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Rods, reels, baits, tackle and line used by the top teams at Pickwick and Wilson Lakes

San Antonio, TX (APRIL 26, 2023) – The 2023 Pickwick Slam presented by Evolution Fishing saw over 200 of college fishing’s top teams compete for two days on Wilson and Pickwick Lakes.  Over 180 of the 203 teams in the event weighed in fish, with a total of five limits over 20 pounds.  Each of the Top 3 teams in the final tournament standings weighed in at least one bag over 20 pounds during competition.  In this write-up, we will break down the gear and baits each of the Top 3 teams used to catch their fish.

The top-ranked Montevallo duo of Charlie Wright & Logan Plueger won the event with a two-day total of 43.83 pounds.  Wright & Plueger caught their fish on a combination of bladed jigs and swimbaits on both days targeting small eel grass patches adjacent to spawning bays in 5-9 ft. of water. They opted to start deeper in the morning and work shallower as the day progressed. Their key to bigger bites was presenting these baits with the current.

For the bladed jig setup, they used two different combinations.

Combination 1

Rod: 7’ 4” Ark Crankbait Rod

Reel: Quantum Smoke Reel

Line: 18lb Sunline FC Sniper

Bait: 1/2 Ounce Z-Man Jack Hammer in Dirty White with a Yamamoto Baits Zako in Pearl White

Combination 2

Rod: 7’ 3” Daiwa Aird X Rod

Reel: Shimano Curado MGL 70

Line: 40lb Suffix 832 Braid to a 14lb Suffix Advance Monofilament Leader

Bait: 3/8 Ounce Z-Man Jack Hammer in Chartreuse White with a Missile Baits Baby D-Bomb in Pearl White

Along with the bladed jig, Wright & Plueger caught several of their winning fish on a swimbait.  Here is a look at the setup the duo used for throwing the swimbait:

Rod: 7’ 5” Ark Viper Rod

Reel: Shimano Curado DC Reel

Line: 17lb Suffix Advance Fluorocarbon

Bait: 5” Slow Sinking Mike Bucca Bullshad in Threadfin Shad

Claiming second place in this nationally televised, no-entry-fee, ACA double points event were Tyler Finley & Lane Lassiter from Top 25 ranked University of North Alabama in the host site of Florence.  The pair weighed 16.87 pounds on Day 1 and 21.07 pounds on Day 2 for a total weight of 37.94 pounds.

“On Day 1 we were focusing on a shad spawn pattern that we had found a few days before the tournament, but with changing weather conditions and a cold front moving through on the first day, we had to change up and go back up lake and throw a shaky head to fill out the rest of our limit,” explained Lassiter.

On the first day of competition, Lassiter relied mainly on a Lew’s Custom Lite reel paired with a Lew’s Super Grip 7’ 3.5” MH.  The baits that he opted for were a True Bass Citron Shad 5”, 7/8 oz. True Bass hair jig, and a Spot Remover Magnum Series Shaky Head paired with a 5” Yum Dinger in Green Pumpkin.  Sunline Super FC Sniper in 20-pound test was his line of choice.

On Day 1, Finley used a 7′ 6” Heavy Duckett rod with a Lew’s 8:3:1 to catch the duo’s big bass on a hair jig. Later in the day, when they went up the river, he fished a shaky head on a 7′ Duckett spinning rod with a Lew’s reel.

“On Day 2, we had to make a change and locked up to Wilson Lake and fished current with the True Bass Citron Shad and produced a good bag of fish,” said Finley.  During the final day of tournament competition at the Pickwick Slam presented by Evolution Fishing, UNA’s Finley & Lassiter improved upon their Day 1 weight by close to five pounds as they brought in 21.07 pounds.

Fishing in the current up on Wilson Lake, Finley caught fish on a 7’6 Heavy Duckett rod with a 8:3:1 Lew’s reel, and a 5 inch Ignite Baits (pars parrot) Swimbait on a ½ oz. Johnson Lures screw lock swimbait head.

Finishing the event in third place was another two-angler team from number one ranked Montevallo.  Miller Dowling and Parker O’Bryan weighed in a two-day total of 37.92 pounds to take third.  Dowling & O’Bryan focused on shell and gravel bars located in 4-8 ft of water to catch pre-spawn fish as they were moving up into creeks getting ready to spawn.

The bait that produced best for them was a 3/4 oz. War Eagle Spinnerbait.  O’Bryan fished the spinnerbait on a Phenix Feather 7’1” Heavy paired with a Shimano SLX and Seaguar Red Label in 20 pound test.

Another presentation the pair found success with was a Carolina Rig.  Dowling fished the Carolina Rig on a Daiwa Tatula 7’3” Medium Heavy with a Shimano Curado reel.  The line combo used for the Carolina Rig was 20 pound test Seaguar Red Label down to a 15 pound leader.  Dowling was using a Watermelon Seed Zoom Baby Brush Hog.

They also had a Spook tied on to throw on top of fish that came up busting on shad, and that produced two fish the duo weighed in during the tournament.