My trip to Old Hickory for the BASS Weekend Series National Championship in Tennessee started with high hopes but I think I did pretty good not to lose it all together. I had been fishing pretty well and making good decisions leading up to the event and I really felt I had a good chance at doing some damage here. The only problem was that it seemed like everything in the world was working against me.
I arrived in Tennessee after an 11 hour drive just before dark. I check into my room to find there’s no refrigerator in my room. I change my room and the new room did not have a refrigerator. I go back to the front desk again and the finally I get a room with a refrigerator. The only problem was that now I did not have a clear view of my boat from the room. A few hours later, I get a call from the front desk saying another guest had reported some strange looking people near my boat.
I run downstairs with my heart thumping to check my boat and all of my fishing rods were gone. The hotel clerk just happened to already have the police at the hotel and as soon as I confirmed my rods were stolen, the cop turned his police lights on and chased the guy they suspected to have stolen my rods. The cop returned about 10 minutes later saying that he had to stop chasing the guy because he was not allowed to go over 80 mph. WTF!
I spent nearly a day rigging line and baits so I could maximize my practice time but now I didn’t have anything ready. The next day I borrowed some rods from my friend Jessie and rigged up some of my spare rods that were in my car and got out on the lake in the afternoon. Needless to say, I did not get a single bite the entire day. Maybe it was the cold front that came in or my head was all out of wack, but it wasn’t happening.
The 2nd day of practice, I started in Bledsoe Creek and caught the heck out of them. I spent nearly half the day mapping out the creek and there were fish everywhere. I start venturing out to some other creeks and my trolling motor goes out. From there, I spend the rest of the day finding a repair shop and getting my trolling motor fixed.
That night I realized that I had never checked in at the scheduled time on day 1 of practice so now I had to wait until 9 AM to check in on the next day. Great… losing more practice time. The third day of practice I found a small backwater area called Saunders which had some nice fish in it.
I attend the meeting and stopped at a red light on the way back an 18 wheeler tries to take a sharp turn and takes out a street light and a fire hydrant. I stop for gas and a car goes head first into a ditch while I’m filling up.
The next morning, I finally convinced myself that I was gonna have a good tournament. I will be getting all new equipment since my insurance covered the theft and I had found some nice fish in practice although I only had about a day and a half. As I’m driving to the boat ramp I notice a deer in the road and swerve right to miss it. I managed to miss it but the stupid thing kept on coming anyway and head butted the side of my car leaving a big dent.
At this point I was ready to just pack up and head back home.
The tournament was pretty uneventful for me. I caught all of my fish in less than 2 feet of water in Bledsoe, Saunders, and Crypress Creek with a bluegill colored chatterbait. A crankbait would have been great but I really didn’t have a rod that was suitable for it so I stuck with the chatterbait and it caught fish.
In the end, I did end up cashing a small check and finishing 39th.
Old Hickory is a tough fishery. I think I did good with the hand that I was dealt. Just like in poker, the cards don’t come to you sometimes. They definitely didn’t come to me here.
I guess my next chance to make the Classic is the BASS Open on Toho. Hopefully I’ve used up all of my bad luck.
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.
First of all, I know I’ve been MIA for a while and many apologies. All I can say is things are pretty busy these days.
Anyway, I recently finished 2nd at the Bassmaster Weekend Series Regional at Lake Hartwell doing something I’d never done in a tournament…. video game fishing with a drop shot.
I still don’t like it but now I feel like I can catch the fish I’m seeing on the graph. It’s pretty amazing how effective a drop shot is on spotted bass.
I arrived at Lake Hartwell praying to God that it would be cold enough to push the fish into the creeks, but when I arrived it was still quite warm and the water temperature was still in the mid 70’s.
That didn’t stop me from starting my search in the creeks though. My friend Ben who won the Everstart in Okeechobee earlier this year fished the BFL regional here last year and told me about some creeks that I should check out on the west side of the lake called Gumlog and Paynes.
I spent my first 2 days of practice in those 2 creeks and really had very little success. The water was totally clear and there was no shad to speak of. The best bite I got in those 2 creeks was off a steep rocky point that dropped into 30 ft of water. I saw some fish on the graph and a small spot ate the drop shot right away.
My friend Jessie told me he’s been catching fish off the marked shoals and I had every intention of checking them out on the third day but for some reason I ended up by one of the numerous bridges on Lake Hartwell. Immediately, I remembered being on Smith Lake and how Shawn Shrader caught those spots in a 100 ft of water drop shotting the pilings.
