Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pickwick Smallmouth

If your passion is chasing trophy smallmouth bass, the number one place in the southeast has to be Alabama's Pickwick Lake near Florence, AL. And the number one guide for those big fish in Pickwick is Steve Hacker. My friend Jim Bruce has been fishing with Steve for almost 20 years and has trips booked years in advance. When Jim asked me to tag along with him for a quick run over to fish on Tuesday of this week, I couldn't turn it down. I've been there before and it is definitely worth the trip. No fly fishing this time as I'm still trying to learn the nuances of how you catch these guys. When in Rome, you know. Pickwick Lake is essentially a controlled river in that there is almost always a current running between Wilson Dam and Pickwick Dam. And that current determines when and how you fish. Last week there was an FLW bass tournament on the lake and, while he's not much on bragging, Steve's clients who were out with him at the same time as the tournament were outfishing the pros by a substantial margin. Here is Steve's description of the day:

"386 anglers blasted off at 6:30 this morning in the FLW Stren Series Championship. Hank Chitwood, from near Calhoun, GA, had the "misfortune" of having a trip scheduled with his son, Caleb, while all of this madness is going on.

"Pulled up on the first spot this morning, and Hank hooked a giant within 3 seconds. Unfortunately, it broke his line. Not to worry, though, as by 7:30 they had a livewell full of smallmouths, with the five best at over 25#. They caught about 30 smallmouths for the day, and lost 4 giants (2 breakoffs and 2 jump offs). Could have probably had a five best of 27 pounds or so, as the second big fish Hank lost right at the boat was a giant. Something interesting: for the first time that I can ever remember, nothing but smallmouth were boated for the day. No drum, spots, or anything other than those beautiful brown bass."

Jim and I didn't have the day the Chitwoods had but it was plenty fun. At our first stop, we fished for about an hour and had only four casts between us during that time that didn't result in a strike or a hookup. It was wild! Steve is strictly catch and release and he does on occasion guide fly anglers. It sprinkled rain on us all morning (thankfully the heavy downpours were just east of us all day) but the fishing was so good we didn't mind at all. The sun broke out after lunch and the weather was absolutely beautiful. A great day on the water!

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