Prestigious Playing Field of Pickwick & Wilson Lakes Primed for Summertime Fishing During the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops

Florence, AL (May 20, 2024) – Championship Week is upon us, as the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops is set to take place on May 23rd –  24th, in Florence, AL.  Both Pickwick and Wilson Lakes are official tournament waters for the longest consecutive running collegiate National Championship bass fishing tournament.  The fertile waters of these two world-class fisheries along the Tennessee River will present a phenomenal playing field for 400 of the nation’s top collegiate anglers over the course of two full days of tournament competition.

Pickwick Lake is widely considered one of the best offshore ledge fishing destinations in the world.  This Tennessee River fishery boasts an abundance of deep structure, ledges, and offshore humps where the lake’s healthy population of largemouth, spotted bass, and smallmouth will position during the summer.

Pickwick Lake is comprised of approximately 47,500 acres of water surface spanning 50 miles from the Wilson Dam in Florence, AL to the Pickwick Dam on the opposite end of the lake.  Lining the 490 miles of shoreline along Pickwick Lake is abundant fish catching habitat including flooded wood cover, various vegetation, as well as riprap and bluff rock banks.

It is very common during this time of the year on Pickwick Lake to find large schools of bass positioned out on the abundant offshore structure.  Following the springtime spawn, over the past several months, a majority of the Pickwick Lake bass population migrates out deep to find cooler waters and feed up on baitfish and shad for the next several months.

An abundance of rain has impacted the southeast, and in turn has impacted the amount of water flowing through the Tennessee River.  The excess rain has led to an increase in flow and current moving down Pickwick Lake.  Current is what makes these fish tick.  If the steady current flow continues throughout the week and on into competition, look for these anglers to really catch great quality and numbers of fish.

Selecting the right spot, tying on the secret bait, and paying attention to electronics will be the key formula to success during the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.  Look for anglers to be paying close attention to their Garmin LiveScope as they cast a variety of lures including deep-diving crankbaits, large soft plastics, jigs, and spoons to deep offshore structure.

Wilson Lake is also part of the official tournament waters for the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.  Anglers will also be able to lock up to Wilson Lake during official tournament competition.

Located upriver from Pickwick Lake, Wilson Lake extends for 15 miles to the Wheeler Dam, covering 15,500 acres.  Wilson Lake offers a different playing field than Pickwick Lake.  Wilson is more of a shallow-water fishery, featuring shallow vegetation and plenty of boat docks to target.

Each year, a significant number of boats competing in the 200-boat field opt to lock up to Wilson Lake during the event.  The shallow waters of Wilson Lake offer out of town anglers that aren’t as comfortable fishing offshore ledges with the chance to go fish their strengths across a variety of different fish holding areas.

On Wilson Lake you will find anglers throwing a combination of topwaters, crankbaits, and flipping soft plastics to shallow cover.

Current can also play a key role on Wilson Lake.  Roughly eight years ago, the Tennessee River was flowing at a high rate.  Both the Wilson and Wheeler Dams had significant amounts of water moving through them.  That particular year, the Wheeler Dam produced a lot of quality bites, and several teams in the Top 10 were targeting this area.  It will be interesting to see if the current up there plays a factor this week.

Weather is being forecasted to be fairly stable leading up to the beginning of competition on Thursday.  High temperatures will reach the upper 80’s, with nightly lows reaching 70 degrees throughout practice.  Wind are projected to be light and variable out of the south.  Rain chances increase for both days of the tournament.  While practice will be stable, changing conditions at the end of the week could impact how the fish set up.