2011 Elite Series - Alabama Charge
At 47,500 surface acres, Pickwick Lake isn't as big as most of the other stops on the Elite Series tour, but it is one of the most interesting. Pickwick has smallmouth and largemouth bass to choose from, and the bronzebacks here get big! The lake has produced several smallmouths in excess of 8 pounds, including a couple of IGFA line class records.
AOY standings recap
|18||J Todd Tucker||Ga.||646|
KVD Pickwick Lake recap
Alabama Charge Day 3 notes and quotes
FLORENCE, Ala. — It must be the shoes: Defending Alabama Charge champ Kevin Short appeared to be happy but bewildered after he weighed in 18 pounds and 3 ounces on Thursday, a nice improvement over his unremarkable Day One bag of 14-0.
By the end of the day, he had climbed 25 ticks in the standings, from 57th to 32nd place. That was inside the top-50 cutline and on deck for another day of competition.
Hard as he tried, he could think of only one thing he changed from Day One.
"Really, the only thing I did differently was I'm wearing a different pair of shoes," he said.
Short probably was not being as superstitious as he sounded, but was venting his frustration in his inability to isolate the factor that helped him into Day Three.
"I have racked my brain all day trying to figure out what was different. I went back to the same trees, I was throwing the same bait, with the same line, the same rod. I fished just as slow as I did yesterday, just as methodically. Only thing I can figure — other than the shoes — was that the water started to fall a little bit."
On Friday, Short said, he planned to go back to the same spot, which sounded much like the cypress-tree backwater he won on in the 2010 Elite event on Pickwick Lake. And, for the record, he planned to wear his size 9 1/2 Salomons in his bid to make Saturday's top-12 field for an attempt on back-to-back Pickwick wins.
Classic dreamin': Keith Poche, the runner-up to Davy Hite after two days, is feeling confident about his chances to end the season with his first Bassmaster Classic entry.
If Poche were to win the Alabama Charge, he would instantly qualify for the 2012 Classic on the Red River, not far from where he grew up in Natchitoches, La. If he just finishes near the top of the pack, he'll walk away with points that will help him into the Classic through the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
"It would be a sweet deal for me," he said. "I've been working so hard to get there. I have a good shot, even if I don't win here, at making it through the points."
After two events, Poche was in 39th place in the points standings. After all eight 2011 Elite tournaments, the 28 pros with the most points will be in the 2012 Classic.
Lock a no-go: First-day leader Denny Brauer was among the many anglers who ultimately rejected the idea of locking up from Pickwick into Wilson Lake on Friday.
"I love Wilson, I know a lot of good areas, but without practicing there, it would amount to an awfully short practice day," said Brauer, in sixth place after Day 2.
Friday was the pros' first opportunity to get into Wilson because the lock had been closed for repair. It reopened at 6 a.m. for commercial traffic, and the lockmaster told B.A.S.S. officials that at approximately 10 a.m., recreational boaters could queue up for a lift up into Wilson. The only window for the return trip would be at about 2 p.m.
With eight and a half hours of competition time, the angler who chose to spend hours locking for Wilson's relatively unpressured bass would have to be a high-stakes gambler.
"I'm better off doing my gambling on this lake," Brauer said.
Even those in the lower regions of the leaderboard going into the Friday round weren't saying they'd chance it.
"The risk is too great," said Rick Morris, in 40th place. "I'm going back to my spot down the lake, try for at least 14 or 15 pounds, secure some points and move on."
Horton's haul: The biggest mover on the Alabama Charge's second day was Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., the result of toting 21 pounds and 7 ounces to the scales.
The big sack elevated the local favorite from 93rd to 39th place. Such a standings reversal was a mathematical oddity, but no mystery to Horton.
"I slowed down, I quit running around so much," he said. "I stayed with how I practiced."
The second heaviest sack of the day, Horton's haul included two smallmouth that weighed 5-10 and 5-6. Horton has his work cut out for him Friday, when only the top 50 compete. He's about 5 pounds away from place No. 12, the cutline to be in the game Saturday, the final day.
Ownership: Paul Elias in 4th, Shaw Grigsby in 15th, and Andy Montgomery in 30th have at least one thing in common: Each ended Day One and Day Two in the same positions.
Twin sets: Pat Golden and Cliff Pace tied two days in a row. Both caught 14-1 for 55th place on Day One. Then both brought 16-5 to the scales on Day Two to share 41st place in the standings.
"Coincidence," Pace said, confirming that he and Golden aren't fishing close to each other or have any other thing in common this week — other than being happy to be inside the top-50 cutline.
Day Two Quotables:
"You don't ever forget how to catch them." - Paul Elias on mature pros (remained in 4th)
"I really want to fish tomorrow because I think I have something figured out." - Craig Schuff (ended inside the cut at 45th)
"I had a disastrous morning. I didn't have a fish until 1 o'clock." - J. Todd Tucker with an 8-0 (but game over for him at 65th)
"I was so down, so frustrated." - Tim Horton, who improved on his Day One result of 93rd place. He moved up to 39th)
"Every time I made a cast, I thought, '$10,000, $10,000, $10,000' " - Jeff Kriet on striving for the "money" cut (43rd up to 13th)
"The Tennessee River is phenomenal, from one end to the other." - Kevin VanDam (61st up to 36th)
"Maybe it's better to be in second. I'm after Davy (Hite) now; the pressure's on Davy." - Keith Poche (2nd up from 7th)
Alabama Charge day 3 morning update
Three Elite Series anglers were able to put bad days behind them after Day One of the Alabama Charge and make a charge of their own into the top-50 cut.
