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Follow my Fish of 2018
If you read my blog, you know how much I really, really like Logan-Martin Lake. This lake is full of fish. That can also be super frustrating when you are catching a hundred fish a day and can't scrap up more than an eight pound bag. More on that later.
And, you probably know how our first season in the Alabama Bass Trail has gone, thus far. If not, I'll recap. Guntersville-1, Wheeler-0, Weiss-5. That's total fish weighed in. Not optimal. To be fair, neither Guntersville or Weiss, which we had never been on before, were circled as lakes we expected to really compete upon. Wheeler, however, was and losing a big motor (which I still don't have fixed) torpedoed any chance of competing.
We knew Logan-Martin was a challenge, but not in terms of catching fish. We knew we could catch fish here, and by the hundreds if we wanted to, but that isn't the point. I shared some of my thoughts in my Logan-Martin Lookahead post and it seems like a lot of you read it. Instead of rehashing what I said there, let me use the words that were said over and over on the stage Saturday:
"We could have caught a hundred fish."
"We just couldn't catch the big ones."
"They were all the same size."
Over and over and over again I heard competitors utter that sentiment. How did that stack up for us?
So, we made our one and only trip to Logan-Martin this past Sunday and put in a solid day of work. What did we find? First, you can catch fish on that lake in almost any way up to and including froggin' river grass for largemouth. Obviously, largemouth are key to winning a tournament, but try as we might, we could not get consistent bites in the grass. Doesn't mean we didn't, because we did. it comes down to time management, really. If you have to fish 20 grass lines to catch a fish, than the odds are against you at catching a limit. So, despite catching multiple largemouth in grass, we never even added that to the game plan.
We also found two off-shore areas holding fish. Fishing humps isn't a new thing and I am sure over half the field had the same thoughts we did. Our approach was to idle until we found a super school. That meant, at times, idling for an hour before wetting a line. One spot wasn't holding as many fish as the other, but we could likely have caught a 100 of them in a single sitting, if we desired. The issue? Each spot topped out at around 6-8 pounds. So, we put those in our back pocket and kept looking.
We got on the lake Friday morning around 8 and the parking lot was packed. The morning started out extremely slow as we attempted to find new areas holding schools. We added two more areas, both with very similar features, according to the chart. Essentially, both were ledges and both held fish. One was holding 1.5 pounders, the other 2-2.5 pounders.
By the end of the day, we had five spots that we knew we could catch massive quantities of fish upon. None of them were less than 20 feet of depth. We were using only finesse baits.
We had a very candid conversation on the way back to the ramp. Yes, we had several really good spots and the likelihood of fishing at least one was very good. Truth is, once we identified the features, we didn't see boats on spots like that. Even when we checked some of our spots later, boats would be near it, but not on it. ]
Still, what we had wouldn't win and we knew it. Nor had we any indication that there were bigger fish in the mix with these spots. There was a possibility that maybe the big ones would eat early, but that was a remote chance we weren't willing to take, so even though it was 4PM in the afternoon, we were tired and very hot, we kept looking.
Using the geographical features we had identified as key, we idled main river ledges in Cropwell until we found areas holding fish. One in particular had a brush pile on it, but not on the ledge, but just off of it. And on this brush pile were largemouth. We extended our sack from 8 or 9 pounds to 13 with the aid of a beast of a largemouth I caught on a 10" Ribbon Tail worm, easily the biggest fish I've caught on this lake. Josh ballooned the total to 15 with another four pounded of his own.
We decided not to lean on those spots, though I worried if we had caught the only big fish we would find.
Since we were boat 73 and we didn't have to run but 2 miles, we were catching fish as the flights kept streaming behind us. That included our big fish of the tournament, a four pound stud largemouth that Josh bagged as boats were screaming by on plane. That was an awful lot of fun netting when I broke the net handle and had to use just the ring and net itself with my tyrannosaur arms.
Though I had caught everything on a worm the past two days, I threw a jig. I had this on a brand new Denali rod with a brand new Shimano Chronarch. And, as I set the hook on another beast, I realized that I hadn't tightened my drag at all and the 3.5 pound largie came screaming to the surface and spit the jig so hard it hit Josh. After fixing that up, I was able to catch a solid three pounder. We quickly finished the limit.
Going back to what I was saying about the frequently uttered phrases: we didn't want a lot of bites. We were fishing areas we didn't expect to have a lot of bites. That was by design. So, it was no surprise when the bite was really, really slow.
To keep spirits up, we visited basically all of our spots and caught fish on all but one of them. Truly, this one spot was a little different from the rest because it was more of a main river point. Come to find out, there was no current, and that explains why we weren't getting bit. But, we caught enough fish to keep us moving and keep our spirits up. We culled many times, but only by ounces. So, we cycled the first spots again.
We caught more fish, but none were helping. We also noticed that while several boats came by early in the morning, boats were now idling around us so I expect that they were fished in our absence.
Eventually, we were both ready to weigh in. It was hot and miserable and the pleasure boaters were making life miserable just by themselves. I figured we had around 12 pounds and while I thought MAYBE that might squeak us into the money. We ended up with 12.95 which wasn't the 15 pounds I thought we should have. That was my fault. I should never have used a new reel the day of a tournament. But, initially it was enough to put us in 6th and while I knew better than to think it would hold, I was surprised with our 22nd place finish. We ended up catching between 25-30 fish with most of those being our super school spots that we used just to past time as we let our better spots rest.
Still, we had a gameplan to win. We put in the work. And it rewarded us, which is a consolation prize to winning, but still feels really, really good.