Monday, September 18, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson Lake 9/15-16/17

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I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of readers I had on last week's post. In case you didn't read it, click the link and see how Brad and I braved hurricane Irma and caught some toads on Wilson. It's received 830 hits, so yall must have liked what you read! I appreciate that! 

Fishing Report for Wilson Lake 9/12/17


So, the reason we went out wasn't just because it was the perfect conditions for smallmouth, though it  certainly that. We also had a club tournament on Saturday and we wanted to be prepared. 

But, we also knew that the conditions would be polar opposites from Tuesday to Saturday, which is why we went out Friday as well.

Man, things couldn't have been anymore different. First, there was no current. TVA held the current at under 10,000 CFS, so we didn't even bother going to the dam. In fact, judging by prediction for Saturday, we needed to plan NOT to fish the dam at all.

With that said, we headed into Shoal Creek, where we have had a ton of success in the past, but not the last few years, for some strange reason. The idea was to find some topwater fish, at least early. With our experience this time of year, especially with no current, catching them early was key. 

Alas, the fish were not on board with that. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise because they haven't wanted topwater all year. It's crazy to think that I caught more topwater fish in March than in September, but I digress. 

We did, however, mark some fish on ledges and were able to catch two very quickly on finesse baits. Neither were very big, each weighing under two pounds. But the quickness of these bites told us to leave them for tomorrow. Both bites came in 20 feet or more of water. 

We then ran across the river to a similar spot in McCarren creek. This resulted in a single bite from a largemouth, but several stripe were caught. This bite didn't come in the same 20 foot depth, but it was the deepest part of the creek. Running to similar spots resulted in nothing. We ended the day fairly early, having boated no good fish nor numbers. We did have one spot that we had confidence in, but we worried about being able to get on it, due to another large tournament coming out of Lock 6 the next morning.

In summation, here's what we knew: weights and numbers were going to be exceedingly low. Like, to the point where we should expect five bites and we better fish clean and get all five bites into the boat. Again, this was experience talking to us. We had no ambitions of another trip like last year's classic. Wilson can do that, in a heartbeat. She's done it plenty of times. 


Sure enough, we blasted off behind this other tournament but we were able to fish the spot on Shoal creek that we wanted to fish. 

It resulted in a series of quick bites and we landed fish. Again, no topwater bite and we had to really, really feed these fish finesse baits. 

Brad checked the TVA app out of habit and noticed that they had turned current on already. We weren't expecting any until at least noon. So, we made the run to the dam. Initially, the wrong generators were turned on. That wasn't unexpected. Then, they turned the right ones on and we moved into position and got ready to catch them.

But, we got no bites. We typically catch them on deep diving cranks, but that didn't work. So, we threw swimbaits, the next best thing. Still nothing. Everything was right, aside from high skies. 

We knew this was a possibility. Sometimes you have to wait them out. Just stay the course and keep casting. So, we did. And we nearly threw our arms off without catching anything. Not even drum or stripe, which told us that they weren't in the current, or at least where we were fishing.

So, despite telling ourselves we wouldn't move, we moved. It isn't like we moved far. We just left the hard eddies that we typically fished and moved to fishing hard placements like the wing walls of the dam and rockpiles off the current as well as areas further down where the current spreads out.

This allowed us to slow down and throw finesse baits. We never found a pile of fish and we REALLY had to work, but we began to get a bite every 30 minutes. The issue was, all of them were small. I've never caught so many small fish at the dam. Typically, I catch small ones and that allows me to hone in on the big ones. 

Not so on Saturday, as frustrating as it was.

However, when Brad boated this massive smallie late, late, late in the day, we knew a tough day was now on our side. If we weren't getting a lot of bites nor size, even after two trips on the lake that week, the chances of someone else getting them were slim.

That ended up being the truth. We weighed in 12 pounds with second place having just four fish for five pounds. Third place had three fish for three pounds. In fact, you could take every fish caught by the club, add it together and it wouldn't weigh more than our five. That's not bragging on us, that's telling you how tough it was everywhere. 

