Charlie Hartley's Bass Wars:Green fish, brown fish

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley 

The PAA event on Lake Lanier is over. I'm pointed north towards Pickwick Lake and the third Elite Series tournament of the year. I'm really looking forward to it, too. I like Pickwick.

The reason is because you have a choice of bass — largemouth or smallmouth — and plenty of places with different types of habitat to fish for them. That's a refreshing type of event. Usually we're pretty much locked into one thing or another. I like having options. It makes the tournament more interesting.

Those options have limits, however. If you target largemouth bass you'll probably catch more of them, but they won't be as big as the smallmouth. On the other hand, if you target all smallmouths, you'll catch a few giants but not necessarily high numbers.

To the best of my memory, most of the guys who've done well on Pickwick have done so with a mixed bag of bass. That's how I'll probably approach things this week unless things really change during the competition.

I'd like to be able to catch limits of green fish and then go hunting for big brown fish. When I say that, it sounds so easy — just catch five solid largemouth keepers and then go catch a couple of giant smallmouth. If only it were that simple I'd cash a check after every event. I don't, and I guess if you've ever been bass fishing you know for yourself that things don't always work out the way they're planned.

Last year on Pickwick was a perfect example of that. I had a decent tournament and cashed a check. But, if I'd been able to hold on to a couple of the big ones, I might have made the final cut. I didn't — hold on to them or make the final cut. It was kind of disappointing, but that's fishing. If you can't accept that then you need to find another line of work or another hobby.

Of course, last year's tournament was three weeks later than this year's. That'll have a big effect on the bass. Two or three weeks in April makes a heck of a big difference in where the fish are and how they behave.

I have high hopes for this one. I'm thinking I can do better and improve my standings in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. I want to finish above the cut for the Classic. That's always my goal.

Regardless of how things turn out, you'll not hear me complain. It's spring. I could be in my office. That'd be a lot worse than running around one of the best lakes in North America trying to catch a big bass. I'm qualified to say that because I've done both. Believe me when I tell you that fishing is better.

Maybe I'll have a good story to tell you next week.