Pickwick Lake will be drawn down 6 feet for the dam to be repaired, making the lake level at 408 — the biggest drawdown in about 30 years.
Armed with a camera and a GPS, you should take this opportunity to photograph underwater structures and humps there to fish later.
As to fishing, in November, the baitfish will become active in shallow water, and the bass will move out of the deep channels to feed in preparation for winter.
Pickwick also has quite a bit of grass in it — out to about 10 or 12 feet deep. With the dropped water level, half of the grass will be on dry land. Because the lake will contain less grass, more bass will be holding in the grass that’s left. You’ll also find bass concentrating on long, running points, and the top-water bite will be good.
My best lures this month will be walking-the-dog type lures like the Zara Spook, chuggers, buzz baits, shallow-diving crankbaits and lipless rattling crankbaits.
I’ll start making long casts with a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-action Pinnacle rod down the edges of the grass with a walking bait that darts from side to side.
I’ll work that lure really fast, because the bass will be active and willing to chase baits in the ditches and sloughs running through the flats.
Smallmouth, spotted and largemouth bass will blow up on walking baits, particularly one with a clear belly and a darker back. I have to fight the urge to set the hook, until I know for sure the bass has the lure in its mouth.
If the bass misses the bait, I’ll work it very quickly back to the boat, hoping to catch schooled-up bass.
I’ll be using a 7:1 Pinnacle reel because I’ll be working the bait quickly and I want a reel that will pick up the 14-pound monofilament line quickly.
I use the same rod, reel and line when I’m fast-fishing a chugger-style bait. But I will pause it and let it sit still for one or two seconds.
I’ll jerk the bait three or four times, stop it, jerk it three or four more times and stop it. I’ll use that type of retrieve all the way back to the boat.
I prefer a clear or pearl-colored belly on a chugger, because I want the bait to look like a shad. I’ll cast parallel to the grass and fish around the points of grass.
I’ll let the bass tell me whether they want the walking bait or the chugger bait. However, I’ll start off fishing the walking lure that tends to catch bigger bass. The chugger bait gives the bass an easier, smaller target that they can’t miss.
Lipless rattling crankbaits
I’ll also search for sparse grass away from the main grass line. The main reason I’m fishing this kind of lure is to catch bass that don’t want to attack a surface lure.
I’ll fish the lipless crankbait really fast about 4 feet deep using 17-pound-test Berkley 100 percent fluorocarbon line, starting my retrieve as soon as the lure hits the water.
I’ll hit isolated grass with the lure and then deflect it off the grass. When the lure hits the grass, I’ll jerk to tear loose from the grass.
In that same sparse grass, I’ll also be throwing a Mann’s C4 crankbait in a shad pattern.
I’ll pitch a ¾- or 1-ounce jig into matted grass and let it fall to the bottom when the bass aren’t taking the topwater lure.
I like a black-and-blue jig with a black-and-blue crawfish trailer.
This tactic pays off if a cold front moves across the lake or the bass don’t take any of the other lures I’ve mentioned.
I’ll be pitching a jig on a 7-foot, 11-inch Pinnacle flipping stick with 50-pound-test Trilene braided line on a 6.4:1 Pinnacle reel just inside the edge of the grass.
Generally, the bass will take the jig just as it punches through the vegetation. Expect to set the hook while the jig’s falling.
If it hits the bottom, I’ll hop it two times, reel it up and make another pitch.
What you can catch
You easily can catch 20 to 30 bass that will weigh from 1 to 7 pounds or more. You’ll generally take a good mix of smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass.
Since the bass will only have half as much grass to hide in as they do normally, I believe you’ll have a unique opportunity to catch good numbers and good sizes of bass this month.