Monday, November 13, 2017

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Ditto Landing 11/10/16

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Part of being and adult (and father of three) is being unable to drop what you are doing to go fishing. Even on holidays, as last Friday was, it takes some serious work to arrange things to work out. But, Josh and I were able to get things arranged so that we could get an afternoon of fishing in. Now, with him having to arrange kid care and me trying to makes sure my three couldn't burn the house down, it meant we couldn't go anywhere other than Ditto.

That's ok. Reports had been good that both numbers, size, and type of fish were being caught. Both Josh, our friend Naaman, and several other associates had sent reports back that the fishing was superb. Most reported that 12 pound bags were easy to come by and that mixed bags up to 18 pounds were being caught. 

So, we figured we would give it a go. 

We were on the water around noon and decided to fish current breaks local to the marina. Fishing a combination of A-rig and jerk baits, we were able to catch ones and twos at every stop we made. But, there was no size and the bites weren't very plentiful.

Elsewhere, our buddy Naaman was reporting great success on the same lures, so obviously we weren't fishing the right things. There weren't a lot of boats on the water, but there were enough that all the obvious current breaks were getting fished, or had been fished.

A quick look at the TVA App told us that TVA was pulling 70K CFS out of Guntersville dam. That should be more than enough to make for a good dam bite and both of us hoped we could find some smallies. 

We made the run up to the dam and began fishing the wing walls and rip-rap around the dam. Again, we could get a bite here and there, but nothing consistent. The best thing we caught was a gentleman's rod. He had accidentally thrown it in the water (quite funny to have seen in person) and couldn't reach it. We fished it out for him.

We moved down to the other side of the damn and couldn't get any bites, despite finding fish grouped up really tight.

Moving down to the ramp, we caught two or three short fish off of the wing wall of the ramp. I happened to look down at the Lowerance unit and see a pile of golf balls under the boat. There seemed to be around 7 or 10 fish laying on the bottom right under us, right on the current break line.

Josh let the boat drift back about 10 yards and that made all the difference. 

Throwing a combination of jigs and shakey heads, we boated 7-10 2.5 pound spots and several smallmouth. None of the smallmouth were very big, but it was fun to catch! 

Eventually, the bites tapered from every cast to one bite every 15 minutes, so we began to move down river. 

We covered a few other spots, but, again, just one fish at a time.

Eventually, we tried the 431 bridge with jerkbaits the last 10 minutes of day light. 

Man, that was an exciting few minutes! Every cast, for both of us, we caught a fish. 

On the day, we caught around 20 fish with our best five going around 12 pounds. None of the fish went over 3 pounds. Naaman had several nice fish on the day and probably caught the same amount as both Josh and I. 

This time of year, you have to really cover water to find the fish, but when you do, you can catch a lot in a very short amount of time. Add into the equation that most outdoorsmen are in their deer stands and you have the opportunity to catch a lot of fish! Really, you only need an A-rig, a jerkbait, and jig or shakeyhead. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Fishing Report for Smith Lake 10/28/17

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It's been tough to find time to fish the last month or so, between travel softball and MORE travel softball.  In fact, we had a scheduled tournament for this weekend as well, but it was the NASA club's Classic and is the last regularly scheduled tournament of the year. 

Of course, we pulled Smith lake out of the hat, the one lake I haven't been on since February. Now, the good news is, that was a really, really good tournament for us. The bad news is, it was February. Here is that report.

Fishing Report for Smith Lake 2/18/17


And, add in some absolutely nasty weather and a cold front moving in around 9AM that day....

....I really considered not fishing at all and just going to the softball tournament. But, Brad and I drew out so that we could fish together. I decided I would drive to Smith Lake park so that I could leave directly for the softball tournament. 

I polled some of the local guys on a Smith Lake Bass Tournaments facebook page and they gave me a little info. They also said "don't fish that end of the lake." Well, thing is.....it's a free tournament and the money wasn't quite worth driving too far. So, we decided to use the techniques they had told us, but fish the places we knew.

It was cold (in the 40s) and raining at blast-off. We started on a nearby main lake point. Brad was throwing a white buzzbait and I a chrome and black Rapalla DT-10. This paid off quickly with a nice chunky over spot. Then, nothing.

We moved to the next point and Brad was tossing the white buzzbait around a boat ramp and a fish slurped it. After a fight, we boated a NICE four-plus pound spot. 

We quickly found out a couple of things:

First, they only wanted the buzzbait. 

Second, there was only one active fish per point. 

So, when we would move to a new point, we would get one bite. Sometimes it would stick. Most of the time it wouldn't. Brad was getting the vast majority of the bites, but they weren't hooking up. Meanwhile, I tried to alternate baits in attempt to find something they would bite. I had some short strikes on a jig, shakey head, and a drop shot. But, none of them connected.

We would move spots and eventually we had three overs and one under that I had caught on a buzzbait. 

But, when the rain died and the cold front descended, the bite died. The lone bite we had after 9AM came on a PTL 7" tickler, but it was a slot fish that had to be thrown back.

We went to weigh in with just 4 fish: three overs and one under. We knew the chances were that we would have the big fish of the day and any time you have that big fish, you have a real shot to win. Of course, we didn't have a limit and we did have a tiny under. 

So, the pucker began when the best fisherman of the club unloaded five clones for around 7.5 pounds. However, it was the under that put us just above that mark and we walked away with the win by the skin of our teeth. 

It wasn't a fun day. The fish had absolute lock jaw even though we found at least three spots that were holding bass. We would find them close to the bottom on the first major drop of main lake points, always adjacent to some bait balls. Nothing could convince them to bite, from spoons to jigs, to drop shot. 

