Pickwick Lake for April bassing

The author really likes the Baby 1-Minus lure when the grass is only about a foot or less under the water, since this crankbait stays shallow, and its treble hooks will tick the grass and trigger a strike from a smallmouth.

I will choose Pickwick Lake for April bass fishing, since I’ll catch a variety of bass there, including largemouths, smallmouths and spots. You’ll probably take the most spotted bass, then largemouths and next smallmouths. The good news is that current always helps your bass fishing, and in April at Pickwick, current almost always will be moving through the lake. April is when the Tennessee Valley Authority starts raising the lake to its summer pool level, and the large amount of rain Pickwick receives in April also results in moving current. 

At the beginning of April, I’ll still be fishing a prespawn pattern, looking for secondary bars with grass starting to grow on them. I’ll fish a lipless crankbait with a rattle, a very productive bait that covers a lot of water and gets the attention of numbers of bass. I particularly enjoy fishing the sandbars and mussel bars between Second Creek and the Natchez Trace Bridge in 3 to 5 feet of water that drops off into deeper water. 

Lipless crankbaits

I’ll pinpoint these bars with my Garmin electronics, using its SideScan feature. Most of the grass on these secondary bars will grow up to about a foot off the bottom, and I want my lipless crankbait to run with its hooks barely ticking the grass. I’ll also search for ditches in these bars that contain grass. Bass want to pull up on those shallow bars to prepare for the spawn as April arrives, but they still want to have deep water — the ditches — close by. Then, if a cold front hits, which often happens, the bass can back off the bars and drop down in the ditches close to the ends of the bars. 

I’ll have two lipless crankbaits in red or chrome with a blue back rigged up on my casting deck on 7-foot-6 FX Custom cranking rods. I’ll cast a ½-ounce lipless bait to the shallow grass on the tops of the flats, using 20-pound bass braid on a 7.5:1 Bruin Elias Legend Series reel. I’ll fish the ¾-ounce lipless crankbait in the ditches, using a 8.1:1 Bruin reel. The lighter crankbait will tick the grass on top of the secondary bars, and the bigger crankbait will tick the grass in the deeper ditches. What determines the speed of the reel I use is how fast I can crank the lure and still tick the grass. 

Later in April 

The other lure I’ll cast is a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard in redbug color on a 7-foot-4 FX Heavy Plus rod with a moderate tip, 50-pound bass braid on a 7.5:1 Bruin Spinning Reel, with a 3-foot leader of 23-pound test White Peacock fluorocarbon. I’ll fish with a 1-ounce weight up the line ahead of the leader. As the grass grows taller on the bars, the bass will move toward the spawning flats. 

You’ll probably catch more spotted bass than largemouths or smallmouths on Pickwick Lake this month.

Once the bass are on the spawning flats, I’ll start casting a crawfish-colored Mann’s C-4 and a Baby 1-Minus crankbait on the same rod, reel and line I’ve used for the lipless crankbaits. I’ll run these crankbaits somewhat faster than the lipless crankbaits to tick the tops of the grass growing closest to the surface. 

When the bass move into spawning mode toward the middle and the end of April, I’ll fish a green pumpkin SpringR Worm, rigged wacky style, on a 7-foot-4 FX Custom spinning rod and 15-pound bass braid on a spinning reel with a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader. I’ll be pitching and casting that SpringR Worm into the holes in the grass and up under the bushes and trees that are in the water, close to the shoreline. 

Bass and no grass

I enjoy fishing pea-gravel points and banks, too, since that’s where smallmouths like to bed. I love to cast a 3/8-ounce chartreuse/white Classic spinnerbait in these areas on a 7-foot-3 FX Custom medium-heavy rod with the same 7.5:1 Bruin spinning reel spooled with 20-pound fluorocarbon. I’ll also fish a crawfish-colored C-4 crankbait and a watermelon red SpringR Worm where I find numbers of these pea-gravel points in the same sections of Pickwick where the secondary bars and the grass are between Second Creek and the Natchez Trace Bridge. I’ll be fishing the main lake and its pockets too. I usually put in my boat at Natchez Trace and plan on a fun day of fishing any day I’m on the water in April at Pickwick.

Paul Elias
About Paul Elias 153 Articles
Paul Elias, of Laurel, has fished 15 Bassmaster Classics with career winnings of over $1 million, including one Bassmaster Classic Championship. Elias also holds the current record for a four-day BASS tournament weigh-in with 132 pounds, 8 ounces, on Falcon Lake in Texas.

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