With that said, I did see a nice bag similar to ours, but without the spread between a five pound smallies and a half pound dink weighed in, in the other club. We saw what they had been doing and it was the same thing we were doing: covering water. Except these guys were drifting further down river, by several hundred yards. 

In the end, it doesn't matter how the day went, if you win. Of course, I wish everyone could catch as much as they want, as long as we catch more. Saturday was more of the same with Wilson, especially this time of year. Like I said on Facebook: Fish hard, fish clean.


 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson Lake 9/12/17

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First off, let me begin by saying that I am in no way making light of the struggles of our fellow Americans who have dealt with horrible circumstances this past month. I feel for you all. 

Late Monday night, my fellow Redstone Arsenal employees received notice that we would not be coming in to work. It was quite the surprise to all of us, as we weren't supposed to experience really bad weather. True, Monday night we were set to receive some heavy winds and a fair amount of rain, but nothing to close down the Arsenal. 

Despite schools and businesses closing, I couldn't help but stare at the weather predictions. There would be rain and there would be wind, but nothing out of the ordinary. Then I did the wrong thing: I checked the TVA app, which told me that TVA was pushing a lot of current, around 70,000 CFS. Now, I recognized that they were doing that to make sure that the water level would remain constant 24 hours after the rain, but even if they cut that in half, it had the makings of a perfect magnum smallie bite.

Brad and I discussed it, but neither were willing to get up super early, only to find whipping winds and a deluge of rain. I woke up around 6:30, looked outside, and called Brad. Brad was already up. It seemed perfect. 10MPH sustained out of the Northeast, which would be perfect to hide from. 

We got to Wilson and were on the water by 10AM. Unfortunately, TVA had cut the flow down to 19,000.Usually 20K is the bare minimum needed. You may recall that this time of year, last year, that Brad and I had smoked some big bags. You can read about our last 20 pound sack by clicking the link below. 

Fishing Report for Wilson Lake 9/24


The day started off very, very slow. About as slow as the current, I guess you would say. Although I did catch a decent smallie and a chunk of a largemouth on Strike King 6XD, we wouldn't get the numbers of bites we expected.
But, as expected, TVA kicked two more generators on at lunch and that boosted the current to around 45K. It took awhile for the current to make its way down to us, but eventually it did and it activated the fish for about a 30 minute flurry. 

Inside of 30 minutes, Brad and I caught five fish that would weigh 17 pounds. It included three smallies and two largemouth. Additionally, we also lost several fish from combinations of breakoffs and generally messing around. In all, we went hunting for big fish and we found them, just not in the numbers we would like to have found. 

I had posted on my Facebook page that this was the perfect weather to catch big smallies and that proved to be true, as you can see from the picture. While we would have loved to have found a six-plus pounder, you can't expect to find those on every trip, especially when you haven't been out in awhile. But, when the weather is nasty and the current is flowing, you have to brave the elements for days like this. I'm not saying to brave 25 MPH winds and 5 foot rollers or anything, but a light wind and misty rain shouldn't keep you from fishing. I've found that the super nice days generally are the worst for fishing and vice-versa. 

It was ironic to see all my friends messaging me, asking why I would dare mess with the weather. Well, the pictures speak for themselves. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Ditto Wildcat Classic: Day One

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Josh and I qualified for the Ditto Classic, which is a two day event. I've always thought that multi-day events were great for the two of us. Give us enough time on the water and we will find some fish. You may recall that we finally started catching fish two weeks ago out of Ditto. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ditto Landing 8/10/2017


After weeks of the same old thing, we finally got a decent little limit and cashed a check. Not that we should brag because we had donated plenty and the 20-spot we each got was hardly worth the effort. However, we hadn't caught more than five or six fish a trip and suddenly we were catching 20. Of course, there was a small problem: None of them were worth anything. In fact, we were stretching them to get them to measure. Not literally, but you know what I mean.

