Monday, April 23, 2018

Fishing Report for Wheeler Lake 4/19-21

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017

If you follow me on Facebook, you likely already know how the Alabama Bass Trail went for me and Josh. Two ABT tournaments, one fish weighed in. Chances at making the Championship are now virtually gone. In case you forgot how the ABT went on Guntersville, here is a recap.

Fishing Report for Guntersville/Alabama Bass Trail

This time, it wasn't our fault. About a mile up river from Triana, my motor came apart. We were able to eventually make our way to Ditto, which we did less for the fishing and more for the ability to catch a ride. After a call to the tournament director, our options were incredibly slim. We couldn't fish out of another boat UNLESS we met him in Decatur. It would take 3 days to troll to Decatur. We could catch a ride back with another competitor, but no one could fish once we set foot in the boat. Of course, the other issue was that really no one we knew was fishing that end of the river. 

Ok, so let's back up to Thursday. We wanted a few more data points before the ABT, so we fished the Thursday night wildcat out of Ditto. We had caught a 6-3 the week before in the Wildcat on the way to a 3rd place finish. You can read about there below:

Fishing Report for Wheeler Lake 4/12/18

We wanted to do some different things, see if we could add on to what we had found already, which was slow rolling small swimbaits down rip rap banks. Since the water was up, we went into Cotaco Creek to flip bushes, but didn't find any fish shallow quite yet. We didn't really weigh in any more fish at weigh in and weights were pretty sad (11 pounds to win?). 

Friday, Josh and I split up and he covered Decatur while I covered First creek. I wanted to check some of my smallie stretches, but found out really quick that they were not biting. I varied my gameplan, fishing the back of pockets by flipping and throwing a wacky rig stick bait, nothing seemed to work. I moved into Spring Creek and fished dirt shallow by flipping bushes, dragging a C-rig, and even checking ledges. Nothing. 

To end the day, I began running shallower bluffs and began catching fish, but virtually none of them measured. All of them were smallies and they came on a red series 3 Strike King crank. 

Josh didn't do any better aside from having a voltage regulator go out, forcing us to take my boat and we see how that worked out.

Over the last few weeks, the pendulum has swung back and forth on what we needed to fish during the ABT. It began with fishing inside Ditto were we were sure we could catch 16 pounds. That bite died and we began to think it would have to be down river, but as of Friday afternoon and catching only around three or so measuring fish between the two boats, we thought we needed to do what we felt comfortable doing: fishing from Ditto to the dam. In the absence of catching anything down river, we would take our chances catching numbers of smaller fish and hope to run in to a big one here and there. We knew there were some to be found. Not only did we catch the 6-3, we had missed some good fish, too. So, the pendulum came all the way back. 

At no point was the plan to fish inside of Ditto all day, which brings us to around 9AM, when we finally wet a line. From 9-10, we caught several fish including two solid keepers and a lot of dinks by fishing between the boat slips with shakey heads. The sun got high and that bite really died. We thought surely the bigger fish, namely the females, would be under the docks so we worked really hard throwing wacky rigs and swimbaits under docks and into slips, but never caught a single fish.

Now is the bad news: even though we didn't have a good limit, we had come to grips with today just being about the points. We had a buddy willing to pick us up when they headed down river. The issue was, they scrapped their game plan and wanted to head down river early, at like 1PM. They had some good fish and if we got in the boat, they couldn't fish any more. We didn't want to do that to them, so we DQ'd ourselves and caught a ride back to Decatur where I got my truck and picked Josh up. 

I didn't go back to weigh in. I didn't check weights. I haven't talked to any one. It's been a tough two days because I am really starting to doubt if I will ever figure out fishing larger tournaments. I had so many people come up to me after the Guntersville tournament and tell me not to worry because we fish Wheeler so often and people were just sure we would do really well. I think I even began to believe that and after seeing how hard prefishing was for us and people I know, I thought, hey, we know what to do here. 

Maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself. I've felt this way before and it was when I joined a bigger club due the success I was having in smaller ones. That first year was down-right brutal and I felt this same way that entire year. The feeling of "what do I have to do?" One thing is for certain, I am working as hard as I can. I can't do much more than I am already doing, though better decisions at the Guntersville tournament and better luck this past one sure would have helped.

I guess this is just more of "paying the dues." I guess I can except that. I'm certainly paying the dues in terms of dollars. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fishing Report for Pickwick 4/13 and 4/15

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017

So Josh and I ended Thursday evening on a really solid note as I weighed in my second biggest fish of the year with a 6.30 for the Ditto Thursday night wildcat. You can read about the results by clicking the link below.

But, the fishing for the week wasn't over, not by a long shot. Our club was fishing Pickwick this weekend and while the tournament was moved from Saturday to Sunday, Friday was the only time we could try and get on some fish. Brad and I hit first light to see what we could find. 

I was so busy last week that I forgot to write the report for our other club tournament on Pickwick on 4/6. It wasn't a great day. I fished with my buddy Naaman and we simply could not find any sizable fish, despite all the inclinations that huge bags were being caught. If you read Lou's Pickwick Fishing Reports or any of the various guide reports from Pickwick, you know big fish were coming to the scales. Most had said the Horseshoe was the deal, but I really didn't want to mess with fishing alongside 40 other boats. The 'Shoe is worse than any ledge on Guntersville in terms of walking across the lake and never getting wet. 

Look, don't misunderstand. I KNEW the big bags were being caught there and I had no problems grinding it out. I've done it before. I just don't LIKE it because you are likely to only get five bites a day and while they are usually GREAT bites, if you only get four, then the entire day was wasted, anyway. So, Naaman and I didn't even bother fishing there and we did get on a great bite down river, in terms of numbers. While it was less than a stellar day, it was still enough to cash a check for second place despite not catching a single female. The pattern was fishing current inside of Seven Mile Island with either a chatterbait or a spinnerbait. It didn't seem to matter which one. We left them biting. Not great, but it was a data point and it was something that COULD be really good IF weather cooperated. And, there were some warm days on the horizon.  

Brad had fished the weekend before and the results were less than optimal. He had fished all over and the 'Shoe was the only place he got bit, and they were good fish. So, we needed to ferret out a game plan. We agreed that if the females DID come up, the tournament COULD be won down stream, which was preferable to both of us. So, we didn't fish inside the Horseshoe all day Friday. 

And, truthfully, we didn't get bit either. At the end of the day, we did put together a small limit fishing a small swimbait along bluffs. We didn't find any females. So, we had to make a choice and that meant factoring in that water levels were going to fluctuate due to 23 hours of rain and the weather was going to be really cold following two days of a warming trend. 

Eventually, we settled on fishing the Horseshoe all day without any discussion of leaving it. We felt like, with the weather, water temps and levels, and current, smallmouth were going to be the deal and any largemouth that had pulled up would be pushed back down. 

We launched and made the short run. On my very first cast, a smallie loaded up on the PowerTeam Lures 4.8" Swinging Hammer and I boated a solid three pounder. Brad followed with his Scottsboro tackle swimbait just two minutes later with an identical sized smallie. I followed that with a nice Warmouth. Two fish for around six pounds just five minutes into the day AND the 'Shoe wasn't packed.

And that all changed, real quick. See, the college series is on Pickwick next Saturday and there were a LOT of guys prefishing. And while these guys are LIGHTYEARS better than I was at that age, they haven't quite learned some of the intricacies of sportsmanship on the water. Before we knew it, we had two boats sitting on the rock pile that were fishing. The rest of the crowd filtered in and so began the day of trying to to cast on to other's boats or cross their lines as we aimlessly wondered around trying to find the fish.

We went several hours without a bite and when the sun tried to peak out, we went to the rip-rap inside the 'Shoe and Brad picked up the A-Rig while I threw a shakey head with a PTL 7" Finicky Tickler on it behind him. Just a few casts in, a fish popped the worm and we boated a nice three pound or so largemouth. Brad caught a non-measuring largemouth soon after. The sun disappeared and so did that bite. 

