Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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

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

Fishing Report for Pickwick 5/ 13&14 /2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fishing Report for Pickwick 5/ 13&14 /2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing Report for Pickwick 3/29/14

MFC Club Tournament on Pickwick 4/27/13  

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler 5/7/16

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Our NASA club had a tournament coming up out of Ingalls. But, I didn't have any desire to fish it. I have a tournament on Pickwick coming up this coming weekend and then one on Logan-Martin the very next. Plus, we didn't have a travel tournament this weekend, which meant I could get a lot of honey-dos done. 

But, as it happened, we had a need for another boater so that all of the non-boaters could fish. As the club president, I felt obligated to make sure that happened, so I volunteered. I drew my partner, got in touch with him, and decided to take off Friday to fish.

Now, as most of you are aware, the Elites were on Wheeler the weekend before. I wanted to see if I could piece together a trip based upon what info I could find from that tournament. 

In truth, I decided to stay around Decatur, not wanting to spend any gas money. I brought along my friend Wyatt, who has been asking me to take him out and show him some stuff.

Well, I showed him how to not catch fish. We spent most of the day fishing shallow, whether it was flipping or top water. Couldn't get anything to sniff at topwater and the grass wasn't grown enough to be a factor. 

By the end of the day I was just happy to show him some techniques for locating ledge fish and fishing for them, which did result in a few fish for me. He didn't get a bite all day and that really bothered me. But like I told him, you can't make them bite. 

That afternoon, I called Josh. He would be fishing against me, but we would try and help each other. After explaining to him how I had fished all of Decatur and how it was now dead to me, we decided it would be better for me to run down river and fish some new water. 

If nothing else, I could run to first creek and fish some areas that I KNEW held fish from the week before. Sure, it was a run, but I could split it with my non-boater. 

Well, funny thing happened. 4AM rolled around, no partner. 415 and I called him. Nothing. So, I called back and left a voicemail telling him I was hitting the road and to meet me at Ingalls. Few minutes later, he called back to let me know that he wasn't coming. 

Awesome.   So, I would be by myself. I'm not exactly a loner and I hate fishing along. I never catch anything by myself. Don't ask me why. Things only got worse when I got to Ingalls and saw the amount of boats in line. Luckily, Josh had my back and dunked me. 

To start the day, I ran a few miles down river and began fishing Mallard creek, which BTW, has a LOT of ducks. There was a ton of bait in the area as well as gar. But, couldn't get any bass to hit. I worked the outside point, the island in the middle of the creek and even moved further back. In the back I did find better grass which was flippable, but between the lack of immediate action and the low expectations of the day, I decided to do what I should have done all along: run further down river and fish bluffs.

Keep in mind that I was now fishing areas that I had never even been to. So, I used the GPS to look for areas that I might find fish in a pattern that I would know. I followed the main river channel but found that short of Elk River, it only swung close to the bank in one small stretch which looked to be about 300 yards long. I sure wasn't running down to the Elk on my own dime. 

Before I left, I called Josh. They had two fish, total, which they had caught around Decatur. So, I knew that I was making the right decisions in terms of eliminating water. 

I found the stretch of bluffs, but sure enough, there were boats all over it. I pulled up on a section between two boats and gave them plenty of room. At this point I had whittled my baits down to two or three: a Strike King 3XD, a PTL 7" Tickler, and a Luhr-Jensen Speedtrap.

I fished every section with the cranks and would flip the worm on the laydowns. The first three laydowns resulted in bites, but only one would hook up. It was a smallmouth that I knew was close to 15" long. Looked around for my Golden Rule. Nowhere to be found. So, I kept it and figured I could meet up with Josh later and measure it. 

Every laydown held a fish, but many times they wouldn't really hit it. Instead, they would thump it and let it fall. I figured many were bedding fish, which would be GREAT if I could get them to hold on. 

Between the laydowns I came to a shallow cove. A fish slammed the 3XD and I boated another smallie that was close to the line. Next cast, boated a really nice largemouth, but he was immediately bleeding profusely and I knew he wouldn't make it. 