We know that the best quality of big fish is at the dam. I don't think anyone would debate that. Your chances of catching a five pounder anywhere else from the 65 bridge to the dam is almost like hitting the powerball. But, there are issues with fishing the dam. Of course,  it is current dependent and it fishes really, really small. And, there is no guarentee that they are going to bite. In a short 3 hour tournament, dedicating 30 minutes of run time to get shut out is tough to deal with.

There was really good current. TVA app said they were pushing 34,000 CFS through Guntersville dam, but they had been holding steady for over 12 hours. In addition, the sky was very high and cloudless. All of this, in my opinion, negated the dam bite and told me it would still be tough. 

So, we had a plan. Logic told us that to have a chance on day two, you have to make it to day two. That means having some sort of limit on day one, even if it is a teeny, tiny one. If we could stay in the top five at the end of day one, we would then decide what we would do. After all, someone is going to catch them, or at least that one buckethead that outweighs someone's limit of dinks. 

So, at blast-off, we did we did last tournament. We dropped the trolling motor, eased our way to the little bitty cut of rip-rap and started grinding. While Josh threw a crank, I alternated between the Strike King 5XD and an Alabama rig with Powerteam Lures Swinging Hammers. Neither of us had a hit, so I picked up my shakey head and began working the 7" Tickler. It didn't take long for that to pay off as a fish thumped it and I set the hook. We worked a solid three pounder aboard. That's the kind of start we wanted to see.

However, we didn't get another fish off of our spot and we began hopping around to some old spots. Unfortunately, none of them produced anything other than the occasional 6-inch dink. 

Moving back down river, we began working rip-rap banks in an effort to cover high probability areas. We stumbled upon one spot that had a laydown sticking into current. Josh bagged two keepers in back to back casts. I had hits on back to back casts, but I was probing a laydown and both times the fish wrapped me up in the brush. Both felt like quality bites. The frustration was pretty high for me because bites had come at a premium and I felt like I was experiencing last weekend's tournament on Wilson all over again. If you recall, I felt like I didn't fish clean enough and it cost us. 

We worked the spot over pretty well without another bite, so we decided to grind our first spot for the last hour.

Again, on back to back casts, I had bites. One was a solid hookup, but the fish threw the tickler. The next, I broke off setting the hook. Frustrated with fishing a shakey head at night, I went to the crank, as did Josh.

We did manage to fill out our limit. Josh caught a nice 2-pounder with 12 minutes left. 

Our expectation was that we would be at the bottom of the board, but we were surprised to find out that multiple boats had already pulled out and called it quits. In the end, we are sitting in 4th and we actually won big fish of the night with a 3lb 3oz largemouth. 

Now, the question is...what do we do now? 

There are several ways to look at this. First, we need to assess the current situation. TVA app says they won't be pulling much today. The weather is mild and there isn't a power demand. There is zero chance of rain for the next few days, so TVA is likely not to pull at all. The sky will be mostly sunny. I honestly don't think the dam is going to be worth fishing, but with all the big fish up there, someone catching just one means we are out of winning this thing. 

In all likelihood, it's just going to be a grind, but I really believe we have two spots that we can catch fish on. Is there another 3-plus somewhere? Cause we gonna need one. Can we win with another 7.70 sack? Anything is possible, but again, it won't take much to knock us out. Do we go to the dam and fish for the one big bite? 

I'd like to hear from yall. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 8/19/2017

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I know that the vast majority of you read these reports to the info on catching fish and you aren't terribly interesting in my philosophical thoughts and ideas on bass fishing. So, if you are simply here for the where and how, skip to the bottom. If you want to have a thought provoking conversation (and I hope we will, that's why I have a comments section, so use it), then let's have one.

What's a lesson worth to you? Can you put a dollar amount on getting schooled? I can. $80 dollars. While I am not hurting for $80, donating money to your local club or wildcat hurts, even if it's just your pride. But I try to look at things for more than the dollars and cents. Rather, for dollars to sense.

What do I mean? 

Let's cut to the chase. 

Our club was on Wilson Lake this past weekend. You all know how I feel about Wilson. I have had the vast majority of my success and virtually all of my best bags (for what they are, I know) on Wilson. It's versatile in both techniques presented and what you can catch. The lake may be a ten minute run from end to end but it has some of the best large and smallmouth fishing on the Tennessee river. 

