Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 5 SEC Picks

The Auburn Realist: Overview
Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Check out my Fish of 2014
Follow my Fish of 2015

Another .500 week in the books which brings me to 22-20. I need a good week and this one looks like a good one to get right. 

Florida at Vandy 
Florida opens as a ten point favorite and the over/under is set at 40. After giving up only 14 total points in three games, Florida wilted against UT and doubled that score. Vandy has been a mixed bag. Their lone decent defensive effort was against South Carolina before USC made a critical change at QB. Ralph Webb is averaging 5 yards a carry, a respectable number. That's just slightly less than his QB's average per attempt while adding in just two TD tosses to two INTs. 

Florida will bounce back big by stacking the box on Webb and forcing Schurmer to throw against the Gators terrific secondary. The 40 point over/under may be fool's gold, but you almost have to take it. Take Florida to cover and the over on points

Texas A&M at South Carolina
USC is an 18 point dog at home with a 48 point over/under. The Gamecocks have not scored more than 20 points in any contest this year and that is against the bottom of the SEC and East Carolina. Their defense has been respectable, but it will wilt against the Aggie offense thanks to a very, very good Aggie defense that will both shorten the field and that will keep the Gamecock defense on the field far longer than they can handle. This game should be close at half, but it will be a trainwreck late.

I don't see South Carolina getting anything going against this defense who is far superior. 

Take TAMU and the over. 

Kentucky at Alabama
Alabama is favored by 35 point favorite with a 57.5 point over/under. What is there to really say about this game? Really the only thing that could possibly happen is for Bama to maybe look forward to next week's top 20 matchup between the Tide and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Still, Alabama has scored at least 38 points in every game this season. 

Kentucky has been able to score, but has only 24 points in two SEC contests. Neither of those games were on the level of Alabama. While Ole Miss did put up 43 points, it is worth noting that the other three games thus far have been laughable, a mere 16 points scored. Take Alabama to cover and the under on points...but only because Saban wishes it. 

Memphis at Ole Miss
Ole Miss opens as a 14.5 point favorite at home with a 67 point over/under. Everyone remembers this game from last year, of course. But, this game isn't in Memphis nor is Fuente still the coach. A Tennessee transfer is running the show behind center. Ole Miss is going to cover this spread and perhaps even the entire under/over by themselves. Keep in mind that Ole Miss hasn't exactly kept people out of the endzone. Take Ole Miss and the Over. 

Tennessee at Georgia
UT is a 3.5 favorite with a 53 over/under. Will UT suffer an emotional hangover after ending the streak? UT beat UGA last season after Chubb went out with a first play from scrimmage injury and the Dogs haven't been the same since. Sure, this game is in Athens but Georgia's defense has been deplorable. They have allowed at least 24 points to every team they've faced, though it should be noted they have played some decent competition.

Still, UT seems to have finally found their identity. Take the Vols and the over on points. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fishing Report for Tim's Ford Lake 9/23/16

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Check out my Fish of 2014
Follow my Fish of 2015



A few week's ago, my oldest son's baseball coach approached me about a benefit tournament coming up. He works at Phoenix bass boats in Tullahoma and one of his co-workers was diagnosed with cancer. They (Phoenix) were putting on a tournament called Tina's Tournament on Tim's Ford lake in a few weeks and he asked if I was interested. 

Initially, I wasn't. I don't know anything about Tim's Ford. Other than fishing for hybrid's in the 80s, I know virtually nothing other than it is a really clear and deep lake on the Elk river. 

But, it was for a good cause and my wife had been hinting that we needed to go fishing. When I began looking at who had signed up, it was obvious that many other men were thinking the same thing. So, I paypal'd my money. $50 ain't much, especially considering the door prizes and raffles. 

Of course, it would be smart of me to know something about the lake before I decided to fish it during a tournament. Even though it is for a cause and I am happy to donate my money, I am still a very, very competitive person. 

I had heard that Tim's had turned on the last few years, specifically for smallmouth. Hey, smallmouth are my specialty! 

Well, let me back up. Smallmouth seem to be about all I can catch these days. 