I worked that spot pretty hard thinking I could get more bites, but it didn't produce. I continued down the bank where I filled out a limit quickly. From then on, the only thing I could catch were short smallmouth. I probably caught around five or six more short fish that didn't help me.

Around 11AM I had two fish in a row come off a laydown and eat the Tickler. One came out of the brush and spit the worm at me. The other one got to the boat, ran between the bow and the trolling motor, looped around, and popped the worm free. Neither fish were big, but they were bigger than the two smallies. 

Then the wind showed up, which made it impossible to fish the shaky head. The crankbait bite completely died. For a moment I noted how much bait and fish I was marking under the boat which was sitting in 13 feet. I thought about throwing a 6XD but found it hard to chance my pattern, even if it had quit producing. In hindsight, I should have thrown it, based upon the reports I have from other fishermen. 

When I got to the ramp, I measured my two smallmouth. Both were slightly short so I threw them back. The big largemouth died, which would be a deduction. Josh and his partner weighed in over 10 pounds to take the win, including a 4.5 pound largemouth. I took 3rd and I am embarrassed to even mention how much they weighed. I caught around 10 fish with the vast majority of them on the 3XD in powder blue back. 

It was a very tough day and I was very glad it was over. I took the dead fish home and friend it for my middle kid who has been begging for fresh fish. Of course, he didn't eat it. Par for the course. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler 4/23/16

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I was off the water for less than 24 hours before Brad and I were right back at it. After Alyse and I placed 3rd in our NASA club tournament on Pickwick, Brad and I were on Wheeler prefishing for our Army club tournament. 

You can read about how my wife won us a check by clicking the following link:

Fishing Report for Pickwick 4/16/16

So, a little back story. Last year before this particular tournament, Brad and I fished the Friday before the tournament. The morning was especially rough on us, but in the waning moments before we called it a day, I boated two slobs. One was a monster largemouth, the other a trophy sized smallie, both of which would end up being two of my three biggest fish of the year. You can check out the fishing report for those days by clicking the link below.

But, during the tournament, we couldn't scare up a fish over three pounds. 

Ok, so, we started fishing the Sunday before the tournament. On the first spot we checked, which had been a mainriver point covered up with smallmouth in 2015, I boated a reall solid smallie who absolutely pounded the Luhr-Jensen speed trap in Texas Red Diamond. But, the spot didn't produce anything else. 

As we moved to the next point, and then every proceeding point, we would catch two, three, or sometimes four TINY smallmouth. 
Brad would add a nice largemouth on the A-rig. For the rest of the day, the only bites we would have would be a few random hits on backwater flats on a PTL 6" Gator. But, to be honest, those bites would be the best we had that day. 

The Friday before the tournament, we headed to First Creek again to see what we could find. We didn't hit the water until 10AM and we only fished until around 2PM. In that time, we would catch another two four pound smallies, a 4 pound largemouth and all the two pound fish we wanted. 

The funniest part of the day came on my first cast using a magnum shakey head, a technique that I have been perfecting for about a year. I was yacking when I noticed the line starting to move sideways. I even looked down at my hands to make sure I wasn't the one cranking it! Eventually we boated a really nice smallmouth.

We caught the bigger fish on the main river points of shallow pockets. The two pounders were absolutely loaded in log jams and laydowns, specifically any submerged timber in the middle of these shallow coves. To catch these, we were flipping PTL 7" Ticklers on 3/8ths or 1/2 ounce shakey heads. By the end of the four hours, we had caught 20 or so fish with the best five going just over 16 pounds. 

More importantly, we had a pattern. 

That is, until I looked outside about 10 PM Friday night and saw full moon on a cloudless night. That got the wheels turning and I knew that all of our prefishing may have been wasted. With a moon like that, staging fish would spawn and any fish holding to their staging points (which we had been targeting) would be eating at night, not during the day.