While I have had success for over 5 years on Wilson, I have really just started to learn the intricacies of this lake. Specifically, I am speaking about fishing this time of year. 

So I didn't practice any for this tournament. Why? Mostly because I took one trip 2 weeks before and didn't catch anything of value. Mostly because with the water temps and time of year, I knew that to have a legitimate chance to win, you have to fish the dam. While you MAY be able to catch some large fish elsewhere on the lake, you are essentially just looking for a limit and hoping to hit a hail mary. The dam, on the other hand, has the greatest concentration of big fish, but it means hoping for current and contending with that current as well as any other fishermen up there. 

But, this was a three fish tournament, which is about the number of bites I'd expect at the dam. TVA was predicting a 34,000 CFS average, which is a solid number. However, this time of year, TVA won't turn up the juice until around noon or one. Up until that time, they won't generate any current. I also know that on weekends, if there isn't' a demand on the system, they are just as likely NOT to turn on the turbines at all. I was fairly nervous about committing to the dam because Saturday, we had a mild-ish summer. 

Still, we had a plan. Get shallow early and fish some grass with topwater for a quick limit. Then, starting around 10, we would get in line at the dam and grind. We would commit to winning there, no matter what. 

We blasted off and headed to Shoal Creek which has the greatest concentration of grass. Josh began with a buzzbait and I used a Whopper Plopper because I wanted a hybrid bait that would combine buzzbait action with a top water walking plug.

Josh began getting hits immediately, but the fish refused to commit to it. In all, he had five hits but none made it to the boat. I didn't have a single hit on the Plopper. 

The sun rose and the bites stopped. We headed to a deep water point that Josh had caught several fish over three the previous week. Fishing shakey heads with PTL 7" Ticklers, he caught a two pounder. Meanwhile, I could not get fish to connect and when I did get two bites, but broke off on the hookset.

So let me stop there and say this: this time of year, you cannot miss fish. You just can't do it. You must do whatever you can to ensure success, whether that is triple checking knots, constant worrying over weak spots in your line, or letting fish eat your bait. 

We moved to the dam and found ourselves the sole bass boat there. Number nine and ten generators were running, but current was a paltry 13K. Josh fished a crank and I fished a PTL Swinging Hammer. This resulted in lots of drum, but no bass. 

Eventually, one of the best fishermen (and prob the best one on this lake) in our club came up to the dam. He fished for 30 minutes and left, which made me extremely nervous because he knows what he is doing. Eventually we abandoned the dam and ran to some bluffs. It was 11 now and we decided we needed a limit now. 

While we fished the bluffs (around 1230), we heard the siren begin to wail, signifying another turbine was being spun up. In retrospect, we should have quit what we were doing and gone back to the dam. 

Eventually, we put some intel (thanks, Wyatt. I owe you) I had to work and ran to McCarren Creek where we fished the middle of some pockets. After going hours without bites, we boated a trio of fish in the first five minutes. However, only one measured, though we both lost measuring fish. It's ironic that we lost fish because the other partner was currently fighting a fish, after going hours without a bite. 

With about 10 minutes to go, I finally boated a keeper on a C-rig. So, at least we had a limit. 

Naturally, we didn't win. But, the aforementioned fisherman DID win, but not at the dam. Second place, however, was caught at the dam by a good friend of mine. In talking with him, he informed me that exactly what I said would happen, did happen. 

When the siren went off and the current kicked out of number 11 turbine, the fish started biting. When they heard the siren, they got in position. In a matter of minutes, they put together a 10.5 pound limit with a 5.30 kicker in three fish. A very, very solid sack. It was the first time they had cashed a check in this club and I was very proud and happy to see them do it.

However, it meant that I had shared the winning pattern with someone, who had enough faith in me to stick to it, though I didn't have enough faith in myself. And that hurts, a lot. It was an $80 lesson but I believe it will ultimately prove to be priceless.