So, I decided to go check it out. Turns out, Tim's is the closest lake to my house, discounting the upper end of Wheeler, which is about as dead as can be right now. I used the Tim's Ford Bass Club ramp which is just outside of Winchester. You can find it on Google Maps. This is where the tournament will be held. unfortunately, I missed the very best part of the day, thanks to this gas shortage. I had to stop at four different stations in Fayetteville before finding one with gas in the tank, That set me back about 30 critical minutes. 

Just a hundred yards to one side is a bridge with rip rap down it. There was a lot of action going on and I figured, what better way to learn a lake than to drop the trolling motor and just start fishing.

Ok, truth is, my map card doesn't have Tim's Ford on it. 

Turns out, that was a good choice. Throwing a Strike King Series 3, I picked up bites on virtually every cast. I caught several small smallmouth and a few short largemouth. Within 15 minutes, I was hooked up with a four pound smallie.

Then the smallie threw the crank. Ok. That sucks. But, it happens. 

Three casts in a row and the fish threw the hooks. I kept telling myself "one more and I will swap hooks." One more turned into three missed fish. 

By that time I had covered the length of the bridge and another trip down it resulted in no bites. 

So, I moved to the first point. With the boat in 14 feet and making short casts parallel to the bank, I missed three smallies and boated one. I finally sat down and changed hooks on the crank. First two casts, caught fish.

Moving out to the end of the point where it dropped from 18 feet into God-knows-what, I picked up the PTL 7" Tickler on a magnum shakey head. Tossed it out, let it drop vertically, and began working it back to the boat. A few hops in and I caught the best fish of the day. It wasn't huge, but it was a decent fish.
I texted my wife, exclaiming that this lake was a cake walk. It was about time I fished a lake that wasn't pounded to death and would give up an easy day! 

The sun came up about that time and I didn't get another bite for the rest of the day.

In all, I boated five to seven, but I had more hits from small fish than I care to admit to. One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of smallies in that lake! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SEC Week 4 Picks

The Auburn Realist: Overview
Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Check out my Fish of 2014
Follow my Fish of 2015


Well, this weekend certainly didn't go as I had hope. Sure, I was 5-5 in handicapping but I consider that lucky considering just how random the games seemed to go. There were some good picks and some bad ones. The Vandy vs Georgia Tech pick, for example. Started out 0-2 on that one. Ouch. The good news is, I am still 18-16 for the year, which is 53%. That's exactly where I was after week one. Tons of great games this week! 

Florida at Tennessee
This game has been circled for a long, long time for UT. So much so that they really haven't bothered to show up to play, other than the second half of the Bristol Bowl. 

Florida is quietly slipping into Rocky Top 3-0, having played no one of note. They've allowed just 14 points this year and shut out North Texas this past Saturday. 

UT has been fortunate enough that the great experiment in letting Dobbs progress as a passer when he is clearly a runner hasn't hurt the Vols. Forcing the issue against Florida is a recipe for disaster. I do believe that UT will play its best game of the season, thus far. However, they are prone to penalties and mistakes. Let's be honest, though. Betting against the Vols has worked out well for most of the sharps. Florida will be relying on a backup QB. With a 7.5 line and a 43.5 over/under, I am going to call for Florida to cover that spread in a tight, tight game and I will take the under

LSU at Auburn
Trying to understand either of these teams is folly. Why bet on teams that don't know what they are doing? I don't know. But, there are some things we do know: Auburn has kept the under in both of its games against good competition. Of course, that's partly because the offense has been so absolutely terrible while the defense has looked fantastic. 

LSU is currently a 3.5 point favorite and that line just seems silly considering what Fournette did to Auburn last year and what the LSU team is capable of doing to anyone on a good day. The Auburn offense just looks sad. 

This could be Gus' last game at Auburn and that does provide some sort of reasoning to think Auburn could win this game. But I don't buy it. Take LSU. The over/under is 46.5. Both of these defenses are very, very good. Therefore, I will take the under

Arkansas at Texas A&M
I wasn't terribly impressed with Texas A&M Saturday night at Auburn. That doesn't mean that the Aggie defensive ends weren't impressive, because they were. However, the clinic that was put on display wasn't about TAMU's defense as much as Herb Hand and Gus Malzahn simply being unprepared and unwilling to coach against the Aggie front. Time and time again they tried to pull on offensive lineman and it didn't work. On the flip side, Auburn consistently moved the ball in the heart of the Aggie defense. 

