Chad Pipkens earned his Championship Tuesday spot by committing to an area upstream of Kogers Island. His two other commitments — a bladed jig and an uncharacteristically slow presentation.
A bladed jig is a solid choice for the grassy ditch he’s targeting and, as the Michigan pro explained, a creeping pace is necessary for tempting fish that are hunkered down in the vegetation.
However, when Pipkens gets one to bite, the fish have typically raced downcurrent and closed the distance to his boat so fast that he’s had trouble setting the hook. Normally, Pipkens wouldn’t have trouble sticking fish — especially with his trailer hook addition; but the aftermath of last week’s heavy rainfall has pushed a fierce current through Pickwick.
It’s simple physics — no matter how fast he reels, a current-swept fish will outrun him. If he can’t come tight, he can’t drive home the hook.
“They’re sitting down there and they’re not eating until it comes right over them,” Pipkens said. “You feel a little (tap) and you get a little slack. You try to catch up them, but in the current, you just can’t.
“The first day, I should have had a really big bag; I just didn’t know how much they’d move. In practice, they’d bite and you could just let them swim around and they weren’t moving. Now, with that current, when they bite, they’re gone with the current.”
The solution: On each bite, Pipkens runs to his back deck.
“You gain (approximately) 15 feet by running to the back,” Pipkens said. “I can tell when one bites, because I can’t feel the blade vibrating. I can’t feel the fish but it finally loads when I run to the back.
“When I started doing that, I put every one of them in the boat. That’s what you need to do.”