I knew it would be post frontal with high skies. Not good. At least the water temp was a balmy 73 degrees. 

At blastoff, we shared our gameplan with Josh and Anthony, who are working closely with us. They agreed to stick to the gameplan for the morning.

First cast on the first spot, I caught a short smallmouth on a speed trap, that was it. By 10AM, we didn't have a bite and I was making a phone call.

Josh and Anthony had started on the shallow pockets on the main river as we had said, but had moved to rocks just inside the pocket as well as fishing the flats in the backs of the pockets with lizards. It had produced four fish for about 10 pounds. 

I couldn't give up our pattern and held tightly to it. We would fish the main point and then move to the wood on the sides and back of the pocket. Eventually, the pattern would produce a VERY small limit. I could deal with a small limit. What I couldn't deal with was the fact that we had caught less than 10 fish to get it. 

Again, I made the call. The only thing now working was fishing rock with worms. I had largely missed the best bite of the day, dragging a texas rigged lizard. But, I stuck to the wood, even when Brad pointed out that we hadn't gotten a hit all morning off the wood. 

As the wind continued to build, we found ourselves fishing more and more dirty water, as every boat was now fishing the south side of the lake. We made a run up river a few miles and fished similar coves. 

This produced three culls including our best fish of the day, as three pounder that came off of a dock I had skipped under. The bites began to pick up as I eventually abandoned the wood entirely. While the numbers of fish piled up, the weight did not. 

After a few more small culls, we figured we didn't have much more than 8 pounds. 

We went back to the pockets we had faith in finding bigger fish, just hoping for the big bite. We never found it, mostly because Josh and Anthony found it first. 

We didn't place in what seemed to be a mirror match of last year's tournament. Anthony and Josh did, cashing a second place check with big fish of the tournament. The winning back was only 12 pounds with Josh and Anthony just behind at 11. 

Though I am very happy that they won a check, and they did it on sharing of information just like we hoped, it was very frustrating to me that I couldn't even scratch up 12 pounds on a tough day. I should have been able to do that without ANY prefishing. 

But, hey, that's how it goes. It's a long way from boating 20 pounds on Wilson less than a month ago. I'll take it as a learning experience and go with it! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fishing Report for Pickwick 4/16/16

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For some reason, I thought I had fished Pickwick in February, but apparently I was wrong. Apparently it was actually December. Brad and I fished it several times during a month of near record highs. You can find the reports by reading my last blog post from Pickwick by clicking the link below.

Fishing Report for Pickwick 12/23/2015

It just so happened that none of our kids had ballgames this Saturday. So, Alyse and I hatched a plan to head to Florence and fish together in my NASA club tournament. We had done well together on Pickwick in the past. We really wanted to go up that Friday afternoon, prefish, and spend the night in Florence. That didn't happen, as the two boys both had games on Friday night. 

So, we had to drive from Hazel Green to Florence. Let me tell ya, it's a haul! 

Luckily, the club had decided on a later blast off time, for which I can take credit for. I had noted that the Fishlife Big Bass Battle was on Pickwick. Little did I know that it was actually to be held at another ramp across the river. While I didn't suggest times or vote, it was my information that persuaded the club to start at 7.

So, you can imagine my surprise when we pulled into McFarland and NO ONE was there. And yes, some of my club members let me know how they felt, especially some of the better smallmouth fishermen in the club. Though the vast majority were perfectly ok with starting late and getting some extra sleep. 

I had already noted that there was to be no current and there would be a high pressure system in the area. That would kill any bite on the upper end of the river. Add in the other tournaments going on in the area and it added up to a no-go for the upper end of the lake. That was counterpointed by a howling wind that was supposed to be 14 MPH gusts but felt more like 15-20 MPH sustained winds.

At blastoff, everyone went up. I went straight across. My feeling was that I should be able to get at least a few bites on the bluffs. Specifically, I wanted to get Alyse her first smallmouth and those bluffs were the best way I knew how. 

