Home > BASS > Fearless Prediction: Pickwick will outfish Guntersville

Fearless Prediction: Pickwick will outfish Guntersville

Bo thinks Guntersville will fish more like it did in 2006 and 2007 as opposed to 2009.

As I type Bassmater Elite Series Pros are arriving in Alabama for back-to-back Tennessee River tournaments.  The Lake Pickwick tournament starts Thursday, April 29, with Lake Guntersville following one week later.

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly.  I predict that the Lake Pickwick winning weight will be heavier than the Lake Guntersville winning weight for these upcoming tournaments.

Before you shop for straight jackets on my behalf, please allow me to elaborate.


I know you are thinking, “Whoa there Bo—didn’t Lake Guntersville produce legendary stringers last year at the exact same time”?

It is true that the Southern Challenge last year on Lake Guntersville produced incredible bags. Aaron Martens won with 107-08.  Even more impressive, however, is the fact that pros who caught 20 plus lbs a day did not make the top 50 cut.  Think about that!  40 lbs of fish in two days and they didn’t even get to fish on the third day–much less the fourth.

The truth is that, last year on Guntersville, the perfect storm hit (literally) that allowed the pros to do so well.  Heavy rainfall combined with the post spawn at the perfect time and allowed all the guys in the Top 50 to CULL HUNDREDS of four pounders.

For my prediction I am assuming that the lake will not fish like that again this year.  I am predicting that it is going to fish more like it did in 2006, when Michael Iaconelli won with 71-13, or in 2007, when KVD won with 66-03.


Past Lake Pickwick tournaments involved contestents passing their time away in slow filling locks.

To many armchair anglers, the phrase “Lake Pickwick” brings up mental images of bass boats floating in a slow filling lock with anglers impatiently checking their watches.  Through the years there have been many tournaments televised that showed anglers doing everything they can to escape Lake Pickwick.  Anglers were willing to waste valuable fishing time locking up to Wilson or even Wheeler Lakes, proving how mediocre the Lake Pickwick fishing was back then.

You need to erase those images from your mind before you watch the tournament later this week.  Lake Pickwick has changed quite a bit in recent years.

“Back in March, if you had 23 lbs you couldn’t guarantee a win”, says Mike Whitten, a member of Bass Pro Shops regional pro staff who fishes Lake Pickwick frequently.  Mike says that, through sources he trust, he knows of 9 largemouth caught over 10 lbs so far this year, including one that weighed 13-02.

Mike says weights have dropped off recently but, …”somebody will figure it out and it will take 19 to 21 lbs a day to win”.

Most people believe the improved fishing is due to the resurgence of grass in the lake.  It is widely reported that the lake now has more milfoil and hydrilla in it than it has had in many many years.

According to the 2008 Alabama DNR B.A.I.T report, Lake Pickwick ranks second only to Lake Guntersville in the category of average bass weight.


Mike Whitten thinks it will take 19-21 lbs a day to win on Pickwick. (Photo: Mike Whitten)

The traditional order of the spawn in Alabama is:  The bass spawn, the shad spawn, and then the bream spawn.  Of course, not all fish spawn at the same time, but basically that is the order I traditionally see.

This year is different.  The weather patterns in Alabama have been as strange as I can recall.  We went from bundling up for the coldest winter I can remember to breaking out the swimming shorts with no spring in between.  As a result, I am seeing bass and bream spawning next to each other unlike I have ever seen before.  The shad are starting to ball up in areas as well.  The fish are basically on top of each other.

I predict the pros will enjoy a strong early morning shallow bite due to the shad spawn.

The full moon is on Wednesday, with the tournament starting the following day.  As a result, one more big wave of largemouth will move up to spawn and make themselves easily available to the best fishermen in the world.  The contestants will have opportunities to catch kicker fish.

For Guntersville, I predict a strong morning bite followed by a grueling post-spawn grind, a la Iaconelli in 2006.   The fishing will be tougher on Guntersville after the sun comes up.

This is why I think Pickwick will outfish Guntersville.


When I asked Mike Whitten about my theory, he said he would be surprised if Pickwick outfishes Guntersville.  “Pickwick is harder to fish than Guntersville”, says Mike.

“The conditions aren’t setting up right for Pickwick to outfish Guntersville”, continued Mike, “These guys have missed the real big fish bite.  The fish aren’t out on the ledges yet on their summer pattern, so the pros will be fishing transition fish that are backing out and suspending.  Those fish are tough to catch.”

As for the shad spawn Mr. Whitten said, “This storm we had yesterday has knocked them in the head”.  [The day before I interviewed Mike a storm system dropped heavy rain on the entire South East.]  Mike says the high flow of cooler water will delay the shad spawn.  “The water at Pickwick is not as warm as everybody thinks.  The pros are going to be surprised”.

As for the bass spawn with Wednesday’s full moon, Mr. Whitten said some fish will move in, but, “Pickwick isn’t Smith Mountain, the water is not that clear.  Fish spawn deeper on Pickwick than a lot of these guys think they do.”  Mike said all he could say to those thinking they were going to site fish for four days is, “Good luck”.


I should emphasize again here that Mike is on record saying that he thinks it will take 19 to 21 lbs a day to win.  An 80 lb tournament weight is a very respectable weight, so in no way is Mike disrespecting the quality of the fishery or the skills of the pros.  He is simply saying that the conditions are not favorable for the lake to be at its absolute best.

I personally think it is going to be close.  I am looking for the lake Pickwick winning weight to be in the low 80s, and the Lake Guntersville weight to be around 80 lbs.

Knowing fish the way I do, neither one of our predictions will probably be right and something unexpected will happen.  That is part of the fun of the sport.  Those little green fish keep us constantly guessing.

The best news is this: it won’t be long until we learn the final answer.  I hope my fellow armchair anglers enjoy the next two weeks as much as I will.

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  1. May 2, 2010 at 11:39 am

    With all the rain expected to fall upstream from Guntersville, one has to wonder if the “Perfect Storm” will indeed happen again in 2010…

  1. May 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm

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