Monday, June 20, 2016

Fishing Report for Pickwick 6/18/16

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I doubt there are many dads out there lucky enough to have this type of Father's Day gift. When asked what I wanted to do for father's day, I responded that I wanted to fish a tournament with my wife. Many wive's might have scoffed at the idea. Those that would concede it would probably take the day to lay out on the back deck. But, I knew better. My wife is too competitive for that. She's been kind of a good luck charm on Pickwick, though we haven't won a tournament. We have gotten checks in them, as you can read from these reports.

Fishing Report for Pickwick 4/16/16

It didn't hurt that I threw in dinner at the River Bottom Grill after a little late afternoon fishing as a date night the evening before. 

We had the boat in the water around 6PM on Friday night and ran down the little river section of 7 Mile Island to see if some of our river fish were still around. This spot has become my last resort spot for tournaments, as it consistently produces a limit, even if it is small. 

Seeing that there wouldn't be any current on Saturday, my game plan was to stop somewhere on the way to Waterloo and get a limit. As soon as I had the limit, no matter how big, I would head down river to find a school of fish on a ledge. Having a limit is paramount, as many of you know. Considering how this time of year can be, having a limit of any kind will at least keep you in the ball game. Just take a look at our last trip on Pickwick last month and what having a limit would have done! 

Fishing Report for Pickwick 5/ 13&14 /2016

Our first stop produced just one fish, a decent spot that came off of a Zara Spook. It is the first top water fish I have caught on the Tennessee River this year. In talking with other fishermen, it appears that the top water bite just hasn't been very good. 

We ran to the tip of 7 Mile as the sun began to set. Behind a small current break, I could see bait fish being run up the bank in about 14 feet of water. On one of my first casts with a Strike King Series 3, I had a fish hit. There was a lot of weight and it didn't swim right. I assumed that it was a trash fish. With another boat having stopped in front of me about the time i set the hook, I slow played the fish. Alyse grabbed the net and as I pulled the fish in, we saw that it wasn't a fish, but two fish. Both bass. 

In the process of slow playing, I lost the smaller of the two but was able to boat the larger, another spot. About that time, the other boat pulled in a fish. We traded fish for about 30 minutes before Alyse talked me into leaving some for tomorrow. In all, I caught around 5, most on a PTL 5" Sick Stick on a Magnum Shakey Head. None were very big, but I had faith that we could catch our limit quickly. While I was stowing rods, I snagged my flip flops and broke the strap. Now, I don't normally fish in flippy floppies because, well, hooks and stuff. Plus, my feet burn easy. But, this trip I brought them....and only them. I tried to repair them by melting the strap. No luck. 

We tied the boat up at the River Bottom Gill  and I plodded inside with my busted flip flop while singing Jimmy Buffet. Alyse took a funny video of me. 

A video posted by Alyse Taylor (@alysetaylor) on
Go ahead and laugh.

Anyway, we shared some fried pickles and the River Bottom Burger, which is amazing. Then, we had to hunt down some MORE flip flops before going to bed at our families place on Wilson lake. 

Up and at it at 4AM...which is a lot better than 2AM! 

The ramp was fairly empty and we were able to easily get going. We stopped at the point as everyone else either headed to the dam or went down river. Considering the lack of current, there was no way I was going to fish the dam. While I knew that the better fish were down river and that I would probably find just spots here at the point, I wanted a limit. 

Working both sides of the point, we began to pick up fish. They were coming on an assortment of lures but there seemed to be no pattern other than the fish seemed to be grouped in one tiny area. 

There was a small rockpile on the side of the point, smaller than the boat. It was about 5 feet off the bank, so there was a hole between the bank and the rockpile that created a hole. More importantly, it provided a current break and an ambush spot. Between the worm, the Spook, and a chatterbait, we had three fish. 

Alyse was getting bit on a Strike King 3, which is her favorite bait, but the fish were being awfully crafty. She lost two or three measuring fish that would have finished the limit. One of those broke the line as it pulled against the rockpile, totally not her fault. She did pull in a smallie that didn't measure.

About the time I was going to turn around and make a last pass, Alyse spotted a fish running bait against the bank. I didn't think it was very big and it wasn't worth my time, but she convinced me to throw on it. I had to skip the Spook under some branches and it landed an inch from the bank. Two twitches in and a fish annihilated it! This was no small fish. It was a money fish.

