IUKA, Miss. – The Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division looks to get things rolling on Pickwick Lake for a mid-February showdown. Barring major cold fronts leading up to the event, competitors can expect to see the Tennessee River impoundment show out.
Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division
Feb. 19, 2022
One of the best Tennessee River impoundments, Pickwick runs northwest through Alabama and a bit of Mississippi, with the lower end and dam in Tennessee. As far as the playing field as a whole is concerned, there’s no bad stretch of the lake, but it does have a few distinct sections. The upper end of the lake, near the Wilson Dam, is known for a lot of current and excellent smallmouth fishing. Down the lake, some really exceptional ledges come into play, and, depending on the timing, there is a lot of shallow action on shallower bars, grass and even flooded cover.
Though it isn’t surprising to see a smallmouth or two in a bag at Pickwick, it’s largemouths that win most of the time there. As is the case with most Tennessee River reservoirs, shad are the dominant forage.
Local guide and 2021 Toyota Series Championship winner Brent Crow knows how good the fishing can be this time of year, so long as the weather plays nice.
“Like it always does on Pickwick, the fishing depends on the water temperature and the water level,” Crow said. “We’ve got some rain and the water temperature right now is like 44 degrees.
“Typically, in early February the fishing is tough. But last year towards the end of the month the water temp warmed up from 42 to 48 and the fish went absolutely crazy. They bit like crazy and it was awesome. But when the water temperature was 42 you couldn’t hardly get a bite.”
With warmer, more stable weather in the forecast and little chance of rain, Crow believes it’s the perfect recipe for some mighty fine fishing.
“I think this tournament will be pretty good,” Crow said. “There will be some smallmouth caught, but I think it’ll mostly be a largemouth in the grass deal. The fish are going to be shallow and it’s all about the grass. That Kogers Island is where all the grass has been, so it’ll be a hot area.”
Pickwick is well-known for kicking out bags over 20 pounds, so it’s no surprise that Crow has high hopes for the Mississippi Division opener.
“If the week leading up to the tournament is warm and sunny it’ll take 27 or 28 pounds to win,” Crow said. “Last year around this time when the water warmed up I had like 19 pounds in a tournament and came in like 20th or 25th. But it’s been taking 17 or 18 pounds all fall and winter, so if the water is cooler, I’d expect something like that.”
Catching shallow, prespawn bass on the Tennessee River isn’t rocket science, so don’t be surprised to see the usual suspects doing work.
A vibrating jig, lipless crankbait and square-bill crankbait are hard to beat with fish relating to shallow cover. Of course, swimbaits are also a solid choice, and baits like a Bull Shad have been producing good bags on Pickwick over the winter.