I didn’t feel that up to it so I pulled up to the one closest to the shore in about 30 ft of water and caught a nice largemouth off the first cast with the drop shot. I still didn’t feel like drop shotting so I began casting the drop shot towards the rip rap on the bank and caught a nice 3 pound largemouth. I didn’t realize at the time that most people don’t cast a drop shot but it seemed to work as I caught a nice limit of largemouth in the first hour of practice.
I finally talked my self into drop shotting the deeper pilings sitting in 1o0 ft of water and caught a few small ones but I just don’t have that much patience. Some bait starting showing up so I began throwing the Tennessee Rig around those same pilings. Wouldn’t you know it, I started catching largemouth after largemouth in 100 ft of water…. that’s retarded. You’d think you’d catch spots but they were all nice sized largemouth. For sure I thought this could be a winning pattern. I ran to the next bridge and caught another largemouth in about 75 ft of water.
The fourth day, I had enough of the drop shot and fished some marked shoals with a white fluke and Chrome Lucky Craft Gunfish and caught the living daylights out of them. Every marked shoal had a nice spotted bass or two on it. About half way through the day, I decided for some reason that this pattern was too obvious and those fish would get hammered the next few days so I got drawn back into the creeks and finally found a creek with a little stained water. There was no shad but I immediately felt more comfortable.
My gut told me there would be resident fish in this creek and they would be near the mouth since the fall migration had not started yet. Ahhh… I was wrong. I didn’t get a sniff until I got about 3/4 of the way back on a dock with about 12 ft in front of it. My green pumpkin jig got swallowed up by a 5 pound largemouth. Now we’re talking. A few docks later another giant ate my jig but it broke me off.
I decided I’ve seen enough and explored a bunch more shallow docks with no fish on them. The docks with flat land next to it tended to be shallower and the docks with steep land were worthless.
The dock pattern was a good one but I just didn’t know if I could catch a limit doing it both days so I began looking offshore on the 5th day of practice. I probably spent 6 hours graphing different spots and drop shotting a few that looked good but I didn’t get a bite. Towards the end of the day, I finally found a nice hump in about 30 ft of water with brush on it. I idled around and found the motherlode. Even I could understand that there was a massive school of fish on this spot. I dropped my drop shot and immediately caught an 18″ spot. I drop in there again and I get a 17″ spot. It was unreal the amount of fish here. You can see my graph in the pic below.
The last day I decided to find some similar humps near the area I found the day before and found another 3 similar places that I caught fish at. I decided to call it a day around noon and start rigging.
I decided I needed to get a limit first on the humps and then go hunt down largemouth so I started the first day of the tournament offshore fishing for spotted bass. My co angler, “Barefoot”, caught the first 2 fish of the day and I thought here we go again. I’m gonna play guide service today. It took about 30 minutes, but I finally got my first bite and the drag was absolutely screaming. It was a giant spot that finally got me in the brush and got off. The second bite was an instant replay of the first fish. That stupid thing got me in the brush again.
Finally, I tightened up the drag a little bit and I started holding the drag so that it wouldn’t slip until I got it away from the brush and landed my first keeper… a fatty 3 lb spot. I then proceeded to land the next 3 spots that were all really good size.
At about 10:30, the bite really tapered off and I wanted to save the spot for the next day so I went hunting on the marked shoals. I hit nearly 20 of them and thought for sure I’d get my 5th fish but to no avail. There were still some fish on the shoals but they were all short.
I ended the first day of the tournament in 10th place with a little over 11 lbs with 4 fish. Not a bad start but not getting my limit would haunt me the 2nd day.
I began the 2nd day on the off shore hump and caught 2 right away but the stripers were invading my territory and giants stripers began schooling all around me. The only problem was that the spots stopped biting. I stayed on the hump for 2 hours and decided it just wasn’t happening.
I run to a nearby marked shoal and absolutely nothing. The only good part is that some fish started schooling nearby on a point and they looked a lot different than the stripers so I ran over there and finished out my limit. I maybe had 7 or 8 lbs but I had a limit and now its time to hunt down some largemouth. I ran into the creek with the dirty water and hit both docks that I had caught big fish on to no avail. I thought that figures, but I kept on going anyway simply because I was developing a migrane from looking at the graph so much and it felt good to have a flippin stick in my hand. About 8 or 9 docks, I get a giant thump on that jig and it was giant that weighed nearly 6 pounds… an absolute giant for Hartwell.