The klaxon sounded and flood gates began to open on Wilson dam. Then, the fish began to really bite, just not for us. Now, obviously I can't watch every boat all the time, and it is possible that several boats caught big bags, but I never saw the same boat catch more than two. However, the action was palpable, we just couldn't seem to find the same bite every one else was finding, which included two fish that I am very comfortable were well over six. Many, ff not the majority, of the boats in there were live-baiting. 

But eventually the work paid off and what I was SURE was a catfish or a drum ended up being a magnum smallie that took several heart attack level jumps and one run towards the motor before we got her in the box. 

We knew we had four really good fish. Now we needed one more bite. We fished for three straight hours without a single bite before it was time to weigh in. Could we have found a squeaker? Absolutely. I could have caught a second limit on the bluffs down river, but what good would that do? We have changed philosophies this year. While we have done well the last few years, it has been "limit first, quality second." But that typically only brings heartache. After all, no one remembers who just had a limit, right? 

With the quality of fish we had seen caught and we had caught ourselves, we knew someone was going to sack them up, if not most everyone. Sure enough, it was 20 pounds for a win, followed by 19, and then us with 15 pounds in four fish which included a five-pounder that was AMAZINGLY the big fish of the day. So, while we could have found a fifth fish, we needed another five pounder to win. While I KNOW we did the right thing by fishing hard and staying where the big fish were, it's tough to accept that sometimes luck isn't on your side.

And I say that knowing that the two boats that beat us didn't just have luck. They were on fish and we know what they were doing and it was very specific. We just had a general plan that wasn't really backed by any evidence, more of a lack of, which is the difference in that last fish. We needed luck and they didn't. 

Anyways, it was still a solid day and to see and catch those big fish is always awesome, even if the weather isn't. For those interested, most of the smallies have spawned. Water temp was 60. Numbers are tough. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler Lake 4/12/18

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017

It's been a whirlwind the last few days, and I don't mean just the 25 MPH wind that's been churning. This year continues to be jam-packed with fishing for me and the guys and it makes me really appreciate the pros and the guides for doing this 300 days or more per year. 

Of course, they are GOOD at this sport and that certainly helps them stay motivated. I guess I am on the other end of the spectrum, but it ALSO keeps me pretty motivated. While I am not guiding, nor really fishing any big-money tournaments, I AM fishing a lot and we've had a fair amount of success, despite tournament days being fairly rough. 

I've been telling people that the best way to prepare for a big tournament is obviously more days on the water, but one of the more understated ways of gathering information is to fish wildcats or club tournaments on the same body of water in the weeks preceding your big tournament. So, the with second stop of the Alabama Bass Trail looming, we've been fishing the Ditto Wildcat on Thursday nights. You can read about our first tournament by clicking the link below.

So based upon our experiences the week before, we decided that we wouldn't fish history, although that's nearly impossible for a stretch of river that offers so few holes that hold fish consistently. Case in point was the area that had been so good to Josh in the weeks before that had shut down that week, but we still fished it for almost half of the 3.5 hour tournament to only produce one fish. It was basically agreed that we spend all last week up river of Ditto, so we would go down river this week. 

We decided to fish hard and fish fast and not stop unless something really grabbed our attention. That took burning a lot of water, and I mean A LOT. We didn't get bit in the first two or three spots we fished. 

We were throwing the typical mixture of Ditto-type baits: shakey heads, jigs, and cranks. But it was the PowerTeam Lures 4.8" Swinging Hammer swimbait that suddenly started catching fish. We were paralleling chunk rock when the Lowerance started marking bait and suspended fish. That's when we got bit. We'd catch three or four fish, all of them either 12 inch spots or 15 inch largemouth and many of them short fish that we had to throw back. Then we would go through a dead area. There wasn't anything that we could tell that separated the areas. No channel swings or changes in banks. Just bait. 

