Elite: Atkins previews Pickwick



Justin Atkins, probably more than any of his peers, became excited when the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake got moved from June to March. The Bassmaster Elite pro is from Florence, Ala., where the Tennessee River transitions from Wilson Lake into Pickwick. 

“Pickwick is more magical than anywhere else on the Tennessee River system in March,” Atkins said. “You get the trifecta of bass opportunities with big largemouth, big smallmouth and big spotted bass.” 

He continued, “The bass are healthier, weigh their heaviest and are easier to keep alive.”

If all the conditions line up, the winning weight could be among the heaviest of the season, should one key influencer favor the anglers. That influencer is current, more so on Pickwick than any other fishery in the Tennessee River system. 

Here is Atkins’ analysis and breakdown of what to expect. 

Lay of the lake

Pickwick has undeniably the best tailrace smallmouth bite of the Tennessee River fisheries. The reason? Current and an abundance of rocky habitat in the form of sheer bluff walls, large boulders formed by rock slides, chunk rock and pea gravel shorelines. 

Look at a map of the immediate area below Wilson Dam and you will see a narrow channel, where that habitat is concentrated through the city of Florence. That is why countless tournaments are won there, but only when the current is at the magic speed. More on that to come.