I flipped docks with a jig the rest of the day but not another bite. I was just happy to be flippin.
I ended up with the biggest bag on day 2 of nearly 13 lbs and the biggest fish of the tournament. I was in the lead for most of the weigh in until a local who was in the top 5 the previous day ended up with a pound more than me.
Ouch… sure wish my dumb ass got a limit on the first day. At the very least, I’m now super confident video game fishing drop shots. I looked at the graph so much that it was all I could see when I closed my eyes to go to sleep that night. The only thing I could see was those streaks on the sonar.
I have no idea why I never went to the Alabama Rig fish on the bridge pilings and I probably should’ve made it out there.
The few things I picked up this week is that a tungsten drop shot sinker is way better than lead because of the added sensitivity, the Roboworm Rebarb hook works better than an exposed hook around brush, fish caught out of 30-40 ft of water need to be deflated with a needle or they float upside down in your livewell (thank goodness my co anglers were from a state where they carry such things in their tackle box), the new Gamakatsu Drop Shot rig with the swivels and clip for the tag end saves you a ton of time re tying baits, and that 5 to 6 days is the ideal practice time for me personally. It allows me to cover enough water to get rid of the feeling of being lost out there and not so much time that I’m not dwelling too far in what’s happened in the past. Learned a lot of this week although I didn’t catch the giants I’m used to catching in Florida
At least I made it to the National Championships which was priority number one. Winning was never an objective although it would have been nice. Either way, I ended up with a nice check for 2nd place and big fish of the tournament and added a new technique to my tournament fishing arsenal.
Posts about my Xtreme Championship at Lake Seminole and the Weekend Series National Championship at Old Hickory will be coming soon so stay tuned.
The BWS Nationals on Santee Cooper whooped my butt this past week. I came to a fork in the road and took a wrong turn as far as I’m concerned. My plan for practice was to run upriver to the Swamp, Packs Flat, and Jacks Creek one day and to check out Moultrie another day and then decide where to fish the last half day of practice.
Well, let’s just say I didn’t stick with the plan. I ended up going to the lower lake for whatever reason on the first day and stayed there all day. There was clear water and lots of eel grass. I didn’t catch much but thought that I liked fishing grass so I’ll eventually find a stretch loaded up with fish. I searched for basically 3 days and never did find any grass with a group of fish.
I concentrated on grass in 3 to 5 foot of water thinking you’re more likely to find a group in slightly deeper water than really skinny water but I guessed wrong. The groups of fish were actually in real skinny water for some reason but they weren’t in the grass for the most part.
Since the fish were ultra shallow, the best bet would be to find a little more stained water but there was none on the lower lake. The water was down quite a bit and it took me the entire practice period to figure out how to navigate the lower lake. I knew the water upriver would be more stained but I had no idea how to run it up there. I decided I’ll figure out how to get there if nothing pans out on the lower lake but ended up not going at all.
The first day I started on the lower lake and fished grass for about 2 hours without a bite. I decided to run up to Jacks Creek but decided to make a stop in the Diversion Canal before I make that long run. Of course I get 3 bites right away but only 1 keeper. I then run to Eutaw Creek only to find a merry go round of bass boats along the best stretch. I get in line with everyone else and witness 5 other fish being caught with one being an 8 pounder… ouch.
I weigh in only 2 fish but I figured I was on the board and can make it up the next day. I run to the Diversion Canal first thing thinking I’d get a limit with a few hours but only short fish bit that day. I run to Eutaw and catch a 2 pounder and then a 4 pounder on a green pumpkin senko. Then the bass turned into mudfish for some reason caught 5 monsters of the wrong flava. I weigh in only 2 fish again and Santee Cooper is not fun any more with no chance of winning.
The wind got up so much the third day that I decided not to stray too far since I didn’t have a chance at doing anything and caught 2 keepers again but threw them back since there was sense in weighing them in.
I believe my mistake in this event was fishing clear water instead of stained water. Typically the stained water has more baitfish this time of the year and fish are way easier to catch when they’re shallow.
I really needed to go there before the cutoff and at least learn how to run the place but never could get time off of work.
I’d say Santee was a let down for sure but as always a humbling learning experience.
