Kayak: Diehl dials in Pickwick giants

Digital coverage brought to you by Bonafide Kayaks

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Kyle Jessie

COUNCE, Tenn. — A moment of forethought equipped Joshua Diehl of Grovetown, Ga., with the tool he needed to tally 92.5 inches and win the Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX at Pickwick Lake.

Diehl topped second-place Coley McGowan of Gadsden, Ala., by a 4-inch margin. Diehl’s best five bass measured 19.25, 19, 18.25, 18 and 18 inches.

Fishing from a Hobie Pro Angler 14 with the MirageDrive 360, Diehl spent most of his time near an offshore island upriver from the Natchez Trace Bridge. He fished submerged grass in 5 to 8 feet, but ended up catching his fish in an unexpected manner.

“I picked up a bait that I’ve never had a reason to throw before — a Strike King Hybrid Hunter (crankbait),” Diehl said. “Where I live, we don’t have grass lakes; we don’t have any grass in our lakes whatsoever.

“When I found the fish in practice, I knew they were in grass and I knew they would eat a worm, but I was unsure that I wanted to throw the worm all day. I had bought Hybrid Hunters in the event that I found a grass scenario where I could power fish.”

Diehl actually started his day throwing a Texas-rigged Zoom Speed Worm in California 420 and boated a couple of fish. However, the vast majority of his 25 bass came on the crankbait.

“This morning when I got to my spot I caught my first two fish on a worm, and then I saw a gizzard shad break (the surface),” he said. “I picked up the Hybrid Hunter in the green gizzard color and chucked it out there and got bit immediately. The fish hit it so hard, it almost took the rod out of my hand.

“That’s when I realized I should stick to the Hybrid Hunter in the early morning. But the more I threw it, the more they kept eating it.”

Diehl said he had his limit in about 20 minutes. He continued upgrading for the next two hours.

“I just sat there and went to town on them,” he said. “I lost probably six or seven fish over the course of the day and most of my fish were over 16 inches.”

Diehl said he was confident he had found an area with a good population of fish, but he was surprised by their behavior.

“I didn’t expect them to stay shallow all day,” he said. “I expected that, as the heat of the day came up, they would get off the ledge and get into deeper water, but they never did. They stayed up the entire day.”

Diehl threw his crankbait on a 7-foot ALX Ikos Hustler fiberglass rod with a 6.3:1 Daiwa Tatula Elite reel holding 14-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon. Diehl said he based his presentation on the advice of a Bassmaster Elite Series veteran.

“Gerald Swindle always says ‘In the summertime, speed kills.’ The faster I ran that bait, the harder they hit it. They were reacting big time.

“The faster you move the bait, they don’t get a good look at it. The bait’s (hitting) the grass, banging and moving in between. They’d just come up and rail it.”

Diehl said he remained on the same 300- to 400-yard stretch all day. Moving up and down the length and adjusting with the fish.

“There was a sweet spot, but as the day went on, I think the sweet spot was moving,” he said. “When I started the day, I was in the sweet spot that I knew about; but as that bite died in that location, I started to shade out.

“As I started to shade out toward the deeper water and a little farther down from the island, I started getting bit again. As the sun got hotter, they came out a little farther, but they stayed in the grass.

McGowan’s second-place effort included five bass measuring 20.25, 19, 18, 16.25 and 15 inches.

Brian Delahunty of Fyffe, Ala., finished third with 86.75 inches. His best five measured 19.5, 18.5, 16.75, 16.50 and15.50.

Fishing a Hobie Pro Angler 14 with the MirageDrive 360 and a Torqueedo 1103 electric motor, Delahunty fished the mid-lake area and targeted submerged grass in 6 to 8 feet.

After an unproductive start, Delahunty reached his main area and fished there the rest of his day. Working one area about 300 yards long by 100 yards wide, he caught approximately 20 bass.

“My Garmin LiveScope helped me pick out the larger strands of submerged grass,” Delahunty said. “You’d look out and see it was 8 feet deep and there’s 2 feet of grass and then there’d be a hump of grass that was 4 feet tall. Those almost always held fish.

“That was instrumental because I could cruise through the grass and every time I saw one of those clumps, I marked it. When I’d come back down through again, there would be another fish on it.”

Delahunty caught all of his bass on a Texas-rigged Zoom Speed Worm with a 1/8-ounce weight. He fished this bait on 15-pound Gamma braid main line with a 15-pound Seaguar AbrazX fluorocarbon leader.

Justin Patrick of Arlington, Tenn., caught the day’s biggest bass — a 23.25-incher.

Tour Hardin County is hosting the event.