05.Jun.2008 by Rob Newell
FLORENCE, Ala. – Having a conversation with Randy Haynes about fishing Pickwick Lake’s mysterious ledges for illusive schools of bass is probably a lot like having a conversation with Mel Fisher about treasure hunting off Florida’s coast.
Haynes, who lives on Yellow Creek in Counce, Tenn., has an undeniable passion for hunting large schools of fish on Pickwick, which helps explain why he is currently leading the Stren Series event on his home lake.
As day two of the Stren Series Southeast event began this morning, Haynes was rather candid about his love affair with Pickwick’s deep ledges.
“I’ve been fishing here for about 12 years, and I absolutely love this place,” Haynes said. “It’s not about catching fish for me; it’s the thrill of finding one of those overlooked ledges that’s loaded with 5-pounders. Discovering a new place where you can catch 20 pounds in five minutes is what it’s all about – that’s why I do this. And on any given day, there are still untapped places like that out there.”
Haynes noted that due to years of tournaments, many of Pickwick’s “community holes” have been found and picked over, but there are still plenty of undiscovered treasures lying along the flooded Tennessee River channel at the bottom of Pickwick Lake.
“I’m just totally consumed with how bass relate and feed along these ledges,” continued Haynes, who installs hardwood floors for a living. “I spend every spare minute out here idling around looking for new places that have not been fished.
“This is my time of year out here. I get my tail whipped in March and April when the fish are shallow, but when they retreat out to their summer spots, that’s what I live for. I don’t have any confidence fishing behind another guy in shallow water, but I have no problem fishing behind other boats out deep. I just feel like I know how to get those fish fired up when they’re inactive.”
To do that, Haynes is relying on about 10 different lures of all shapes and sizes.
“There’s not just one bait that works on all ledges,” he revealed. “Certain ledges have certain baits that work much better than others, so I carry the buffet with me at all times. To me, that’s part of the fun: figuring out exactly what they want on each different ledge. And that’s where us local guys have such an advantage. A lot of these touring pros know some of the traditional community holes out here. But us local guys know the secondary and tertiary spots that those fish use, which are adjacent to those community holes, and we know how to make them bite and get them going.”
Behind Haynes on the leaderboard are a host of his fellow deep-water local friends, whom he competes against on a regular basis, including Curt McGuire, Todd Rasberry, Bob Garrison and Shawn Perrigo.
“All those guys are great deep-water fishermen,” Haynes said. “And they’re all part of an ongoing friendly rivalry between the Florence guys (upper end of Pickwick) and Counce guys (lower end of Pickwick). So it’s a lot of fun to see who’s going to come out on top.
“Watch out for Rasberry,” he added. “That guy knows his stuff out here – he’s going to catch them every day.”
In terms of the technical aspects of mining green gold off the bottom of Lake Pickwick, Haynes admits there is no substitute for the best electronics money can buy. He has spent thousands of dollars on the best units from Lowrance and Humminbird. He currently uses three different units in his boat.
“These are my toys,” Haynes said while powering up his electronics. “I love buying new depth finders and using them out here. Nothing finds fish like those big Lowrance units, but this new Humminbird Side Imaging technology is pretty neat, too. I use them all just to make sure my competition doesn’t have an edge out here that I don’t.
“When you spend hundreds of hours a year out here idling these ledges like I do, it pays to have the best stuff to see the bottom with.”
As for day two of the Stren Series event, Haynes is excited about his prospects. He has a late boat number today, but with it comes a silver lining.
“Yesterday, I was out early and got first choice on some of the better spots,” he said. “Today, I’m out late and there’s no doubt some of my places will already have boats on them. But the thing I’m most excited about is having another hour to fish late this afternoon. This lake is famous for that late-afternoon bite when they’re really pulling current. They usually start opening the (dam) gates about noon, and by 3 o’ clock the current is really humming – that’s when the dinner bell rings out here.”
The day-two weigh-in of the Stren Series Southeast Division event on Pickwick Lake will begin Thursday at 3 p.m. from McFarland Park in Florence.