When legendary angler Bill Dance partnered with his home state of Tennessee on the $15 million Bill Dance Signature Lakes program, the idea was to improve and promote incredible fishing opportunities across the state. Part of the promotional side of the campaign is a tournament series known as the Bill Dance Signature Lakes Giant Bass Open.
Bill Dance Giant Bass Open events will be held at five of Tennessee’s best bass lakes in 2024, and the series will culminate with a championship tournament with a date and location to be determined. The long-awaited first stop on this year’s circuit is Feb. 10-11 at Pickwick Landing State Park on Pickwick Lake.
Pickwick is renowned across the region as arguably the South’s best smallmouth bass lake. It also boasts some very good fishing for largemouth bass, which is probably what most anglers will target under the tournament’s format. The event will pay out to eight places for one big bass weighed per angler per hour over the two-day event.
If you’re the angler who finds a pod of good largemouths herding bait in a current eddy, those payouts could add up very quickly. There’s a top hourly prize of $1,000 for the largest bass weighed each hour of the tournament from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also, there’s a $5,000 prize for the biggest bass of the event, which could become very competitive with fish feeding up heavily ahead of Pickwick’s spring spawn.
The whole family can get in on the action, too. There are youth and adult divisions, with a separate pay-out schedule for kids, and up to three registered anglers can fish from the same boat. In the youth division, the top hourly weight will be awarded $500, with payouts to eight places. The youth big bass of the tournament pays $1,500.
It’s a fun and action-packed format that provides plenty of chances for everyone to win, and since it’s an amateur open event, you and the family won’t be fishing against professional anglers or guides. You can bet there will be some talented local ringers, though. With entry fees of $140 per day or $200 for two days for adults, it’s an inexpensive weekend of fun with the potential to win big. Youth entry fees are $70 per day or $100 for both days.
Pickwick Landing State Park is the perfect place to host such an event. Just south of the Pickwick Dam, the boat ramp is a quick ride to some of the best fishing on the lake. There are lodging options at the state park from camping to cabins to the newly renovated lodge, as well as restaurants and plenty of other activities after the fishing day ends.
For more information, see giantbassopen.com