Fishing & Boating News

Kentucky Angler Leads B.A.S.S. Nation Championship On Pickwick Lake

by: Dave Precht, VP/Editorial & Communications, BASS

Mark Pierce of Cadiz, Ky., took the lead on the 1st day of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship He brought 22 lbs, 4 oz to the scales.
Photo by Stephen Findley/B.A.S.S.
(Nov 8, 2018 - Florence, AL) Mark Pierce is fishing what he describes as a “hero or zero” strategy on Pickwick Lake that put him in the lead after weighing-in 22-4 on Day 1 of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors.
 
“I’m going for a big bass, a quality bite that will either produce well or not at all,” said Pierce, of Cadiz, Ky.
 
Joshua Miller of Roberts, Wis., is second with 21-8, while Randy Pierson of Oakdale, Calif., is third with 20-7. David Cavell of Prairieville, La., is fourth with 18-11. Bob Bayless of Indianapolis, Ind., is fifth with 18-3.
 
“Today went as planned, and I’m fishing where big bass are known to live this time of year,” explained Pierce. “They are aggressive, hitting reaction baits.”
 
Although Pierce declined to mention specific lures, he said moving baits are ideal for the areas where he is targeting the quality bass.
 
All it took were the first seven casts of the day to put Miller in second place. After leaving the launch site at 6:15 a.m., he caught the five-bass limit by 6:38 a.m.
 
“I have the place to myself,” he added. “I just pulled up on that spot, and it was lights out.”
 
He checked other similar areas for the remainder of the day, catching a 4-pound smallmouth along the way.
 
“I fish the upper Mississippi River and am leveraging that knowledge here,” said Miller, a member of the St. Croix Bass Anglers. “It’s all about the current, and the more the better for me.”
 
Miller is fishing offshore in the heavy flow of the Tennessee River. Current is key because it positions his fish behind calm water created by large boulders on the river bottom. The current is created by discharges from Wheeler Dam, which empties into Pickwick.
 
“The flow is up around 60,000 cfs (cubic feet per second), and it could be more,” he explained.
 
“I checked three more spots, and they were there too,” he continued. “I have five more areas just like those and will try them tomorrow if needed.”
 
Pierson brought a California tactic to Alabama to leverage his strong catch. As his pattern came together it built momentum and proved to be solid, reliable and filled with promise.
 
“I’ve discovered the same two types of productive cover in multiple locations,” said Pierson, a member of the Oro Madre Bass Anglers. “I didn’t realize just how good it was until today.”
 
Pierson intentionally avoided catching too many fish from his areas during practice to save the bite for the competition. The more water he covered the more fish he caught.
 
“I’m using three different lures and can switch to spinning gear and continue using them if the weather dictates making the change,” he added.
 
Switching from casting tackle might become necessary if the fish grow finicky following a predicted cold snap.
 
“The unknown is the weather because this is my first tournament on Pickwick,” added Pierson. “So I have no idea of what to expect tomorrow.”
 
Cavell only caught two bass during practice. He rebounded after weighing four bass that included a largemouth weighing 8-4, his personal best for a tournament.
 
“I wasn’t on anything during practice and could have caught 23 pounds today, counting the lost fish,” said the Ascension Area Bassmasters club member. “The pattern came together later in the day, so I’ll have tomorrow to figure it out more.”
 
Weather is destined to be a key influencer on the bass fishing. Rising water, falling temperatures and lots of cold rain are forecasted. Fall could turn to winter by Saturday, when the temperature struggles to reach the mid-40s.  
 
The catch here is spotted bass, largemouth and smallmouth in the 43,000-acre Tennessee River fishery. The mostly sought largemouth become lethargic following cold fronts, while smallmouth become more active. Pickwick is one of the nation’s premier smallmouth lakes, and it has a chance to show itself this week.
 
Joining anglers from 47 states are B.A.S.S. Nation representatives from five continents. Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Portugal, France, Italy, Zimbabwe, Namibia and the Republic of South Africa are the foreign nations represented in the championship.
 
Boater and nonboater anglers from each state or nation qualified for the championship. So did Kenneth Carter, the national champion of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tour.
 
On the nonboater side, Travis Lugar of Virginia took the lead with 15-8. Lugar fished with North Carolina angler Norman Mullinax, whose limit weighed 11-5.
 
“We put something together; they just came up all around us,” said Lugar, a member of the Rockingham Bass Anglers. “My boater partner allowed me to try out my area, and it worked.”
 
The Top 3 finishers from the championship earn berths in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which is set for March 15-17 in Knoxville, Tenn.
 
Those anglers also receive the “Nation’s Best” package, which includes paid entry fees into the 2019 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens division of their choice, and the use of a fully rigged Phoenix boat for the year.
 
The overall winner receives an invitation to fish the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series, and $16,000 toward entry fees. He also receives a Nitro Z20, custom trailer with Mercury outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics.
 
The second-place finisher and nonboater winner each receive a Skeeter ZX190 with trailer, Yamaha outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics. The third-place finisher wins a Triton 189 TrX and trailer, Yamaha outboard, and factory-installed accessories.
 
The competition concludes Saturday. Daily takeoffs begin at 6 a.m. CT at McFarland Park. Weigh-ins at the park begin at 2 p.m.
 
The Florence/Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau is event host.

2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Title Sponsor: Academy Sports + Outdoors

2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Presenting Sponsor: Magellan Outdoors

2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Premier Sponsors: Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota

2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Nationwide, Phoenix Boats, T-H Marine

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
 
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.