Guess what, that's exactly what Brett Bielema and Co are going to do. They will find success, but what will they do if and when they get down? This is the one team in the SEC West that the Hogs have yet to beat. 

TAMU is a six point favorite at home. This game has gone to OT in the past two years. I'd take the over and Texas A&M to cover

Georgia at Ole Miss
There isn't a team in America that has done what Ole Miss has done: give up huge first half leads. UGA has given up at least 24 points in every game this year. Ole Miss will score and won't let up in the second half. Take Ole Miss to cover the 7 and the over on the 60 point line. 




Monday, September 19, 2016

Squirrel Hunting 9/18/16

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!


Read about all of my Hunting Adventures!




So, I am sitting around yesterday afternoon stewing about my fishing tournament from the day before. I was watching the NFL and I had a ton of fantasy players getting me points. But, at the end of the first session of games, Griffin came up and said "dad, when are we going squirrel hunting again?"

Well, that was a good question. I hadn't really thought about squirrel hunting in some time, though it is one of my favorite fall pastimes. It is action packed and, if you hunt like me, great exercise. 

I did some quick research on my phone and, sure enough, it was squirrel season! 

I told him that we would go, if he would clean his room. Truth is, we were going anyway. I just wanted to get free work out of the deal!
He did his chores and we loaded up the old Ruger 10/22

Now, if you haven't read any of my squirrel hunting stories, you may not know that I hunt a little differently than many people. Instead of sitting and waiting, I take a more proactive approach. I will cover a lot of land and pursue any squirrels I see and hear. I want to get them treed and then pick them off. This Ruger of mine, which you can read about in the link posted above, is ridiculously accurate. 

We started out listening at watching. 

Within the first 50 yards, we had at least one squirrel near us. We could see it hopping back and forth between trees. Now, the challenge this time of year is, there is a lot of foliage and it is almost impossible to hunt them if they are in the top half of the tree. The leaves obstruct everything. 

This squirrel was able to move around without giving himself away and eventually we gave up on him. 

Another 100 yards and we came upon a hot area. This area always seems to hold a lot of them. Mostly this is because of the abundance of forage. There are beechnuts and acorns aplenty. 

There were two squirrels that were active and they were running back and forth so fast that it was nearly impossible to keep up with them. Luckily, they would bark at one another. 

One was on the ground and gave me a shot. Typically I don't like ground shots.This one was long and I had doubts that the squirrel would stay still. But he did and I squeezed a shot. 

I had virtually no hope that I hit it, but I didn't hear or see the squirrel move. 

Seconds later, the second squirrel appeared from a branch just above where the other had been and began barking. Pop! He held for a second before falling from about 20 feet. 

Sure enough, we had hit the first one and scored ourselves two! 

That being said, we had to get rid of both of them because they had "wolves," which are a hot weather parasite. I'd post a picture, but yall may not ever read any more of my posts! It took forever to explain what wolves and parasites were and how it wasn't actually the canine, nor would a grey wolf appear any time soon.  

We didn't hunt for too long because it was very humid and Griffin was getting tired from hauling his Daisy.  

Needless to say, it isn't quite time to keep them. Soon as we have a few frosts, though, it will be time for squirrel d'oeuvres! 

Fishing Report for Guntersville 9/15-17/2016

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Check out my Fish of 2014
Follow my Fish of 2015

Our last regular regular tournament of the year was set months ago for the 17th on Guntersville. I think everyone knows my feelings about the G. Life threw us a little curveball, though. See, we moved the Calcutta side pot from 5 to 6 pounds this year and it rolled every tournament. That mean that $10 from every boat and for every tournament. Next thing you know, there is $1500 dollars on the line and whoever wins the big fish from this last tournament takes home the pot.

Kinda have to fish it at that point. 

So, we decided that we would put our best effort into finding something and if it took three days to find it, then so be it. 

Keep in mind that we both work full time at other jobs and have five kids between us. For us to devote that many days to one lake is saying something. I haven't spent that many days prefishing any other lake. While we haven't won any big tournaments (we don't fish big ones), we have done consistently better each year. Why? Because we prefish and we learn. 

Guntersville has been the exception. I haven't learned anything on the G from prefishing on the last three years. Additionally, I haven't won a tournament on that lake in about the same amount of time. 