We slow played the tail walking toad to the boat and she netted it. It was easily the biggest fish we have caught together in a tournament. I told her that we now needed one more quality fish to win, even if we didn't get another hit all day.

Just seconds later that very fish knocked the Spook five feet in the air! The fish came completely out of the water but missed. I said some wordy durds. 

Eventually we picked up a fifth fish, started the big motor, and began heading towards Waterloo. As we passed Colbert Ferry Park, I spotted matted grass and I was compelled to fish it. 

Throwing a frog didn't amount to a bite, but as I fished the edges of the grass, I had a hit. It didn't result in a fish in the boat, but the quickness and suddenness of the bite which came on a chatterbait backed by a PTL Swinging Hammer gave me a reason to stay. 

The next hour of fishing was the best hour I've had this year in terms of both number and quality. We caught around 10 fish in the next hour on an assortment of baits. Sadly, a series of misfortunes hurt us. Alyse has never fished grass and her crankbait experience hurt her as she was bulldogged by big fish. They would get in the grass and pop the lures free. 

I also struggled. Two (and my only two) chatterbaits both broke at the ring. I also lost some series fish on a swimjig, also with a PTL Swinging Hammer

We knew we had a good bag. After texting and calling some of the other club members as well as talking to random fishermen, we knew that we were way ahead of the pack, most likely. But, we wanted 20 pounds. Any of the fish we lost would have most likely pushed us to the mark. The issue was that were catching a lot of quality fish, just none over three pounds. 

By the end of the day, we had caught 20 or so three pounders. In addition, we had the big one from that morning. I figured we had around 17. 

The biggest loss of the day was the Bullshad that I managed to break. How it broke on braid I will never know. As I ripped it through some grass, it simply broke. I wasn't able to find it.

We didn't have 17. We had 15.5 and the big fish was a six pound head on a four pound body, checking in at 4.8. That weight was still almost double second place. Though we cashed the first place check, losing that $50 bullshad hurt. 

On the way home, we stopped at West End Outdoors. They didn't have the cheaper Boyd Duckett BD-series swimbaits, but they DID have Bullshads. The issue there? They wanted between $60 and $90. Nope. 

Anyway, we had a great day catching around 25 fish. The swimjig and chatterbaits did the most damage. 

Props to my wife who, though she didn't have the best day catching, did a marvelous job at netting! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Fishing Report for Guntersville 6/10&11/16

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Brad and I had a club tournament coming up on the 11th. While prefishing the G hasn't EVER done us any good and the lake has been the bane of our existence for the last three years....we decided to prefish anyway. 

To be fair, it is ledge bite time and you HAVE to prefish or at least get out there and search for the super school. 

We put in at Seibold and immediately began scanning ledges. We began looking at the 14-18 foot range. The first set of ledges, out on the main river in front of Seibold, looked promising. We were marking bait balls and larger fish, but they didn't seem to be grouped up nor relating to any structure. For the rest of the day, we scanned ledges from Seibold to Goose Pond. 

In the meantime, we did do some fishing, but we weren't getting bit. In fact, the ledges we started at ended up being the most promising area, even if we couldn't get a bite. As I've said elsewhere, the top water bite on the Tennessee River has been off this year. Of course, if you know better, comment below! 

We quit around 2PM after arriving at just 9AM. We figured it would be better to save our strength. After all, I would have to get up at 2AM in order for us to be on the water at 5AM.

Along the way, I made some phone calls to try and gather some information. I wasn't looking for a winning bag or any secrets, just something to get us on fish. Several guys had been catching ledge fish and all said that their bites were coming in 18 foot while the boat was in 30. That might explain why we weren't getting bit on ledges. Everyone agreed that the top water bite was still way off.

We decided to start on our ledges in Seibold, but after 15 minutes without a bite on top water and chatterbaits, we made a change and ran to some shallow humps in front of Seibold. I was throwing a Z-Man in a green pumpkin color with a PTL Swinging Hammer swimbait.  On my first cast into five feet, I caught a nice keeper. 

Minutes later, I had a second keeper and we were one away from a three fish limit. 

I had another come unbuttoned, but Brad hung into a nice fish and we boated  4.5 pounder. It was a great start and exactly what to guys who have struggled really needed.

I added a fourth fish, though it didn't look to add anything. 