It became obvious that the bait was key but we weren't catching the bigger arches that were suspended. We were catching the buck bass. We couldn't get the females to bite. We zoomed down around a mile of bank and culled a few times but simply could not find a big upgrade. In all, we caught around 15-20 fish on swimbaits and crankbaits but we left them biting due to the lack of quality. We also never fished the same stretch twice. 

We returned to Ditto about 15 minutes before weigh in and began fishing docks. Obviously docks can be a factor. Josh has success and I have been with him when he's caught fish. But I can't. It isn't that I can't flip docks or anything, I just don't have the luck. Much of that is likely because I am on the back of the boat and the angle is all wrong.

So when Josh caught a solid upgrade while flipping a dock, I wasn't surprised, even though I was aimlessly casting my swimbait. That isn't to say I wasn't hitting specific spots or trying, because I was. I just had no faith that I would catch anything that mattered.

Boy, was I wrong.

I was throwing into the "T" section of one of the docks when the swimbait just stopped. Like I had hung one of the cables or a brush pile. I was throwing this on a Denali Lithium x-heavy rod with 50 pound braid and this fish just stopped me in my tracks. 

I had a great hookset and Josh netted what we knew was a beast for a Ditto fish and I didn't really think about it when I put it in the box and tossed out the squeaker that was our fifth fish. Good fish. Maybe a money fish. Maybe five pounds.

So imagine my surprise when, five minutes later, the scales said 6.30. 

With the four other little fish, we had enough for 3rd place, but I did get big fish which paid well enough for us to eat some Burger King. Heck of a fish! Sadly, still not enough information on Wheeler to convince me to stay up there. We will give it another try on Thursday! 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Fishing Report for Ditto/Wheeler 4/5/18

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017

The Thursday night wildcat was supposed to start up last week but it was canceled due to rain and I was at the beach, so it worked out well. Josh had been on some really good fish and I was super excited about getting started fishing Thursday nights again as well as preparing for the second stop of the Alabama Bass Trail. 

After such a fast start to the year in fishing tournaments, things have cooled off dramatically. Really, though, only the Guntersville ABT was a bad tournament. The last two tournaments were on Wilson and we caught plenty of fish, just no BIG fish. Turned out that BIG fish were needed. You can read about our last tournament on Wilson by clicking the link below.

Ok, so Josh had been out while I was on vacation and had sacked up around 16 pounds pretty easy and he did it without any 5-plus fish. He went out again days later and struggled, but still caught fish where he had caught fish before. I went out Wednesday with my wife and dog, Nova, and I really couldn't catching anything other than a migraine.  I should have looked at the weather and said "Nope." 

Truth be told, with the high pressure, post frontal, and not a lick of current, we shouldn't have bothered. Anytime there are high skies and high pressure, I get a migraine and I don't know if its from just the weather or because the fishing. 

So, I began to temper my expectations of fishing last night knowing that my and Josh's last trip hadn't been very good and the weather still wasn't conducive to good fishing, nor was the current looking very good. Really need at least 30K CFS to trigger a good bite. 

But, at blast-off, we made our move to where Josh had been having success and on the first cast he boated a nice spot. We both thought "here we go." Last time he did that, he said it was every cast. 

But it wasn't. In fact, we didn't get another bite. So, we moved into little river and began drifting down rip rap banks in front of Whitesburg and still couldn't get bit other than a catfish that I tail hooked with a Strike King 6XD. While fishing trash on the bottom with a jig, I did set the hook on a fish and fought it to the boat. It was a magnum spot and exactly the kind of fish we were looking for. But as soon as the net went into the water, it spit the jig out. My guess is that I never set the hook into the fish and it was just pissed off enough to fight me. Truth is, it hit under the boat, essentially, where I had dropshotted it after marking a group of fish on downscan. The fish had run in a way that I never really popped it. That was really disheartening because it was such a good quality fish. I am guessing 3.5 pounds.