It didn't take long for her to catch her very first smallmouth. And, it was small. And mean! She nearly threw the poor fish when it started biting her! 
We couldn't muster any more bites, so I decided to make the switch to largemouth. We went to fishing laydowns on rip rap, specifically some that I have won a tournament way back when. That produced two drum and one decent largemouth. 

However, the wind was absolutely brutal. Between the high skies, high wind, high pressure, and low current, I decided to go to the worm sooner than later, specifically on a stretch that had produced a lot of bites in another tournament Josh and I fished two years ago. On that stretch, bites were plentiful but size was not. When we did get big bites, we lost them. I was convinced that I had grown enough as a fisherman that I wouldn't let that happen.

Specifically, I would be flipping a worm on heavier line with a heavier hook and on a baitcaster. I have transitioned from a spinning reel to a 6'6'' medium rod using 12 pound Seguar InvizX. On that I use a PTL Sick Stick or a PTL 7" Tickler rigged on a XXX Pea Head. 

On the first lay down I bagged a keeper. Then, we caught another fish on a Speedtrap. 

Then we had to cover water to the next lay down. 

On the way, I head Alyse's windpants rustling and I turn around to see her fighting a fish. I jumped off the deck and grabbed the net about the time the fish surfaced. The five pound fish tail walked and shook its big head, throwing the speedtrap at Alyse's face, She was heartbroken, as that would the second time in her life she has hooked into that kind of fish and seen it get off.

So, I wasn't too hard on her. I just gave her two bits of advice: say something when you have a fish on. Always keep the rod tip down and away from the fish. She had it up and pointed back at the bass.

On a day like today I knew that was going to sink us. But, what else can you do? 

I decided to go with my initial gut instinct from the second I saw the current predictions. I decided to run way down river, which I had avoided because Alyse doesn't like to go too fast for too long.

We ran down to within sight of the Natchez Trace bridge and fish for smallmouth grouped up on pea gravel beds or rip rap points. 

The first spot didn't pan out and instead of cranking the big motor up, I decided to just fish the do-nothing bank. 

That's when Alyse yelped to get the net! 

Though she had this fish hooked good, and I could see it had both sets of treble hooks, I let her fight the fish while giving her instruction. 

We boated a very nice smallmouth. 

She finished the limit just minutes later and then culled with another good largemouth.

The only thing she was doing different than I was throwing behind the boat and bringing the bait downriver. Once I started doing the same, I caught another smallie that culled our last squeaker fish. 

We had around one hour left when we tried to refish that same stretch. But, we found no takers. 

Heading up to McFarland, we caught another five or six small largemouth in the last 30 minutes, but none helped.

We placed 3rd, just ounces out of second. First place was around 11.5 pounds, but 5 pounds of that came from a very nice largemouth, similar to the size we lost. In all, we caught around 15 fish but only had one with real size, which we lost. Having that fish would have won the day.

But, winning and losing aren't nearly as important as saying that I won a check with my wife as my backboater. Additionally, she caught all but one of the measuring fish including her first smallies! 

And, she only lost one lure, my last Texas Red Diamond Speedtrap, which she threw two or three trees deep and I couldn't retrieve it. Amazon had my back though, as apparently a backlogged order went through and we received an email as we left McFarland saying that my order had shipped....a Red Texas Diamond speed trap. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler 4/7/16

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Wife had the day off, as she will be working all weekend and them some. I was planning on fishing the Ditto Landing wildcat. 

BBBBBUUUTTT my partner bailed on me. I already had the boat at work so I asked Alyse if she wanted to get out for a few hours. Of course she did! So, we put in at the Army Rec area. I had planned on fishing the NASA barge canal, as I had found a bunch of fish a few days ago on my lunch break, just bank fishing. 

Naturally, the skies are high today, being post frontal. The wind was whipping and despite having rain several times over the last few weeks, the water was lower than it had been just days ago.

That stretch of the river had solid 3 foot rollers that were whitecapping and the wind was blowing right at the barge canal.

