By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Randy Haynes has had a lot of good days on Pickwick Lake, but not many better than day 1 of last week's Central EverStart.
"It was one of those where I could've just walked up to the bank and caught 20 pounds," he said. "I caught them all day long.
"Those only come along once in a blue moon. Every call I made was right."
Haynes, who's lived on the shore of Pickwick since 1999 and has won four FLW-sanctioned events at that venue, took charge of the derby with his 33-01 opening-day sack and remained in the top slot the rest of the way. His prize package, which was in excess of $30,000, pushed his career earnings total with the organization to more than $200,000.
The first-year Tour pro amassed a 79-12 total over 3 days, outdistancing runner-up Jeff Suratt by 3-11. Here's how he did it.
Haynes has traditionally spent about 150 days a year on Pickwick, but that number will be down this year as he's competing on both the FLW Tour and the PAA Tournament Series. Nonetheless, his local knowledge is vast.
He began practicing in earnest for the EverStart on the Friday preceding the event.
"I was looking for the offshore (crankbait) bite, and that's kind of needle in a haystack at this time of year," he said. "You have to put a lot of time in to find those scattered schools.
"I found about 20 groups, but I lost some with the water coming up about 3 feet during practice and the tournament. I don't know if some of those deeper fish just got too much water on them or too much current.
"With those gates being open, though, I found some other ones."
He targeted three specific types of cover – humps and ledges in 13 to 30 feet, points and knobs with current in 8 to 15 feet (which produced some of his largest specimens) and gravel bars in 5 to 30 feet. He had about 40 places in all, but his primary rotation consisted of only six or seven.
> Day 1: 5, 33-01
> Day 2: 5, 19-12
> Day 3: 5, 26-14
> Total = 15, 79-11
Haynes estimated that he caught as many as 275 fish over the course of the event. None were bigger than the 8-10 that highlighted his massive day-1 haul.
"I caught two good ones that day from places I'd never fished before in my life," he said. "That's because there was such a high (current) generation going. I think having that much water really blind-sided a lot of people."
He took a 5 1/2-pound lead into windy day 2, but ended up losing most of that margin.
"The bite wasn't as good," he said. "I also lost my trolling motor at about 10:30 or 11:00 just trying to hold the boat out in the river.
"I had enough power to keep the boat straight, but I had to drift backward. Late that day I culled three times doing that, and one was about a 5 1/2-pounder."
His lead had been reduced to just 13 ounces, and the early part of the final day provided no call for extreme confidence.
"It was kind of scary. I pulled up to the first school and they fired good, but the quality wasn't there. I probably caught 20 fish and I kept four for about 12 pounds.
"I went and did a bunch of idling for 2 1/2 hours trying to find a new, fresh school that had just moved out there, but I couldn't do it so I started running my stuff. I rotated back to my starting spot at mid-morning and got a couple that were right at 5 pounds."
He made a cull at his next stop, and then pulled a 6 1/2 off an area that often surrenders a single quality bite. He then returned to his initial locale and continued to upgrade.
"I don't know if the sun coming out was the difference, but it eventually got to be like the first day all over again."
> Cranking gear: 7'11" medium- or heavy-action Kistler Mark Rose Signature Series Cranking rod, Lew's BB1 casting reel, 10- or 14-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon line, Strike King 6XD or 10XD (sexy shad or citrus shad).
The Bottom Line
> Main factor in his success – "I'd have to say my wife for taking care of everything at home and letting me get out there and keep my mind on fishing, and all my friends who where behind me. Also on the last day, Mark Rose (the eventual 5th-place finisher) went and fished totally different stuff and really turned me loose. We fish so much alike and share so much information that it's really hard to catch fish going behind each other."
> Performance edge – "It was a combination of the Kistler rods and the BB1s and the Ranger/Mercury/MotorGuide. It was pretty rough out there a lot of the time and everything stayed together."