We pulled up to Butler and doubled up on fish. Mine came on a jerkbait and didn't measure, but Josh's fish did. That put us at two and a long way from where we needed to be. We also noticed that there was no current in little river, which meant there was REALLY no current on the main river. I never verified with the TVA app, but I bet they put the breaks on. On the other hand, the water level was also dropping. Both were very, very bad for fishing.

We moved into Butler and Josh missed two 4-pound fish on essentially back to back casts. We saw both of the fish.

We didn't get another bite for the rest of the evening. 

As we put the boat on the trailer a few minutes early, we saw that virtually every one else had already done so. Weigh in went about as expected. My friend Jeremy and his father won with a 14 pound limit that included a solid five point largemouth. Second and third were around 11 and 10 pounds and included smallmouth that I assume came from the dam, though Josh did catch one non-measuring smallie down river. 

It doesn't take a math genius to see what missing 11 pounds of fish did to us. My wife made the comment that everyone misses giants and no one misses dinks. For the most part, she's right. But I don't exaggerate much and while I don't think we would have had 14 pounds, we would have had enough for second for sure. 

After months of fishing super clean, we had that one tournament where bites were at an absolute premium and we didn't get it done. The good news is, there's always next week! 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Fishing Report for Wilson 3/24/18

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017

Sorry it has taken me over a week to get this together, but I've been out of town. Truth is, I needed a week off of fishing. Following the ABT on Guntersville, I was hoping to get on Wilson for two straight weeks and make some hay. The first trip wasn't great. We had caught around 14 pounds in practice, but we had done that without catching a single big fish, now had we fished the dam. 

Then, on tournament day, a dead trolling motor kept us from fishing the dam at all, which was an integral part of our plan. Still, we managed 14 pounds but 3rd place didn't pay because we didn't have enough boats. You can read the whole report below.

Fishing Report for Wilson 3/17/18

Back on Wilson the very next week and I thought it should be a fairly easy tournament for us. My plan had been to hit my down river spots and get a good limit of around 14 pounds, then go for the big ones. However, a call was made by our tournament director to move to Safety Harbor due to wind in the forecast. Honestly, I didn't think the wind was going to be a big deal, but it was his call. It hurt our game plan a good bit because it basically forced us to fish the dam first.

So, we did that and didn't get a bite for two hours. We knew that the dam MAY be a factor late, but we needed to get a limit. 

We ran down river to the north bank, but the south wind made it hard to really fish thoroughly and I found out pretty quick that the fish didn't want moving baits. That wasn't a surprise, other than the occasional jerk bait bite the week before, we had caught everything on shakey heads and jigs, anyway. 

Continuing to try and fish points on the north bank, the wind pushed us into the creeks. However, we started getting bit on the jig. It was slow at first until we really zoned in what stretches they liked. Then we started loading the boat. For the rest of the day, we fished the first 50 yards of the creeks and caught fish after fish. The issue was that they were all two pound largemouth. We culled time after time, but it was by half or quarter ounces. 

We had to make a choice at this point: Do we hope to run into big one or do we scrap catching these fish all together and find something new? We decided that we would keep catching numbers until there was about an hour left. As predicted, the numbers remained and we simply could not get bigger fish to bite. 

With an hour left and after talking to some guys who said the dam wasn't producing, we decided to do what I felt comfortable with: cranking bluffs. 

This technique is a tough one to gauge because several things can happen. You can not get bit for whole stretches, forcing you to cover water. Even then, you might find one every 100 yards or you might find a pile. You have to know when to cut bait and give up, when to hammer down on the trolling motor, or when to break out the jig. An hour isn't enough to do anything other than luck into a 5-pounder. But we both felt like one would get us in the money and two might win. We had around 10 or 11 pounds at the time. 

So, we put the Minn Kota on high and I broke out my AKRods cranking stick and a deep diving crank. First stretch, nothing. That's not a surprise. 

Second stretch, rod loaded up. Boat swang a nice upgrade of around a pound. Dropped it in the livewell, next cast, BOOM. Another pound upgrade. 

And we were out of time. 