On a side note, I did hear from a few competitors that cashed a check at this event and heard their checks were reduced significantly from what was advertised. Also heard they bounced when they took them to the bank. Very suspicious.
I just returned from the BWS Regional on the Tensaw Delta in Alabama this past week and accomplished my goal of qualifying for the national championship at Santee Cooper where I’ll be fishing for $100k and a trip to the Classic. I’m getting so fired up thinking about that I’ve got to tell myself to chill the heck out, but it’s not every day you get to fish for much.
The Delta was a navigational nightmare and I’m ashamed to admit I had to get pulled out of a few places. A few sandbars, some mud flats…. you know. At high tide it’s fine, but when the water drops 2 feet then it can be a problem.
Anyway, the fishing was action packed. They were schooling everywhere on shad and every once in a while you hook into a 2 ft Red. It’s fun during practice but not during the tournament.
A cold front passed though the area the day I arrived and I figured they ought to be moving into the creeks. Within the first 5 minutes of fishing a small creek, I pull in a 3 pounder and a small limit within in an hour and I’m thinkin I like this place. The shad was everywhere and every few minutes you notice something spreading out the school like something was eating something.
It stayed cool for the first few days and I spent that time in practice exploring creek after creek finding the best schools of bass.
A warming trend started a day before the tournament and I didn’t think much of it until I checked what I thought was my best creek without a bite after an hour. A few days before, I could throw that Spook and caught nearly 20 fish in about the same time so I was starting to get baffled to say the least.
I check a few more creeks and nothing. No shad and definitely no bass.
Then I thought they might be in some of the lakes off the river but only small fish in those place.
I started feeling a little panic about half way through the last practice day. I decided to put my boat back on the trailer and launch in the northern part of the river. I went for a few a hours checking out various places on the river without seeing any fish nor any signs of life for that matter.
At about 4:30, I came across this point with timber at the end of it that intersected with a creek mouth and had deep water close by. Totally textbook with 2 pounds Coosa Spots going crazy on the shad. I caught 2 nice Spots and then watched for different areas of the point the fish were concentrating. I also noticed the current was ripping.
My experience during the week on the Delta told me that these fish needed current to get them to bite so I decided the best time to hit this spot was just before the tide was scheduled to move which was about noon on the first day of the tournament.
The first day of the tournament, I caught 3 fish in Miflin Lake on a War Eagle spinnerbait and Lucky Craft 1.5 and then proceed to run to the point at about 11:30. I was a little frustrated finding 2 boats already fishing the spot.
I told my co angler that we were just gonna fish nearby for a little bit and hope the boats leave. After about 30 minutes, both boats leave and finally get to fish this spot. My co angler said this place has been getting hammered and we should probably go elsewhere.
Well, we fish the spot anyway and I pull in a 2 pound Spot within 5 minutes. His tune changed a little when he saw that fish.
A few minutes later, one of the guys that left the spot comes screaming in with a few choice words and I said you left so it’s my spot now. My co angler then proceeds to start going on about this is what he hates about tournaments and suggested we leave. I agreed this is B.S. and we left.
I scream past the guy I got into a spitting match with and flick him off. I don’t know what good it did but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I never did get another bite the rest of the day and weighed in a whopping 5.5 lbs which was just good enough to get me in the top 50. I decided I probably should have stayed on the point and will start there on day 2.
The next morning, I notice the same boat screaming past me about half way to the point on the river and decided in that split second that I’m just gonna stay in Miflin all day. I pull in and catch a 2 pounder within a few casts and 2 more small fish on my trusty War Eagle spinnerbait within the next hour.
I thought I made a good decision, but didn’t get another bite for hours.
At about 10:30 I decide to check the point and of course, butthead’s sitting on it so I just keep going fished a few places on the main river to no avail. After about an hour and a half, I decide to check the point again and he’s still there so I ran back to Miflin to catch 1 more small fish.
I ended the day with 5.5 lbs again. I thought not being able to fill out my limit was gonna haunt me but I managed to finish around 40th place which was good enough to make it to the National Championship at Santee Cooper.
During the awards the ceremony, I notice that the winner of tournament was the knucklehead on the point. I thought you needed current to get that place really going but apparently not. I guess they bite there all day even without the current.
I wish I could say I figured something out but I’d say I’m a little more baffled then anything else. Every other spot I found wasn’t that good until the tide starting moving out but why’s this one different?