Prefishing really started three weeks ago on Labor Day. Brad and I fished all day, focusing on Roseberry creek. Fishing the traditional techniques and patterns resulted in three hits and zero fish. Those three hits, all on frogs, were weak and all were about six inches or more behind the bait. We flipped a good bit as well, nothing. 

This past Thursday, I decided that I would try and get out of mid-lake. I put in at Mud Creek and found a ton of bait and active fish on grasslines. Other than one solid blowup on a frog, I had no action. I then worked every creek from Mud to Crow, starting on the outside of the creek and fishing to the back. Grass was topped out and some of the creeks even had good looking grass with popping bait fish. Other than gar, I had no hits. 

Around 11AM, I sat down and tried to use my brain a little bit, painful as that may be. I had covered enough water to have all the confidence that they were not biting in the creeks. Where could they be?

That was about the time I caught my first fish of the day. I was throwing a Lucky Craft Sammy and while I was surveying the small creek I had stopped to fish, a bass blew up on the sammy. My reaction was slow and I missed the fish. On a return cast, I hooked up. 

It was one fish, but it gave me a ton of data. See, I hadn't had any second chance hits yet. First strikes were few as it were. And, it came on the OUTSIDE of the creek next to the main river channel.

Ok. So, they are on the main river channel. That's a lot of acreage. How could I narrow it down? I knew of some rip rap banks. 

Pulling up on the first rip rap bank I could find and I immediately saw active fish. I caught one on a Sammy and missed a nice fish on the very next cast. 

I went to throwing a swim jig with a PTL Swinging Hammer swimbait. In a span of about six casts, I had caught four more fish. They weren't big, but it was the start. In all, I caught eight fish. Two on a Sammy and six on the swim jig. 


So, I left them and headed to another stretch. The next three stretches produced fish. Confident in that, I headed home.





Brad and I headed back out 12 hours later, this time we wanted to see if the pattern would work in the mid-lake area or if it was location-centric type of pattern.

We fished hard all day, but our lone fish came on...you guessed it....ledges with a swim jig.

At that point, we knew the fishing had been tough for everyone, yet we were on a pattern and location that not many, if any, fishermen would use. Was it something that would get us that Calcutta fish? Probably not. But, could it get us a win if it only took 10 - 12 pounds? Yes. We thought so.

Saturday morning we blasted off at Scottsboro City Park and made the 17 minute ride upriver.

The day started just as we would have liked. We had two keepers on the first pass down the rip rap. We caught a third and fourth fish, both short, on the second pass. A third pass resulted in a single short fish. A fourth pass resulted in nothing.

Weird.

We checked the current on the TVA app. Zero. And I don't mean less than 10,000 CFS. I mean ZERO. That's killer.

We decided to wait it out, hoping that the sun would come up and TVA would kick the turbines on. But, cloud cover, low 80s, and rain worked against us.

We had to punt on the pattern even after we had said we wouldn't. Turned out, it didn't matter. We had no more bites for the rest of the day, save for some hungry gar.

So, the results? We had 20 boats fish. there were four limits weighed in. Winning bag was 15 pounds. Second was 11.92 and third was 11.56. The $1,500 fish? A 5.09 pounder. Fully half the field didn't weigh a fish.

I posted up my frustrations on the local Guntersville Fishing Page. Most fishermen are in the same boat as Brad and I. The fishing is erratic at best and, at worst, impossible. There are random fishermen who tell us we don't' know what we are doing and the fishing is fine. Hey, that's certainly possible. But, consider this: go look at the guides. Most of them aren't posting anything. Some that are have been, well, called into question for reusing old pictures from yesteryear.

I'll get over it. We will be fishing this coming weekend in the NASA club classic, location TBD. I hope it isn't the G. I might just have to pass if it is.


Trolling Motor Maintenance and Upgrades

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Check out my Fish of 2014
Follow my Fish of 2015

While I was building a custom divider for my passenger side storage box, I figured it was time to make some upgrades at the front of the boat. After all, it is froggin' and flippin' season, which is brutal on your trolling motor. 

It is imperative this time of year to make sure that your trolling motor is in tip-top condition. Thing is, it extender beyond battery care, though that is obviously the most important aspect of trolling motor care. 