I really felt like an extra hour would have given us the chance to really do something, but weigh-in had been voted for 2PM with a 630 start, which I wasn't a fan of, but that's the way it goes.

We ended up at third place with second taking a similar bag but featured a six pound smallie that boosted the weight to 18. The winning sack was 22 pounds. I couldn't tell you where and how that happened, although I can say that those two bags had smallies and we had none, leading me to believe that the fish were biting at the dam, we just didn't wait them out. 

In the end, we caught a TON of keepers, just never ran into any big fish. Our bag didn't have a fish bigger than three pounds. We caught 75% on a jig with our nicer fish on a jerkbait and the next two on a crank. 

Back at it this Thursday! 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Fishing Report for Wilson 3/17/18

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017

I didn't have time last week to tell yall how our prefishing went on Wilson leading up to our club tournament. Brad and I were able to get out Wednesday and do some fishing. I was really excited to get on the water following the fiasco that was the Alabama Bass Trail on Guntersville. Wilson has traditionally been good for Brad and I, although we kinda hit a slump last year. Even this isn't really true. We fished back-to-back tournaments last year. The first tournament, we struck out and the second we whacked them for wins. I'll put the links to this below:

Fishing Report for Wilson 3/31/17

Anyway, the flow was really high, hovering around 100K CFS which is too much for Brad's 24V trolling motor. So we started hitting some down river stuff. It hasn't worked out for us the last two years, but if the conditions are right, down river points and pockets can be lights out for magnum smallies. Some of our biggest bags have come from 'rigging bluffs, points, and pockets but, for whatever reason, it hasn't been on. I THINK its just due to the spawn. If you don't have water in the 60s and a full moon, they won't get up there. We haven't had that, but we needed to check, anyway. 

We quickly got on a decent bite with jigs. It wasn't big numbers, but every pocket and point was holding one fish around three pounds. We didn't lean on them, we just caught one and moved on. After the jig was proven as a decent bait, I began throwing a jerkbait. This began to work as well. It was kind of the same deal, pull up on a point or pocket, make five casts, catch the active fish, move on. 

By the end of the day, we had a five that went 14 or 15 pounds. Brad had a lot of luck on the jig and I caught the majority of my fish on the jerkbait including this really nice smallie, which was an absolute riot to catch. 

I also caught this crazy looking largemouth with all the spots.

I swore this year that I would make the jerkbait work for me and thus far, I have earned a lot of respect for it. It's becoming a go-to.

Alright, so our game plan for tournament day was to hit points and pockets down river really early and then to spend from 9AM to weigh in at the dam. I figured we would have a limit of around 14 pounds really quick and could cull up at the dam. All we would need was two big bites and we would be in contention. To fight the current, we decided to take my boat. So, Friday, I pulled Big Booty Judy (which is for sale right now, BTW) and ran the motor, cleaned the livewells, blah blah blah.

Saturday morning, dump her in the drink, drop the trolling motor....nothing.

At first I thought it was batteries, but it didn't act like it. I messed with it as Brad was walking down from the parking lot and I just broke into a sweat on how I as gonna broach this subject. I just went for the kill and laid it out. He took it about like I thought, which really wasn't that bad. I mean, I didn't get cussed out. 

Of course, we had about five minutes to decide whether to brave it or put it on the trailer. It was going to be windy. It likely shot our entire gameplan. But, I had faith I could make it work down river, just not at the dam. 

We ran down river and fished our first point. It resulted in one non-keeper and one solid chunk on a red series three Strike King. Brad didn't get bit, which didn't help his mood. Being able to fish meant playing the wind and current and it meant either getting three casts before firing the big motor up OR it meant fishing a lot of water we didn't have confidence in.

