This is going to be an interesting tournament. You'll find I say that a lot, but not without good reason.
One of the things that's going to be interesting about Pickwick this year is that it's completely different than it was last year. We've had a lot of severe weather this week, and nothing I learned here last year is going to help me this time around.
I'm getting just about all my bites this year by flipping, and I have a little subtlety worked out that I really like. I think technique is going to be a real key. You can't just pick up a flipping stick, swing a jig next to some cover and expect to catch them. There's some finesse to the bite that I've found, and that's a good thing.
The way the lake lays out, every pocket is going to get fished 10 times a day this week, and roughly 70 percent of the time we'll each be fishing "used" water. Since my pattern has quite a bit of fine-tuning to it, I'm not worried about having to fish behind other boats. I know I can catch fish they're missing.
As usual, the key is going to be getting the better bites. We're going to see a lot of 9- to 11-pound bags out here, and I think it's going to take 16 to 18 pounds a day to do really well. Fortunately, the fish I'm after are coming to me, not moving away, so I hope to be able to improve my catch each day of the tournament.
I'm extremely confident that the technique I'm using is the right one and that it will be a major factor in the catches of many of the top finishers; I'm just not sure it's the winning technique. I'm getting 15 to 20 bites a day, but there need to be some four pounders in there if I'm going to separate myself from the rest of the crowd.
I've also got an offshore pattern, but it's not shaping up too well. I've targeted some areas that are "lead-ins" to spawning grounds, and they hold some better fish, but I'm not getting enough bites there. When I get bit, it's a good one, but I can't afford to spend too much time chasing after these fish. I might make a couple of stops in these areas tomorrow in hopes of getting a big bite or two.
A lot of competitors will be targeting smallmouth bass here at Pickwick. Not me. If I get beat by smallmouths, that's just the way it is. I'm committed to my technique and my areas. I'm going to start in a spot that I haven't fished since the beginning of our practice period. From there, I might run some new water. Because the weather's been so rough, a lot of the lake has gone unfished this week. I'll approach it all with an open mind.
Finally, I'm looking at Day One as my seventh day of competition this year. I need to maximize my opportunities out there. Whatever happens will impact my approach to Day Two.