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2010 Elite Series - Alabama Charge


With five Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments remaining, BASS heads back to the state in which it was founded. The Elite Series makes its fourth stop of the season at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala., for the April 29-May 2 Alabama Charge.

BASS has visited Pickwick Lake, a 47,000-acre Tennessee River fishery, for six events, including a 2002 Southern Open won by Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., with 33 pounds, 8 ounces, through three days. Finishing second to Duckett, the 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion on Alabama’s Lay Lake, was fellow Alabaman Randy Howell of Springville.

Tour Review

Day 4 quotes

“In the best interest of safety, we sat down this morning with the best information we had from the National Weather Service and made the decision to shorten the day. It’s a miracle we got in three days and three-quarters of a day of this tournament.”
— Bassmaster Elite Series tournament director Trip Weldon on the decision to shorten the final day of the Alabama Charge

“I still caught 30 fish today, even on a half-day.”
— Fourth-place finisher Rick Morris on Pickwick Lake’s abundance of fish

“It was mad chaos.”
— Ninth-place finisher Edwin Evers discussing the community hole where he, Cliff Pace, Steve Kennedy, Shaw Grigsby and Aaron Martens fished on Sunday’s abbreviated competition day.

“You really needed all day to weed through the little fish.”
—Eleventh-place finisher Mike Iaconelli on the difficulty in finding big bites on the weather-shortened final day.

“I ain’t got time for swimbaits right now. Now, I love me some swimbaits, but there’s a time and place for them, and I didn’t think this was it.”
Alabama Charge winner Kevin Short, who won the tournament on a crankbait

Day 4 cut short due to weather

Bassmaster Elite Series tournament officials announced Sunday morning that the final day of fishing will be cut short by about four hours. Tournament director Trip Weldon informed anglers of the decision just a few minutes before take-off, saying a forecast for severe weather led officials to shorten the last day of competition. Anglers took off at 6:10 a.m. Sunday, and they’ll check in for the final weigh-in at Florence’s McFarland Park at 11:15 a.m.

It’s the first time in Elite Series history that a final day has been cut short.

The weather system that has spawned deadly tornadoes and flooding in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee over the past 36 hours is moving east toward northwest Alabama. Forecasts call for chances of severe thunderstorms, including some capable of producing tornadoes, to increase throughout the morning hours. Doppler radar indicated a strong line of storms approaching Pickwick Lake this morning.

“The chances of severe weather go up after 11 a.m.,” Weldon said, addressing the top 12 anglers on the dock just prior to take-off.

Anglers had mixed reactions to the decision, some lamenting it and others celebrating it. Tournament leader Skeet Reese, who has been locking through to Wilson Lake all week, had the strongest reaction.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Reese said as Weldon made the announcement. “That’s ridiculous, Trip.”

Reese’s response is understandable. He’s the only angler in the top 12 who has been locking through to Wilson Lake, a process that requires about 45 minutes going into Wilson and another 45 minutes coming back into Pickwick. If Reese decides to go to Wilson this morning, he’ll have just 3 1/2 hours to fish.

day 3 quotes

“I am surprised.” — Tournament leader Skeet Reese upon learning he held the Day Three lead

“I have no clue what I’m going to do [Sunday]. I’m just going to go out and try to get the big ones to bite. Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t.” Kevin Short, who fell to fourth place Saturday after leading the first two days

“Cloud cover is killing that smallmouth bite.” — Aaron Martens, who sits in third placed with 51 pounds, 12 ounces

“I need three or four big bites instead of two. A 20-pound bag is the only chance I have to win.” — Mike Iaconelli, who’s 10 ounces off the lead in fifth place

“I’m getting out of here.” — Eleventh-place angler Rick Morris as he ran off the weigh-in stage in the pouring rain

Day 2 quotes

“I’m catching a lot of 3-pounders, but can’t seem to catch a good one.” — Dave Wolak

“I’m hoping it rains like crazy or the bottom drops out.” — Tommy Biffle

“I made about a 50-mile run to catch that one fish, and guess what? I caught it.” — Fred Roumbanis

“The fish zigged and I zagged.” — Alton Jones

“You’ve got to adapt or these guys will leave you behind.” — Denny Brauer

“I hope the rain comes and the live bait fishermen stay home and watch television.” — Randy Howell

“Where I was fishing it’s bone dry…fish down there are riding around on four-wheelers.” — Gerald Swindle

“These are wild fish…they like like to jump and do acrobatic stuff. It’s makes me mad.” — Mark Davis

“I had one of the worst performances of my career yesterday. My Marshal kept count today and I caught 54 fish.” — Davy Hite

“Yesterday I drove the suck bus straight into the dirt. This really is a frustrating sport…it really is.” — Marty Stone

Day 1 in 24th place, just 5 pounds out

“It was tough in Wilson Lake today and I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow.”
Kevin VanDam

KVD's thoughts on the AOY race heading into Alabama Charge

As many of you know I currently have 605 points. Mike McClelland and I are tied for 30th place. I’m 280 points out of first place but I’m only 56 points away from the magic number 12. That’s what it takes to compete in the postseason events.

