Xtreme on Lake Seminole
I recently fished the Xtreme Bass Championship on Lake Seminole. They were giving away a new Ranger so I had hopes of winning a new boat on the drive up there. With all the tournaments I’ve been fishing lately, I only had 2 days of practice that me and my partner Pete could devote to finding fish.
It started raining about an hour into the drive and you know what that means this time of the year… the weather’s gonna change for the worse. By the time we got up there, it was freakin cold with lows in the 40’s. I thought for sure this would drive the better fish into the hydrilla matts.
The tournament was launching out of the state park in Fishpond Drain so we began our practice there. Some of the clearest water on Lake Seminole can be found here and to me, clear water fish are less affected by cold than fish in stained water.
We caught a slew of 2 pound fish on my trusty Mag Speedworm at our first stop in Fishpond. The cool thing about Lake Seminole is that most of the stuff that works in Florida works here so there wasn’t too much tackle I had to prepare for the tournament. In any case, we had a spot where we could catch a small limit so we proceeded to check other spots that I knew held fish during the last tournament I fished here a few years back in the BASS Open.
I had spent a solid 3 weeks of practice the last time the BASS Open was held here and had plenty of places to try where I’ve had past success. The first place we checked out were the back waters on the Hooch. I thought for sure the fish would be moving into the creeks with the colder weather but we never got a bite in any of the usual places. We checked out the matts in Spring Creek and in front of Sealy’s and never even got a sniff. We checked out my rattletrap area in front of Wingates and still no bites. In fact, we never got another bite for the rest of the 2 days of practice.
As much time as I’ve spent on Seminole, I thought for sure we could dial something in within a couple of days but it just wasn’t happening. Our practice was cut short a half day because the armature went bad on my trolling motor and we had to drive to Dothan, AL to get it fixed. We still should’ve had something figured out by then but we were lost as all get out.
We decided to start at in Fishpond since it was the only place we caught fish and it was close to launch. The first day of the tournament was in the low 40’s with 20 mph winds and I was thankful we didn’t have a long run. We caught a small limit that weighed about 9 pounds by 11 and decided to start looking on the main lake for bigger fish. We tried a handful of areas with hydrilla matts and was struggling quite a bit until I caught a nice 3 pounder with minutes left before weigh in. We ended the first day with about 11 pounds which had us sitting in about 20th place.
The 2nd day of the tournament we started in Fishpond Drain but the bite was way slower with clear bluebird skies kicking in and a heck of lot less wind. We only had 3 keepers by 10 and decided a small limit wasn’t going to get us anywhere and went to flippin matts again. We ran to the matt we caught the 3 pounder the day before and immediately catch a 4 pounder within a couple flips.
We decided we were doing the right thing and culled just about every fish we caught in the morning and ended up with about 15 pounds. The key here was an area in the matts that gets overlooked quite a bit. Many of the fish were right at the edge of where the hydrilla was topped out and thinned out underneath the water. They were hanging out in that area of the matt when I fished the Open a few years back and sure enough, it still held true for this tournament.
A lot of the other top finishing anglers told me they were on a rattletrap bite which I would’ve loved to have found but I never did. In the end, we ended up in 12th place which I feel is a respectable showing but we never did have a chance to match the 41 pounds the winners had.
Each time I go Seminole I learn a little bit more. Its an awesome fishery without big numbers of fish but plenty of larger ones. I always struggle between getting a limit of just going big on this lake. If you go big like I did in the Open I fished, then you can come back with something less than a limit. If you go for a limit, then you have zero chance of winning but you’ll probably cash a check. In fact, a lot of guys cashed a check during the Open running way up the Flint and bringing in small bags of Shoal bass that weighed 7-8 lbs each day.
Lake Seminole is an awesome place to visit and I learn something more about this place every time I visit. I think I’m probably to a point where I feel confident I can find a winning pattern the next few times I fish here. We’ll see what happens here in the future.