It's one thing if you haven't been practicing and you don't really have a lake pegged to call an audible or punt on a game plan. It's another when you have fished it a lot and you KNOW how the lake acts this time of year. 

We read magazines all the time about "trust your instincts" and "don't be afraid to try something new" or "call audibles." What you never read about (at least I haven't) is "listen and trust your experience and stick with a game plan you believe in."


Friday, August 11, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ditto Landing 8/10/2017

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It took 2 months, but we finally figured something out. No one said we were the smartest guys in the world, but as Josh and I discussed our plans leading up to the Thursday night wildcat, we both came up with the same idea at the same time. The one spot we have both caught fish every time we have fished. What's funny is that each time we have fished this spot, just a few football fields from the mouth of Ditto, has been when we had largely given up. 

Each time we fished it, we gave it a little more time than the last. In fact, after weeks and weeks of being unable to catch a limit, we bagged and weighed our first one off of this spot.

You can read about our last few trips here:


Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ingalls+First Creek 7/15/2017



So, when everyone blasted off, heading to the dam or wherever, we dropped the trolling motor and started casting. We weren't the only people who had this thought and just ahead of us was another boat who landed a keeper on the very first cast.

It didn't take us long to get on the board, either. Josh bagged spots off of a Strike King plug, but none measured. I was able to get a keeper in the boat on a PTL Bull Nose Jig with a Craw D trailer. Next cast, another one. Next cast, another fish. The problem was, few of these fish measured and those that did weren't big enough to matter.

Eventually Josh caught a decent fish on a crank and minutes later, I fought a three pound spot to the boat. Then disaster stuck. As Josh dunked the net, the fish made a last second jump and threw the jig, something fairly uncommon. 

All we could do was go back to fishing. That is until I set the hook on a fish and snapped about a foot off of my jig rod. 

After swapping lures for awhile, catching ones and twos on a Strike King crank, I picked the jig back up and went back to catching fish.

The key was an extending point of underwater rip-rap. These fish were right on the break down to 18 feet. 

After catching 20 in the first hour, we had a new issue arise. What looked like a dad and his two sons came down from the parking lot to bank fish. Mind you, the spot we were catching fish upon was tiny, despite fishing a long, long stretch of rip-rap that was accessible to the bank fishermen. Yet, even as Josh fought the 40,000 CFS current, they guys stepped even with the boat and proceeded to cast five different bottom bouncers. Some were behind the boat and some were ahead and even one right at us.

Initially, we asked where they wanted to fish so we could position ourselves to accommodate them. Either they couldn't understand us, or they didn't care. Try as we might, we hung their lines over and over. We politely asked them not to cast at both the front and the back, but to pick one. They didn't comply. 

It became a losing situation and we decided to move. We did find fish at every spot we stopped at that was similar to our initial spot, but nothing like the bite after bite. 

We tried to return to the spot, but the bank fishermen were still on the spot and we left them along.

We were surprised to find that our 6.80 was good enough for 3rd place. Of course, we also found out that the three pounder we lost would have put us in 2nd. And, we had to wonder if we could have beat the 10 pound sack had we been able to fish the spot all night.

It was our best day on the river this summer that resulted in around 20 fish, none of them over two pounds. Still, it was a lot of fun, though it did cost me a rod and Josh 4 Strike King cranks. The water was very stained and this current should make any current break money. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

College Fantasy Football Early Trends: QBs

I know all of you were waiting on me to put on some lists on sleepers, best picks, etc. Turns out, CFF is pretty small and even this seemingly small blog gets a lot of readers and I didn't feel like divulging many secrets.

How selfish of me, right?

Yeah, yeah. But I have a lot of money on the line. I'm playing in six money leagues right now with many of them having steep buy-ins. So, forgive me for selfishness.

Anyways, the first round of drafts are in the books and I thought I would talk a little about them, especially just the Power Five.

The first note that I have for everyone is that most leagues are going to a two QB system. This isn't new. The NFL fantasy world is also going to this en-mass. I think the main reason is that, as we have discussed earlier, there are about five elite QBs and their production is so overwhelming that it is almost impossible to make up the difference with elite players at other positions. With a two QB league, you can make up the ground as their are about 100 QBs that score between 20-25 points per game.