Even more important I’m only 88 points away from the 8th slot. As a practical matter that’s where I think you need to be to have a realistic shot at the title in July when the postseason starts.

Don’t kid yourself about any of this. The postseason has changed the AOY race in a fundamental way. It isn’t about jumping out front and holding on in a points race anymore. Now it’s about qualifying – putting yourself in a position to make a hard run on it – and then performing in the postseason tournaments against 12 other guys.

Obviously, this is not where I want to be. It’s better to have the other guys chasing you than it is to be chasing them. There’s no sense trying to kid anyone about that.

At the same time, however, my situation’s not nearly as bad as a few in the media have said. If you believe some of what’s been written the race is over. There’s no hope. You may as well order flowers for my visitation.

Well, not so fast. Don’t order them just yet. We still have a lot of fishing left in this season – there are five more tournaments as of today. If I can fall behind in three of them why can’t I catch up in five? The answer to that question is that I can. If I don’t I assure you it won’t be for a lack of effort.

Being realistic, I know this is not the time to fumble. A bad event here will really hurt. On the other hand this is not the time to panic, either. I have no intention of getting stupid, of mindlessly swinging for the fences. This is not my first rodeo. I know how to put my head down and fish.

2010 Elite Series - Alabama Charge
Pickwick Lake, Florence, Alabama
Apr 29 - May 2, 2010


Kevin Short - 75-1
1. 20-3, 2. 18-10, 3. 12-15, 4. 23-5
Cliff Pace - 70-4
1. 19-9, 2. 16-0, 3. 16-8, 4. 18-3
Steve Kennedy - 67-9
1. 15-8, 2. 18-14, 3. 16-8, 4. 16-11
Rick Morris - 65-2
1. 17-7, 2. 14-12, 3. 16-14, 4. 16-1
Skeet Reese - 64-14
1. 18-15, 2. 13-0, 3. 20-4, 4. 12-11
Aaron Martens - 63-8
1. 18-3, 2. 17-2, 3. 16-7, 4. 11-12
Brian Snowden - 62-5
1. 14-6, 2. 14-4, 3. 20-8, 4. 13-3
Shaw E Grigsby - 61-13
1. 15-15, 2. 16-7, 3. 15-9, 4. 13-14
Edwin Evers - 61-1
1. 18-9, 2. 14-8, 3. 16-1, 4. 11-15
Bill Lowen - 60-12
1. 17-2, 2. 15-5, 3. 16-15, 4. 11-6
Michael Laconelli - 60-8
1. 17-1, 2. 17-9, 3. 16-15, 4. 8-15
Dean Rojas - 58-15
1. 10-2, 2. 18-14, 3. 20-13, 4. 9-2
Kevin VanDam - 26-2
1. 15-2, 2. 11-0

History & Notes;

Big Bass
Day 1 – Bill Lowen 7-0
Day 4 – Kevin Short 6-12

Day 1 – Kevin Short

Lake Profile
> Lake Name: Pickwick
> Type of Water: Big main-stem river impoundment
> Surface Acres: 43,100
> Primary structure/cover: Rocks, humps, current-breaks, ledges
> Average depth: 15 feet
> Species: Largemouths, smallmouths, spotted bass
> Length limit: 12 inches for spots, 15 inches for largemouths and smallmouths
> Reputation: Emergence of aquatic vegetation over the past decade has greatly improved the overall quality of the fishery. It holds some big smallmouths, but they can be difficult to catch.
> Weather: Mostly sunny for the first 2 days with temperatures climbing into the 80s, followed by the chance of scattered thundershowers for the weekend.
> Water temp: Mid to high 60s
> Water visibility/color: 1 to 6 feet, depending on location/greenish tint
> Water level: Full pool
> Fish in: 0 to 20 feet
> Fish phase: All three spawn stages
> Primary patterns: You name it, these fish will bite it
> Winning weight: 80 pounds (4 days)
> Cut weight (Top 12 after 3 days): 52 pounds
> Check weight (Top 47 after 2 days): 28 pounds
> Fishing quality (1=poor, 5=great): 4 for Wheeler
> Biggest factors: Big bites – they’ll make all the difference
> Wildcard: Large females still on beds