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Follow my Fish of 2017
If you follow me on Facebook, you likely already know how the Alabama Bass Trail went for me and Josh. Two ABT tournaments, one fish weighed in. Chances at making the Championship are now virtually gone. In case you forgot how the ABT went on Guntersville, here is a recap.
This time, it wasn't our fault. About a mile up river from Triana, my motor came apart. We were able to eventually make our way to Ditto, which we did less for the fishing and more for the ability to catch a ride. After a call to the tournament director, our options were incredibly slim. We couldn't fish out of another boat UNLESS we met him in Decatur. It would take 3 days to troll to Decatur. We could catch a ride back with another competitor, but no one could fish once we set foot in the boat. Of course, the other issue was that really no one we knew was fishing that end of the river.
Ok, so let's back up to Thursday. We wanted a few more data points before the ABT, so we fished the Thursday night wildcat out of Ditto. We had caught a 6-3 the week before in the Wildcat on the way to a 3rd place finish. You can read about there below:
We wanted to do some different things, see if we could add on to what we had found already, which was slow rolling small swimbaits down rip rap banks. Since the water was up, we went into Cotaco Creek to flip bushes, but didn't find any fish shallow quite yet. We didn't really weigh in any more fish at weigh in and weights were pretty sad (11 pounds to win?).
Friday, Josh and I split up and he covered Decatur while I covered First creek. I wanted to check some of my smallie stretches, but found out really quick that they were not biting. I varied my gameplan, fishing the back of pockets by flipping and throwing a wacky rig stick bait, nothing seemed to work. I moved into Spring Creek and fished dirt shallow by flipping bushes, dragging a C-rig, and even checking ledges. Nothing.
To end the day, I began running shallower bluffs and began catching fish, but virtually none of them measured. All of them were smallies and they came on a red series 3 Strike King crank.
Josh didn't do any better aside from having a voltage regulator go out, forcing us to take my boat and we see how that worked out.
Over the last few weeks, the pendulum has swung back and forth on what we needed to fish during the ABT. It began with fishing inside Ditto were we were sure we could catch 16 pounds. That bite died and we began to think it would have to be down river, but as of Friday afternoon and catching only around three or so measuring fish between the two boats, we thought we needed to do what we felt comfortable doing: fishing from Ditto to the dam. In the absence of catching anything down river, we would take our chances catching numbers of smaller fish and hope to run in to a big one here and there. We knew there were some to be found. Not only did we catch the 6-3, we had missed some good fish, too. So, the pendulum came all the way back.
At no point was the plan to fish inside of Ditto all day, which brings us to around 9AM, when we finally wet a line. From 9-10, we caught several fish including two solid keepers and a lot of dinks by fishing between the boat slips with shakey heads. The sun got high and that bite really died. We thought surely the bigger fish, namely the females, would be under the docks so we worked really hard throwing wacky rigs and swimbaits under docks and into slips, but never caught a single fish.
Now is the bad news: even though we didn't have a good limit, we had come to grips with today just being about the points. We had a buddy willing to pick us up when they headed down river. The issue was, they scrapped their game plan and wanted to head down river early, at like 1PM. They had some good fish and if we got in the boat, they couldn't fish any more. We didn't want to do that to them, so we DQ'd ourselves and caught a ride back to Decatur where I got my truck and picked Josh up.
I didn't go back to weigh in. I didn't check weights. I haven't talked to any one. It's been a tough two days because I am really starting to doubt if I will ever figure out fishing larger tournaments. I had so many people come up to me after the Guntersville tournament and tell me not to worry because we fish Wheeler so often and people were just sure we would do really well. I think I even began to believe that and after seeing how hard prefishing was for us and people I know, I thought, hey, we know what to do here.
Maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself. I've felt this way before and it was when I joined a bigger club due the success I was having in smaller ones. That first year was down-right brutal and I felt this same way that entire year. The feeling of "what do I have to do?" One thing is for certain, I am working as hard as I can. I can't do much more than I am already doing, though better decisions at the Guntersville tournament and better luck this past one sure would have helped.
I guess this is just more of "paying the dues." I guess I can except that. I'm certainly paying the dues in terms of dollars.