03.May.2013 by Gary Mortenson
FLORENCE, Ala. – With steady winds clocking in at 18 to 25 mph and a raging current screaming down the entirely of the Tennessee River system, EverStart Series Central Division anglers definitely had their work cut out for them during the second day of competition on Pickwick Lake.
With plenty of game plans in complete shambles and numerous prime fishing locations completely inaccessible, the field did its best to weather the conditions and mount whatever charge it could muster in a bid to qualify for Friday’s top-10 cut.
However, it wasn’t easy. Just ask day-one pro leader Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., who did everything possible to maintain his overall lead during today’s brutal round of competition.
“Everybody who knows me knows I’m disappointed,” said Haynes, who saw his day-one lead of nearly 5 ½ pounds slip to a mere 13 ounces by the time Friday’s weigh-in had concluded. “I was hoping for no less than 23 pounds today. But this is fishing and things go wrong. It’s a very humbling sport.”
Haynes ultimately came back to the scales today with a 19-pound, 12-ounce stringer, a far cry from his whopping 33-1 bag he recorded on the first day of competition. However, the good news was that despite the hiccup, Haynes is still the proud owner of the pole position heading into Saturday’s all-important finals.
But still, like the majority of the field, today’s conditions definitely took their toll on Haynes.
“I usually don’t mind the wind so much, but today it was too extreme,” said Haynes. “And this wind with the current really affected my fishing.”
Haynes said that he was attempting to fish ledges in the main river but around 11 a.m., the wind picked up with such force that he used up all of the batteries in his trolling motor – the main weapon for maintaining crucial positioning on his spots.
“It was rough out there,” he said. “And after my trolling motor went down around 10:30 or 11 a.m. you were really sort of cooked. The waves were coming so hard at times they were hitting the seats of my boat.”
It didn’t help matters that his bite was subpar as well.
“The fishing was just off today. They weren’t biting in a lot of spots like they did yesterday,” he said. “And Lord have mercy, I don’t know why.”
Despite the obstacles, Haynes said he stuck to his guns and continued employing a series of Strike King 6XD and 10XD crankbaits. And in the end, his local knowledge and years of fishing experience on Pickwick Lake paid dividends.
“I tried some shallow stuff earlier but it didn’t pay off so I went deeper and fished anywhere from 12 to 25 feet,” he said. “It was really helpful that I know this lake so well. Some of the places I fished today I haven’t fished for four years.”
Although the forecast is calling for steady rains all day in the finals, Haynes is still hopeful that he can pull off a wire-to-wire victory even though his lead is a lot more precarious than he’d previously envisioned it would be at this point.
“I’m hoping I can do a little better tomorrow,” he said. “But I wouldn’t mind if that wind calms down.”