Bill's big bass
The biggest bass of Day One belonged to Bill Lowen, with a 7-pound Pickwick Lake largemouth. Despite practice reports of a multitude of small fish, Lowen located an area with big-fish potential and it paid off.
"I was catching plenty of fish, but that one area, I caught some big fish in there in practice," Lowen said. "I caught that 7-pounder, but I also lost two big ones in the same spot. One was a 5-pounder and the other was a big one that got me in a bush."
Big and bronze
That one big fish made the difference between an average bag and a great Day One showing, putting Lowen in 12th place with 17 pounds, 2 ounces.
Pickwick has long been known as a smallmouth factory, and despite the largemouth resurgence in recent years, plenty of smallmouth crossed the scales on Day One. Notably, Cliff Pace sits in second place Thursday with a 19-pound, 9-ounce bag of bronzebacks.
"It's hard to not go fish for hundreds of bites a day," Pace said. "A few of my key bites were in really tight, small areas."
Those small areas were helped by the amount of current rolling through Pickwick as the water level dropped, but with a few other boats in the area, fishing pressure might take its toll over the course of the weekend.
Aaron Martens was another angler targeting smallmouth and his bag of 18 pounds, 3 ounces, which included one largemouth, was enough for fifth place. He also said he culled through another 15 pounds of fish, which by itself would have put him in the top 20.
"There were five or six other boats in my area," Martens said. "But they are smallmouth and they are biting good. In practice, there were a bunch of shad boats in there trolling shad. They were keeping a bunch of fish and I thought that might affect the amount of fish left."
Martens predicted the fishing would get better when the weather turns worse this weekend, provided the number of boats fishing the area doesn't increase much.
Not-so-sweet home Alabama
Timmy Horton lives in Muscle Shoals, Ala., right on the shores of Pickwick Lake. Coming into the event, he was considered a local favorite, but Day One of the Alabama Charge didn't exactly go according to plan.
After a day of fishing, Horton finished with 12 pounds, 15 ounces and sits in 53rd place, just outside the cut.
"I caught 60 to 70 bass today, I just never got a good bite," Horton said. "I did in practice and that makes the difference between 12 pounds and 15 pounds."
Part of the Day One challenge was the falling water, which made fishing shallow more difficult.
"The cover here is really hard to find anyway, but they got even more uncomfortable in what cover there was because of the water falling 8 to 10 inches," Horton said. "That helped the smallmouth since that is a current deal. I'll probably go after largemouth again tomorrow though since I don't want to move in on the guys who did well."
Another consistent day Friday and Horton stands a good chance of making the cut. He sits only seven ounces back of 47th-place Kevin Wirth.
"I spent the better part of the day trolling down the bank listening to the birds sing."
Gerald Swindle, on having boat trouble on Day One
"They dropped the water about two feet last night and that killed me, because I'm not fishing deep."
"This was my best single day out here ever."
Shaw Grigsby on fishing Pickwick Lake
"All day long I just caught them and caught fish. It's a shame we had to come in a three o'clock."
"It was tough in Wilson Lake today and I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow."
"Well, obviously wrong."
Denny Brauer when asked by Keith Alan how he approached the lake today.
"I think everybody here's caught a limit unless they broke down."
"They dropped the water but I still caught hundreds."
"I'm happy to be surviving out here."
"I caught more fish today than I've ever caught in a tournament."
"I hope wherever that leak is in the dam, they fix it tonight."
"This lake goes up and down more than any lake I've ever seen."
"If I knew how to catch the bigger ones, I would have caught them today."
"I caught 75 fish today and only came in with 12 pounds."