Summer is near, as evidenced by the schools of bass pushing offshore on Pickwick Lake this past week in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State and hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism. However, that wasn’t the deal across the board, and many of the top 10 fished near the bank or on shallow grass flats leading to the ledges. Winner Buddy Gross was part of that group. If you plan on hitting the Tennessee River in the next few weeks, you might want to give these baits a try.
1. Buddy Gross took the title in his rookie season with a variety of baits. A Tennessee River Tackle Tremor Head with a Zoom Super Fluke, a Fringe Tackle Company swimbait rigged on a 5/0 Owner Flashy Swimmer and a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait helped produce some bites. The main player was a 1-ounce Hog Farmer Baits hair jig worked in eelgrass. Gross fished the majority of the baits on either a 7-foot, 3-inch or 7-foot, 6-inch, extra-heavy Hammer rod with a Lew’s Tournament Pro reel (6.8:1 gear ratio) and 17-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon.
2. Michael Neal worked offshore with a Big Bite Baits BB Kicker swimbait (5 1/2 inch) in blue shad rigged on a 1-ounce TrueSouth Custom Lures jighead and a homemade bucktail jig made by his friend Gary Hurley. He threw those on a 904 Cashion rod with an Ardent reel spooled with 20-pound-test Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon.
3. Scott Suggs carried a few weapons to target both the shad spawn and deeper fish. He rigged a swing-head jig (7/16, 5/8 or 3/4 ounce, depending on depth) with a Zoom Z Craw, Zoom Magnum Trick Worm or Gene Larew Biffle Bug. A Berkley Digger crankbait also produced, as did a War Eagle spinnerbait. A 7-foot, 6-inch, heavy Abu Garcia Veracity rod with an Abu Garcia Revo Premier spooled with 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon was his go-to setup.
4. To land in fourth, Jamie Horton targeted the shad spawn early with a 3/4-ounce Nichols Pulsator double-willow spinnerbait tipped with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper. He ran that on 20-pound-test Seaguar InvizX and fished it on a 7-foot, 2-inch, medium-heavy Phenix rod with a Daiwa Tatula reel. Horton also caught some kickers cranking a Strike King 10XD and 6XD. To toss the magnum baits, he used an 8-foot Phenix flipping stick with 15-pound-test Seaguar InvizX and a Tatula reel.
5. Veteran Mike Surman rallied on the final day thanks to a Yo-Zuri 3DB square-bill (chartreuse and black), as well as an old 3/4-ounce Gambler spinnerbait. For the crankbait, he reached for a 7-foot Witch Doctor rod and 20-pound-test Yo-Zuri Hybrid line, while he used a 6-foot, 10-inch Witch Doctor rod for the spinnerbait with 15-pound-test Yo-Zuri Hybrid. Both rods are 50 percent graphite and 50 percent fiberglass.
6. Barry Wilson stayed close to the ramp working a 1/2-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait with a YUM Pulse Swimbait – both white. He fished the combo on a Team Lew’s Pro Magnesium Speed Spool Series reel (7.5:1 gear ratio), Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite 7-foot, 2-inch Mag Hammer rod and 15-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon.
7. Wesley Strader netted another top 10 thanks to a 5/8-ounce Stan Sloan’s Zorro Bait Company Bango Blade spinnerbait (chartreuse and white) with a Zoom Split Tail Trailer. He ran that on a Powell Max 3D rod with 16-pound-test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon and a Lew’s Pro Magnesium reel.
8. Travis Fox kept on a roll after his top 10 at the Costa FLW Series event on Kentucky Lake by pitching a Zoom Brush Hog (green pumpkin) with a 1/2-ounce VMC tungsten weight and 20-pound-test Sufix line matched with a Lew’s Tournament Pro reel and Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Mag Pitching rod. He also caught some deep on a Rapala DT-16 in Helsinki shad.
9. For his first top 10, Stephen Patek stuck with a 1/2-ounce Z-Man Custom ChatterBait tied to 16-pound-test Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon. A Phenix X13 Crankbait rod and Shimano Curado (6.3:1 ratio) did the heavy lifting.
10. Peter Thliveros had a few offerings that produced. A 1/2-ounce double-willow spinnerbait and an Allen Lures Milo lipless bait caught some fish. Peter T fished the spinnerbait on 17-pound-test Lew’s APT Fluorocarbon Speed Line and the Milo on 14-pound-test of the same. Both lures were fished with Lew’s crankbait rods (TP-1 Crankbait rod for the spinnerbait and Dave Fritts Perfect Crank Stick for the Milo) and Lew’s BB1 Pros. He also caught some on his namesake “Petey Rig” rigged with a Zoom Super Fluke in green pumpkin.