Still, beating an elite QB is possible and, to be honest, isn't that difficult. Yes, I understand that your chances against Lamar Jackson, week to week, was a nearly impossible task. But we are talking about winning a league, not winning a week. If you drafted smart and didn't fall for the mediocre QB in first and second round because everyone else did it mentality, you did well. Honestly, I finished 2nd in our 20-team league and I didn't draft a QB until the 7th round, but I digress.

It's no surprise that Lamar Jackson holds serve as the consensus number one Average Draft Position player in all of CFF. Everything points to him being that player, but I couldn't help but be wary of him, not that I had top pick in any draft, anyway. Was he the best fantasy player last year? Yep. Up until when people needed him the most: the playoffs. Luckily, most owners didn't have to burn first round picks on him last year. They did this year. Can you afford to struggle in week 12? Couple that with the history that literally every player like him has: trying to become something he isn't for the NFL draft. And, he lost some very, very valuable pieces around him. With Jackson, you are one hit away from flushing a season and that is a risk I couldn't take, but I understand.

Right behind him may be the biggest reach in all of CFF: Nick Fitzgerald. He sports a 2.74 ADP that is essentially all speculation and it is 100% due to the player ahead of him. Lamar Jackson. Look, I see what Fitz did last season. But, he caught the vast majority of teams by surprise after State started the year with a loss to South Alabama. He has to go on the road to UGA and Auburn in back to back weeks and that's after hosting LSU. People were just afraid of having him slip through the cracks and took him early. I get it. But, you could have waited on a very, very similar QB much later in the draft.

You know, like Jalen Hurts. Hurts ADP is 20 points behind Fitzgerald. I can understand why Hurts is at 20, just not why Fitz is that much higher. I get that Fitz had a lot more rushing yards and rushing TDs, but that is something that cannot be counted on, year to year. In addition, Bama is as stable as ever, despite losing Lane Kiffin and Bama has better weapons surrounding Hurts. Will that give Fitz an advantage when it comes to rushing yards? Maybe. And that's the risk you take, but a whole round isn't worth the risk to me.

Shea Patterson is another interesting reach. Though he played in only a few games (and played well), he is sitting as a back end first round or early second round pick. Considering the situation in Oxford, I just can't understand the move, other than assuming the Rebels are going to be playing from behind a lot. But, they are going to be playing behind to a lot of very good teams who aren't going to let him get a bunch of garbage time scores. In fact, the Rebels are more likely to pull the young star before letting him get killed. He is their future. Patterson is sitting at a ADP of 23, just under Hurts. Who would you rather have?

Plenty of people are putting their faith in offensive systems. It's interesting that Luke Falk is a known commodity in an Air Raid system (ADP of 7.5) and Nic Shimonek at Texas Tech is not, but the two are separated by about a round and only six places in terms of the position. Shimonek was drafted as a top-tier QB across the land without having done a thing yet.

No QB fell more in the draft that Kansas State's Jesse Ertz. Despite being a top rushing threat (1,000 yards and 12 TDs last season despite modest passing yards), Ertz slipped and slipped again during drafts. It appears that people saw the red flag by his name and turned a blind eye. Surprise, it was a separated shoulder and the senior is going to be ready to go. This is a guy who is projected for an average of 26 PPG but was drafted alongside guys a full touchdown less. He has a ADP of 137 and is a great risk adverse QB, thanks to solid rushing numbers.

Nobody seems to be willing to bite on transfers Blake Barnett or Malik Zaire. I can't say I blame them on that. 100% of leagues are taking a chance on Auburn's own Jarrett Stidham, your's truly included. Stidham sports an ADP around 114, not bad for a guy who hasn't proven anything. The former air raid QB from Baylor is just as likely to be the perfect mix for Auburn's run heavy offense as he is to be a footnote. He's a great flyer. He is not a 4th round pick. But, hey, I have an excuse. I'm a homer.