The sun came out and the chatterbait bite died.

We moved to the ledges. Nothing. Over and over we checked spots from the day before, even idled around and tried to see if the fish had moved. We couldn't get a bite. We got desperate and started scanning for new schools, but none of them ever bit. Brad eventually boated a decent fish on a lizard, but it didn't help us. 

We threw a collection of crankbaits, lizards, and big works. I even tried to throw a magnum shakey head. Nothing. 

We weighed in a little over 8 pounds in our three fish, which I believe was good enough for fifth place.  First place was 13 pounds, second was 12, and third was a little under that. There wasn't a fish over 5.82 weighed in and very few five pounders weighed. The fish have not recovered from the spawn just yet. 

On the day we had just five fish on six bites. The water temp would begin in the high 70s and creep to 85 by the end of the day. Grass is coming along, but not topped out anywhere. The water level is incredibly low and I imagine the frog bite will be very good, as long as there isn't much rain. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler 6/9/16: Ditto Wildcat

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On Monday or Tuesday, Josh had asked me if I wanted to fish the Ditto Wildcat on Thursday night. We hadn't fished one yet and it seemed tempting. It was especially tempting because the weights had been at late July and August levels. That is, six pounds would get a check. Based upon my prefishing the week before, I knew that it would be tough, but I also knew I could get a small limit. All I had to do was do some flipping. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler: Week of 6/1-5/16

On Thursday, I brought the boat to work. Turns out, Josh couldn't fish. We had a club tournament coming up, so I had to make a decision: fish the wildcat alone or prefish alone. It isn't that I don't like fishing alone (I mean, I don't) but prefishing Guntersville has done me ZERO good so far this year. I decided that I would just fish the wildcat.

There was no current according to the TVA so I decided to start out flipping. So, I flipped and flipped and flipped. No bites. I spent two of the three hours I had flipping. 

Around 7 I moved out onto some bluffs. The only other way I had been catching fish was with a Strike King 3XD, targeting shade on the bluffs. I really had to get the bait on the edge of the bluffs. For the most part, that meant actually hitting the ledge with the bait. 

Pretty quickly, I began to get hits. Unfortunately, I missed a decent fish because I had no net man and the fish threw the bait at the boat. I moved 25 yards and caught another. Then another. While I was catching fish, only every third fish actually measured. With four in the box, I had to make a call: Do I finish the limit with a small fish or try and find a kicker? 

I decided on the latter and went back to flipping for the last 30 minutes.

The only thing that flipping provided was the smallest fish of the day, a six-incher. 

In all, I caught around 10 fish but the size was just pitiful. I did throw some top water, but not much, as what fishing I have done has shown that the fish aren't interested in top water at all.

As I went to weigh in, the ramp was absolutely packed and the parking lot was a disaster. I decided to forego the weigh and toss my fish. The winning weight was 14 pounds and it took just over 6 to get 3rd place.

It's very tough out there and the reliable bite I can find is on the bluffs with a small crankbait. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler: Week of 6/1-5/16

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I was fortunate to get out two different times over the course of the week. Both trips were in the middle of the day and, therefore, not exactly the best conditions.

Wednesday afternoon, I fished the area around Ditto. Two different patterns paid out dividends:

The first was a StrikeKing Series 3 crank in either sexy or powder blue back. This pattern would only work on bluff walls that were shaded. So, specifically, the north bank of the river. It was really weird. The fish would hit these cranks within the first turn of the handle. Sometimes, the fish would hit it before I even cranked. But, they would not touch top water baits. 

Later in the afternoon, I was able to catch just a precious few fish while flipping wood. You would work 10 or 12 laydowns before finding one that would have three fish on it. The fish seemed to prefer a 7" Tickler as opposed to flipping the jig. 

Unfortunately, weather was moving in and I didn't fish but for about an hour late in the afternoon. That meant that I only was able to fish about 10 or 12 of those laydowns before heading home.

Just yesterday (Sunday), we took a family trip on the water. With overcast skies, rising water levels thanks to rain, and a little cooler weather, I figured the top water bite would be on. It would be a great time to have a little fishing competition between the kids. Truth be told, competition between them is the only way I was going to get them to fish. 

