Pickwick Lake Day 4 Coverage - Major League Fishing

Pickwick Lake Day 4 Coverage

Time for weigh-in and Neal just caught a biggun
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Michael Neal Photo by Kyle Wood. Angler: Michael Neal.
May 8, 2016 • MLF • Archives

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2:45 p.m.: Time for weigh-in

Michael Neal culled again a few minutes before he needed to leave and may have left the winning fish biting. It’s time to roll back to weigh-in and it’s time to see if Buddy Gross can hold on…

Weigh-in Details

Watch the day-four weigh-in live at FLWFishing.com starting at 4 p.m. CT or come down and watch in-person at McFarland Park at 200 Jim Spain Drive, Florence, Ala., 35630.


2:27 p.m.: Neal just caught a biggun

Michael “Real Deal” Neal just cracked a 6-pounder to bring his limit from lame to about 15 pounds. If he can get one more big one and Buddy Gross stays stuck on two this will get interesting in a hurry.

Apparently, Neal is on top of a school of big ones, none of them have fired until now. We’ll see…


Final update from Gross


1:50 p.m.: Crunch time

Mike Surman has had a stellar day and might earn second place, but all eyes are on Michael Neal right now. With Buddy Gross still on just two, and not much wind to interfere with the run back, it’s time for somebody to make a move.

If someone does make it interesting, the current might have a lot to do with it. Around 1 p.m., the TVA started pulling water and it’s now running about 17,000 CFS out of the Pickwick Dam. Not as much as the pros would like, but maybe enough to get some offshore fish stacked up and make things right. Yesterday Randy Haynes caught 21+ in the last hour. With check-in time set for 3:15 p.m., there is still time for something heroic to happen. It just has to happen. 


Breaking down Surman's pattern


1:10 p.m.: Horton is climbing the ranks

Jamie Horton had the second best chance at catching up to Buddy Gross today and he’s slowly making a bit of a comeback. Horton has been grinding all day and unfortunately had to deal with his shad spawn pretty much dying on him. A bit ago, the Alabama pro put a 3-pounder in the ‘well and he’s not got three bass for at least 10 pounds. Needing 19 pounds just to catch the previous day’s mark is an odd position to be in, but there’s still time left on the day and it only takes a few casts. 


12:35 p.m.: Neal is chipping away, Suggs is charging

While Buddy Gross is still stuck on two, Michael Neal is chipping away at a limit and just caught his fourth offshore on a crankbait. He still doesn’t have anything big, but ounces is money in this game and at the rate Gross is catching them, the door is wide open for Neal to barge through.

Scott Suggs started the day more than 20 pounds behind Gross, but he’s gone from a mediocre day to a good one in a hurry. In the last 10 minutes, Suggs has caught his fifth and then culled with a 5-pounder to get up near the 15-pound mark. Suggs is working offshore dragging something on a swing-head now, so there’s a chance that his flurry bodes well for others in the field. 


12:00 p.m.: Midday weight estimates

It’s all very unofficial, but here’s how the race is shaping up heading into the afternoon.

1. Buddy Gross – 4 pounds (2)

2. Michael Neal – 7 pounds (3)

3. Jamie Horton – 7 pounds (2)

4. Scott Suggs – 9 pounds (4)

5. Barry Wilson – 2 pounds (1)

6. Travis Fox – 10 pounds (2)

7. Wesley Strader – 13 pounds (5)

8. Mike Surman – 19 pounds (5)

9. Peter Thliveros – 0 pounds (0)

10. Stephen Patek – 4 pounds (2)


Morning update with Strader


11:40 a.m.: It’s wicked tough

For whatever reason, Pickwick is fishing like Okeechobee in a cold front today. If you’ve ever felt bad about your ability to get a bite on the Tennessee River, you can take heart in what’s gone on today for everyone besides Wesley Strader, Mike Surman and sort of Scott Suggs and Jamie Horton.

At this point, only Surman and Strader have limits, and the two who’d been doing best, Michael Neal and Buddy Gross, both only have two fish that are far from impressive. 


Buddy Gross

10:40 a.m.: Tracking the leaders

Michael Neal is on the board again. Real quick, he landed one 2+ keeper and then promptly lost another at the boat. Now, he’s got two in the livewell. Neal had a few real flurries of big fish on the first day, but that hasn’t happened at all since then.

Meanwhile, Buddy Gross is still stuck on two keepers. Since his flurry up shallow with a spinnerbait he’s moved back off to his secondary ledge area. Any way you slice it, he’s had a slow morning of it. 


Mike Surman

10:20 a.m.: Surman is cracking on ‘em

Mike Surman just hit a little flurry and boxed a pair of big ones to go from about 9 or 10 pounds to 19 pounds in a hurry! He’s got his limit now, so every upgrade is harder, but that’s a big move nonetheless. Even with some hawgs in the boat he isn’t in the lead, but it puts him unofficially in about second place. His chances of actually running down Gross are very slim, but so far he’s doing about the best he could to make it happen.

Surman isn’t doing anything new today – he’s just fishing a spinnerbait on some grass on the main lake near Stephen Patek. Today, the potential the area has held might be showing up. 


10:00 a.m.: Morning weight estimates

It’s all very unofficial, but here’s how things stand early on the final day.

1. Buddy Gross – 4 pounds (2)

2. Michael Neal – 2 pounds (1)

3. Jamie Horton – 7 pounds (2)

4. Scott Suggs – 8 pounds (3)

5. Barry Wilson – 2 pounds (1)

6. Travis Fox – 6 pounds (1)

7. Wesley Strader – 12 pounds (5)

8. Mike Surman – 9 pounds (3)

9. Peter Thliveros – 0 pounds (0)

10. Stephen Patek – 2 pounds (1)


Breaking down Gross's key decision


9:25 a.m.: Catching up with the rest of the crew

Buddy might be in the driver’s seat, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the field has stopped fishing.