Most notable of the group was local favorite Timmy Horton, who sat mired near the bottom of the standings on Wednesday, but bagged 21 pounds, 7 ounces on Day Two, helping him rocket up into 39th place.
"I was so down yesterday, I was beating myself up," Horton said. "I had two 6-pounders that I just couldn't get in the boat. After that, your mind starts playing tricks on you. Every time I hooked a big fish, I was wondering if I could land it."
What helped was a little patience and a little love back home. Horton, from nearby Muscle Shoals, didn't have to go far to find a comfortable place to recharge.
"I got my mind right last night staying at home with the family," Horton said. "I slowed down today and quit running around so much. There are so many places here you feel like you have to make something happen. I only spent three hours up by the dam yesterday, so I went in there today and stayed all but two hours."
Patience paid off and Horton knocked out three big bass in the first few hours, left briefly, then returned to finish off his stellar day. While Horton made the decision to stay on his spot longer, Dean Rojas abandoned his Day One area entirely.
Rojas caught nearly 14 pounds there, but it wasn't nearly the weight he needed to compete for the title like he knew he should have caught. Mirroring his performance last year, where two 20-pound bags helped him slip into the top-12 cut, Rojas again brought 20-1 to the scales to move into 20th place.
"Yesterday, I made a bad decision — it was a bonehead move," Rojas said. "I felt like I could catch a limit quick and it took too long. I got hung up on it and it was a rookie mistake. Even though these comebacks are cool, I hate them — they are nerve-wracking."
When he realized his mistake, it was too late to make the long run to the spot he should have been fishing. At that point, despite his struggles, Rojas got excited, knowing that he was going to have a great time on the water the next day.
"I knew yesterday afternoon that I was going to catch them today," Rojas said. "I can't wait for tomorrow. I had to change baits — I'm not catching them on what was working in practice — but I'm catching them."
Of all the big movers, Rojas sits in the best position, less than 2 pounds outside of the 12-cut. Another great day on Pickwick and Rojas will find himself fishing on Saturday.
In the case of Mike Iaconelli, no adjustment was necessary. His 19-11 stringer came because the 2-pounders he was catching turned into 4-pounders. And a good thing they did — he leaped up into 27th place with an outside chance at moving even higher.
"Yesterday was a frustrating day because I caught 60 fish, all of them keepers, but my biggest was only 2 ¾ pounds," Iaconelli said. "I was doing the same thing today, which was two different patterns, catching staging fish and flipping bushes. I pulled up on my staging spot and instead of a 2-pounder, it was a 4-pounder. I pulled up to a bush and instead of a 2, it was a 4."
The slight adjustment Iaconelli made was to move slightly shallower on his staging fish, up to about six to eight feet. He's not way out on the main lake fishing ledges, but instead, trying to intercept fish that are moving up to spawn. With the warming weather, those fish are moving in a hurry.
With a high temperature of 81 degrees predicted for Friday and 88 degrees on Saturday, that migration should continue. Countering that is the slight drop in water levels, which if the TVA pulls down even faster, would start moving the fish from the bushes. That is why Iaconelli's one-two punch has been so effective.
"The flipping bite would be affected if there's a drop in water," Iaconelli said. "In a way, that is the best thing that could happen. The staging fish are moving up, but there are so many fish in the lake that when one wave moves up to spawn a whole new group moves in."
KVD's day 2 update - Alambama Charge
Kevin talks about day 1 in the Alabama Charge
Kevin's Alabama Charge thoughts
KVD on day 1 of the Alabama Charge
Davy Hite - 84-9
1. 23-8, 2. 19-7, 3. 20-9, 4. 21-1
Bobby Lane - 76-9
1. 19-12, 2. 20-9, 3. 19-2, 4. 17-2
Denny Brauer - 75-5
1. 23-10, 2. 14-2, 3. 19-6, 4. 18-3
Keith Poche - 74-2
1. 20-3, 2. 21-10, 3. 20-15, 4. 11-6
Alton Jones - 73-6
1. 16-11, 2. 14-2, 3. 22-3, 4. 20-6
Greg Hackney - 71-13
1. 19-3, 2. 16-11, 3. 18-4, 4. 18-1
Matt Reed - 70-12
1. 19-8, 2. 10-11, 3. 22-12, 4. 17-13
Terry Scroggins - 70-8
1. 15-6, 2. 18-10, 3. 20-15, 4. 15-9
Kelly Jordon - 65-13
1. 17-13, 2. 15-11, 3. 20-0, 4. 12-5
Nate Wellman - 63-14
1. 20-1, 2. 15-6, 3. 18-15, 4. 9-8
Mike Iaconelli - 63-4
1. 12-13, 2. 19-11, 3. 19-11, 4. 11-1
Shw E Grigsby - 63-2
1. 18-11, 2. 15-12, 3. 17-12, 4. 10-15
Kevin VanDam - 47-12
1. 13-8, 2. 17-8, 3. 16-12
History & Notes;
Day 1: Jared Lintner 8-10
Day 2: J Todd Tucker 8-0
Day 3: Matt Reed 8-8
Day 4: Greg Hackney, Alton Jones, Bobby Lane - 5-11