Jimmy Brown and William Reynolds teamed up to win the Michiana Fishing League tournament last weekend on the St. Joseph River in South Bend.
A lot of smallmouth were caught on a variety of lures and techniques with Ned rigs and crankbaits among the top producers.
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There’s no question that the electronics unlock secrets of a lake and those premium rods, reels and line make you a more resolute angler.
But is all of that necessary to catch a state record bass?
A traditional exposed-hook mushroom jig excels where little to no cover carpets the lake floor.
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FLORENCE, Ala. — Bill Lowen turned in an impressively consistent performance at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake, but he’ll never forget the 8-pound, 5-ounce largemouth that buoyed his Championship Tuesday performance and delivered a winning total of 83-5.
The only competitor to break 20 pounds three of the four days, Lowen placed third on Day 1 with 21-3 and improved to second a day later by adding 23-13. He earned his final-round berth on Day 3 with a limit of 17-10 that put him in a first-place tie with Chad Pipkens.
On Tuesday, Lowen surged across the finish line with a limit of 20-11. Edging second-place Brock Mosley by 2-10, Lowen claimed his first Elite win and earned $102,000, which includes the daily and overall Phoenix Boats Big Bass awards.
Lowen’s game-changing kicker bit around 10:30 a.m., when he skipped his black and blue Signature Series 3/8-ounce Lure Parts Online jig with a chunk trailer under a dock near Kogers Island. He initially snagged a piece of submerged cover, but then his line tightened.
“I had to pitch way up in there so the bait could get down in the current and sweep it through,” Lowen said. “I felt my jig get into a limb or a piece of brush, and as I hopped the jig over I felt the bite.
“I hesitated because I wanted to be sure, but when I got big pressure, I set the hook and it was game on.”
Lowen described that emotional catch: “There were so many feelings going through my head. You could hear me screaming and hollering and that’s not me. But that’s 14 years of excitement built up for this day. It all came out.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority steadily worked the volume through the system. But with Wilson Dam dumping approximately 180,000 cubic feet per second into Pickwick, the rising water and intense current dramatically changed Lowen’s game plan.
“My main goal was to start the tournament out on the grass flat by Koger Island. When all this rain and current came through I (was concerned) because I didn’t have anything else.
“The first morning of the event I ran down there and saw what was going on, and I said, ‘These fish have to slide to the sides — whether it’s on the island where I was fishing or the docks on the other side.’ Fortunately, when I pulled up and started flipping trees I got a bite, which keyed me in.”
That pattern worked for three days, but in the final round, falling water had drained much of Lowen’s prime habitat.
“Today, my main area (shallow cover on the outskirts of Kogers) was a foot and a half low,” he said. “A lot of the wood I was catching fish on was dry, so I started running some deeper stuff. I switched from the 3/8-ounce jig to a 1/2 and caught a couple key fish.”
Earlier in the tournament, Lowen used the 3/8-ounce jig so he could float it through the shallow, current-swept cover without getting hung up. He also used a Strike King Rodent Texas-rigged on a 5/0 Hayabusa flipping hook with a 5/16-ounce Reins tungsten weight for flipping reeds.
“Anytime I’m fishing current and I can keep a flipping rod in my hand, that’s my comfort zone,” Lowen said. “I grew up on the Ohio River, which looks just like (Pickwick) when it’s flooded. I’m used to rising, muddy water; it doesn’t affect me or make me get spun out. I just went out and fished the way I’d fish at home.”
FLORENCE, Ala. — Tomorrow, there can be only one winner, but Bill Lowen and Chad Pipkens share the Day 3 lead at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake.
Both anglers head into Championship Tuesday with 62 pounds, 10 ounces.
If a tie occurs in the tournament’s final round, the winner will be determined by a fish-off between the tied competitors.
Hailing from Brookville, Ind., Lowen improved from second place by adding 17-10 to his previous days’ limits of 21-3 and 23-13. Pipkens, who lives in Holt, Mich., moved up from sixth. His daily weights were 21-2, 18-5 and 23-3.
Since last week’s fierce storm, the Tennessee Valley Authority has been moving a tremendous volume of water through Pickwick. Lowen started his day fishing main-river current breaks on the backside of Kogers Island and continued his quest to determine how the fish are adjusting.
As the water level slowly declines, warming conditions have set the stage for a possible spawning movement.
“It just seems like every day the morning has been the deal, that first three hours,” Lowen said. “After that, I just have to beat around and try other things. I’m just trying to find out where the fish have gone.
“I feel like the current is pushing those fish off the flats. I have some areas that they should be going to. I keep checking them, but they haven’t shown up yet.”