At least I accomplished my objective of qualifying for the National Championship and 5 foot low Santee here I come.
I’ve finally recovered from all the fishing in Lake Seminole and all the disappointment she dealt out. For a while, I was feeling like selling my boat and all my fishing equipment and calling it quits. I seriously gave it all I got and nothing to show for it. I pre fished 2 weeks for the BASS Open and fished another week for the Bassmaster Weekend Series Regional but still couldn’t manage a good result.
I had my mind made up before I ever set eyes on the place, that I’d be flipping matted hydrilla. Practice was phenomenal. I had numerous matts that I pulled 20 plus pounds out of and was feeling good about the tournament. The one thing I didn’t realize was how small Lake Seminole fishes. I had plan A, plan B, plan C, and plan D all for flipping matts and planned them according to wind, water level and clarity.
I really thought I factored in everything, except I forgot about fishing pressure. Every matt I found had 6 boats around it.
I ran to my best matts on day one of the Open and there was already someone sitting on a 20 yard matt I planned on fishing. No big deal, I went to some other matts nearby and nothing after 2 hours. At that point, I wasn’t worried since I had plenty of time and plenty of places to go.
I run to my second best place and there’s a bunch of boats on it. I’m like dam, I guess I’ll just jump in line and see what happens. A few pitches later ,I get a 5 pounder and the other boats are on me like flies. Among the boats here was Arnie Lane, who’s an awesome flipper and brother to Chris Lane and Bobbie Lane. I’d see him every time I made a lap around this matt and we’d ask each other how many we got that time around. After 3 laps, I had that lone 5 pounder and he had 2 little dinks. So I decide it’s time to move again.
I hit my plan C and plan D spots and I get nothing. There was at least 5 or 6 boats on each of those spots as well.
After day one, I was thinking I should’ve just stayed in the matt where I caught the 5 pounder and started day 2 there. The first pitch I get a short fish and get a nice keeper no too long afterwards. At this point I’m thinking I’m gonna spend the rest of the day over there but get nothing for another 2 hours and decide to leave. I get to another matt with 5 boats on it and jump in line. I get 4 bites and only get 2 to the boat.
A few more hours and I get fed up fishing around so many boats and run to a spot in Fishpond Drain. There were no matts, no other boats around, and pads everywhere. My co anglers catches two on a frog in the pads and I lose one and catch a small keeper.
We spent the last hour in that area and right when it was time to leave a school of about 200 fish start erupting. I wanted to stay but we had to start heading back to the ramp.
I ended up just outside the top 50 at the Open with 1o pounds, but was feeling pretty good about my chances for the Bassmaster Weekend Series Regional on the same lake.
The guy who won the Open punched matts near where I fished and an area in Fishpond Drain. I saw where he was fishing the last day. I also followed Derek Allen the final day and saw where he was fishing to finish second throwing frogs. Terry Scroggins, Cliff Prince, and JT Kenney finished in the top 5 and fishing within eyeshot of where I fished during the tournament.
The one thing I learned about flippin matts during the tournament was to use 25 lb fluorocarbon. My buddy Walt got paired with JT Kenney during the tournament and according to him, JT uses fluorocarbon to flip matts when there’s a really bad cold front or when there’s a lot of pressure on the fish. He says the sawing noise from braid can be detriment and fluorocarbon makes hardly any noise and also less visible.
I was a little scared trying it out, but that 25 lb fluorocarbon brings fish out just fine from matted hydrilla.
The next week of practice was good again. I learned a little trick for fishing matts in pressured waters and had a few more places to go. I practiced my friend Danny and could pretty much tell him that we were gonna get bit in the matt. I’d tell him we’ll get bit before that pocket or point in the hydrilla and BAM, I’d pull in a 5 pounder and say, “There you go clown boy”.
I also found another awesome spot where I pulled in an 8 pounder and got 5 bites in 10 minutes tucked way in the marsh where you literally have to climb over stumps and chew through numerous matts to get into. I thought I finally found a place to fish matts away from the crowd and thrilled about the Bassmaster Weekend Series Regional.
On day one, I start at one of the matts I fished during the Open and get a fish on the first pitch. I get the fish to top of the matt and it gets off. My co angler says something about bad luck getting a fish the first cast and it played in the mind a little bit.