The water isn't quite where it needs to be for a good flipping bite nor a frog bite. Where there is good grass, it is too thick to work a frog. I would like to see thick vegetation with at least a yard of scattered grass around it. In this case, it isn't scattered quite yet and the water level is just too low. 

After hitting one spot that normally has fish, we headed to the back of a pocket. On the way in, the white bass were feeding and I thought this would be the PERFECT time to get the kids to actually catch fish. I even had them excited enough to cast on their own. But, for some weird reason, we could not buy a white bass bite! It was very frustrating. 

We started flipping grass in the back of the pocket where we were able to start catching a fish every 15 minutes or so. All of my fish came on a PTL Bull Nose Jig in Black to the Blue. None of them were very big, but the best five would have gone 10 pounds. Either I have bad luck or the topwater bite just hasn't been very good. Now, I do recognize that I am fishing the toughest parts of the day. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Product Review for First Aid Treament

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In last week's fishing report from Logan-Martin, I had an embarrassing situation which I didn't talk about. But, in the aftermath of it, I had a good laugh and I decided that I needed to share my story because it might point anglers in the direction of a product that everyone needs to have in their boat.

The story went a little like this, and I will make it short. You can read about the rest of the fishing trip and watch the vid by clicking the link below. 

Fishing Report for Logan-Martin 5/20 and 5/21

We caught almost all of our fish early in the day. And, I mean REAL early. We had a limit in five minutes. The day was long and hot. Before a long run, I decided to swap out the water in the livewell. So, I turned on the fill pump as well as the pump-out. Since the two pumps are matched, the amount of water would stay constant, though it would now be fresh.

I didn't consider that my fill inlet is above the pad, which was completely out of water during the run. Almost as soon as I sat the boat down after a five-mile run, I heard what no fisherman ever wants to hear: fish flopping around. 

Yep, this genius had pumped out the entire livewell about a minute into the run and our winning sack was now dying. 

In particular, the three pound spot, which would eventually win us both 1st place and big fish, was belly up. My partner was furious and I was really embarrassed. What was worse was that we had a long time until weigh in and we wouldn't be catching any bigger fish. These fish had to make it or we would be done for. 

I had a product that I hadn't really used, but it was from a company I trusted. I reached for the bottle of Fishlife First Aid.  In addition, I used their fin clips to get the big fish right side up.

Hours later we weighed in five healthy and happy fish, walking away with a first place finish and a big fish. We wouldn't have done that without the help of Fishlife's products. Here is some information on the First Aid, which costs $7.99:

"The First Aid Treatment is the only product on the market that is used to slow or completely stop bleeding and start the healing process on bass or other fish that have been hooked in the gills, gullet, or tongue. Our formula goes farther than anything else imaginable to stop bleeding, and keep your fish alive. In our trial efforts, the bleeding from all wounds was stopped over 90% of the time. When a dead fish penalty can cost you the difference between 1st and 2nd, it is a lifesaver. Literally. "

A little about the fin clips, which cost just $7.99:

"This product is used when fish are caught deep and is an option to fizzing fish. If you bring a fish in and it is full of air, attach the Fin Clips to the anal fin and this will right the fish and pull them down. The goal of this technique is to allow the swim bladder to deflate naturally and not require fizzing. Now don't think this is an end all fix because there will be times when you still have to fizz the fish. The goal of any technique requiring deflation of the swim bladder is to right the fish as soon as possible so it will not kill itself trying to bring itself back to an upright position. Many times people think a fish is dying because it is on it's back however, it is just full of air and needing a little help."

The following Monday, I put in an order for their First Aid Kit, which costs $24.99. Here is some info on it: 

"The Fishlife Fish Aid Kit is everything you need to give your fish the best possible care. The Fishlife Fish Aid Kit consist of:
1) Fishlife Live Well Treatment which is proving itself to be the best live well treatment available today. This product is free of dyes and supported by tournament anglers of many different species.
2) Fishlife First Aid Treatment which is also proving itself to be in a class by itself. Report after report keeps coming in stating how well it is working for tongue and gill hooked fish. It is stopping the bleeding and saving our fish to fight another day.
3) Fishlife Fin Clips for clipping onto fish caught deep and giving their air bladders a chance to deflate naturally.
4) Finally the Fishlife Fizz Needles which has been built according to the guidelines established by the Texas Dept. of Parks and Wildlife and is used to deflate the swim bladders when the Fin Clips do not work." 

