first day lead with five smallmouth that weighed 18-3. He caught his fish on a 12 foot drop,slow rolling a homemade spinner bait on Lake Wilson. This was the first time Mears had fished the lake which was to his advantage because many local anglers were struggling. In second place after day one was Charlie Youngers of Florida, with 16-5,third place Todd Auten of North Carolina with 14-5, fourth place Gregory Pugh of Alabama with 13-11 ;and Ricky Wisdom of Alabama had 12-15 to end up in fifth place. The fishing was so tough that after the first day the weight of 4-2 was 55th place and in the money. I was in 78th place with one fish 2-12 . The big bass for day one was Greg Finchum of Ohio with a 7-3 .On the second day the weather took a turn for the worst and heavy thunderstorms hit late in the day. The catches were still down only 4 limits were brought to the scales . On the second day Woo Daves found them, he weighed in a 20-11 bag and moved from 111th place to the leader with 22-15. The first day leader Shane Mears was second with 22-13 and third was Gary Gaussiran with 19-11. The big fish for the day was a 7?10 caught by J.T Kenney of Maryland .I caught another keeper that gave me 4-15 and I feel to 90th place. On the final day of the tournament the weather got worse we had hard rains that morning as we sit in the lock waiting to go up to Wilson. Later in the morning the wind started blowing out of the North at about 35mph dropping the air temp from the high 60's to the high 30's. The last day only one limit came to the scales which meant there were only 12 limits caught the whole tournament. Big bass on the last day was a 6-10 caught by Greg Toth of Alabama. The first place winner of the tournament was Shane Mears of Rome Georgia with 10 fish which weighed 36-3 and good for $43,000, second place was Todd Auton of Gastonia North Carolina with 10 fish which weighed 32- 0, good for $27,000 third place Michael Iaconelli of Woodbury Heights New Jersey with 11 fish weighing 31-13 and good for $25,000, fourth place was Woo Daves of Spring Groves Virginia with 8 fish weighing 29-9 for $9,000,and fifth place Joe Thomas of Milford Ohio with 12 fish weighing 24-12 good for $7,000. It only took 11-5 for 50th place to get a check in this tournament . I failed to catch any keepers the last day and finished in 130th place. The next stop on the BASS trail is Table Rock Lake in Missouri in April this is the third of four tournaments on the Bass Central Invitational tour.

By the way , when I am not fishing tournaments I am a full-time fishing guide on Lake Sam Rayburn. If you would like to book a trip please call me at 409-698-9713 or Ann's Tackle Shop at 409-384-7685.
Good Luck and GoodFishing.

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