It took a good bit, but the wait for a keeper was worth it for Jamie Horton. He just started his day with a 5-pounder. After catching a 5-pounder, Mike Surman is now up to around 9 pounds for just three fish. Travis Fox finally caught his first of the day on a ledge and it went a whopping 6 pounds. At this point, Peter T is the only one left without at least on keeper. Finally, Barry Wilson has abandoned The Horseshoe with only one keeper and run down the lake to try and make something happen.


Michael Neal

9:15 a.m.: The math on catching Gross

If we assume that Gross can put together a limit worth at least 10 pounds without his prime stuff firing, that means that Michael Neal will need to catch a full 25 pounds to earn the win. So far this week, only Gross himself has come close to that mark. Jamie Horton is in third and he’s essentially 19 pounds back of Gross. If we assume that Gross rustles at least 10 pounds, that means Horton will need at least 29 pounds to pass him. Point it, while catching limits like that are possible on Pickwick, beating Gross is a very tall task.


Buddy Gross

8:55 a.m.: Gross is making it happen

Buddy Gross made another short move and has connected with his first of the day. It’s a solid 2-pounder that he followed moments later with another just a bit smaller. Having two in the boat is a huge key for him today.

Instead of fishing on his deeper stuff, Gross has moved to a grass flat where shad and bass are busting around and started catching them on a spinnerbait. It might be the same kinda deal that Wesley Strader is on and a limit would be about all he needs for the win. 


8:40 a.m.: Gross still isn’t on the board and Neal has his first

On his second spot now, Buddy Gross has caught his first bass of the day. Unfortunately, it was a little short. Per our OTW reporter, Gross still has plenty of confidence in his spot and seems pretty settled despite the slow start. One issue for him might be the local pressure. He’s got a solid group of boats following him, and at least one local has stopped to idle and fish on Gross’s starting spot since he left it. So far, this morning has certainly made things a little more tense.

Behind Gross, Michael Neal finally caught his first keeper on his third spot. He discovered that long-lining was the way to catch fish in the afternoon, and so far that’s how he’s caught his first keeper (about 2 pounds) and several other small fish. He’s the closest to catching Gross, so everything he catches matters today. 


Wesley Strader

8:20 a.m.: Strader is the first to a limit

Wesley Strader has been moving up the ranks every day so far and today he seems poised to move up again. Tossing a spinnerbait in mid-depth grass, Strader has been lighting it up this morning with a bunch of fish, including some nice smallmouths, that probably go about 12 pounds. Having culled once already, Strader looks to be in prime shape to move on up.

Elsewhere, Stephen Patek has put his first keeper in the boat, Mike Surman and Scott Suggs both have a pair of keepers now and Buddy Gross has broken the ice somewhat with a short bass.


7:54 a.m.: Buddy Gross has made a move

Buddy Gross started the day with a huge lead, but he still needs to catch fish today to be sure of things. So far, that has proven to be a challenge. He spent the first hour on his primary area with a swimbait and a hair jig and came up with only a catfish on a trotline to show for it. Now, he’s moved up the lake slightly to where he culled up past 20 pounds on day three.

The shad spawn that keyed Gross’s primary stuff on the early days may be dying. Jamie Horton is also on a shad spawn deal, and he hasn’t caught a keeper yet and is reporting far fewer shad following his spinnerbait to the boat this morning. 


Morning update with Buddy Gross


7:25 a.m.: The current crisis

Usually, the best thing for a ledge bite is current, and when it gets rolling on the Tennessee River the bass usually get rolling too. This morning, there is basically no current on Pickwick. Looking at the TVA app, things might get good around 1 p.m. if the TVA does indeed switch on three generators as forecasted, but right now, and for at least a little while this morning, the pros will need to proceed without any kind of current to help out. 


7:10 a.m.: The first catches

Barry Wilson and Jamie Horton have both caught a short to start things off. The three pros who have actually caught keepers are Scott Suggs, with a nice smallmouth, and Mike Surman, with a largemouth that goes nearly 3 pounds and Wesley Strader with a small keeper. They probably need to be catching 6-pounders to catch Buddy Gross.

As for Gross, he got to his spot with no issues (though reportedly some locals were fishing on or near it yesterday afternoon), and has started the day slowly. He’s got about 13 spectator boats on him in addition to our media crew, so he definitely knows that he’s in the lead. The first fish he catches will likely be a major relief for the rookie pro.


Buddy Gross

6:30 a.m.: Time for Goss to seal the deal

Day four of the Walmart FLW Tour presented by Quaker State and hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism on Pickwick Lake looks to be the most perfect day we’ve had yet. It’s also the day that Buddy Gross might earn $100,000.

Gross is heading into the final day with a commanding lead of nearly 15 pounds. For someone to knock him off, he will likely need to have his worst day yet while another competitor (Michael Neal or someone else) will need to absolutely smash them.

It is significantly warmer today and both Michael Neal and Randy Haynes (who isn’t in the top 10) caught them really well in the afternoon on day three out deep. There’s probably a bigger chance of some kind of change today than there has been any other day. So buckle up, Buddy Gross might be eating pizza by noon, but there are a ton of big fish in Pickwick and no guarantees in fishing.



Current temperature: 53 degrees

Forecast high: 84 degrees

Sky: sunny

Precipitation: no rain forecast

Wind: SW less than 10 mph 


Weigh-in Details

Watch the day-four weigh-in live at FLWFishing.com starting at 4 p.m. CT or come down and watch in-person at McFarland Park at 200 Jim Spain Drive, Florence, Ala., 35630.

Click here for complete tournament details.