But, winning is winning. That's about all you can say about catching five fish all day. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fishing Report for Wilson 10/9/17

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I know not everyone was fortunate enough to have the day off Monday, but those of us that are federal workers did. Josh and I and our friend Naaman wanted to go fishing, but the question was where. 

I am sure that you all have read about my last tournament on Guntersville, which was just days before. If you didn't, you can click the link below and see how I caught a 7.12 pig. 


However, Guntersville had been pounded to death over the last two weeks and none of us really though we could catch any numbers, much less any size. So, we looked at the weather. The weather was looking just like it had a few weeks ago when the last round of hurricanes came through and Brad and I caught some massive smallies.  Read that report here:


So, we loaded up Big Booty Judy (now with a really nice sound system) and headed to Safety Harbor.
There was a fair amount of flow, around 25,000 and it seemed the right generators were turned on. We began fishing the normal eddies but we couldn't get bit. I found it a little more difficult to concentrate and run the trolling motor with three people in the boat, as there were baits flying everywhere.

Josh was throwing a Bull Shad when he yelled that he had a fish. He didn't yell initially because the fish was big, but because it is hard to hear. But, when he saw the fish, he started yelling for the net.

This fish was a lot larger than he had thought and it wasn't a brownie as we had expected. 

It was a really, really good start.

It's too bad that we couldn't get consistent bites. In fact, other than about five short smallies that we hooked up with, the fish were really, really stingy. Some of that is likely because the current had kicked up and I imagine the fish had moved from their normal haunts. 

We did get into a huge pile of white bass and stripes that alleviated our boredom.  

It was about this time that I noticed I had a really, really bad headache. In retrospect, it coincided with the pressure change ahead of the weather. For some reason, it didn't turn the fish on, either.

We moved away from fishing current and started hitting bluffs. There was no shortage of bait, but no bites. 

We then moved to docks, which is where we began to at least get bit. We caught several measuring fish by flipping docks, but only did this pattern for around 20 minutes before we had to leave. We did the most work with jigs backed with creature baits. 

In all, the fishing was very, very tough despite what looked like terrific conditions. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fishing Report for Guntersville 10/7/17

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Been almost three weeks since I checked in with everyone. Our last trip was the last regular tournament of the year for NASA, which was on Wilson. Go check it out.


That meant that our club Classic was up and Guntersville was drawn (eye-roll). But, I don't give up. I was going to put in the time. So, Brad and I got out the week before to do some prefishing. 

Since the club was going to use Goose Pond Bait and Grill, we put in there. Since we hadn't fished Guntersville since our 3rd place finish in June, we decided to just put the trolling motor down and start fishing. You can read about that week of fishing here:

Report for Guntersville 6/1 and 6/3 2017


We began to talk and realized that we had caught five pound fish on every lake except Guntersville, which was truly astounding, considering how the lake is known (rightfully so) for its massive fish and number of them. Of course, Brad pointed out that I had caught a fiver on the G, but it had come on fishing deep cranks on a bluff. I responded that it didn't count.

We began fishing shallow grass near Goose Pond with frogs and buzzbaits. This resulted in a nice three pounder on a Spro Poppin' Frog for me and a lost five pounder-plus for Brad, though we were glad to have shaken it off. We ended up with around 10 blow ups in a small spot, which was far more than any mat has provided for us in the last few years.

We moved around a good bit that day, but the amount of rain and wind had decimated the mats. I was able to catch a fair amount of short fish on a PTL Swinging Hammer, fishing it as a jerkbait in the blown out mats. Location didn't seem to matter as I caught them in three or more places. 

I left for the beach for a week but Brad was able to fish the Friday before. When he reported in initially, the numbers weren't good. He had caught only a few fish, but had found a very small area where he caught two fish really fast.

Now, typically, two fish wouldn't get you excited, but when he showed me the picture, I was sold. We didn't think there would be another seven pounder the next day, but typically fish school by size. 



The best news was, it wasn't a frog bite and that was good because the Spro tournament was the same day as our Classic. In fact, with a bit of a genius move, Brad had listened to some of the guides and decided to fish deep grass lines. 

The next morning, we went to our shallow grass spot and caught a few fish including one measuring and several shorts. We quickly moved to our next spot where we went to work with big worms. We would throw it shallow into the grass and work it through the scattered grass, down the ledge. The bites started immediately and I caught a nice spotted bass and Brad caught a short fish.

That's when the bite happened. When this fish bit, I knew it was the one. Working a big fish on a 6-6 medium heavy with 10-pound line isn't something for the faint of heart, especially when you see the fish is so big she can't jump. I loosened the drag and we fought the fish for the better part of ten minutes while trying to be discreet as there was another boat in the area who had already seen us catch one fish.

Brad finally netted the beast and we finally had that big bite. 

Of course, that comes at a price. The nearby boat moved within a cast length of us and began throwing a bama rig all around which resulted in a four pounder for them quickly. Good for them and all, I guess. 

As it turned out, we really needed that four pounder. We didn't catch another measuring fish though we did put another ten to 15 fish in the boat. 

The story was similar for everyone at weigh in. They caught short fish, if they caught any at all. Only two limits were weighed in and neither broke the 13 pound mark. Our three fish went 11 and change with the fish being a 7.12. That was the big fish of the day and of the year. It is the personal best for me in terms of tournament fishing by over a pound. It's the largest fish I have caught since 2011. I have to really hand it to my partner for putting it together. After fishing the G for a couple of years without a big bite, he was able to put two 7s in the boat in 24 hours. 

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.