I run to the schoolers in Fishpond Drain and the schoolers were coming up but they were small schools and they wouldn’t bite.
I start running to the area where the guy finished 2nd at the Open and I notice my boat won’t go over 4,000 rpm’s. I get there and my buddy Ben is already in there with another boat. I take 10 casts and leave. It’s a small area and I learned a thing or two about fishing pressure the past week.
My boat barely gets on plane on the way to the secluded hidden pocket I found. I get in there to surprisingly find 5 other boats in there already. I’m like you’ve got to be kidding me. Anyway, I spend 5 minutes in there and leave but my boat won’t get on plane anymore and I spend the rest of the finding someone to take in my co angler who had 1 fish.
I found out later that my spark plugs were fouled and learned a valuable lesson about how frequently they need to changed.
I finished the day without any fish and without a boat that runs. Thanks to the tournament officials who heard about my situation and gave me a boater on boater pairing for day 2 so I could fish the last day. It was even with my friend Danny who only had 1 fish on day one.
I told him that I guarantee we’ll both come in with a limit and all I got was a look of disbelief. Needless to say, there was lots of doubt in his mind.
We start on the same matt I started at on day one. I make a pitch short of the matt so I wouldn’t be jinxed by the first cast curse and then go on to bring in a nice 2 pounder after about 5 minutes. After about 30 minutes, we run to another matt I get bit but the fish comes off.
Another hour goes by and we run into my top secret matt that everyone knows about and much to my surprise there was no one in there. The other 5 boats that were in there the day before decided to abandon the place.
I was feeling good about this place but only until we flipped matts for an hour without getting a bite. Then I remembered a small school of fish that came in practice in the middle of this pocket. I throw my rattletrap in the middle of the pocket and get a 2 pounder. I get a fish on each of my next 5 casts and had my limit.
At this point, my buddy Danny didn’t have a fish in the boat so I gave him one of my white rattletraps and told him he needed to yo yo it. He ties it on and on the first cast, the trap goes 50 feet in the air and comes straight down and sinks into oblivion. He either tied it wrong or clipped something on the cast but that trap was long gone so I give him another one. A few casts later, he had his first fish and his limit by the end of the day.
We weigh in and I end up with a little over 9 pounds and my buddy Danny ends up with 10 pounds. It was small bag but I thought it would be enough to get us in the National Championship at Guntersville. The cut ended up being 9.5 pounds and I missed out getting in by a few ounces, but my friend Danny got in.
Needless to say, I felt pretty disgusted with fishing in general and probably why I haven’t post in a while. I put in a lot of work and nothing to show for it. My friend Danny probably would have figured something out on his own, but he agreed to go where I wanted and it worked out for him. I was really grateful just to be able to fish day 2 and be able to fish my spots.
It’s been a pretty mediocre year for me. I have much higher expectations for myself and have a tendency to beat myself up. The one thing that I can say is that it’s been a year of learning. Each Open dealt me a lesson this year. Okeechobee showed me that flippin matts is the way to go when there’s a cold front in Florida, Smith Lake taught me how to catch suspended fish in 100 feet of water and to move out with the fish as the water level drops, and Seminole just taught me a bunch of humility.
I wish I had enough money to fish the Opens again in 2011 especially since the opening event is on my home lake, Lake Toho. I’m gonna try to get into this single event, and will have to wait and see if I get in on December 14th.
I’ll probably focus more on the BASS Federation Nation next year. The entry fees are low, payouts are good, and a well run tournament trail. It’s probably the most affordable way to make it to the Classic. Thanks to bassclubnews.com for paying for my BASS Federation entry fees in 2011 and keeping my dreams alive for making the Classic one day.
I’ve finally fixed everything on my boat to fish in Dardanelle next week for the BWS Championship. I bent back my steering wheel after my co-angler fell on it at the Tenn Tom, replaced the transducer on my trolling motor, and replaced some battery straps. Sure hope I don’t break anything on this trip.
I’ve watched the 2009 Elites tournament, the 2007 Legends tournament, and the 2009 FLW tournament on DVR way too many times. If I hear Mark Zona say “What I mean by that is” one more time I’m gonna puke.
I’ve extensively studied the map, looked on Google Earth a gazillion times, and looked up every tournament at Dardanelle I could find on the internet, so I think I’ve done as much as I can do without actually going on the water which will be this coming Sunday.