So, after only a few minutes, I headed back up river and around one bend where the wind lied down, ever so slightly. 

Having a lot of luck fishing laydowns on Wilson this past Saturday, I decided to give that a try. 

I was throwing a wacky rigger PTL Sick Stick while she was throwing a PTL Sick Stick on a shakey head. But, she didn't like the action of the rod, as it didn't have enough back bone to set the hook. While she did bring one bass in, she lost many more. So, I traded off with her.

We spotted a new laydown that looked only a few weeks old. It had fallen on an old laydown, creating quite the logjam.

I was essentially flipping the shakey head into crooks in the log jam.This resulted in one smaller fish. 

As I kept flipping, a fish thumped the shakey head instead of pecking at it. I set the hook but knew immediately I was in for a ride.

The fish surged to the surface and Alyse screamed with delight like a little girl. She asked if I needed the net, but for some stupid reason I was like "Nah, I got it. No big deal."

She exclaimed that I was nuts and dug it out of the locker. The toad swam around branches, getting tangled up. But, I was patient and let her swim free before edging her closer to the boat.

The hardest thing to do was to turn away from the fish in order to control the nose of the boat, which I was using to keep us out of more branches.

Several minutes later, we netted this monster. 

Believe it or not, that one laydown held more than just that fish. In fact, it held several more magnum sized fish. While we did catch some small spots on the outside, the mommas were in the laydown on hard cover, specifically on log jams. We managed to get hung up after setting the hook on several. That has to be one of the most painful things....feeling that thump and the fight for about two seconds as one wraps you up. After all, the big ones don't get big cause they are dumb.

Anyway, if you get out on Wheeler, just know that the water is still really low, though the color is good. The wind is whipping and makes life tough. I would concentrate on laydowns that reach the first break, specifically those extending to 20 foot or more. 

We ended up catching only around 5 in the short time we were out, but we had many more to the boat, but just didn't have the hooks in them, as it was tough to get a good hookset while they were in the brush.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Fishing Report for Wilson 4/2/16

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If conditions for Friday's prefishing trip were "iffy," then one might call the conditions for Saturday's tournament "nope." In case you missed it, here is the prefishing info we compiled.

I think it was fair to say that Brad, Josh, and I (completing against each other) had low expectations for the day. It sure wasn't going to be another 20 pound sack kind of day, but we figured it would take 12 to win. And, we figured it would come down to our three boats. 

That isn't to say we didn't think the rest of the club wasn't a factor. Quite the opposite. There are some great fishermen in the club, but none that really have the intel on Wilson like we do. 

All three of us drew partners, with whom we explained that, while we were competing against each other, we would also be helping. 

Turns out, we all REALLY needed that.

I began at a new spot we had found the day before. I began throwing the A-rig, just looking for big bites. I was fairly certain that we would be getting limited bites. 

Why? Well, the skies were high, the wind was out of the south, which meant that NOWHERE on the lake would be safe. Specifically, there would be no slowing down to finesse fish. And, as we found out pretty quickly, the combination of current and high wind from the day before had muddied the main river significantly. There was little to no visibility on the main river, which was especially troubling for all of us, as that was our game plan. 

First spot produced no fish. 

Neither did the second. 

Next thing I knew, it was 10AM and I hadn't had a bite. 

I made the phone call to Brad. One fish off a bluff, completely random. 

Called Josh. Nothing on the rig, but worming had produced four fish quick, none of them with size.

I decided to head back into Shoals, as it had produced the day before and I have a lot of history in there. Nope. Chocolate milk, even the cuts. Turned around and left.  

An hour and three or four spots later, I called Brad again. This time, he had some better news. He had a limit, which had come from fishing swimbaits on wood in a long creek. The water color was terrific and the wind wouldn't bother me. He suggested I go down the very stretch he had picked up four fish in 30 minutes upon. 

So, I met up with him and he showed me the stretch. I decided to throw the rig on the wood. It produced a fish almost immediately. But, to my dismay, it also produced three or four followers, who simply wouldn't hit the bait. That included a nice 3 pound smallie that followed it to the boat.