After failing to get bit again, which was shocking considering the solid jig bite we had just days before, we ran to the point I caught the big smallie on. Now, keep in mind that I caught this fish and no other fish. But, for some reason, I believed I could get bit. Sure enough, another solid largemouth pounded the jerkbait. So we had two fish for around 5 or 6 pounds. Not a great start, considering it was 9AM at this point. We sat down and thought things over. We decided to run to the dam and give it a try. I thought I could get the nose down river with the boat in the eddy and make drifts. Of course, as I rounded the barge canal and headed to the generators, there were easily 20 boats fan casting. 

I eventually navigated them and we began trying to make a drift. The issue now was that a north wind would push us out of the current. It meant fishing the same stretch over and over, and they clearly weren't biting there. After an hour, we gave up and ran back down river with a new game plan.

We were going to fish everything super fast and super efficient. Pull up on a point, make three casts, and move. About this time the sun came out, so the Rig came out for Brad. 

Every third point, we found an active fish. After going all morning without a single bite, Brad got the Rig going and filled our limit when we doubled up. He caught a nice largemouth and I boated a decent smallie on the jerkbait. 

We added small culls on every other point, but couldn't get that big cull. 

At 1PM, I decided that we would go back to where I had caught all of our big fish. That would be the big smallie on Wednesday and the largemouth early that morning. I continued to work the jerkbait as Brad chunked the A-rig. 

The rod loaded up for Brad and we boated a five pounder. What a fish! We ran to weigh in a little early due to the chop on the water and we made a few casts around the rock dike in front of Turtle Point. Brad caught yet another fish that actually increased our sack.

It wasn't enough for first, which was a gorgeous bag of 24 pounds. All smallies. Second place was 18 pounds, thanks to two big fish. We came in third with over 14 pounds. Any other time, I would be a little deflated, but considering we did it without a trolling motor, it's hard to be upset! 

In all, we caught around 10 fish. All of them came on points. Half were on the Rig and half on the jerkbait. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Fishing Report for Guntersville/Alabama Bass Trail

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2017

The only thing more embarrassing than writing this fishing report was walking across the scales Saturday afternoon during the Alabama Bass Trail tournament weigh in at Guntersville State Park with one fish. 

It's not the most embarrassing moment I've ever had, but it's dang close. It was a nightmare, but not just A nightmare but THE nightmare where you realize while sitting at your desk in school that you DO have a final today AND your naked. And while you're at it, add in any of your typical reoccurring nightmares. For me, that's a combination of things to include alien invasions, being disowned by my family, and falling off a building. 

But you didn't come here to read about my symbolism. You came here for one of a few reasons: to laugh, to get educated, or both. So, let's get to it.

We fished Guntersville a total of three times following the cancellation of the first event on Pickwick. I can't speak for Josh, but at no point did I think we could get a check. Best case, I was hoping for a limit of fish to weigh about 18 pounds, which could get at least an appreciable amount of points. 

The first day was the day we were supposed to fish Pickwick. As you may recall, we didn't weigh in a limit, but we did find a 9 pounder and we lost enough fish to make a solid bag. It's the same spot we've caught a couple of sixes and fives as well one over eight that we lost. The water temp was 58 degrees that day and the level was near full pool.

We fished the Saturday before the ABT. It wasn't a good day, but we did find a point in South Sauty that was holding a few decent fish, including one five pounder I did catch. Later in the afternoon, we came upon a shell bed that was absolutely loaded with buck bass. We caught and caught and caught. While we didn't catch a measuring fish, we thought, hey....if the first wave of females comes shallow, this is going to be a spot we can win a tournament on. 

Last day of prefishing was this passed Friday. We had to be in Guntersville for the pretournament meeting, so we decided to fish all day. But, we decided that we would NOT fish our bigger fish spot in Roseberry, nor go look at the spot in South Sauty. We would try and find new spots to visit throughout the day. After all, the spot in Roseberry had NEVER had five fish in it. At most, we've caught three measuring fish, but they've always been big fish. Add in that we were boat 7 of 225 and we had a really good chance of being the first ones in there to catch them. 

After struggling most of the day, we rechecked the spot that was holding buck bass. It still had a load of bucks and no measuring fish. These fish were eating square bills and lizards. We noticed that the water was really, really low. This is important for later. 