Here is the info from the "About Us" portion of their website.

"Sportsman's Media Group, Inc.
P.O.Box 185
Warrior, AL US
We are a group of fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts committed to sharing our dedication to conservation, education and preservation of the outdoors for future generations. What began as an Alabama-focused online fishing forum in November 2009 quickly grew to include a popular tournament series that utilized the latest innovations in fish handling, weighing, and conservation. Today, our Fishlife Water Weigh In System is the finest, most fish-friendly system of its kind, and is used at all of our tournaments. At Fishlife, our mission is now bolstered by unique on-site fishing education events, a comprehensive bass fishing tournament series, partnerships with high school and college fishing groups, young angler programs, and our social network, Fishlife. You have to live it to understand it. 
We're not afraid to talk to you. " 

The staff of Fishlife do more than just sell fish care products. They help run events and ensure that weigh-ins are done correctly, and, more importantly, the welfare of the fish is a primary concern. I would recommend them for any event.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fishing Report for Logan-Martin 5/20 and 5/21

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After the previous weekend's debacle on Pickwick, Brad and I were really excited to get to fish Logan-Martin Lake in Pell City. In case you missed last week's report, click the link below.

Fishing Report for Pickwick 5/ 13&14 /2016

It's a Coosa River lake that is loaded with magnum spots. Though I have only fished it a couple of times, it has been very good to me each time. You can read about my last trip to Logan-Martin, which was back in 2015.

Fishing Report for Logan-Martin Lake 4/3/14

Brad and I took Friday off in order to prefish. I had some very good information from Bo, the gentleman from whom I bought my boat. Bo won the ABT event last year on Logan-Martin, as well as many other tournaments. His advice: top water early and skipping docks the rest of the day in Rabbit Branch. 

Even though I wasn't familiar with Rabbit Branch, it turns out that Josh and I have fished it every time we have been to Logan-Martin. Speaking of, Josh and Anthony were down on Friday and we decided to have a little friendly competition. Starting at noon, we would keep our best five and the loser had to buy a Margarita at dinner for the winners. We would call it the First Annual Margarita Cup. 

We began in Rabbit Branch, but the wind was howling west to east, which was at our backs. It made it impossible to fish worms. Instead, we stuck to topwater and crankbaits, specifically a Strike King Series 3. 

After a few hours, we had a very small limit. Josh and Anthony had four fish for around 10 pounds, which they had found way up river on an offshore creek channel. Pretty solid. Doing what we were doing, it would be impossible to catch them. We noticed that some weather was moving in and that overcast skies would dominate the pattern for the rest of the afternoon. 

I had asked Bo about this, specifically, and he had said to target sea walls with buzzbaits. Ironically, I didn't bring a single buzzbait, but Brad did. While he threw it and I threw a sammy, I figured out pretty quickly that I would need to go to Wal-Mart that night and buy one. Brad culled and culled. Each fish had a bloody tail.  Before we knew it, the small five we had caught were all gone and were replaced by better fish. Two of those were really nice spots. These fish were all sitting in creek channels with structure. 

Confident that we had enough to at least compete with Josh and Anthony, we resumed our scouting. I was able to find some terrific looking offshore areas that featured plenty of structure, bait, and what looked like bass. In most all of them, I was able to catch a fish, but none of the fish were the size we were looking for. I also gained a new appreciation for my front boaters who can hold boat position, because, well...I suck at it.

So, at 7PM, we weighed in fish. Josh and Anthony were unable to make their 5th fish count and weighed in a limit just over 10 pounds. Brad's two culls boosted us to just over 12 pounds. Both of the two spots he caught were personal bests. We didn't weigh them individually, but the largest was around 4 pounds. So, we took home the win in the first annual Margarita Cup. 

We shared a meal at the local Mexican joint and hit up Wal-Mart for boat food and a black buzzbait.  Then, we called it a night. On the way to the hotel, we remarked on the full moon and the fact that many of the fish we had caught that day were spawning. We worried that the full moon may finish the spawn and those big fish would move out. 

Around 4AM I got a phone call informing me that Lakeside was covered up with boats and that we should use the little ramp beside Lakeside. Turns out, that was not only covered up as well, but a complete circus. Because it was a much smaller ramp and people generally have no consideration of others, it was simply out of control. As such, we missed out 5:15 blast off time and didn't hit the water until nearly 6AM. 