I’m packed up and ready to begin driving this Friday. Judging from the regionals on the Tenn-Tom, the fish should still be following the shad in the backs of creeks and it’s been raining there so that’s where the water will be the clearest, I think. I’ve been thinking a lot about running up river 30 to 40 miles to get away from the crowds, but it could all change once I see the conditions.
Anyway, the thought of possibly making the Classic is almost too much to bear and the money wouldn’t hurt either. This will be the first time I’ve fished a 4 day tournament, but I think I like this format because it allows you to adjust the next day. I can’t tell you how many times I reflect on those 1 day tournaments and go back to kill’em the next time out.
The only problem is that I’m hearing the fishing’s been tough and it only took 25 pounds for 2 days to win the tournament last week there. It seems like 12 to 15 pounds a day will put you in the running.
Supposedly swimming and flipping a jig is the best way to catch the hawgs out there, but I never use those lures. I guess I’ll have to learn on the fly or figure out something else they’ll eat.
In any case, I’m confident I have a good a chance of winning as anyone else there and will give it everything I’ve got (not that I don’t do that all the time).
I’m off to Palatka to start practicing for the BWS 2 day tournament on the St. Johns River this weekend. Today’s a total mess and trying to hurry up and finish up work before I leave. I planned on going this morning, but of course I had an appointment so I had to wait til the afternoon to leave.
I wish I can just call Terry Scroggins, Preston Clark, or Brian Hudgins to figure out some spots but I gotta do it the old fashioned way and find’em myself.
Anyway, I’m gonna launch on Lake Crescent this afternoon and try to find some fish offshore first. Then I’ll probably beat the bank a bit and head over to Dunns Creek. I believe the winning fish are here, but it could all change if I don’t get any bites today.
I’ll probably spend some more time here on Thursday and try some of the laydowns and sandbars on the main river. I’d love to get on a crankin bite but it’s all dependent on the wind and tide.
The forecast is for ideal SW winds on Friday and Saturday and that’s when I’ll concentrate a bit more on the offshore bite and the main river.
My thoughts are that the Bomber Fat Free Shad in Citruce, Rapala DT 10 in Firetiger, Bomber 2A in firetiger, Xcalibur xr75 1K in Foxy Shad (saw Scroggins on St. Johns River episode of Classic Patterns), Gitem Curly 10 in junebug, Gitem Warlock in junebug, and Gitem Sugar in black and blue sapphire will be my go to baits and perhaps a white Gitem Shad in the eel grass if I find any.
I’ve never done real well on the river, but I know there’s good fish out there to be found. If I find a good enough place, even my grandmother could catch 15 pounds out there. I’ll be searching from sun up until sun down chowing on some P, B, and J’s for a week.
I hope I see some schoolers where I can get 2 or 3 real quick.
Well, the cold front has moved in Central Florida with rain and colder temperatures. I’ve been stuck inside all day, so I decided to walk my secret farm pond down the street from my house at around 4:30 when the rain stopped. I threw out my green pumpkin chatterbait a few times and hooked into this hawg on the fourth cast. This little pond is phenomenal and I’m glad I was throwing 20 lb test. I go here to get confidence with new baits.
I’d say this fish was about 26″ and filled out as much as a fish can in these parts so I think it weighed around 8 pounds. She looks like she’s getting ready to bed already. The photo doesn’t show it that well, but it was a thick fish.
I gotta get a john boat to take out on this pond someday. I catch one about this size or larger about every 5 or 6 trips which typically runs about an hour at a time. It’s a great place to clear my head and catch some giants. This place makes me think I’m a bassin genius.
I spent a few hours on the Clermont Chain today and found some nice fish on Lake Susan. I concentrated on laydowns that extended out into deeper water with a Rapala DT Fat in the Parrot color. The extra buoyancy you get from this balsa crankbait made it a lot easier to swim through the timber in the areas I’ve lined on the map. The winds were howling out of the south and Lake Susan was one of the few places you could get out of the wind. It just so happens some nice fish were hanging around here as well. I caught a 5 and a bunch of fish between 2.5 lbs and 3.5 lbs.. I thought today would be a good day since there’s a cold front coming in this evening with temperatures dropping from a comfortable 80 degrees to a high of 66 degrees. Water temp was in the low 70’s but I’m sure it’ll be much lower after this cold front passes. Hopefully the water temp will drop quickly and stabilize so we can start seeing some spawning when we get a warm up.