We moved towards the main channel and found a hump that produced three measuring fish on three consecutive casts. Two of these were just three pounders with one that I caught on a square bill being a solid four pounder. We quickly left this spot after marking it. 

To end the day, we fished some creek channel swings in Seibold, which resulted in shaking off a few solid fish. This would be our Alamo: the spot to visit when all else failed. 

Fast forward to Saturday morning. Here's the gameplan: run to Roseberry and fish until noon, no exceptions. At 11 AM, we would fish an extra hour for every fish caught. After that, we would cycle through our other spots, as they wouldn't take long to fish.

We were the first tournament boat in Roseberry, although there were several other boats fishing. Still, we were able to fish exactly how we wanted to fish. Things got sideways in a hurry. Truly, the worst thing that could have happened was exactly what happened: I caught a nice chunk within the first five minutes of fishing on a lizard. This gave us a very bad sense of security because everything else should have told us to scrap our plan. For example, the lake was very, very low with the important grass lines and ditches that we needed to fish were out of water or the fish had displaced. Additionally, water temps were 52-53 degrees, a lot lower than they had been in prefishing.

We doggedly stuck with this plan as other boats came and quickly turned around and left. Before we knew it, it was 11AM and we hadn't caught another measuring fish. Eventually, we decided to leave and start running our other spots. We ran into South Sauty and that's about the time we realized we had torpedoed our entire day. Upon idling up to the point, we noticed just how low the water was. The three foot thick grassline we had caught fish in was now breaking the surface. We pushed back to deeper water and did catch some buck bass, but 30 minutes of aimlessly casting didn't result in finding the measuring fish.

We visited the spot with all the bucks, but in truth, we did this for confidence. We both needed to catch some fish just to get our mental state right. It kind of worked. We quickly caught around 10 buck bass in what was a complete waste of time. Again, water level was key. What had been 8 feet was now 6 feet. What was barely submerged grass was now topped out. 

Mentally, I thought the hump we had caught three consecutive measuring fish would still pan out. It had produced so quickly the day before that I felt certain we could lean on the hump and catch fish. An hour later, we hadn't had a bite. Seibold didn't result in any bites either. 

At 2:15, the sun finally came out. I think this was key to any shallow bite that we might have found but it came so late that it didn't matter. Soaked, dejected, and frankly mentally drained, we weighed in one fish simply for the points. 

It isn't the first time I've had a tough tournament. It's not the worst one I've had. The thing is, in wildcats or clubs we fish, we can always just walk away in reasonable ambiguity. This one we had to face the music and that was really tough, especially as the weights were adding up and it took 20 pounds just to get a check. So, across the stage we went with one fish and I could just feel the smirks and laughs. Maybe that's insecurity. Maybe you guys were really laughing. But on the inside, it hurt my pride because I know we are better than that. Good enough to win? No. Get a check? A long shot. But we should have gotten a limit. 

Ok, so enough sappy crap. The real story is, what happened and what could I have done different. First, we didn't prefish enough. Typically, we are good enough that prefishing once for a club or wildcat is enough to get us competitive. This was a different animal and we didn't respect that. So, we had limited data that was subject to SPECIFIC conditions that didn't exist on tournament day. The guys that did well are good on the G to begin with AND they fished three days straight. Now, some of that isn't our fault. We can't afford the time or money to fish really more than one day. But, that's reality. 

For example: I can't vouch for EVERYONE, but with the low water level and water temps, we should have IMMEDIATELY scrapped the shallow bite. Period. With the current levels and the aforementioned data, we should have looked at deeper ledges. Both of us are solid ledge fishermen and we completely missed a chance to do something. Even with half a day of scrapping a plan, we could still have found five. 

But, like many of you have texted me: we have to flush this and move on. We knew this was a mulligan lake for us and the good finishes are still head. Now, I didn't think we would finish 191st but now the writing is on the wall. We have to knock a few out of the park and that starts in a few weeks on Wheeler. See yall then.