When we did get out of the harbor, we motored over to our first spot, which we had caught several quality fish on by paralleling a sea wall with top water. Before I could even get the GoPro going, Brad had hauled in a very nice spot. It wasn't as big as his biggest from the previous day, but it was a heck of a start.

We worked a 20 yard sea wall for less than five minutes before we had a limit. It was a small limit, but a limit none the less. Josh and Anthony hadn't even made it to their spot way up river before we were culling.

We hit the spot hard for about 30 minutes, but the bites died as the sun came up. It wouldn't be nearly as overcast as the day before. 

I moved us to our second spot, where we had also caught quality fish the day before. This spot didn't have the numbers of hits, but we had caught two decent fish the day before and had missed at least one other. We pulled up directly on the large rock on which the fish had been camping. Brad fired the bait over and BAM! She hit. It was a decent cull, but not nearly as big as the fish we had caught the day before.  

We began to wonder if our speculation about the end of the spawn had happened. We ran around, checking shallow spots from the previous day. Other than some short fish, we couldn't get a shallow bite. We assumed that the offshore bite would be the ticket and we moved out to check those spots we had marked. Nothing. 

Though the wind didn't help, we couldn't buy a worm or jig bite. That was really strange, considering the lake. 

I called Josh and Anthony. They experienced much of the same thing. But, they had been catching fish REALLY shallow around grass on a combination of chatterbait and a swimjig. 

I took this as a fantastic omen, as most of our club would stick to worming. It just so happened that the offshore spot we were fishing had a good stand of grass. I picked up a swim jig backed with a PTL swinging hammer and Brad threw a chatterbait. Boom and Boom. Two largemouth culls that gave us an instant shot in the arm. That put us around 10 pounds, but we had two squeakers that needed to go, desperately. 

For the next two hours we focused on this pattern. The swimjig didn't produce anymore and a phone call to Josh confirmed that the chatterbait was the real key. I began throwing a Z-man chatterbait with a PTL swinging hammer. Though I didn't catch any culling fish, Brad did...and in some of the strangest ways.

The first came as we rounded a point and noticed one of our club members also fishing. I decided to let him have the spot and fired up the big motor as Brad reeled in his bait. A largemouth crushed the bait! It provided another good cull. 

The last fish came as we were fishing the area between docks. As I maneuvered the boat around a dock, Brad skipped the chatterbait under it where a decent spot crushed it. Sitting around 12 pounds, we tried to find the big bite, but never did. 

Luckily, it didn't matter and we were fortunate to take home a win with a solid 12 pound bag. Josh and Anthony came in second with just over 10 pounds. Though we beat them, it was their pattern that won us the day.   

On the day, we only caught around 15 fish. The water temp was in the high 70s. That being said, the offshore bite hadn't begun quite yet.   

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fishing Report for Pickwick 5/ 13&14 /2016

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Because I love all my readers so much, I am going to save some of you some time. If you are looking for a the secrets to a big bag with a tell-all video, as you can sometimes find on this blog, well, sorry to disappoint you. I won't take it personally if you hit the "X" on this page and go on with your life.

For the rest of you that are looking for some humor about "real life" tournament fishing or maybe just a way to eliminate water and baits for your upcoming trip on Pickwick, well, keep on reading. 

So, the Alabama Bass Tournament released their 2017 tournament locations and dates. My partners and I have tournament fishing this year. Make no mistake, none of us feel we are ready for the big time, by any stretch. But, we stay mid-pack in any tournament we fish, which would be enough to take our chances on a bigger trail. Anyway, just when I was about to put my big-boy pants on and start serious consideration of fishing a trail which included Pickwick, a lake  that hasn't been awesome to me, but has been steady, life threw me another curve. It reminded me that I am an amatuer, may always be an amatuer, and should probably forget every thinking about being a big-time tournament fisherman. 

The weekend started out pretty similar to most of our club tournament weekends. Brad and I dropped our kids off Friday morning and headed to the lake. We knew a couple of things going in: weather would be relatively high pressure and high skies and there would be no current. There would be at least one other bigger tournament out of McFarland, which we figured would mean that the dam would be covered up as well as every junk fishing spot from there to Waterloo. I had some additional info that the fishing had been very tough. A friend had fished a tournament Friday morning and reported that one boat found fish, everyone else did not. 

