COUNCE, Tenn. – The fishing in the Toyota Series Championship Presented by Guaranteed Rate at Pickwick Lake turned out to be a lot tougher than many expected. Still, many of the typical fall patterns played and it wasn’t a huge surprise to see grassy bars, punching and tailraces turn in good numbers in the fall on the Tennessee River. If you need a few new ideas for what to throw in the fall, give the top baits from Pickwick a look.
1. Local guide Brent Crow survived the first two days of the event thanks to a ¼-ounce shaky head with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Hit Worm Magnum thrown on 15-pound Berkley X5 braid with a 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leader. An Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier rod matched with an Abu Garcia Zenon reel was the combo of choice for the shaky head. He also weighed a few fish on ¾- or 1-ounce homemade jig with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Chigger Craw trailer. But, the real hero was an old Bomber Long A thrown on 15-pound Berkley Trilene Big Game monofilament with a 6-foot, 8-inch medium Abu Garcia Jordan Lee rod.
2. Mikey Keyso did what he does best for his runner-up finish. A 6th Sense Vega frog (which he lost during the event) was a big key, especially on the last two days. Punching, however, got him some of his bigger bites. For that, the Florida pro used a 1 ½-ounce Hawg Tech Tungsten weight, a 3/0 Mustad hook and a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver or Kinky Beaver (magic craw swirl). He used Scenko Stix Rods for both techniques.
3. Greg Bohannan kept various topwaters in his hands, with a pair of Strike King Sexy Dawg Hard Knocks (bone and Carolina chrome) leading the charge. He threw them on a 7-foot, medium-heavy Lew’s Custom Pro Mag Bass 1 rod with a Lew’s HyperMag reel spooled with 20-pound Strike King Tour Grade mono.
4. One of the other pros with plenty of experience on Pickwick, Cody Nichols threw a variety of stuff on his Hammer Rods for his showing. A 6-inch Bull Shad got him some bigger bites, but an ima Little Stik 135 and ½-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer (Brett’s bluegill) with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper trailer helped him cover some water around grass.
5. Fishing shallow bars on the upper end of Pickwick, Jeff Reynolds kept a River2Sea Whopper Plopper 130 moving to add another Top 10 to his resume. He threw it on a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Crotalus Custom Rod with 50-pound braid.
6. Working grass with moving baits is nothing new for Todd Castledine, so it’s no surprise he caught the bulk of his fish on a Strike King Hybrid Hunter and Sexy Dawg Hard Knock. For the Hybrid Hunter, a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy Lew’s Super Duty with a Lew’s reel and 20-pound Sunline fluorocarbon is was his go-to setup.
7. Fishing grass above the Natchez Trace Bridge, Chris Digino threw a ½-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer with a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad and a 3/8-ounce homemade swim jig with a Keitech Swing Impact FAT trailer for his first Top 10.
8. Dakota Ebare made his second-straight Top 10 at the Toyota Series Championship by junk fishing to a degree. Among the pile of Hammer Rods on his deck were a buzzbait, a Strike King 4.0 Magnum Squarebill and a Carolina rig with a Zoom Super Fluke, which he threw around shallow, current-related areas up the lake.
9. Barry Graves made the drive all the way from Canada and represented the International Division with a Top 10 in his first Toyota Series Championship visit. To catch his fish, Graves caught almost everything with either a 5/16- or 9/16-ounce Punisher Jig (black) with a Zoom Tiny Salty Chunk trailer (green pumpkin) tossing it around grass on shallow bars.
10. A breakdown on the final day cost Aaron Johnson some money, but a Top 10 is still nothing to sneeze at. Doing most of his damage around shallow grass, Johnson used the same modified square-bill crankbait he fished with so much success in his win on Sam Rayburn in 2020.