Best value? There are some guys much higher that you might have gotten for a good deal, but Austin Allen was a guy that you could literally leave until the 10th round and stock up on skill positions. Allen has been super solid at Arkansas. He isn't a game buster, but in leagues where you can have six or so RBs playing at the same time, it is much better to stock up on those guys and wait for a guy like Allen. Is he going to light up the top of the SEC? Probably not. But he is a 250-2TD guy all day long. His ADP is in the 200s. Just think about that.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 8/5/2017

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I didn't realize it had been so long since I checked it with everyone.  I've been pretty busy lately with softball, both our adult leagues and with our daughter. Now school has started back and since I get the kids on the bus each morning and get them off in the afternoon, there hasn't been much way for me to fish. Additionally, the fishing hasn't been great for me when I have gone.

That being said, it appears that it has been good to many of you that I see on the book of faces. Guntersville, in particular, seems to be doing well. Props to you all. 

Saturday was my wife's birthday and we had initially decided to sleep in. But, when we woke up and I asked her what she wanted to do, she wanted to go fishing. Since my next tournament is on Wilson, we loaded up and put in at Safety Harbor around 9AM. Yes, I know. Not exactly the best time to start rolling in to play. Plus, we would have to leave early for a softball double header. 

But, the current was decent (40,000 CFS out of Wheeler) and it appeared the right turbines were on (10 and 11). So, we headed up to the dam and started out throwing Strike King 5XDs. 

Now, I can't speak for everyone, but here's what I know about fishing Wheeler dam:

While you can catch 20 pounds elsewhere on this lake (and I've done it, as in this report), the dam is the only spot you can CONSISTENTLY do this. 

As a follow on, you can spend your whole day for five bites that can go 25 pounds and you can spend all day there for zero bites (from black bass) as well as any option including getting three bites for 15 pounds, etc. 

Regardless of whether you catch them or not, you are going to worn out, as is your trolling motor batteries, and you are going to lose lures. Like, lots of them. 

Ok, so we fished the first two hours without a single bite (from black bass, though we caught a couple of stripe and some drum). I noticed that I hadn't remembered to fill the boat up and it was sitting on about 1/4 tank, which meant I wasn't going very far. I had considered Shoal Creek, but it would be iffy if I could get there and back. So, we headed to Bluewater creek and fished some standing grass with a combination of froggin' and flippin'. We had a couple of lazy bites, but no real takers. 

We flipped some docks, getting a few more bites but mostly from bream. 

On the north side of the river, there simply wasn't enough shade so we moved across the river to the southside to find shade. Additionally, the  main channel runs much closer to the bluffs. Instead of it being 6 feet deep a cast length, it is more like 18-24 feet, which has been good for the fish. We also noticed that bait was much more plentiful on this side of the river.  None of this was particularly news, just that I had wanted to flip docks and there are about five total on the south side and 50 or more on the north side.

Anyway, the move paid off almost immediately and we began to get bit, but they weren't thumping our shaky heads with PowerTeam Lures 7" Ticklers. They were picking it up and running directly at the boat. I just couldn't catch up to them.  These are usually your very small smallmouth. Eventually we did get one bigger fish in the boat, but far from the 5-pounder I wanted Alyse to catch. 

Unfortunately, we had a boat roll up on us at the one 10 yard stretch we were getting bites. It was totally ok with me. It was a man and his son and I told them the fish were biting here and I was going to move. So we headed back to the dam where I told Alyse we would finish out for the day. Even if we only got one bite, I was ok with it as long as it was a big one.

Unfortunately, the one black bass bite we had WASN'T a big one. But at least Alyse quasi-boated a bass on a 5XD.

We did, however, get into the drum. And, while it isn't glamorous to catch drum, it was awfully fun. We caught around 10-12 and each one was pushing 20-25 pounds apiece. 

It did costs us around 8-10 Strike King plugs, though. That kind of hurt.

Stinks to grind away without finding them, but that's how it goes. I talked to some others who were fishing and they seemed to find them. I admit that every time I looked up, I was the only one around, so maybe that explains the struggle.