We decided to fish ledges in Waterloo, as we have had some success in the last year doing thing. Additionally, the FLW tournament had kinda-sorta shown that the ledge bite hadn't developed the week before. Brad and I figured we would gamble on it turning on hard and catching a lot of people by surprise. You can read about last year's win on Pickwick at the link below.

We scanned most of the day from 10 AM until after 5, occasionally making some casts. We graphed around 25 ledge spots that had some critical things: structure, bait, and fish holding to both. But, we couldn't get any of them to bite. That was ok, we would run spots in the morning until we found a hot ledge. I am fortunate enough to have family who live on Wilson in Killen, so we ate at the River Bottom Grill, both eating the River Bottom Burger which I highly recommend, before getting to sleep around 9PM. 

Up and at it at 4AM, having saved at least 2 hours of sleep, and headed to the ramp. Still no current, as TVA reported only around 10K. We blasted off and headed to Waterloo.

We stopped on one of the ledges adjacent to the flat that the FLW boys had wore out the week before. No, we weren't trying to steal those fish. We legitimately found some really nice spots, swings in the channel with rock. We used Brad's Lowerance, but used some of the same tips I use on my Hummibirds.

NOTE: We never found eel grass. We began by fan casting top water on the flat. Nothing. Hit one of the way points which still had bait and fish, nothing.

Getting kind of nervous, we moved just across the river to a pump house which we have consistently caught top water fish early. Not a sniff. After running a few more ledges just above Natchez trace bridge, we decided to see if the fish were still shallow. It did provide Brad his first fish in two days as well as my first bite in two days. But, there were all small and we quickly gave up on that.

We ran below the bridge and fished ledges. Not only did the fish not bite, but the wind came howling up the river, producing some massive swells that simply made life miserable. Eventually they became so bad that we had to give up on the entire game plan.  

At noon, we decided to just try and get a limit. A few phone calls told us that at least three other boats had zero fish. Just get a limit. 

I could do that. I had a spot on the back of Seven Mile Island that I have done just that at least twice, both times on super tough days. 

Fishing Report for Pickwick 3/29/14

MFC Club Tournament on Pickwick 4/27/13  

This spot is a seemingly endless stretch of rip rap right next to the creek channel. It features laydowns and cypress trees in 14 feet of water. We would work shallow cranks in the stretches and worms in the laydowns. It paid off almost immediately as Brad boated a decent (though short) smallie. I backed that up just seconds later with a keeper smallie. 50 yards later in a laydown, a nice spot on a PTL 5 Inch Sick Stick. Brad added a keeper spot of his own. We finished up the stretch, nothing more. We reran the spots. Nothing. We moved across the river to fresh rip rap. Nothing. It was really weird to have a spot turn on, but only for a few bites. 

The story at the ramp was mostly the same. Fish were hard to find. The third place bags was "just a limit" of 9 pounds. First and second were 17 and 13. Unfortunately, we never finished out that limit. Just didn't have enough time, I guess. But, the winning bag was caught by some friends of ours. I won't go into detail, but it was done applying the very opposite logic we tried to use for making a game plan.

I think that's what hurts the pride the most. I wouldn't be mad if I had gone into the weekend without a game plan at all and just lost. Instead, I tried to use my brain and my intuition. We spent a lot of time and money prefishing and it didn't work AT ALL. Not only did it not work, but it was the polar opposite for what it took to win.

There are several ways to look at it, I guess. The optimist out there might just say it was a bad weekend. The gamblers might say that I rolled the dice and came up craps. Maybe I am a pessimist and just too hard on myself, but the week began with me thinking I could hang in bigger tournaments and ended with me getting shut out in convincing fashion. I told Brad that we shouldn't take it for more than it really is, which was a gamble with the best intel we could put together. It didn't work and we might not have won otherwise, but we could have easily cashed a check if we hadn't stuck to our guns. 

The truth is that 5 out of 10 times, sticking to your guns when you have faith in a pattern, based on good intel, equates to wins and junk fishing just gets you beat. It wasn't the case this weekend, but that doesn't make me feel better about losing. I am a competitive person, as you all know. I'd love to put more lipstick on this pig, but I'm all out. Here's the Cliff's: fished two days. Caught two fish. Take that how you would like, but I hope you were all entertained.