My trolling motor was already in need of some help. It was very squeaky and jumpy thanks to a deteriorated rubber mat under it as well as loose bolts. It was also very jumpy when first engaged. All of these things are noticed by the most important thing: the fish.

So, I ordered some parts, but while I was waiting for the parts, I went ahead and did the prep work and then some.

First things first, I pulled the prop off. I did this first because it would be harder to leverage with everything loosened up. So, I pulled it off. Guess what? A mound of old line was wrapped around the shaft. It is an easy fix for something that really hurts efficiency. 

Next thing I did was sharpen the blade. Sure, it seems funny considering it's plastic, but consider how much better a prop works on your big motor when it isn't dinged up. Now, think about that in context to cutting through grass. This was extremely easy to accomplish with a vice and file. I was able to work out all the dings. 



I removed the old padding by removing all but one of the tie down bolts. Complete removal is unnecessary and actually quite a headache. I made sure to clean the mating surfaces in preparation to sticking down a T-H Marine Silencer Pad

I also added a BoatBuckle trolling motor tiedown strap to keep the motor in place on those rough days. 

I added a T-H Marine G-Force Eliminator prop nut to keep things quiet. 

Lastly, to keep that grass off the motor shaft, I added a Ninja Grass Blade. This is secured to the side of your motor with epoxy and cuts that grass so it doesn't wrap around the shaft causing unnecessary cleaning.  

Reassembly was easy and I made sure to tighten everything down accordingly. I spent three straight days on Guntersville and I can't tell you how happy I am with the products! 


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How to Build a Divider System for Your Bullet

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Check out my Fish of 2014
Follow my Fish of 2015

If you own a Bullet, you are typically a happy guy. The boats perform as well or better than any hull out there. But, it comes with a price. Bullets simply don't have the ergonomics or amenities that most manufacturers offer. This is no more evident than when looking into the forward storage compartments. My 2003 20XD didn't come with a rod or tackle storage system. All the compartment's are cavernous, but not separated. So, unless you like your stuff sliding around, you have to be creative. 

In my case, I broke down and built a Custom Lighted Rod Locker Setup for the center section, which you can read about in the link. As time went on, I got tired of all my tackles boxes sliding around and getting mixed up. So, this week I decided to fix that. Currently I have all my hard baits and terminal tackle on the passenger side and the plastics on the driver side. Why? Well, for the reasons mentioned. Things just slide around and it became a hassle to wade through everything, so I seperated it. The issue became uneven weight when riding alone. Yes, I know that sounds stupid to most of you, but not to Bullet owners. The passenger side was typically 200 pounds lighter than the driver side which would induce chine walking a lot easier than normal. 

So, I decided to fix it. I wasn't going to go as far as the Lazy Susan contraption that Phoenix uses, but I knew I wanted to standardize my tackle box size, which would allow me to build a rack to secure them. 

First things first, there was a sale on Plano boxes. I like the smaller ones because I frequently fish out of other boats and need them to fit in my backpack. After buying them, I used some spare wood (leftover from replacement parts for our bed) to mock it all up.

The idea was to book end the leftmost area to secure the tackle boxes. I wanted the weight as far back as possible to make it easier to stay on plane. Additionally, I wanted to block off the unusable portion of the compartment to limit anything from sliding forward and getting lost. 



Of course, Bullet owners know that the bottom of the hull has complex curvature. These precut boards are rectangular. No problem. Using some cardboard to copy the gaps between the hull and the board, I traced the shape of the cardboard onto the wood and used a jigsaw to cut out the shape. 

Next, I carpeted each individual section. I learned a lesson on the leftmost divider, however. I started the carpeting pattern on the wrong edge, which is the one facing up. This cased the seam to be on the visible side rather than the bottom. Not only does this create a visual booboo, but it also hampers flush mounting on the bottom. I was out of carpet and unable to redo it. But, considering I am the only person to see it, I wasn't too worried. I did fix this on the remainder of the pieces. 

Though I haven't done it yet. the right most crosspiece will be a bait hanger. I just have to find the right pieces of hardware. In addition, I would recommend a second light in the box because the dividers will kill most of the light to the left and right sections. Each piece was screwed together after insertion with the right most divider fastened to the bulkhead via the center compartment  

Here is the finished product.