I ran the stretch again, getting no more fish. Then, I went back to a spot where I new fish would be, though I would have to worm it.

Throwing a magnum shakey head with a 7" PTL Tickler, a fish quickly picked up the worm and ran with it. I reeled down and popped it. The fish fought back and I was delighted, yet scared to death, to see that it was a nice smallmouth. Jack, my partner, hopped off the back deck to get the net, but managed to get snagged by an errant hook. As he fought the hook, I fought the fish, which jumped over and over. 

Jack had the net and the fish managed to evade and escape again and again. Luckily, the Seguar InvizX, PTL XXX Pea Head and H2O XPRESS Ethos rod did their jobs and we netted our first keeper of the day, a NICE smallmouth. 

For more on Magnum Shakey Heading, read the link below:

Magnum Shaky Heads: The Answer to Finesse Fishing in High Wind and Current

So, we had two fish. Brad had a small limit. Josh had four. We had an hour to go. That's a long way to a respectable finish, which was about all I was looking for at this point. 

My main river bite was dead as a doornail. Shoals creek was a tall glass of Yoohoo. 

Called Josh. He was still getting bites on the worm, just not measuring fish. Well, I would take my chances on that. I crossed the river towards the creek he had been fishing and found a stretch where  the wind was blocked. The stretch had exactly three laydowns. 

That left me about 45 minutes to scratch up 3 fish, four if you considered that the other fish I had was...questionable. 

Things looked good, as I could see bait flipping and occasionally see a fish flash inside the laydown. 

I backed the boat off another five yards, deciding to fish the top of the laydown, which was in the creek channel, about 23 feet deep. 

After fighting off some pecks, I finally sank the hook into a fish. With some help from Jack, we boated fish number three of the day, a decent 2 pound largemouth. Following that, a short smallmouth that I jerked clear across the boat. 

The pecking began again, as fish would headbutt the bait, but refused to take it. I moved down the bank to the next laydown. I missed a fish, just setting the hook too early. But, Jack (now having tied on a PTL XXX Pea Head and a 7" Tickler) set the hook into a fish, who immediately wrapped itself around the laydown. Having some good Costa's with 580P lenses, I could see the fish. Jack could not. So, I gave him the play by play, telling him to keep tension on the line. I maneuvered the boat next to the fish and waited until the fish swam back around the limb, away from the boat. When it did, I netted number four: a pound and a half largemouth. But, I wasn't picky. 

What was interesting was the fish swimming along side Jack's fish. It told me that there were more than enough fish to make our limit, if we could make it work. I left that laydown for no other reason than to come back in a little while. 

I boat flipped fish five, but knew I had a fish I had to get rid of. We had just five minutes to go. I asked Jack to go ahead and set his stuff down and get seated. If it could be done, I was going to do it and we would have to take off. 

Weigh in at 2:15 and it stood at 2:12 when I felt the thump of a fish. This one got enough of the 7" tickler and I boat flipped her. She went right in the live well, the big motor fired up, and we attempted to cross the river with 3 and 4 foot rollers,

We arrived just in time, though I lost my last Auburn hat on the way, but I wasn't turning around to get it. 

Every boat but Josh had a limit, which he came in with four. Every limit pushed over nine pounds. While that weight isn't impressive, it WAS impressive that everyone managed to catch fish, despite the conditions. To my amazement, only one big fish was caught: a 5.05 largemouth that went one to win the tournament with a total weight of 11.91. Brad came in with 9.42, just 0.05 more than me at 9.37. Both of us would have been beaten but the 9.48 sack, if that angler hadn't had a dead fish, which dropped him from second to fourth. OUCH! 

But, Brad and I managed to get 2nd and 3rd, despite having all of our intel not matter. I do have to thank Josh for the intel on worming laydowns in that creek. I hate that he missed out on placing and cashing a check. It's hard to win off of someone else's info, but that's why we trade help each other.