After two days of fishing on Old Hickory there is one thing I know for certain, everything I’ve heard about Old Hickory Lake is true. This lake is inconsistent and difficult to develop a pattern and can be very frustrating. Yesterday, the first day of practice, I found a shell bed loaded with shad and proceeded to catch nine bass from the area no bigger than my boat, all on a Jackall Muscle Deep crankbait. Unfortunately, they were all 13 ¾” and on this lake they need to be 14” to be a keeper. Cranking is one of my favorite techniques so I proceeded to run that pattern for the next few hours…..not another bite. I did catch some more shorts doing various things, but never caught a keeper. Most places I checked out, both shallow and deep, had plenty of bait. Good cover, good structure, bait….yet no fish?
After a long day on the water, 5:30 am until 6:30 pm, I had dinner with two good friends of mine that I haven’t seen in a while. They reminded me this is Old Hickory and not to get discouraged. Today I went out in a new frame of mind and just went fishing. To lighten up my mood I even had Pandora playing on my phone all day….hope my tournament partner likes Hayes Carll and the likes. The first spot I went to was a shallow hump on a main lake flat and the shad were spawning like crazy! In a fifteen minute span I caught two keepers including a 4lb smallmouth! I thought to myself “finally, I figured it out”. Well, I was wrong. I’ve never seen a lake where bass can be ganged up in an area one minute and gone the next. Later in the day I went REAL shallow, kicking up mud with the trolling motor and caught a few more shorts and another keeper. The super shallow bite seems to be a fairly consistent pattern but I’m not the only one running that pattern and there are not enough shallow spots like this to hold up for a few days, especially with multiple anglers doing the same thing. This lake reminds me of one I fish often where the hotter it gets, the shallower the bass go. As hard as I tried to develop a deep ledge pattern, I just can’t seem to get it to work.
My day ended with four keepers for about 10lbs, not a bad weight for Old Hickory, but I’m not sure I can duplicate it for three days. In practice, my goal is to cover water and see as much of the lake as possible. Come tournament time, I should have a few areas holding some fish but I really won’t know the full potential until tournament day. It seems the best way to fish this lake is to keep an open mind and keep changing.