Short is leading the way at the Alabama Charge
There are two polarizing decisions that anglers have to make this week. One, they risk losing valuable time by locking through to Lake Wilson -- the move can pay off in spades - or play it safe in Pickwick. Secondly, once a location is established, anglers have to quickly decide to target largemouth or smallmouth as both species are in play this week. While Short is married to the largemouth bite, Pace is working the smallies.
Plying through a ton of bites, Pace found the right five smallmouths to total 19-9. He was working tight, small areas that were home to roaming smallmouth. He stayed on Pickwick, like Short, and targeted shallow water.
He will duplicate his pattern Friday but with weather approaching - rain is in store for later in the day - Pace wouldn't rule out entirely switching things up.
"Smallmouth generally like to roam and cruise around within their areas," said Pace, who qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason in 2009. "So I was playing to their habits in those pockets. I wasn't sure I would stick to this pattern all day when I first got on the water but I got a couple of good ones early and that really helped."
Behind Pace in third was blazing hot Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., with 18-15. In his first ever visit to Pickwick, Reese stumbled in practice and was simply looking at not bombing this week in order to keep momentum in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
Instead, he finds himself in contention and is threatening to run away with the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy.
"I had zero confidence this week," said Reese, the 2007 Angler of the Year and 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion. "That weight is certainly not where I expected to be. Coming in this week, I would have been happy with a top 20."
Edwin Evers, who was tied for fourth in the AOY race heading into this week, was also tied for fourth in the event. Greg Hackney, of Gonzales, La., matched Evers' with 18-9. Hackney, in second to Reese in the AOY, continues to pile up solid tournaments and has prevented Reese from taking a near-insurmountable lead.
In sixth was Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., with 18-3. Five-time AOY Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., was 24th with 15-2.
BASS has visited Pickwick Lake, a 47,000-acre Tennessee River fishery, for six events, including a 2002 Southern Open won by Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., with 33 pounds, 8 ounces, through three days. Duckett was ninth.
The Alabama Charge has a top prize of $100,000 and awards valuable points in the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title race. The full Elite field will compete Thursday and Friday, with the top 47 advancing to Saturday's competition. From there, the top 12 will advance to Sunday for a shot at the trophy and the top prize.
The public is invited to attend the daily launches at 6:10 a.m. CT at McFarland Park, 200 James M. Spain Dr., Florence, Ala., 35630. Also free and open to the public, the daily weigh-ins are set for 3:30 p.m. CT at McFarland Park.
The top 12 pros in the AOY standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series postseason, in which the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year will be determined.
Toyota Trucks Championship Week is set for July 24-31 and will be played out once again on two productive Alabama fisheries. The first leg, the July 24-25 Trophy Chase, returns to Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka. The finale, the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, is slated for July 30-31 on the Alabama River from Montgomery.